Remember that Amnesty International Dylan tribute album we told you about a few months back? Well we now have have more information on it. It’s called Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International. In addition to Bad Religion and Rise Against, it also features covers by My Morning Jacket, Sting, Patti Smith, Dave Matthews Band, Adele, Lucinda Williams, Jack’s Mannequin, and…Ke$ha.
“Weird Al” Yankovic first debuted his new “Polka Face” covers medley live last year, and now, 15 months later, we move from shaky concert footage to off-the-wall music video. Now, normally Al’s polkas get music videos for his concerts consisting of the original video clips synced to his medley (like this one), so this marks his polka-video debut.
Over the last year we’ve continued to keep you updated on the craziness and creativity that is Our Hit Parade. The live top-ten countdown show is a cabaret created by Tony nominee and Obie winner Kenny Mellman (Kiki & Herb), Bridget Everett, Neal Medlyn, producer and MTV cameraman Brendan Kennedy, and writers Ada Calhoun and Peter Schjeldahl. It is inspired by the musical sketch series Your Hit Parade that ran on radio and then television from 1935 to 1959. On that show, cast members performed the week’s most popular songs as comically literal skits. Today the show is performed as cabaret with a rotating cast of guest musicians in New York City.
No question, music-comedy pioneer “Weird Al” Yankovic is known for his parodies and, to a lesser extent, his original musical numbers. But he performs a third, perhaps underappreciated, category of song: the cover. Every album includes a “polka” medley which, though not labeled as such, fits the dictionary definition of a cover: same lyrics, different music. His latest, Alpocalypse, includes another instant classic: Polka Face.
Throughout his career, Ben Folds has exhibited both compassion for people in distress and an acerbic sense of humor. Generally those two don’t manifest themselves simultaneously, but on his latest track he somehow pulls from both reserves. Folds covered “Sleazy,” one of Ke$ha’s most obnoxious songs (which is saying something) for a very not obnoxious cause: earthquake relief in Japan.
It’s easy to have low expectations of acoustic covers of pop songs. It’s understandable that so many of them are as difficult to listen to as the originals; with the general simplicity of the originals, an artist might be quick to think they’ve nailed it. Oftentimes they’re right and they have nailed it – this, however, doesn’t mean that the cover is good. Corin Joel blows this generalization out of the water with his recent batch of covers: Britney Spears’ “Hold it Against Me,” Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R,” Sean Kingston and Justin Bieber’s “Eenie Meenie,” and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.”