Matt Bellamy, frontman of British rock band Muse, released a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” From the first strum, the most noticeable change in this abridged version is the replacement of the piano with guitar. Then the sounds of an organ gently come in like a wave pushing over the last third of the song. Although there are fewer instruments in the acoustic cover the overall feel is anything but simple. Bellamy’s distinctive voice causes the vocals to be prominent with bright falsettos and a powerful finishing vocal run.
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
If you Google “perfect Smiths song,” you’ll find a lot of different titles – “The Boy with the Thorn in his Side,” “How Soon Is Now,” “I Won’t Share You,” “Half a Person,” and “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” just to name the results on the first page. But some opinions are bigger than others, and in lead singer Morrissey’s opinion, the perfect Smiths song – or at least, in his words, “very close indeed” – was “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want.” Allmusic.com calls it “a minimal yet lush two minutes of almost otherworldly beauty… Almost impenetrably sad, [it’s] a masterpiece both musically and emotionally.”
Starting life as a Johnny Marr instrumental called “The Irish Waltz,” the song became something more once Morrissey sang his lyrics of longing in a voice far gentler and quieter than his usual melodramatic croon. “Please Please Please” turned into a hymn to the art of pining and yearning, the anthem of the unrequited lover, cf. Duckie in Pretty in Pink. And it did so in a minute and fifty seconds, making it the shortest Smiths song ever. Why so short? Morrissey explained:
When we first played it to Rough Trade, they kept asking, “where’s the rest of the song?” But to me, it’s like a very brief punch in the face. Lengthening the song would, to my mind, have simply been explaining the blindingly obvious.
In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.
Broadway star Lena Hall (Kinky Boots, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) has been releasing an ambitious series of EPs this year. Every month, she covers a handful of tracks by a favorite artist. In what she’s dubbed the Obsessed series, she’s already tackled Elton John, Peter Gabriel, and The Cranberries. June’s installment say her bringing her Broadway belt to five Radiohead songs; here’s a highlight:
Jack White is next month’s featured artist, and I’m quite excited for that one. As the covers Hall selected for us demonstrate, she’s something of a White Stripes superfan. She’ll hopefully preview one or two of her upcoming Stripes covers at her New York concert tomorrow night, “Six Months of Obsessions: From Radiohead to Hedwig” at Public Arts (tickets here).
Check out Hall’s cover-song picks below. Sure hope Dolly Parton and Soundgarden are on her Obsessed docket…
The beautiful synth pop from the band CHVRCHES often plays on the disconnect between singer Lauren Mayberry’s sweet vocals and heavy, almost industrial, backing tracks. It’s not the most obvious cover material for Muse, a band spawned out of the mid-’90s alt rock movement, but Muse recently played a cover of CHVRCHES’ “Lies” for the BBC Live Lounge.
There is something to be said about a band that pushes so hard to make their presence known. Well Hung Heart, comprised of Greta Valenti and British born Robert Davey, have been pushing for quite some time. The duo has dipped their hands in everything from producing music videos for others along with a show called “Made in 48” in which they create a new song and music video with another band in, you guessed it, under 48 hours. Added to their hustlin’ repertoire is this new cover of Muse‘s “Supermassive Black Hole.”