I love a good cover song. I feel about cover songs the way I feel about tv crossovers (Kelly Taylor from Beverly Hills 90210 visiting Jake on Melrose Place, Ursula from Mad About You appearing as Phoebe’s twin in Friends, Buffy on Angel, Angel on Buffy etc) – excited by the unexpected merging of two previously separate worlds, and the endless possibilities this may create.
Sometimes, cover songs can even be better than the original – for example, Respect is so well known as Aretha Franklin’s song that it wasn’t until I actually bought myself The Very Best of Otis Redding that I found out he wrote the original. Maybe I’m musically ignorant – did the whole world know this? It was totally news to me – Aretha Franklin owns this song; it never occurred to me she didn’t do it first, and while I appreciate Otis’ version it’s just not the same as Aretha’s.
Australian radio station Triple J has a regular segment – Like a Version, where they invite musicians into their studio to play a live original and a live cover. It always produces some gold and I look forward to buying the CD compilations. I just downloaded Like a Version 7 and I am loving Busby Marou’s cover of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun:
So here are five cover songs I love. There’s too many cover songs in my library for me to definitively say that these are my absolute favourites; ask me tomorrow and I might have changed my mind. And, they’re probably not the best cover songs of all time, but they’re the ones I can’t stop listening to.
- When Doves Cry – by Damien Rice, original by Prince. Damien Rice is moody and haunting and, in my opinion, does a perfect cover of this song, even breaking into a little bit of Led Zeppelin’s Babe I’m gonna leave you. Can be found on the very first Like A Version CD.
- Glory Box – by Powderfinger, original by Portishead. I bought a CD called No man’s woman because I saw this track listing on it – before I even heard it I knew I would love it, and I did. No man’s woman is an album of all male musicians covering female work – the title of the album refers to a song by Sinead O’Connor. Speaking of Sinead O’Connor…
- Nothing compares to you – by Dan Kelly, apparently written by Prince but made famous by Sinead. Dan Kelly does a lovely little folky version (using a ukulele) of this song on the No man’s woman album.
- Use somebody – Tiki Taane, original by Kings of Leon. What appeals to me about this one is how simple he makes it sound – he just strips it back to him and his guitar – but it still sounds really heartfelt. Like how he mixes in a bit of No woman, no cry too.
- Heavy Heart – by TZU, original by You Am I. TZU is an Australian hip-hop band – a style which is a little bit divisive – you either love it or hate it. I kinda love it. I don’t listen to it all the time but I find the sound of some ocker rapping more amusing than offensive. Anyway, Heavy Heart is one of my favourite songs, ever, and I like TZU’s take on this and how they sample the original.
And there’s a whole other post in the ‘worst cover songs of all time’ category – but I just have to mention one right now: I’ve had the time of my life by The Black Eyed Peas. Why did they do this to us? Why? Hate it. This is the only acceptable cover of that song:
“What time is it? The time of my life!” I think the guys on New Girl are really funny. I like Zooey Deschanel, but I’m still warming up to the character of Jess, she’s sometimes a bit too much.
What’s your favourite cover song, if you have one at all?