They’re most often committed by whatever is playing over the supermarket P.A.
While in the Freddie today, I heard a version of the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” that managed to change the key and range, remove all the emotion and churn the arrangement until disgustingly homogenized to where it was indistinguishable from soft rock pablum.
I don’t know whether it was because I was tired, hungry or both, but I found the song angering and almost physically painful; I wished death upon the singer (male) and the producer for turning an immediately identifiable tune into harmless mush. The persons involved with this arrangement stripped the longing, carnality & soul from it.
They managed to chain “Unchained Melody”.
Death is too good for them. I thought of Shazam-ing the song, but realized I did not care to know who had created this aberrant perversion.
Wild Flag, “Margin Walker” (Fugazi cover), live @ Paradise Boston 3/31/12 (by lenvm)
It’s a good cover but the dub vibe that drove a lot of Fugazi songs demands bass guitar. Playing the line through a keyboard isn’t gonna cut it — and having seen Wild Flag live, I’m gonna waver and say maybe that it sounded better in that specific live arena than it does on YouTube.
This was my favorite of this list of 10 covers BuzzFeed posted from 2011. I don’t own Adele’s record but I find her voice haunting in a good way. It reminds me a bit of the way I used to cover “Lovesong” when I was in a band — we slowed it down, the lead guitarist imitated some of the keyboard parts by moving between slide and E-bow, and the bass line became almost dub-like.
The other faves on that list: Against Me! plowing through “Janie Jones”, the Black Keys doing Buddy Holly, and that Trent Reznor/Karen O take on “Immigrant Song” is ferocious. I thought Cee-Lo doing Band of Horses was pretty good, and while I like the Dum Dum Girls in general, taking the languid bass line out of “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” feels wrong, as good as the rest of their take is.
I think Telekinesis is a good band — I saw them open for someone, I think it was Teenage Fanclub & Superchunk — but that version of “On a Plain” isn’t the best cover on that SPIN tribute cover of Nirvana’s Nevermind. That honor goes to Butch Walker’s take on “In Bloom” or the dude who did a soul version of “Stay Away” (I can’t remember his name right now.)
And of course, the commenters at BF noted the omission of Bon Iver covering Bonnie Raiitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”
The best of the covers on Spin’s recent tribute to Nirvana’s “Nevermind.” Some are pretty much straight-through readings (Telekinesis covering “On a Plain,”; Titus Andronicus’ “Breed”; Surfer Blood’s “Territorial Pissings”), others a bit more reinvention (the Vaselines made “Lithium” sound like being zonked out on pills feels), but this straddles the line nicely.
You always feel a connection with that sort of thing. Because the whole thing is everybody feels beleaguered at some point. I mean, that’s the universal truth of punk — is that, you are going to feel, in whatever role you’re living, like everybody’s against you at some point, and that people are accusing you of things that are not true.
John Darnielle, at the AV Club. (If you click that link, you can watch the Mountain Goats perform Jawbreaker’s “Box Car.”)
Fantastic cover, despite changing the “killing cops and reading Kerouac” line a little. “Watching Cops and reading Didion” is a pretty solid replacement, though. Excited to see the Mountain Goats a week from Saturday.
I knew a girl named Nikki. I guess you could say she was a sex fiend. I met her in a hotel lobby. Masturbating with a magazine. She said, “How’d you like to waste some time?” And I could not resist when I saw little Nikki grind.
It’s my belief that there are musicians and bands who are uncoverable. Doesn’t mean you can’t do it, but you’ve set yourself up to fail no matter how good your version might be.
Prince is one of those artists, and while I was listening to the Foo Fighters’ Medium Rare, I kept thinking of how all covers of Prince, particularly the more sexual songs, seem to miss the point and the mark. So much of Prince’s sexual antics and lyrics seemed to be respectful of female sexuality (not that he was necessarily above misogyny per se) in the sense that women could fuck and leave, and men could be the ones left shell-shocked, questioning whether it was right, and begging the lover to come back. In the glam-metal soaked mid-to-late 80s, this was revelatory in its own way.
Of course, being diminutive and flirting with the lines of androgyny and gender in appearance helped sell it in a way that Dave Grohl & co. couldn’t, no matter how reverent or well-intentioned the Foos may be with their cover of “Darling Nikki.” It’s nigh impossible to hear that vulnerability in Grohl’s voice that Prince achieved on a regular basis. Grohl is capable of vulnerability in his own songs, but his screech is more metal-derived and packs more testosterone. Even having Cee-Lo along for some renditions of it doesn’t help.
The Foos are really good at covers, but seeing little Nikki grind could never work for them. If you watch the Foos’ live version that I linked to, when Grohl sings the line “She had so many devices / Everything that money could buy” he works his hands to simulate a dildo when Prince never needed to go there. It’s the difference between pseudo-confident frat boy and a grown man secure enough to submit.