Hi guys, todays post is written by a good friend and an excellent source of music for me. So, I’m going to stop writing and hand you over to Megan Johnson. Enjoy!!!
By the way, check her random ramblings at her blog at The City is a Drag . . . . . .
For a lot of music lovers, song covers can be a pretty sore subject. My question is, what makes one cover of a song truly great, and another absolutely cringe-worthy? What do artists have to do to ensure that when covering our favourite artists that they aren’t simply butchering the original?
Personally, I think the key is making the song your own while not attempting to do things with your voice that you simply cannot. For example, when William Shatner covers a song, he doesn’t try to sing it—he knows that he can’t. Instead, he does what he does best; Shatner covers songs in his signature spoken-word style. Love him or hate him, you can’t really fault him for copying the original.
Below is a collection of ten covers that follow the formula for a great cover. All of the artists on the list take a great song, add a signature style to it, and keep within their vocal abilities. As a bonus, many of these are live covers, which is a real treat if you’ve never heard them before. Here they are in no particular order:
Hallelujah-- Jeff Buckley - While Leonard Cohen is the genius behind this heart-wrenching number, Buckley’s the one who brought out its inner beauty and power. His delivery of the word “Hallelujah” at 5:58 still shocks me every time.
Hurt-- Johnny Cash - No matter how much you love Nine Inch Nails, there’s something very special about Cash’s take on this song. You can actually hear the pain in his delivery, and that’s what’s so incredibly poignant about it.
Friday Night Saturday Morning-- Nouvelle Vague - Originally by ska act The Specials, Nouvelle Vague’s singer gives this song a unique twist with her soft dreamy vocals.
Smells Like Teen Spirit-- Patti Smith - The grandmother of punk, Patti Smith, covering Nirvana in a slowed down bluegrass style? This one is just far too cool for words.
Bad Romance-- Joseph Gordon Levitt (explicit lyrics) Actor Joseph Gordon Levitt proves that he’s more than just a pretty face with this impromptu rock cover of Lady Gaga. His vocal style is really interesting, sort of a country-rock vibe in places.
Darling Nikki—Foo Fighters - This bizarre song penned by Prince gets the uber sexy treatment by none other than Dave Grohl. The 80s vibe is completely replaced with killer drums and heavy-hitting guitar.
A Day In The Life-- Jeff Beck - As much as I love the Beatles, Jeff Beck’s guitar playing more than makes up for a lack of vocals on this track.
Feeling Good—Muse - “Feeling Good” has been covered about a zillion times. Muse spices this classic up with some electric organ, Matt Bellamy’s quavering vocals, and one of my favourite things ever; singing through a megaphone.
Starman-- Seu Jorge - Stripped down David Bowie cover sung entirely in Portuguese? Hell, why not.