Run for Cover

A lot of people look down on covers as being little more than rehashes of much better original material. That is, when they're aware they're listening to a cover at all: I am convinced the majority of teens who loved Limp Biskit's "Behind Blue Eyes" had no idea it was not an original. Not to mention, a little further back, Boyzone.

I am divided on the issue. There are just too many bad, or, even worse, pointless covers out there. But every once in a while someone gets it right. In my opinion, the great covers do more than just, well, either singing the song in a slightly different arrangement of increasing the beat. They reinterpret the songs. They give them new meaning. They make you appreciate the originals better. And they stand on their own as true works of art.

The reason this topic came up because there's a podcast I listen to called "Coverville", and today one of the covers in the latest show was so beautiful it gave me the shivers. Covers being so varied, in genre as well as in quality, listening to coverville is always a gamble: there will be some songs I won't like, some I think are ok, and every once in a while there will be a gem.

So then, my top 5 covers. Counting back, first the name of the song, then the original artist, then the cover artist.

Honorable mention: more an alternate version than a real cover, but it's great nonetheless: Anouk's Reggae version of her own Nobody's Wife

5. El Tango de Roxanne - Sting & The Police - the version from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack

4. Such Great Heights - Death Cab for Cutie - Iron & Wine

3. The Boxer - Simon & Garfunkel - Grayson and Wonfor (this is the song that gave me the shivers. A spare, slightly slower, acoustic guitar only version that is just amazing)

2. Smells like Teen Spirit - Nirvana - Tori Amos

1. Wonderwall - Oasis - Ryan Adams

And I left out so many... Rufus Wainwright's version of Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah because it's a little too similar to the original, Tori Amos' Angie because I already had a cover by her, All of Seu Jorge's covers of David Bowie because they're a translation as well...

Know any covers I should know about? Please tell!



Lanchka said...

I don't think that the covers below will ever make anyone's Top 10 List, but what the hell, here they are ;-)

UB40 - Can't Help Falling in Love
Fugees - Killing Me Softly With His Song
Savatage - Ode to Joy; Hall of the Mountain King (metal arrangements)
Boyzone - Father and Son
Florian Ast & Kisha - Chumm Gib Mir Dini Hand (an overly happy Swiss-German version of the Beatles' I Wanna Hold Your Hand)

Lanchka said...

P.S. Now, if you want to add to that list of "worst covers ever" then I think Madonna's version of "American Pie" might compete for the number one spot...

Lanchka said...

Oh, and I love Cake's cover of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive." :-)

Hedwig said...

Hm, that sounds interesting, I'll have to look for that...and yes, Madonna totally ruined that song.