Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Art of The Cover Song

As the final minutes tick down in 2009, chances are you will be standing in a bar with your friends. In said bar, you may find yourself being subjected to the third different version you've heard of The Commitments' "Mustang Sally" in one night. Sometimes, if you're drunk enough, cover songs can be fun. But most of the time, when the cover band plays "Runaround" by Blues Traveler, you want to dive over the bar and stab yourself in the eardrum with a corkscrew. Cover songs don't always sound great when performed by established artists, either. (Remember Madonna's version of Don McClean's "American Pie?) When done properly, a cover song can catapult a band to sudden one-hit-wonderdom, a la' Alien Ant Farm's cover of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal. It can also increase your popularity among the already adoring masses, as it did for Jimi Hendrix when he covered Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower". I would venture a guess that if you polled 50 random people blindly on the street, at least half would think it was a Hendrix original. Speaking of Dylan, he is one of the most widely covered artists in rock music. Humourously, most critics can't even agree amongst themselves. Topping both "Best" and "Worst" Covers lists is Guns N' Roses version of Dylan's "Knocking On Heaven's Door".
My favorite cover is Foo Fighters' version of Prince's "Darling Nikki". Rock bands have a hard on for covering Prince songs. Incubus does an outstanding live version of "Let's Go Crazy".
So, love 'em or hate 'em, the cover song lives on.

What are some of your favorite covers? Is there a band you'd like to see perform a paticular cover?


  1. Alien Ant Farm's, "Smooth Criminal" is indeed fantastic. I actually got to see them at, "The Next Big Thing" at Coachman Park in Clearwater, FL. The leader singer was craaaazzeee, but they were fun to watch.

  2. He's also kinda cute. I bet they put on a fun show :)

  3. Down in the Park by both Manson and The Foo Fighters. Up until recently, I thought I preferred the Manson version, but I decided I was wrong after Cam found A copy of the X Files soundtrack and I listened to it in the car... The Foo Fighters version is just GORGEOUS. But they are kind of opposite sides of the same coin, aren't they? :)

    Though I don't like any of the other covers the Foo Fighters have done. Why does Dave always have to scream??

    Also fun- Jeff Buckley's version of Screamin' Jay Hawkins Alligator Wine... who'da thought that kind of noise could be made with an angel's voice?

    I'm sure I have more, but I can't think of them at the moment...

  4. You're right, Dave does do a lot of screaming. LOL

  5. I've always loved when the Ramones covered 50's and 60's love songs and pop. Needles and Pins and The Bird is the Word are favorites and I can't forget the Ramones cover of the Spider Man theme song!

    I also heard a great cover of the Ramones 7-11 by local band the Postmarks. The really made it their own, and it worked beautifully.

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