Saturday, 21 July 2012

Music: Six Cover Versions Worth Checking Out

In my opinion there’s not much point in covering another artist’s song if you’re just going to reproduce a perfect recreation of the original.  For a cover version to be worthwhile the cover artists should add their own personality to it, so for this selection of cover versions I’ve tried to include covers which do just that.

Tori Amos' version of Smells Like Teen Spirit
can be found on the US version of her Crucify EP.

1) Smells Like Teen Spirit by Tori Amos
(Originally by Nirvana)
The first cover on this list unarguably ticks that box and is Tori Amos’ version of the Nirvana classic Smells Like Teen Spirit.  Although no-one will ever be able to recreate the brilliance of the original, Tori has nevertheless produced her own unique version which is excellent in its own way.  It’s a beautiful rendition but with a touch of bleakness thrown in and as you’d expect from Tori it’s dripping with emotion.  Find it tucked away as one of the bonus tracks on the US version of Tori’s Crucify EP.

2) Love Machine by The Arctic Monkeys
(Originally by Girls Aloud)
This might be quite a controversial thing to say, but with the exception of a few of their hits, I’ve never really been a massive fan of The Arctic Monkeys.  To give them credit though, they do some great covers and I love their version of Girls Aloud’s Love Machine.  Alex Turner breaking out into laughter during the second bridge sums up the fun of the performance perfectly.  It also demonstrates that sometimes the personality of the piece is more important than the technical level of the performance.  Find it on Radio 1's Live Lounge (Volume 1).

A beautifully simple version of a
beautifully simple song.
3) Sweet Child O’ Mine by Taken By Trees
(Originally by Guns N' Roses)
I first heard Taken By Trees version of Guns N' Roses’ Sweet Child O' Mine in an ice cream shop in Koh Pha Ngan and instantly loved it.  Although the famous riff is ideally suited to the guitar, Taken By Trees show that it can also work well on the piano.  In truth there’s nothing particularly clever or complicated about their version, it’s just a beautifully simple performance of what is essentially a beautifully simple song.

Taken By Trees version of Sweet Child O' Mine was used in a UK TV commercial for John Lewis and was later released as a UK single.  You can also listen to it on Taken By Trees' MySpace page:
Sweet Child O' Mine covered by Taken By Trees 

4) Hyperballad by Robyn (Originally by Bjork)
Hyperballad is one of my favourite Bjork tracks and when you like a song so much there’s sometimes a danger that you’ll take an instant dislike to any cover due to being too attached to the original.  However, Robyn’s version of Hyperballad, while not quite as brilliant as the original, is still nevertheless an excellent piece of music.  In truth it doesn’t start off too differently but once it kicks in it soon has Robyn’s unmistakable stamp on it.  This version will appeal to fans of both Bjork and Robyn, so fans of both artists should definitely check it out if they haven’t already.
Here are a couple of versions on youtube:
Radio 1's Live Lounge (Volume 2).
5) Hung Up by The Enemy (Originally by Madonna)
Next up is The Enemy’s radically different version of Madonna’s Hung Up.  All the cool dance floor friendly electronics are gone and instead replaced with the sort of bare piano you’d usually associate with an old-fashioned musical, as The Enemy infuse the song with a strong sense of pseudo ironic drama.  I absolutely love the original and although if you were to judge this cover version purely as a serious piece of music then it wouldn’t be in the same league, provided you don’t take it too seriously and just treat it as a bit of fun then this is another enjoyable cover.  Find it on Radio 1's Live Lounge (Volume 2).

6) A Little Respect by Wheatus (Originally by Erasure)
And finally perhaps the most well-known of the six cover versions featured in this post is Wheatus’ version of Erasure’s A Little Respect.  I was never really a fan of the original, but once Wheatus changed the focus from keyboards to guitars I was quickly converted and soon realised what a strong song it is.  Find it on Wheatus’ self-titled debut album and also released as a single.

Anyone wanting to search out the original versions can find them on the following albums:

Smells Like Teen Spirit  ...Nevermind by Nirvana
Love Machine ... What Will The Neighbours Say? by Girls Aloud
Sweet Child O' Mine ... Appetite For Destruction by Guns N' Roses
Hyperballad ... Post by Bjork
Hung Up ... Confessions On A Dance Floor by Madonna
A Little Respect ... The Innocents by Erasure

Download these albums on iTunes:

Find more music recommendations at the following link:
Music on 'Worthy Of A Bigger Audience'

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Music: Singing From The Grave by Anna Von Hausswolff
Graphic Novel: Groo And Rufferto

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