Welcome to a new year in “Judging songs by their covers.” I actually have neglected this blog for a bit there but I’m going to try to start up again with some more cover songs commentary.
I recently came across a cover of the Sugarcubes song “Birthday” and I figured what better way to start the year with a title that celebrates renewal.
I remember back in the times of MTV music videos when I would be watching late at night music videos and seeing the Sugarcubes video for Birthday and thinking how amazing Bjork’s voice was and how charismatic she appeared and how strange the video was. It really was the way she performed the song that made it worthwhile to listen to. Her voice was so unique and melodic and every sound she would make as incoherent as it may have been sounded amazing to me. I was a fairly big Bjork fan at the time anyway having been seduced by her pixie vocals and quirky videos since her “Debut” album.
By the time of “Homogenic” I had discovered by all time favorite Bjork song in “Joga” that I had later learned that the lyrics were from a letter she had received from a fan and that she decided to adapt them into a song. This proved to me that Bjork was such amazing vocalist that she could turn a letter from a fan into a song that I would love forever. This was an example of Bjork’s ability to create art from found art. There was beauty in the fan letter that Bjork exemplified with Joga. I mean the power behind the words “Coincidences make sense only with you” are so daring and personal and raw that her intense vocals make it explode. I can still listen to that song today and still feel the raw emotions that are brought out with that first time I listened to it.
I had always loved Bjork’s vocals and appreciated her quirky lyrics enough that I didn’t mind when she would rehash old lyrics into new songs. I even noticed in Madonna’s song “Bedtime stories” some Bjork type lyrics that I later learned was not homage but written by Bjork directly.
“And inside we are all still wet.”
This is the lyric I noticed in “Bedtime stories” and, I believe, two other Bjork songs.
But recently I have a new found appreciation for Bjork’s lyricism and musical composition, thanks to this band I haven’t heard of before called “the Drums.”
I have not as of yet heard any original songs by the band yet, but I’m certainly going to explore them soon enough because this cover is actually pretty good.
The Drums is a Brooklyn based band with 2 full studio albums and one EP. They performed their cover of “Birthday” on Sirius XMU and actually do not have a studio cut of it, but you can find the video link here.
The song is fairly different instrumentally but the spirit and the tone is pretty much the same although where the Sugarcubes original was slightly more playful and carefree the Drums version is careful and cordial. The lead singer in the Drums does not try to emulate Bjorks vocal styling as much as he tries to stay within the structure of the tone of the song.
I have to admit I think this cover is extremely well done and is very respectful of the original. It’s different enough that it works on its own merit. This is probably why I have a new found respect for Bjork’s as a lyricist because this song holds up despite lacking her amazing vocals. Also The Drums made out well enough with their cover that it’s caught my interest to check them out further.
If you want to listen to the Sugarcubes original click here
If you want to listen to the Drums cover click here
Alright so that’s it for now thanks for checking in and stay tuned as I continue to cover more cover songs in 2012.
Blondie. Llama Me!
In the history of live performances the venue often allows for music artists to after they leave the stage to return for an encore if audience applause demands so, and when they do they often return to the stage and do a cover song. Not always, but a lot of music artists do choose to close with a cover song.
Last night I went to Mercury Lounge where Eliza Doolittle was playing an early show. I had previously written up a post about her here on this very blog and was very pleased to finally get to see her live. She did a 10 song set and then came out for two encore songs, one of which was a cover of Kanye West’s hit song “Runaway.”
I really wasn’t expecting for her to do a cover song that night, but now that I think of it, it makes a lot of sense. She said it herself that she only had one album out so only had a limited amount of songs to play. Also she’s the type of artist that really prides herself on making her mark with her cover versions of these songs making them unique to her and she did so again with “Runaway.”
It’s a really special thing experiencing her live and especially doing that song, the original song is one of that had been played quite often at my household. I don’t know if she will go full studio with her version of the song, which I think she should. I was actually lucky enough to have brought my camera with me that night and hit record at just the right time. It pales in comparison to actually being there but it’ll have to be a suitable substitute for now at the least.
Check out the video at this link here. (apologies for the shaky-camera work.)
The original “Runaway” is a phenomenal song. I remember seeing Kanye playing it on Saturday Night Live (not live but the televised performance, of course) and you could tell that there was something special about this song for him and it was really great. Eliza’s cover is unique to her but doesn’t stray too much from the original structure of the song other than omitting the Push T segments. Where Kanye’s vocal style is more like an emotive speaker performance, Eliza punches her version up adding some fun R&B soul vocals into it. Both are remarkable versions of a really great song.
Okay, thanks for reading. Tune in next time for more Cover song commentary.
I discovered Holly Miranda a little around a year ago through a blog site called “Cannibal Cheerleader” where they would talk up some bands that I wasn’t aware of as well as offered up free mp3 downloads. My friend Emily had turned me on to that blog when they had some early Yeah yeah yeahs mp3s from their “It’s Blitz!” album. Upon looking through the blog to see what other mp3s that were being posted, I found a song called “Waves” by Holly Miranda that totally blew me away. It was a song that kind of reminded me of Mazzy Star but much more fluid and entrancing.
“Waves” quickly met heavy rotation on my ipod and would play through my train commutes and walks to video stores to rent movies. At some point I went back to the blog and found they had posted a second Holly Miranda song and so I downloaded it as well. That second mp3 was “God damn the sun” and that track was phenomenal to me.
What amazed me even more was finding out that it was actually a cover song. I went to find the original and listened to that one to compare, but never before had I heard a song that didn’t really fulfill its max potential until it was covered.
The original is by ‘the Swans’ and it isn’t bad, it’s just that it’s so low energy and passive that it brings no life to the actually amazing lyrics.
Holly Miranda’s version really makes it into something lively and atmospheric. The added production values brings depth to the opening as she starts off pretty low paced but with every new lyric builds and carries it over intriguing the listener to follow her vocal trails. The pace of each lyric delivery leaves me in anticipation for the next line to the very next syllable. It’s like a slower paced Emily Haine’s, who you may know is the lead vocalist in the band Metric, whom I feel delivers a similarly interesting delivery of lyrics but at a much quicker pace.
But yes Holly Miranda’s version of the song “God Damn the sun” is a terrific track and I urge everyone to listen to it.
You can find it here.
I would also recommend “Waves” as well.
Holly Miranda has an album out called “The Magicians Private Library.” It’s a pretty good album and has “Waves” on it. If you really liked “Waves” you would probably like the rest of the album because it’s only more dreamlike sleepy yet sharp melodies.
I discovered sometime ago also that Holly Miranda was in the band “The Jealous Girlfriends” and if you want more from Holly Miranda that’s somewhat different, you should check out her earlier work with them. One notable track by them is their cover of the Smiths “Please Please Please let me get what I want” of the album “Comfortably Uncomfortable.”
Alright, thanks for reading. Tune in next time for more cover song evaluations.
Okay, I realize this may be a stretch to feature a medley song in a blog about cover music just to talk about a band I like but I’m going to do it anyway. It also gives me a platform to talk about something else that is in my new ipod playlist.
I discovered Garfunkel and Oates a couple of years ago from one of my movie podcasts that I listen to at work. It was on blog talk radio’s Movie Geeks United where they had an interview with Riki Lindhome who was promoting the last house on the left remake which she had a significant role. I had known Riki from bit roles on TV show’s such as “Pushing Daisies” and “name another show” and also from some film roles, I remembered noting her in my actresses to watch rolodex in my head because she had a face that reminded me of Cindy Lou Hoo from “the Grinch that stole Christmas” (not an insult by the way).
On that episode of Movie Geeks United they talked about how she had a music duo with another actress whom I’m noticed popping up on the TV scene a lot more now, Kate Micucci and they were called Garfunkel and Oates.
Their name is hilarious because Simon Garfunkel is one half of a musical duo and Daryl Oates is one half of another music duo and their names together imply that they got together to form yet another music duo. I thought that was really cute and checked them out. Turns out they are a comedy music duo who plays songs on the ukulele. I’ve seen Kate show up on an episode of “Scrubs” where she played the ukulele and one of their Garfunkel and Oates songs but a TV safe version called “Screw you.” Kate is also popping up with her ukulele on “Raising Hope” which by the way is a really funny show. I have the biggest crush on Martha Plimpton right now.
But anyway Garfunkel and Oates are fantastic and absolutely hilarious with really cool songs and a worst song medley, which is the feature of today’s blog.
On their worst song medley they weave together a tapestry of terrible songs that are kind of degrading to women, if not lyrically than symbolically, and create a narrative of the fantasy of finding true love from a one night stand.
Listen to the song here* and I’ll break it down to explain what I read into it.
*Scroll down and look for worst song medley (available for free download.)
They begin the medley with Donna Lewis “I love you always forever” which I think embodies the fairy tale version of love that lasts forever and that sets up the goal in the narrative that Garfunkel and Oates are creating.
Then we get into the Paula Cole I don’t wanna wait which I think sets up motivation for the girl character to go out and not wait for her life to be over.
We find her next in a club because the next song in the medley has her on the dance floor where she meets some really horny guy that rubs his thing all up on her.
And I guess it got her attention because we go into kiss me by sixpence none the richer and the girl is all fluttery in the song that even G&O seem unsure of what to make with the overly sugary poetic sentiment that is in it.
Then we have the declaration to consummate in the next part of medley with the song “I wanna sex you up” followed by aqualungs “barbie girl” to further state the case.
The next medley part is a bit harder to read into, but I think it’s the girl character saying “Hey, if we’re going to do this you promise me breakfast, right?”
Now we are in the medley part to what I’m thinking is them in sexual congress with the song “Don’t stop” by MJ, the non-plus delivery of G&O’s humming makes me think the sex isn’t that great.
Then they go into Cotton Eye Joe where I imagine is the girl character being relieved that she used protection.
And then there is Paula Abdul’s Rush and I’m thinking the girl character is like “alright, cum already you’re just dragging this out way too long.”
Then the next medley tune calls to mind morning of the next day and it seems the girl character has found true love as we re enter the Donna Lewis song but not in that guy she went home with but in her breakfast soy late.
Okay so that’s what I thought was going on in this medley, but maybe I’m just reading way too much into it.
Anyway, Garfunkel and Oates have loads of fun songs about really funny things. Such as how smug women get when they’re pregnant or giving that friend a clue about their totally platonic relationship. These songs can be found on their first album “Music Songs”.
They just came out with a second album called “All over your face” which I downloaded the other day and am enjoying a ton. They have a great track in that album about third wheel friends that make you wonder that really is the third wheel here and a great rap song that’s all about hanging at a douche party (best reference: I’m cool like L.L. and fly like Jeff Goldblum).
So check them out here and buy their albums on itunes or amazon.
Check out their music video here
Lastly before I go I was so inspired by Garfunkel and Oates worst songs medley that I made up a compilation playlist of some really bad songs that I felt nostalgic for recently. Some of them are really bad, some of them are actually good, but for the most part I think they kind of go together pretty well.
Here is the 10 track list
Looking for a new love- Jody Watley
This should be everyone’s break up anthem. I am convinced that this song is bad, but I think it’s so good. Maybe it’s bad in that Michael Jackson way. And I don’t me molesting children bad. Sheesh!
Gonna make you sweat-C&C Music factory
This song is a staple to every dance party mix, for no other reason than because it’s mainly instructional with such lyrics as “Everybody dance now” and “feel the music” and the strong advisory to “Sweat…Sweeaaat!”
Touch me- Cathy Dennis
This song should be played at every dance party ever. It probably isn’t because it may lead to another baby boom, and no one wants that.
Naughty girls need love too- Samantha Fox
Oh man Samantha Fox. There is something about this chick that really stuck with me. She did a song called “I only wanna be with you” and that song I thought was really good, but what did I know I was like 8 years old or something. “Naughty girls need love to” is a real oddity of a love song.
Finally- Ce Ce Peniston
Yes, I don’t understand why this song is something I felt the need to relive much lest highlight here. It’s just such a funny declaration in a song. Just listen to her say “Fin-Uh-Lee-Eee!” it’s priceless.
Head to toe- Lisa lisa and the cult jam
Have to show my love for Lisa Lisa and her wonderful cult jam. This band made one of the most brilliant songs of all time about celibacy but I overplayed that song so much already that I decided to showcase another fairly great track from them.
Sign- Ace of base
Ah-pah-dah Uh-yeah! That opening is so awful it’s good. There should be a remix with that sample playing over and over again. The oddity of this song is that it was ever a hit.
Self control- Laura Branigan
I don’t know why I remember this song, it really isn’t good but I have a fondness for it that I cannot describe.
Point of no return- Nu Shooz
This song is such a product of it’s time. This makes me think of graffiti and subway cars and people living in cardboard boxes. What a time to be alive. But this actually a song I like to look back on fondly.
Toy soldiers- Martika
Why was there so many of these odd ballads back in the 80’s? And what is up with the children singing in this track? Why are they there? It’s just creepy.
Okay, thanks for reading. Until next time keep listening within reason.
This has been a short while coming. I haven’t posted one of these in a bit so I thought I’d take the time to now.
Not too long ago I downloaded on itunes one of their free singles of the week, a song called “Rollerblades” and it managed its way into my ipod and I happen to listen to it while I had my one of my playlists on shuffle. I really liked its laid back tone and felt it was pretty good walking around music. So then I went ahead and sought out more by the artist, Eliza Doolittle was the name of the singer, and found two very good cover songs by her.
“F*** You” (originally by Ceelo Green)
This song by Ceelo Green of Gnarls Barkley was brought to my attention by watching the FOX highschool musical dramedy “Glee” wherein one of their episodes featured Gwyneth Paltrow singing a glee-version of the song retitled “Forget You”. I thought it was pretty good and looked for the original and thought that was really good.
Now the Eliza Doolittle version is pretty good itself as she adds her British proper vocal aesthetic making the song kind of cute. Above all the song is a lot of fun and she sings it quite admirably.
“Creep” (originally by Radiohead)
My history with the song “Creep” has been long standing and the original is one that I cannot replace with anyone’s cover version, and I have heard many cover versions of this song. Weezer has done a cover, and so has Christie Hynes of “the Pretenders” and Damien Rice and even Moby. As of late a cover of this song has been used in the trailer for “the Social Network” by a choir group composed by Scala and Kolacny brothers, a very interesting cover in itself.
The Eliza Doolittle version I have to say is a bit hollow, but the vocalization she has is fairly remarkable. Her version sounds more like an exercise where she is flexing her pitch and tone muscles and she does remarkable job at it. I really enjoy her version of the song although I feel that the emotional context of the song is lost on her.
If you want you should check out the tracks on youtube, because there are no mp3s of these covers just the video clips.
Click here for “F*** You”
Click here for “Creep”
I recommend them both because they are both quite good.
I can vaguely remember how I got into Tegan and Sara. I remember seeing the video for “Monday Monday Monday” and thinking it was pretty neat. Then I saw the video for I hear noises and thought the homage to Brian De Palma’s split screen in Phantom of the paradise was brilliant. But it wasn’t until I saw these girls guest host “Subterranean”, an hour block of music videos that was set to replace “120 Minutes” for buzz worthy music. It was there where I really caught on to their particular brand of music. I found out that they were twin sisters from Canada who did folk/rock music, and that they were funny as heck. These girls were just so oddly charismatic and had such a fun back and forth that I couldn’t help but just genuinely like them. I really got a good feel for them that night and I knew I would like what they have to put out. I remember getting excited to look for their CD albums the next day. That was back when I still bought CDs with some regularity.
Around that time I had seen a movie called “Better off Dead” with John Cusack. It was a pretty cool comedy about a kid who thinks about committing suicide after his girlfriend dumps him. At some point in the movie they go to a school dance and on stage singing “One Way Love” was Elizabeth Daily. Elizabeth Daily was an 80’s icon who did pop music for movies and sometimes would appear in them. Her more notable roles would be that of playing alongside Paul Reuben’s as his gal pal, Dottie in “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” and for playing a slutty valley girl in the movie “Valley Girl.” The songs she played on the “Better Off Dead” soundtrack I really liked a lot so I had to go out and buy it right away.
The second E.G. Daily track called “A Little Luck” really won me over when I heard it on CD. I remember the scene in the movie where they played this song and thought about how generic the romance was playing out and so the song just didn’t resonate with me at the time. Hearing the song out of the context of the movie, worked much better for me.There is a section of this song where she has background vocals which would almost overlap. Upon hearing that song I came to a strange conclusion that was that I thought that Tegan and Sarah would do an amazing cover of this. I would listen to the track again and just imagine Tegan singing one part of the song then followed by Sara singing the other. I tell you I could almost already hear their version in my head already.
If you listen to Tegan and Sara’s song “Not Tonight” off their “If it was You” album, you might get an idea of what I mean. Or even the song “So Jealous” kind of reminds me of what this cover that should be like.