Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pet Peeves: A Brief Venting

So you may not know this about me, but I despise cover songs. I understand when you're at a concert and the band chooses to play a few covers for fun. Totally acceptable. I've nodded along to a few and experienced the excited "I can't believe they know this song!" in my head. But when I'm driving around and I hear a cover on the radio, I can't change the station fast enough. Most--not all, but most covers are not good. There are few that I can tolerate (like this) but I just can't like a cover because my principles are screaming at me not to. I mean come on, it's like saying a photocopy is better than a painting. A lot of it is the sheer lack of creativity on the artist's part. And 99.9% of the time, the cover butchers the original. Then there's also 85% of the time (I'm being generous) when the cover slaughters/murders/decapitates/mutilates/guts/destroys the original so badly that you are traumatized and can no longer listen to the Go Gos without hearing stupid Hilary Duff. But mostly, the reason I hate cover songs is because somewhere along the lines, originals get forgotten and instead of saying "I like that Don Henley song," kids are saying, "That Ataris song is awesome!" Or even worse, one day some little turd will hear the original Don Henley and say "Whose this old guy that's trying to sing Boys of Summer???"

**I apologize for the overly morbid words but I just really hate covers. And I realize the Ataris/Don Henley is an outdated example, but in my head it's up there as one of the worst, coming in second to Jessica Simpson's take on Berlin. There are tons more that I'm forgetting at the moment, but you must have an opinion. What do you think is the worst cover of all time?


Yellow General Lars said...


AKM said...

I understand the revulsion to a certain degree...there are a lot of lazy unimaginative covers (to say nothing of all the lame movie remakes--really, Hollywood, you need to remake Clash of the Titans? I think not) but there are some that are amazing such as Johnny Cash's "Personal Jesus," or many of the songs on the Ruby Trax series. Also Cloud Cult does a Bob Dylan cover that is transcendent. There are others but I can't recall them now!
I know it sounds terrible, but there's very little new under the sun. At least you know how ignorant someone is if they think a cover is the original, right?

Sara said...

After posting this, Ara and I had a long discussion and realized that it's those covers of 80s classics that really drive me crazy, mostly because of how strongly the originals are nailed into my head. I guess I just don't like people touching my classics!

AKM said...

Ha ha, I totally get the annoyance of a great song that is little more than an imitation, but here are just some covers by your favorite bands:

Tom Petty covered Sonny Bono's "Needles & Pins"

Rolling Stones covered a few: Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away"; Kai Winding (jazz trombonist) "Time is On My Side"; Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" and I am sure there are others...

Red Hot Chili Peppers covered Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground"
(yes, I got some help on this list, lol)

Another great one is Social Distortion's cover of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice" which is awesome (Joan Baez did one too that's pretty great)... I think it's hard to be a no-talent asshat and cover Bob Dylan, just by the sheer number of great covers of his songs, though I imagine I'll be eating my words once I look further into this...

Dedalus Bloom said...

There are a lot of covers that blow (Limp Bizkit doing "Behind Blue Eyes," BS doing "I Love Rock 'n' Roll"), but the good ones really stand out to me. And sometimes, the covers lead you to the original.

It sounds dumb but it was when I heard Social D's cover of "Ring of Fire" that I got into Johnny Cash. And The White Stripes covering Son House's "Death Letter Blues" made me appreciate blues and give it a closer listen.

You also can't forget that Aretha Franklin's "Respect" is a cover of Otis Redding. There's Hendrix covering Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower." Robert Plant borrowed heavily from the blues, like in "You Shook Me" and "Lemon Song."

It seems like most of the folk tradition rested on "covers" and riffing on previous songs. "House of the Rising Sun" is one song I can think of that has been covered so many times by all kinds of artists in lots of good ways.

More recently I was impressed with this jj cover of lil' waynes "my life." ( And The Soft Pack covering Phoenix's "Fences."

Dedalus Bloom said...

Oh gosh and Gary Jules doing "Mad World!" Two things about that.

First, that song quickly replaced "Bittersweet Symphony" as the most used soundtrack for high school english video projects.

Two, when I gave the original another listen (I only say "another" because I'm too scared to admit I may have never heard the original up to that point), I realized just how depressing most Tears for Fears songs are (as with New Order and most 80s bands), but they just sing it in such catchy, sunny ways.

But I liked the Jules cover. It seems like this topic can go on forever, or maybe it's just interesting to me.