Monday, November 23, 2020

23 November 2020 - Danielle Dax - Tomorrow Never Knows

In 1990, I finally got a CD player.   The first CD I ever bought was Danielle Dax's Blast The Human Flower - a trippy synthpop excursion.  This was the first single off that album - a cover of a classic Beatles song.  

Not all of you will love this one.  I hope enough of you do to check out the rest of the Danielle Dax catalog, because she was an artist unlike any other.  

Friday, November 20, 2020

20 November 2020 - Colin Hay - Overkill

This cover actually got a little exposure when it was featured on the NBC series Scrubs.   The artist - Colin Hay - is actually the one performing the song.  

He also wrote it and performed it when he led a band called Men at Work.  This song was a pretty big hit for them - reaching #3 on the Billboard charts.  

This acoustic version, to me, sounds a lot more desperate - more longing, more pained.   It's a different song - and yet the same.     

And yes, we went with the Scrubs visualization.  Just go with it.  

Thursday, November 19, 2020

19 November 2020 - Electric Light Orchestra - Xanadu

In 1980, Olivia Newton-John was the biggest star on the planet.  So they built a musical around her called Xanadu featuring a lot of roller-skating.  

The movie was awful.  The musical based on the movie is a bit better.  

The soundtrack, a collaboration between Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra and John Farrar, who did ONJ's songwriting, was a delight and spun up a couple of hits.  This one, which appears on side two (the ELO side - Olivia's songs were on side one) in its original version, was an ELO song that featured Olivia on lead vocals (and Jeff Lynne on backup).   

This is a rerecording of the song in 2000, featuring a Jeff Lynne lead vocal.  Different vocalist, different feel, self-cover.  And it isn't bad, to be honest.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

18 November 2020 - Sam Phillips - Holding On To The Earth

Today, we are doing something very different than we have ever done before.  

We are posting the same song by the same artist on Wicked Guilty Pleasures and Totally Covered.  

We're doing this for three reasons.  First of all, this is a self-cover, and a dramatic, soulful reinterpretation.  It doesn't sound like the same song, and for that reason, it's a cover.  We've called it.  

Second, we wanted you to know that now exists and gets you to this blog.  We are no longer treating this like it's a side project.  We've done that for too long, and frankly, we started this blog because we are excited about covers, so we thought this was a great song to use to launch that.  

To learn the third reason, go here.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

17 November 2020 - Christina Aguilera - Genie 2.0

I have been debating whether or not to post this here for many years.   I did post it on Wicked Guilty Pleasures many years ago - a few months before this blog even existed.   It was one of the catalysts to create this blog, in fact.  

I mean, it's completely a self-cover.  It's HER song.  But it isn't the same song.  It's a reinterpretation.   In the interest of full disclosure, we did consider adding "Genio Atrapado" to this post, but instead edited the ORIGINAL POST to include it (please go check it out) - because it's the same song. This isn't.  

And since I decided to die on this hill yesterday, I felt it was finally time.   

This version of the song is certainly different than the original, in that it's a lot more synth-heavy, but it's also a more mature sound that suits a more mature Xtina.  

Monday, November 16, 2020

16 November 2020 - Tiffany - I Think We're Alone Now

I know what you are thinking.   We ALREADY did this one.  

Well, that was one of a special edition of posts showing how many covers of that song there were.  And, of course, the most famous cover of the Tommy James and the Shondells classic - inarguably and in every way eclipsing the original - is the Tiffany version that was literally the first video on that post.   And she even revisited the song once - in 2011.  Same post.  You can go back and see both of them.  

Well, there's another chapter to this story that happened since we posted that more than seven years ago.

Holy cow.  We've been doing this for more than seven years.  

In 2019, Tiffany covered her version.  It's a reimagining of the song - with a much harder edge - not metal by any stretch, but certainly a rockin' version.  One distinction between the Tommy James version and the original Tiffany version is the audible contrast between the chorus and the verses that Tiffany ignored to give the song a younger feel (she famously originally hated it) - this version is faithful to the latter.  

The video for it is less shopping mall and more... family beach day.  Let's call it that.   There's a lot of callbacks to the original video, though - note that Gumby does make an appearance - but it's still a new song.  

Because we respect the classics, here's the first cover she did of the song - where she decisively took ownership of the song.  

Saturday, November 14, 2020

14 November 2020 - The Polyphonic Spree - Lithium

The Polyphonic Spree are a strange choice of a band to do a mostly faithful cover of a classic song.  I mean, of all the bands, why a full chorus featuring a French horn, a pretty complete strings section, and a lot of other instruments found in more orchestras than rock bands.  

Except they aren't a strange pick.  You see, the vocalist of Tthe Polyphonic Spree used to front a band called Tripping Daisy..... this band was a reaction to THAT band's guitarist suddenly dying.  It is there that you can hear the Nirvana influence (although they seem a bit more Green Day-y to me).  

What The Polyphonic Spree bring are the excitement and exuberance - they retain the spirit of the party song this truly is.  

Plus their harp player looks an awful lot like Dave Grohl.  

Thursday, November 12, 2020

12 November 2020 - Sturgill Simpson - In Bloom

Admit it, you didn't see the phrase "nature is a whore" showing up in a country song, did you?

And yet, Sturgill Simpson takes a very loud song and makes it into a sweet coming of age tune - which is exactly what the original was for him when he was 13, when, as he puts it in an interview with Rolling Stone:
I remember in seventh or eighth grade, when [Nevermind] dropped, it was like a bomb went off in my bedroom. For me, that song has always summed up what it means to be a teenager, and I think it tells a young boy that he can be sensitive and compassionate — he doesn’t have to be tough or cold to be a man.” 
He does a masterful job with his remake, because he took the time to understand Kurt Cobain's lyrics, and because it touched him deeply.  This is, to date, his only song to chart on the Billboard Country Chart, peaking at #48 in 2016.  

I don't usually open with the live performance and put a music video later, but I wanted you to SEE the emotion Simpson poured into the song before you saw the images he chose to represent the song.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

13 November 2020 - Lana Del Rey - Heart-Shaped Box

The one where Lana Del Rey sings a song about Courtney Love's vagina.

Seriously, I love her version so much - it's sublime compared to the original - but it's a little weird after Courtney said that....

11 November 2020 - No Doubt - Sliver

Any alternative band of the mid-90's is going to have been influenced in some way by Nirvana.  No doubt, No Doubt knew that.  Hence, this fine live cover.  It's a gem that shows the days before No Doubt became a bit more poppy and Gwen Stefani was not afraid to just belt a song.  

Saturday, November 7, 2020

7 November 2020 - Jessie J - Party in the U.S.A.

Today, the original Miley Cyrus version of this song reentered the charts.  The song is objectively great, and the lyrics were brilliantly written by Jessica Ellen Cornish.

Question: Isn't Jessie short for Jessica?

Answer: Why, yes, it is.  In fact, THIS is the writer performing the song she wrote, live.  

Friday, November 6, 2020

6 November 2020 - A Special Post Malone Nirvana Tribute Edition

Perhaps the biggest surprise of 2020 is the Post Malone Nirvana tribute livestream.  It's not the type of music you'd expect out of him, and yet, he does a faithful and brilliant cover many songs from the entire Nirvana catalog, from Bleach ("About A Girl" was absolutely the Bleach version although more people know it from Unplugged so that's probably why it was included; there can be no question about "School") all the way to In Utero.

I could not pick just one song, so I decided to share the entire livestream.  The livestream was performed as a benefit for the United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for The World Health Organization (WHO) in support of COVID-19 relief efforts, and it is all gold.  

Thursday, November 5, 2020

5 November 2020 - A Nirvana 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Special

 Each of these covers today have two things in common:

1) They were all recorded on the same day in April 2014. 
2) They all featured Krist Novocelic, Dave Grohl, and Pat Smear

These performances were from the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction of Nirvana, and they decided to do it live with a bunch of different lead vocalists. While each are faithful covers - I mean, the backing band - none of these vocalists attempt a Kurt Cobain impersonation, and that's a good thing.  

The first one, "Lithium", from the Nevermind album, features a woman named Annie Clark who Krist Novocelic erroneously introduces as the vocalist from the BAND St. Vincent - Annie Clark IS St. Vincent - but that's not important.  What's important is that she was probably the least well-known vocalist of the lot, and this was something of a star-making performance.

Kim Gordon, on the other hand, was well-known in indie circles as a founder and member of Sonic Youth for many years.  That band broke up in 2011, but Kim Gordon didn't forget her old friends.  You see, Nirvana toured as an opening act with Sonic Youth in 1991, before Nevermind dropped and changed the world.  Gordon chose to sing the hell out of a deep cut, "Aneurysm", a B-side to......

........"Smells Like Teen Spirit".  On this night, Joan Jett - who Krist Novocelic states was NOT yet in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (but was inducted in 2015 with the Blackhearts, a year later) (The Runaways should be in the R&RHOF) - sang what is probably their best known song, and sang the hell out of it.  

This brings us to the end and Lorde.  Lorde covered "All Apologies" from the In Utero album.  It is probably the least faithful of the four covers - because, you know, accordion - and Lorde is the only one of these four singers to never walk the Earth as the same time as Kurt Cobain.  She still, like everyone else this evening, killed it.