Friday, January 29, 2021

29 January 2021 - Giorgio Moroder - Tom's Diner

I decided not to put the "featured" artist in the title of today's blog post.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

28 January 2021 - The East Pointers - In Bloom

I have a funny feeling we're going to posting a lot of stuff from The East Pointers.  The little folk band from Prince Edward Island is absolutely delightful and it is criminal that Mumford and Sons gets a lot of attention and these guys don't.

This particular version of Nirvana's classic "In Bloom" takes some cues musically from the Sturgill Simpson cover while accurately paying homage to the original.  This version is noteworthy for being percussion-free, allowing a violin to stand in for guitar and letting the guitar and banjo handle the rhythm.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

27 January 2021 - Toadies - Heart of Glass

90's "alternative" hitmakers The Toadies appeared on KXRP Radio in 2014 and did this almost completely acoustic, completely swampy cover of the Blondie classic.  It's not female-driven, which is unusual for a cover of this song, but the desperation in the song shines through.

27 January 2021 - Gisele Bündchen - Heart of Glass

Most of the other covers we post today are excellent.  This one is no exception, but it's very different than the others. 

Gisele's cover of the Blondie classic was commissioned by H&M.  Whereas most of the other versions of this song today are paying some tribute to the punk/rock aspect of the song, this version is 100% electronic, going full-on disco and uptempo.  Gisele takes the vocal out of dreamy and into sultry.

27 January 2021 - Grace Potter & the Nocturnals - Heart of Glass

Whereas the original version of this song was a full-on disco homage, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals turn it into a rock anthem, leaving the electronic elements out and minimizing the percussion entirely.  Seems like this version is well-suited for the Flying V being used!

27 January 2021 - Superbus - Heart Of Glass

In the past, we might have just made a "Heart of Glass" special edition post. 

We aren't going to do that today.  

A lot of people who criticize covers of this Blondie classic don't like that the vocalists cannot match Debbie Harry's original dreamy vocal.  Jennifer Ayache, lead vocalist of French band Superbus, doesn't even try to do that.  She brings a different dreamlike vocal to the song, and it works. 

27 January 2021 - Miley Cyrus - Heart Of Glass

Miley's take on Blondie is a study in homage and contrast.   The original version of this song was a disco/rock fusion built around a drum machine beat, with Debbie Harry's breathy falsetto driving the lyrics home.

Miley's take does MUSICALLY pay homage to the disco influence, with the obvious drum machine opening.  There is, however, no breathy falsetto, instead being replaced by her trademark huge throaty voice.... and it works here, almost bringing a bigger desperation to the song.  

This performance had such a positive review that it was released as a single and added to the digital edition of her album, Plastic Hearts. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

26 January 2021 - Nouvelle Vague - Too Drunk To F**k

This French band is known for their inventive poppy covers, often of songs that are seen as not great cover candidates.

Take this Dead Kennedys classic.  The ladies take Jello Biafra's lyrics, clearly intended to be in-your-face punk, and give them a gentle lounge treatment.  Soak it in, like the audience does.  

Monday, January 25, 2021

25 January 2021 - Nina Persson - The Windmills Of Your Mind

In 1968, the performance of this song by Noel Harrison won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, as this song was featured in The Thomas Crown Affair.  Nina Persson, vocalist for Swedish band The Cardigans, does an admirable job bringing feeling and sorrow to the song.  The version is done as part of a tribute to Dusty Springfield, who made a cover of the song a minor hit.  

Yes, she also does it in Swedish.  I think it's even a little better here.   

Friday, January 22, 2021

22 January 2021 - Stevie Wonder - We Can Work It Out

This cover of a Beatles classic was a Top 15 hit in 1971 and earned a Grammy nomination.  And yes, Paul McCartney is CLEARLY a fan.  This performance is from a Paul McCartney tribute at the White House in 2010.  

Wonder's version is far more densely layered than the original, adding keyboard and harmonica parts and a much funkier bassline than even Paul himself envisioned.  

Thursday, January 21, 2021

21 January 2021 - Evanescence - The Chain

This was one of Fleetwood Mac's darkest song, so it stands to reason that it would be one that Evanescence covered as part of their return - giving it an even darker and more orchestral feel.  Of course, it's dominated by Amy Lee's huge voice, but, in an unusual move, every member of the band sings at least a little bit.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

20 January 2021 - Rouge - O Amor É Ilusão

The story of this version is a little darker than most.  In 2005, the band Rouge were three albums in and on the verge of breaking up.  Their label demanded a compilation (read: "Greatest Hits") album.  This song, which was included on an album of rerecorded hits and translated English language songs, was part of the compromise.

As it turns out, the song was a minor hit for the band, but it didn't stop their breakup.  

They did reform in 2018, though.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

19 January 2021 - Trine Rein - Torn

Trine Rein is a Norwegian-American artist.  If you don't read Wicked Guilty Pleasures, you think this is a Natalie Imbruglia cover.   It isn't.  The song was written and performed by the band Ednaswap (that's TODAY's Wicked Guilty Pleasure).   

Rein took this song to the top 10 in Norway in 1996, a full year before Imbruglia (who admittedly was working with one of the songwriters)  released her version.  In fact, it is THIS version that likely sparked the big hit cover.  

I kind of love this version, though.  

Monday, January 18, 2021

18 January 2021 - Pat Benatar - Shadows Of The Night

This song was so huge and so tightly identified with Pat Benatar, you thought it was an original, didn't you?

It isn't, though.  It was originally composed for a movie - Times Square - but was rejected from the movie.  Helen Schneider also released a version of the song, in 1981, before Benatar did.  That version was a hit in Europe.  Rachel Sweet also released a version before this one.

This version, which won the Grammy for Best Female Rock Performance, took a couple of liberties with the original lyrics to make it little less bleak. This version is the one we remember.  Benatar made the song contemporary for 1982, and the song doesn't sound dated today.  

And yes, you're right.  That's Judge Reinhold and Bill Paxton in the video.  

Friday, January 15, 2021

15 January 2021 - The Veronicas - Habits

Three interesting facts about The Veronicas.

1)  Yes, they are twins.  From Brisbane, Australia.
2)  No, neither one of them is named Veronica.  Lisa and Jessica, in fact.  The name is a reference to the movie Heathers, which I recommend wholeheartedly.  
3) They know the words to Tove Lo's first hit song.  

Thursday, January 14, 2021

14 January 2021 - The Odds - Cinnamon Girl

Do I post Craig Northey stuff just because he follows me on Twitter?

Not JUST, but it doesn't hurt.  (If you're a musician and want me to post about your stuff, I'm @redargyle and the story behind that name is a doozy)

He's a remarkably nice guy, by the way.  I probably owe him a drink the next time I'm in Canada.

Here he is with his band, The Odds, in 1993 doing a Neil Young cover and enjoying the hell out of themselves while doing it.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

13 January 2021 - The Dirty Nil (ft. Craig Northey) - School

This is The Dirty Nil from Dundas, Ontario, Canada.  They team up with one of my favorite Canadians, Craig Northey (of The Odds), to cover a Nirvana classic from Bleach.... and do an admirable job without doing a Cobain impersonation.  

If you can get past the busy background, you will be rewarded.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

12 January 2021 - SoHo - Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream)

From the motion picture soundtrack to the 1996 movie Scream, here are SoHo, covering an Icicle Works classic, the original of which was an early favorite song of mine.  If you are in the US, you know the original by the title "Whisper To A Scream (Birds Fly)".  

This cover is a lot more uptempo and hits you with an even greater wall of sound than the original - but it still works for the song.  Enjoy. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

11 January 2021 - Black Barn Band - Pachelbel's Hook

A song that brilliantly mashes  Pachelbel's "Canon In D" and Blues Traveler's "Hook" (which famously used the same chord progression), this version by a little band from Michigan features a tubaist/vocalist, which in itself is endearing.  


Friday, January 8, 2021

8 January 2021 - Cher Lloyd - No Diggity/Shout

By now, you should know that I have a soft spot for Cher Lloyd, who I believe is an underrated artist and who barely lost to One Direction on X Factor.  

Here, she ties together a Tears for Fears classic and yesterday's Wicked Guilty Pleasure, two very different songs from two very different musical eras, and blends them together so well, even Simon Cowell has to take notice.  

Thursday, January 7, 2021

7 January 2021 - Blackstreet - Billie Jean

A cover of the Michael Jackson classic 1) was a B-side to "No Diggity" 2) heavily sampled the A-side.  Blackstreet turned the song into a slow jam, but it works.   

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

6 January 2020 - Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson - I Am The Cosmos

Let's get this out of the way right up front.  

Yeah.  It's that Scarlet Johansson.  

If you didn't know she could sing, well, aren't you in for a surprise!  Not only does she sing, but her voice (along with Pete Yorn's providing harmony) do great justice to the only single by the late Chris Bell of Big Star.  In its original release, it was the A side to "You And Your Sister", which we talked about just last week.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

5 January 2021 - Marmello - HandClap

Yesterday, we talked about Marmello in the context that they did an Ashlee Simpson cover.  

We felt like this Korean girl group that PLAYS INSTRUMENTS - this isn't common in the K-Pop genre, people - needed a little more attention than that.  Although they appear to have broken up in 2018, we still hope for a reunion.  

Watch them enjoy covering the biggest hit by Fitz and the Tantrums and, well, making your hands clap.  

Monday, January 4, 2021

4 January 2021 - Marmello - La La

Today, we celebrate the 9th anniversary of our sister blog, Wicked Guilty Pleasures.  That blog famously (ha!) opened with a tribute to Ashlee Simpson.  You'll see there's an Ashlee Simpson song there today, too.  

What better way to pay tribute than with a guilty pleasure in its own right, a K-Pop rock band?

Friday, January 1, 2021

1 January 2021 - This Mortal Coil - You and Your Sister

Let's kick off 2021 with an artist that isn't really an artist.

Rather, This Mortal Coil was the "house band" for 4AD Records.  Basically, it was a collective to allow artists to record music that was outside their genre.  There were three TMC albums released between 1983 and 1991.  

This interpretation of a song originally written and performed by Chris Bell (and released after his death) was recorded while Kim Deal (primary vocalist) and Tanya Donnelly (second vocalist, guitar) were working together on The Breeders.  It's a faithful cover that captures Bell's melancholy quite accurately.