Killer Cover Songs  

A friend noticed recently that I’m right into my cover songs. It’s true. But I think the interest goes beyond the musical. I was a big fan of the TV show, Sliders, (especially seasons 1 and 2) where the protagonists would visit alternate realities and learn how this parallel universe differed from the Earth they knew. This premise was followed in the Marvel comic, Exiles, and I loved seeing the different versions of established characters this time displaced band of warriors would encounter. I think my interest is piqued by the idea of the ‘what if?’

What if the Earth was to face a second ice age?

What if Mary Jane Watson was a lesbian Spider-Woman?

What if the song you like was sung by someone else?

We sometimes forget Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” is actually a cover song. The original, written and performed by Otis Redding, is a different beast all together. Redding’s version depicts a desperate man who wants a little ‘respect’ (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) when he gets home while Franklin’s version is a staple of the feminist movement and shows a strong, independent woman who wants R-E-S-P-E-C-T. One of the songs that was huge when I was younger was Soup Dragon’s “I’m Free”, itself a cover of a Rolling Stones song. “Valerie” is best known as an Amy Winehouse track, produced by Mark Ronson, but it was originally sung by the English indie rock band The Zutons.

So what do I look for in a cover?

Generally, I’m looking for something different. If I wanted to listen to the original, I’d listen to the original – so straight covers bug me. Sometimes it’s enough for the lead singer to be of a different gender but often I want more spin. Below are five covers I’ve been listening to lately…

  1. Get Low – cover by Dan Henig

What I love about Dan Henig is his ability to take a song like “Get Low” or “Move Bitch” and strip them back so they sound as if they were born acoustic. I find these covers even more catchy than the originals and have to be wary of getting them stuck in my head or else I might find myself singing them at inappropriate times.

  1. Billie Jean – cover by The Civil Wars

Joy Williams and John Paul White are possibly the most attractive people on this planet. It saddens me that they have disbanded as they are wonderfully talented. Their covers of “Billie Jean”, “I Want You Back” and “You Are My Sunshine” are phenomenal – sweet, soulful and hauntingly beautiful. The Foghat cover joked about at the start of this clip is something I would pay to download too. If only…

  1. Smells Like Teen Spirit – cover by Daniela Andrade

Such a beautiful voice! I’ve spent the last few days checking out Daniela’s channel. Many of her covers offer that spin that I was talking about, personalising a song and making it her own. Possibly the best example of this is her take on Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” but I wanted to save that for –

  1. Crazy – cover by Groove Spoon 

It’s hard not to get caught up in the energy of the lead singer here – it’s infectious. It probably helps that this is one of my favourite songs of all time but this cover makes me smile every time I listen to it.

  1. Me and Bobby McGee – cover by Lauren Tate 

15 year olds should not be this talented. It’s hard to fathom how someone with such a soulful, gravelly maturity in her voice can be so young. I regularly come back to Lauren’s covers of “Landslide”, “Maybe Tomorrow” and “Whole Lotta Love” but this is definitely my go to song.

Anyway, that’s it for now. I seriously considered putting Noah’s version of “Sexy and I Know it” on the list but figured it was too well known. If you haven’t seen it, make sure you check it out. I could have also put up heaps of tracks from Triple J’s ‘Like a Version’ segment – in fact, while browsing my YouTube history I found so many artists to share I struggled to keep the list to 5; looks like a sequel post might be springing up in the future.

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