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November 1st, 2004

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08:51 pm
I'm suffering today, so you must suffer too.

Some of you know I'm a sucker for cover songs. Sometimes the more egregious the cover, the more enjoyment I get out of it. Other times, however, it just makes my ears bleed.

See, there are good cover songs and there are bad ones. Good cover songs will find an interesting new take on the original song and enhance it somehow. Bad cover songs will take the meaning of the original, grabbing the subtle nuances while they're at it, and either pervert them incoherently or just ignore them all together. (The most classic example is GL's impassioned lament of a way-too-upbeat a cappella cover of I Heard It Through The Grapevine that we once had to endure: "The original song is about heartbreak! Pain! About a girl who's left the singer forever without telling him! With this song, it's like she just stepped out for some groceries!")

Oh, there are also mediocre cover songs, note-for-note remakes that just make no existential sense at all -- why do it if you want to sound 100% like the original? Just because you like it? Because you can? Well, ohh-kay...

The song I found manages to commit both cover song sins at the same time, which is quite notable. It also sucks hard, which isn't so notable. It's also one of the most idiosyncratic pairings of song genres I've ever heard, which wouldn't have been so bad if, again, the song hadn't, say, sucked wind.

I'm speaking of this: A 1985 Eurosynth pop cover of Ode To Billy Joe. With horrendous synth sound effects punctuating almost every phrase, destroying any kind of mystery or melancholia the original song, however 70s cheesy, held. And you can't even dance to it. Not that I tried. But if I had tried, I'd have failed. And not due to any lack of skill on my part, which is pretty impressive. The lack of skill, I mean.

I'm really not amazed that someone thought this pairing up -- anyone can do that with enough dee-licious chemicalia in their head -- but I am amazed, however, that someone else thought that it was a good idea.

(7 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:November 2nd, 2004 02:19 pm (UTC)
That's my band's version, you fuck. We worked hard on it.

That is a filthy lie. I apologize.

I will say that Sinead O'Connor's cover of that song outdoes the original about six ways to sunday, however.

//BeaucoupKevin (http://beaucoupkevin.blogspot.com)
[User Picture]
Date:November 2nd, 2004 04:24 pm (UTC)
You really ought to hear Bill Cosby's cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." It is my favorite cover song of all time. I've got it around here somewhere...
[User Picture]
Date:November 2nd, 2004 05:25 pm (UTC)
I have him singing "Hooray for the Salvation Army Band!" which is this weird Purple Haze-soundalike but it's, uh. Yeah.
Messed up.

I'd love to hear the Beatles cover!
[User Picture]
Date:November 2nd, 2004 05:41 pm (UTC)
That's actually the name of the album that the Beatles cover is on. It's one of my prized possession novelty records. I'll dig it up tonight and hook you up.
[User Picture]
Date:November 3rd, 2004 05:27 am (UTC)
That sounds freakin' excellent, thank you.
[User Picture]
Date:November 13th, 2004 02:40 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:November 3rd, 2004 04:26 am (UTC)
I think you're ripe to become a hardcore Tom Waits fan. I've lost count of the times I've heard other performers totally fail in covering his songs.

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