The Art of the Cover Song…(The Fray, Kanye West: Heartless, Alien Ant Farm: Smooth Criminal

I’m going to be honest with ya, I’m not a fan of movie remakes. I mean there are plenty of examples of good prequels or sequels but when you take a movie that was already made and then remake it, well it just seems tired. So why is it, that when it comes to songs, I love covers so much? I mean I really, really love a good cover and there’s a ton of examples. So here’s a quick look at some of my all time favorite covers.

The Smashing Pumpkins covered Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide to perfection then later killed it when they remade the Cars You’re All I’ve Got Tonight. Pearl Jam reached all the way back to the 50’s to cover Last Kiss and Tori Amos turned Nirvana’s grunge classic Smells Like Teen Spirit into a ballad so beautiful it was almost haunting.
Then in the late 90’s a new fad emerged when rock stars suddenly ran out of rock songs to cover so they decided it was time to move onto hip-hop. The ska/punk band Less Than Jake played an insanely cool live cover of the House of Pain’s Jump Around. It had all the energy of the HP’s version times ten. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes made a career out of covering other peoples music and Ghoit Hook’s only good album was called Songs We Didn’t Write.

Dynamite Hack (at least to my knowledge) was the first rock band to actually record a hip-hop cover when they playfully made an acoustic cover of Boys in Da Hood. Ben Folds later followed suit with an equally funny cover of Dr. Dre’s B****es Aint S***.
Whenever I see an unknown band live for the first time or happen to catch some singer-song-writer at a coffee shop, I always hope for at least one cover song. Something I know that I can sing along to. My favorite new artist (Emily Wells) first caught my ear with her cover of The Notorious B.I.G song Juicy. Our good friends Centrevol have several covers that they mix into their excellent live sets giving first time listeners some familiar songs.
I guess what it comes down to, at least for me, is that it’s always interesting to see one artist’s take on another performer’s song. To hear a great song in a new way can almost be like hearing it for the first time, a rediscovery of sorts. And isn’t that what a good song is all about…discovering something that stirs emotion within us?

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