Posts Tagged ‘covers’

COVER: “Use Somebody” – Bat for Lashes.

April 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Maybe it’s just me, but Kings of Leon’s songs tend to blend for me. They all play off the rockabilly radio pop that while fun to listen to also tends to get a bit repetitive. (Though on a casual Saturday monopolizing the contents of my dorm room, Kings of Leon is on rotation.) But here one of my favorite songs by them, “Use Somebody”, is covered to the opposite effect by Bat for Lashes.

Bat for Lashes

A pseudonym for English singer Natasha Khan, Bat for Lashes has been complimented by acts such as M.I.A. and Thom Yorke, with Bjork seen at a few shows. She has been compared to Annie Lennox or Stevie Nicks, and I think that’s a valid comparison. Khan somehow both skims the surface of and dives into her songs, which leads for an almost transparent musical style. Her cover of “Use Somebody” is slower, sadder, but more emphatic because of it.

Bat for Lashes on
“Use Somebody” – Bat for Lashes.

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COVER: “With or Without You” – Keane.

April 19, 2009 Leave a comment

Oh, Keane. You dependable little band. Yes, you’ve been all over the radio for the past few years. Yes, you’ve been accused of being another generic British band riding on the coattails of Radiohead. But I have faith in you. I think that you’re more than that. Though yes, much of your music fits perfectly on radio playlists, you have a certain je ne sais quoi, a quality I can’t quite put my finger on. I affectionately think of you as the gateway drug to other, more indie bands. “You listen to Keane? Awesome! Here’s some other bands I think you should hear….”


But this post is not about Keane the band, or about their discography at all (I’d start with Hopes and Fears, if you’re wondering). It’s about a cover of a song called “With or Without You,” a song that on its own has a reputation and by proxy has been covered by too many bands to count. It’s the pop-rock version of “Hallelujah.” Originally by U2 (of course), the song takes on an almost acoustic property in the hands of these mates. Recorded for a radio show, it’s soft and sweet and minimally deviates from the original. And believe me, that’s more than okay.

Keane on
“With or Without You” – Keane.

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COVER: “Hey Ya” – Obadiah Parker.

April 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Unless you’re been living under a particularly heavy rock for the past few years, you’ve no doubt heard of the song “Hey Ya” by OutKast. It became one of those songs that everyone was forced to listen to all summer long, no matter what you thought of it, based on the very fact that every store/restaurant/car radio/friend’s house was playing it. I also had to play it in band class, but I digress. But see, there was one amazing thing that came out of the craze: this cover, by Obadiah Parker.

Obadiah Parker

It’s played by just a man and his guitar, and as simple as that is, it elevates the song to something entirely more complex. Instead of just the melody, you can really hear the lyrics in this version, and suddenly that summer anthem means something more. It’s powerful. This is one of my absolute favorite cover songs, and I know that it will soon be yours too.

Obadiah Parker on
(from the album Obadiah Parker)
“Hey Ya”

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COVER: “Maps” – Arcade Fire.

There are bands that are new to the scene, and there are bands that have done their time and paid their dues. Two such bands that fit into the latter category are the Arcade Fire and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Two different bands, two different sounds….right? When they collide we’re left stunned — and with a cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ epitomous song “Maps.”

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire rose to fame not too long ago, and are still beloved by a rather large section of musical brethren. They’re (one of the many)  indie darlings of Canada, sent straight from the north to deliver tunes to the south. They’ve been lauded critically as well as nominated twice for Best Alternative Album at the Grammys.

They bring a really unique element to their live cover of “Maps.” With the prominence of the amazing original in the mind of the general listener, their version delivers something different. If you’re a diehard Yeah Yeah Yeahs fan, you may be disappointed; if you worship the Arcade Fire, you may be left wondering. But I think that the song is a legitimate and great example of the power of cover songs in music today, and hey, you’ll get three minutes of pleasant listening to boot.

Arcade Fire on
“Maps (Live)” – Arcade Fire.

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COVER: “Kokomo” – Adam Green & Ben Kweller.

March 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Any self-respecting human being has no doubt heard of the Beach Boys. Created from the sunshine of a thousand California days (metaphorically speaking), their poppy beats serve as a soundtrack to the summer heat and beachy times. But here Adam Green (also known for the founding of the Moldy Peaches with Kimya Dawson), along with his friend Ben Kweller, covers the song without losing the happy fizz that makes the song a classic.

Adam Green and Ben Kweller

Even though spring is only just raising its head, there are those of us looking ahead to the next vacation, to the days that never quite end. For a few minutes, let’s pretend we’re already there, on the beaches of Aruba and Jamaica (ooh I want to take you….).

Adam Green on wikipediamyspace
Ben Kweller on wikipediamyspace
“Kokomo” – Adam Green & Ben Kweller.

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COVER: “Hallelujah” – Jeff Buckley.

March 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Finally, we arrive at the last item in our “Covers That Are Better Than the Originals” series (whose summary can be found here). It’s time for the best of the best, the creme de la creme, the top of the heap. What song could I possibly be talking about other than the beauty that is “Hallelujah” by the late Jeff Buckley, originally by Leonard Cohen.

Jeff Buckley

This song is a life, a love, a loss in just under seven minutes. Trying to dig under my skin looking for the perfect description is like looking back on past relationships and asking myself why exactly they went wrong, or wondering what makes sunny days fill with promise — you can’t explain it. It just is.
No angsty mixtape is complete without this, yet it belongs on everyone’s iPod no matter the age. Just because we get older doesn’t mean we stop feeling that intensity. When Buckley’s voice cracks with the effort of simply trying to get his feelings out it cracks something inside everyone too. When his voice rises above the lyrics with an ethereal grace not often seen, the words shine.
Simple, heartbreaking, near perfect, this song is a testament to the fragility of the human condition while still standing in the face of all the world throws at us.

Jeff Buckley:
Hallelujah on wikipedia
(off the album Grace)
“Hallelujah” – Jeff Buckley.

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COVER: “Billie Jean” – Chris Cornell.

March 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Welcome to the third installment of “Covers That Are Better Than the Originals.” The summary of the project can be found here. Today I bring you the euphoria that is “Billie Jean” by Chris Cornell, a cover of Michael Jackson’s classic hit.

Chris Cornell

Michael Jackson has nothing on Chris Cornell. Sure, Jackson’s version was the epitome of a generation looking for music to dance to, but did it resonate within the insides of its listeners? Maybe. But Cornell’s version does that and so much more. It exists by itself, and within seconds the original version is forgotten. A deep and moody song, stroking the floors and what lies beneath, it cracks and soars and falls down again, an opus of a forgotten relationship.

Chris Cornell on wikipedia / myspace /
“Billie Jean” – Chris Cornell.

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