Monday, August 30, 2010

Cover me!

One day, my mother, sister and I were on our way home from somewhere, the radio set on, it being my mother's car. (In my father's car, it's never static -- he's always changing the station whenever ads, rap, or the news comes on.) While I do have a growing appreciation for oldies, isn't quite my cup of tea; I prefer, since, well, they don't play soppy stuff. Most of the time. I like the best, though. Moving on...

Suddenly, an all too familiar song came on...sung by a none too familiar voice. When I See You Smile by Bad English, just that it wasn't Bad English. Who was this poppy idiot with shining vocals who dared to cover a song that was perfect to begin with? I had to find out.

When we got home, I rushed in to turn on the radio, and out boomed When I See You Smile, in all its cheesy cover glory. It was gut-wrenching, to say the least. I love When I See You Smile. As I listened, I realised I knew that voice. 'Poppy'... 'Shining vocals'... 'Cheesy'...

Clay Aiken, the one and only.

You can listen to Clay's cover here. If you fear for your ears, however, this is the original.

That day, I started thinking about covers versus originals. You know, there are times when you think the original is fine and dandy, and then someone comes along, takes the song, and makes it even better. There are also some who take the song and screw it up reeeaaally badly, which is so painful; you can't imagine how the original artiste and writer must feel.

So I compiled a list of covers and originals, and which, in my eyes, are better. Here we go.

1. Angels
Originally by Robbie Williams
Covered by David Archuleta
Right, most of you know I used to be a HUGE Archie fangirl. But I am telling you I'm not going I'm not being biased when I say David's version is much, much better. It was a great song to begin with, and then he covered it and made it brilliant. His voice just soars over the high parts, it's lovely to listen to. I honestly cannot listen to the original anymore without cringing. Oh, look at me. I should stop.
Verdict: COVER

2. Always Be My Baby
Originally by Mariah Carey
Covered by David Cook
I had to take both Davids, right? To tell you the truth, Mariah Carey's version had always annoyed the crap out of me. Really. It's all that "Du-du-DU, oh | Du-du-duu du-duu du, oh", it sounds stupid. Cook's cover is a simple, no-frills version (until it gets to the bridge, anyway) that sounds way more authentic. Another one to the covers.
Verdict: COVER

3. American Pie
Originally by Don McLean
Covered by Madonna
I'm gonna come right out and say it: Madonna's cover horrified me. If you watch the original video that I linked and click on the description to read more, you'll see what this lengthy song is about and understand why. In case you're too lazy, here's an excerpt:
The original 1971 LP is dedicated to the loss of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and Jiles Perry Richardson (The Big Bopper) 3 of the biggest icons in rock history that were trasgically taken from us by a plane crash on Feb 03, 1959 in Iowa.. 

Feb 03, 1959 will forever be known as "The Day The Music Died" .. The day people lined the streets and cried and no churches would play any music.
 How Madonna could've found it in her to set the song to a dance beat and add synth is beyond me. And the video! She's dancing and prancing around all the this song! Original wins. ORIGINAL!
(From CryoSites.)

4. Somebody to Love
Originally by Queen
Covered by the cast of Glee
Glee is awesome, and I love it. But I love Queen too, and in this case, the latter wins out. Lea Michele's voice is great and all, but not in this song. Plus, they sped it up quite a bit, and it actually sounds rather upbeat, which kills the meaning of the song. Queen, on the other hand, well... This is their song, this is Freddie Mercury's song; after people found out about his being gay, it took on a rather different meaning. Queen ftw.

5. Big Yellow Taxi
Originally by Joni Mitchell
For a very long time (actually, until a couple of months ago), I'd thought Counting Crows was the original artiste of this song. Until one day, on the way home from school, I heard this lady who sounded like she was singing in a falsetto with this jarring, jangling guitar on the radio, singing it. To my utmost surprise, I was told that the warbling lady, Joni Mitchell, first did Big Yellow Taxi. Wow. I suppose the guitar makes it sound more organic and hippie-like, but I prefer the more polished cover of Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton. I much prefer their voices, at any rate.
Verdict: COVER

Yeah, okay, it's a short list, but I'm doing this instead of studying, so don't be hatin' on me. If you'll notice, I had one of each of a male covering a song originally sung by a female and vice-versa. This is not me being sexist; it's just interesting to think about.

So that's my list. What are your favourite originals and covers?


  1. I like this list. I knew the Davids' covers would win out =P And I agree, although Glee is awesome, it's...Queen. And Freddie Mercury. Queen! You can't really compare.

    Covers I like: Kiss Me - New Found Glory, (originally by Sixpence None The Richer).
    See You Again - Breathe Carolina (originally by Miley Cyrus - takes a generic pop song, adds screaming and electronica)
    Hallelujah - k. d. lang sings it amazingly. It's...beautiful.
    And also, I Want You To Want Me - Letters to Cleo (originally by Cheap Trick)

    (: Kudos for this entry!

  2. Eh. That's exactly why I chose songs where they are the obvious winners. :P Yeah, my sentiments precisely. NO ONE can do Queen like Queen does. <3

    Ooh, I need to check those out. I keep forgetting about k. d. lang's Hallelujah! But idk, maybe it's on purpose 'cause I refuse to budge from Jeff Buckley. );

    Thankyou! <3

  3. A few more known covers that haven't been mentioned:

    Judi Garland's Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Israel Kamakawiw'ole, and Glee cast if you go that way)
    Brother Iz's version, hands down for the reggae strum and mash-up with What a Wonderful World. Eventhough he did improvise the lyrics of the song.

    The La's There She Goes (Sixpence None the Richer)
    Crowded House's Don't Dream it's Over (Sixpence None the Richer)
    Sixpence, though more known for being a Christian band or singing Kiss Me, performs great covers for good songs without compromising the band's own style.

    Xtreme's More than Words (Westlife, Frankie J. and hell knows how many more)
    Honestly, I feel this song has potential, but everyone flops IMHO, including the original.

    Fleetwood Mac's Dreams (The Corrs)
    Fleetwood Mac's song, regarded as a classic by most, sounds unpolished to me. The Corrs' hit cover is a lot more better, still sounding haunting even with additional backing isntruments and a faster tempo. The dance beat nearly kills it, though.

    Billy Joel's Uptown Girl (Westlife)
    Barry Manilow's Mandy (Westlife, again)
    Favouring the originals here. Westlife sure can sing clean vocals, but their covers are pretty much miming. Karaoke effort, not something to find on an album.

    The Proclaimers' I'm Gonna Be(500 Miles) (Less than Jake)
    The Proclaimers, but Less than Jake sure are hilarious.

    Derek & the Dominos' Layla (Eric Clapton, debatable since he was a member of the band and wrote the song, though he performs the song differently solo)
    Eric Clapton gave his version a nice, slower spin. Derek's version still sounds more complete, though. But that might be because I like the riff distorted more.

    Nine Inch Nail's Hurt (Johnny Cash)
    Both classics. Really hard to choose between these two, but I think I'm going have to go with Cash for his (more) moving vocals.

    The Baseballs deserve an honourable mention too for the most original covers, ever. Making "questionable" songs awesome. Especially for Rihanna's(ugh) Umbrella.

  4. P.S. No one can better Queen with their songs. Ever.

  5. Oh and soz for poor sentence structure, grammar and punctuation. I think I'll go to sleep for real now.

  6. Eh eh eh eh eh. I LIKE Frankie J's More Than Words! I used to be a rabid Westlife fangirl, tho. Srsly. And omfg, I need to listen to Hurt. Both versions. NEED TO.

    Also, I think Marie Digby did a great job of covering Umbrella. (: Ella. Ella. Eh. Eh. Eh.