Monday, July 11, 2005

Rock Star - INXS, or why I hate cover songs

CBS for no aparent reason has decided to give summer TV viewers a more rocking version of "American Idol" with the twist of the winner getting to be lead singer in a washed up band whose lead singer Michael Hutchence might have died of auto-erotic afixiation back in 1997. The show Rock Star: INXS has an element of voting off and the usual house full of freaks eventually putting on the standard, yet more rocking, cover songs with interesting guest judge (Dave Navarro) and annoying host (Brooke Burke). I don't care about the show as my last and only favorite INXS song was "Don't change."

However the show made me understand a type of singing that, as our blog subtitle goes, I hate: cover songs. I think the main issue is that bands and singers on bad TV shows sometimes pick songs that I really like; therefore, making it almost impossible to forget the original "better" version. This rule actaully works for songs I don't really like. Just yesterday, I heard a horrible, slow version of "I'll stop the world (and melt with you)."

So what are the exceptions to my rule? What covers do I like? In no particular order, but starting with humor I guess ...
1. AC-DC cover bands, well actually just, Beefy DC
2. "Girlfriend in a coma" - Mojo Nixon: A song that I really dislike (even though it must be a joke song) is interpreted by the where is he now Mojo. I think he is a DJ actually.
3. Any Van Halen cover: "You really got me" cooks along and has some hilarious yelp solo from Diamond Dave.
4. Speaking of VH, I remember liking "Jump" by Aztec Camera, but that's a little obscure.
5. "Big Shot" - Beastie Boys: Saw this live, front row in Paris. I was one of the few that understood the choice of a Billy Joel song as a segue.
6. "Pressure drop" and "Police and thieves" - The Clash: both songs show the band's ability to lively up rock with a reggae beat and killer guitars
7. "Everybody's crying mercy, when they don't know the meaning of the word" - Elvis Costello in a faithful version that convinced me to seek out all things Mose Allison.
8. "Funny Valentine" - Elvis Costello: Great song for a hip mix tape for a friend of opposite or same sex.
9. "Star Spangled Banner" - Jimi Hendrix: The definitive song of the 60s?
10. "Satisfaction" - Devo
11. "The man who sold the world" - Nirvana: Don't you think Bowie prefers this one to his own.
12. In a return to humor, "Louie Louie" - John 'Bluto' Blutarsky and members of Delta House


At 1:46 PM, Blogger Tom F said...

Nice list of covers. Would have loved to have seen the Beastie Boys covering Billie Joel's "Big Shot." That's hilarious.

Here's another one to add. Tori Amos covering Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

When Maria and I first met, she was a big Tori fan. I got some tickets to a show at the Berkely Performance Center. She played her usual stuff, then in the encore did the Nirvana song, taking a very muted approach.

I can't say that I'm a big Tori fan. There are a few songs that I like. But the cover was fun and unique. Not sure if she just did this one live, or if it was recorded and published.

At 7:34 AM, Blogger The Optimist said...

Best cover is Alien Ant Farm doing Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal. And don't get all holier than thou on me and say that a good cover has to be from a good song originally. Michael Jackson made thriller. Thriller!!!

At 8:50 AM, Blogger DougH said...

If you want covers, go with the pros.

"You Keep Me Hanging On" by Vanilla Fudge. Totally inverted the Supremes' original into a sludgy psychedelic masterpiece.

Fudge (and their contemporaries Deep Purple) created a bunch of similar reinterpretations of pop hits for the pre-metal, psychedelic crowd. A fascinating, if brief, trend. They also delivered a startling version of Donovan's "Season of the Witch."

(As for the early Deep Purple, their versions of Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman" and "River Deep Mountain High" are also highlights.)


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