It is really bizarre to be in the opposing team’s town—why is no one celebrating? Where’s all the purple? Why are you glaring at me? Should I not have shown up to this Super Bowl party dressed up as a tin of Old Bay? So many questions.
Though it was weird to temporarily be in enemy territory, it was nowhere near as weird as these covers. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll tell Tom Jones he’s grounded. Get excited, and please share your “WTF?” covers in the comments—tracking down these songs was way too fun, and I need lots and lots more.
(Oh, and if the intro didn’t spell it out enough, RAVENS! YAY! Come on SF readers. You know the title of this blog.)
“Shock the Monkey” covered by Don Ho
Don Ho’s cover of “Shock the Monkey” is from an album dedicated to “WTF?” covers called When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You’d Hear, featuring notable tracks like a duet of that old standard “Unforgettable” done by Ani Difranco and Jackie Chan (yes, that Jackie Chan), and a legitimately unforgettable cover of “Ohio” by Devo.
This Don Ho cover of “Shock the Monkey” is pretty straight forward, but stringing all those words together in a sentence is enough to warrant a hearty “…huh?”
“Burning Down the House” by Tom Jones and The Cardigans
This cover brings out the latent preschool teacher in me. “No!” I want to say as a slightly shamefaced Tom Jones looks up from his microphone. “No Tom Jones! Leave the Talking Heads alone! And Cardigans, you should know better!” I’d say as I unplugged their amp and sent them to the timeout corner. “We’re sorry…we won’t try to cover songs anymore Ms. Claire,” they’d say, staring at their feet as they toed the carpet. “Alright kids. Go think about what you did. And don’t let me catch you watching Stop Making Sense.” (In this preschool fantasy, a Muppet-babies-style David Byrne is sitting at the snack table, smugly eating a graham cracker and writing the lyrics to “This Must Be The Place” on construction paper.)
“Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” cover by Ke$ha
So weird. Not necessarily bad weird, just weird…weird. Ke$ha clearly gets the song and really hones in on the especially stinging, deeply sad parts. Her version is raspy and a capella, delivered like she just came off of a significant crying jag, complete with those slurping, breathless gasps that come after genuine tears. All of the humor and sarcasm of the original is lost, but it’s a solid interpretation that feels fairly true to the original while sounding very different.
I hated this the first time I heard it, but only because I wanted to hate it—it’s one of my favorite Dylan songs and the combination seemed so ridiculous, and Ke$ha isn’t one of those pop stars who I think is brimming with undercover talent (of which I have many, as you may know from reading this blog). But maybe I was wrong? I think this cover is pretty strong, even though I wouldn’t have bet on it. (This album also has a cover of “You’re Going to Make Me Lonesome” by Miley Cyrus that’s really lovely. I don’t know what’s happening to me. I’m having a Dylan cover induced existential crisis.)
“Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay” cover by Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66
Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 covers are the jam—-imagine that all classic songs were composed instead in an alternate universe populated by Muppets, drinking rum under a cartoon sky full of heart shaped clouds and a sun wearing sunglasses. Otis Redding’s mournful classic now sounds more fitting for a cheerful dance party on a beach. The sunny delivery of “…cause I had nothing to live for/Nothing gonna go my way” is my favorite part.
“Cream” cover by Rockabye Baby!
As an adult person who routinely comes across fairly grownup songs from the late 80s and thinks “Why does this make me want to dance around with a teddy bear?,” I can’t even tell you how weird it’s going to be when your kid hears the real version of “Cream” for the first time. The lyrics! The meaning! The Prince induced narcolepsy! I love this so much. I may never stop laughing.
Non-parents-of-small-children, there’s a whole album of lullaby versions of Prince songs! Parents of small children, I’m sure you already know about this and all of the Rockabye! albums. I hope we’re on the same page that “I Would Die 4 U” is the best track here, and that the lack of “Gett Off” is a lullaby travesty.