Claire’s Top 5 Covers
Song: Go Straight to Hell
Cover by: Lily Allen
Originally by: The Clash
Lily Allen’s lullaby-sweet vocals and borderline-cheery background music, paired with these classic Clash lyrics, makes an already haunting song doubly so and gives “Go Straight to Hell” some dichotomous whimsy.
Song: I Go To Sleep
Cover by: Sia
Originally by: The Kinks
Sia will haunt your f**king dreams. I know it’s a different song, but can we talk about the end of Six Feet Under? Come on. This is also a song made for covers: Look up versions by The Pretenders, Peggy Lee, and a very young Cher.
Cover by: Yo La Tengo
Originally by: NRBQ
I listened to this song at least a thousand times when I was eighteen years old. It was one of those classic “Oh, you wrote this for me” moments you have with music in early college, where heightened emotions and self obsession are at their peak. My father and an old boss of mine would call it blasphemy, but I like this version way more than the original, which has a grating level of upbeat NRBQness.
Song: I’m On Fire
Cover by: Bats for Lashes
Originally by: Bruce Springsteen
Also, haunting, because this is apparently Claire’s haunted covers collection. Boo.
Song: Needles and Pins
Cover by: The Ramones
Originally by: Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono
This was originally recorded by Jackie DeShannon, which is a great version. It’s another song made for covers: Look up the Cher version (I know, Cher again, who knew super young Cher was so awesome?) and the Tom Petty/ Stevie Nicks cover, which is lovely.
- “Raspberry Beret,” cover by Warren Zevon and The Hindu Love Gods
- “Naive,” cover by Lily Allen
- “Hard to Handle,” cover by Toots and the Maytals
Josh’s Top 5 Covers
Song: I Will Survive
Covered by: Cake
Originally by: Gloria Gaynor
This song encapsulates everything Cake is about: emotionally subdued vocals, fat-ass bass riff, and funky guitar. They take the original version, a glitzy, disco’d-out dance number by Gloria Gaynor, and strip it down the bare necessities: punchy drums and a thumping bass line. They then add John McCrea’s staple singing and quite possibly the best one-note guitar solo ever recorded. Plus he swears! And there’s a vibraslap! And a mid-song count-off! It doesn’t get much better than this.
Song: Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
Covered by: The Isley Brothers
Originally by: James Taylor
The original version is done by James Taylor. This version can convince anyone to drop their pants and get it on. Being able to do that with a song written by James Taylor? Priceless.
Song: Take Me to the River
Covered by: Talking Heads
Originally by: Al Green and Mabon “Teenie” Hodges
This version nails the song in a way Al Green never conceived. It’s harrowing in a way only David Byrne’s vocals can convey and the backup singers only further that goal. The sparse instrumentals are the kicker in this version: the majority of the song is one drum riff and one repeated bass line. I don’t know how Byrne decided to do the song this way, but it’s another version where the desperation of the lyrics is shown off better in the cover than the original.
Song: I Know I’m Losing You
Covered by: Rod Stewart
Originally by: The Temptations
I’m gonna go out on a limb here. I think this is a better version than the original…which is done by the Temptations. I know that sounds blasphemous, but this version wins on every level. The guitar work is funky, the drumming is amazing, and Stewart’s raspy vocals appeal the song’s message in a way the smooth sounds of the Temptations never could. It’s all together more desperate and wanton than the Temptations ever had the capacity to be.
Covered by: Jeff Buckley
Originally by: Leonard Cohen
The original was haunting and vaguely spiritual. This version is all sex, dripping with lonely reverb-laden guitar notes, plucked individually and rarely strummed, and filled to the brim with regret and shame. It’s like sleeping with your ex-girlfriend and then seeing her the next day in another man’s arms, laughing coyly and casually playing with his hair. It’s the kind of broken-hearted that makes you want to drink scotch all night listening to Charlie Rich and smoking profusely in the dark. This song is not for the faint of heart.
- “The Guitar Man,” cover by Cake: A great version of a great song, with the ever present Cake “YA!”.
- “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” cover by Toots & the Maytals: So much better with a Jamaican accent. Isn’t everything?
- “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These,” cover by Marilyn Manson: Put this song on in the dark at three in the morning. It’s actually scary.
- “Hurt,” cover by Johnny Cash: A cover so good that the original writer, Trent Reznor, said that the song was Cash’s from then on.