January 13, 2009

Covers, Dude

For whatever reason, I really like it when bands sing other bands' songs. I think it's fantastic. The art of covers is a tricky one, though, and coverers can easily go astray. The most surefire way to make a good cover, I've found, is to make it as different from the original version as possible. Ideally, the cover is so reimagined that, upon first listen, it is impossible to detect which song it really is. That is, until the lyrics betray it. Once this happens, once those famous words give it all away, the listener will be so struck by the wit and the gall of this new version that he can only shriek in delight. Most importantly, the cover is not just good because it is a new version of that one song, but because it is good in itself- it really works in its new form. You would listen to it even if it weren't a cover.
My ten favorite covers are (in no particular order):

1. Pale Young Gentleman: "Paper Planes" (originally by M.I.A.)
2. Dr. Dog: "Heart It Races" (originally by Architecture in Helsinki)
3. Jose Gonzalez: Heartbeats (originally by The Knife)
4. Jackie Wilson: Light My Fire (originally by The Doors)
5. Rachid Taha: Rock el Casbah (originally by The Clash)
6. Bright Eyes: Mushaboom (originally by Feist)
7. Feist & Gonzalez: Lovertits (originally by Peaches)
8. Cat Power: Satisfaction (originally by The Rolling Stones)
9. Hot Chip: Sexual Healing (originally by Marvin Gaye)
10. Ray LaMontagne: Crazy (originally by Gnarls Barkley)