Wednesday 4 March 2015

A List of Covers That I Like

There's been this ongoing conversation about covers I've been having with my father that started sometime last year. It's a good conversation to be ongoing instead of just had, because you find things, and remember things, and it all kind of comes back to you in bits and pieces, and you gather information from other people.

Strangely, I've not yet just googled it, opting instead for the meat mission approach.

It's an interesting conversation, because people like covers for different reasons, and I too like covers for different reason because I am a person, which is the singular version of people.

I decided to copy everyone else on the internet by making a list of people copying other people.

These aren't necessarily my favourite covers, because there are things you guys don't really need to hear.

What these covers represent are versions of songs that totally derailed my train of thought, and absolutely took over. Covers that for a split second dragged my mind through a crowd of a million phonic-faces as it struggled for recognition, before something clicked, it all made sense, and I was amazed.

This means that Lion's cover of 'The TransFormers Theme' isn't on the list, because you kind of expect something like that when you first sit down to watch a film called The TransFormers: The Movie.

I'm going to start with a song that I'm including, because I love it. It did kind of take me unawares when I first heard it, but not because I didn't immediately recognise the song. It's shortlisted, but disqualified for sounding too much like the original right out of the gate, but it's in anyway.

Deep into British new wave, as I was, Gary Numan, and in particular Tubeway Army's Replicas, was something I had listened to a lot by the time I acquired Songs in the Key of X, which had 'Down in the Park' covered by the Foo Fighters nestled deep within its X-Files themed track listing. I remember listing to the CD for the first time, and being all like, 'Gary? Is that you? No, it's someone else!'

Bertie Blackman's cover of 'In the Air Tonight' is exactly this thing that I am talking about. The song starts, and you aren't quite sure what is happening. It's familiar, but it's not the same, then recognition sets in and you're pleased. I was pleased. I like Phil Collins. Oh boy, do I like Phil Collins.

One of the most enduring bands to dwell in my musical flavour zones is Queen, and 'Don't Stop Me Now', is banana city all over my face. All over it! I love it. Similarly, Doctor Who is the business end of my love for pulp-sci-fi television. I also love Agatha Christie and classic mummy movies. That's why Foxes' cover of Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now', from the episode of Doctor Who entitled 'The Mummy on the Orient Express', was always something that was going to make its way into my life.

Good thing, that.

I'm going to say Seu Jorge's entire contributions to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zisou. All of it! But, I'm only going to embed 'Life on Mars', because it's 'Life on Mars'.

This one is obvious and totally token. I was a massive Tears for Fears fan for great swathes of my adolescence, early adulthood, and the like, and even though the Michael Adnrews and Gary Jules cover was in Donnie Darko, I had it played to me by some friends who wanted me to 'guess' which was the cover and which was the original. Little did they know I was a British new wave enthusiast going way back.

No, seriously. They knew very little about it. I kind of had a secret life of music.

On the topic of Tears for Fears covers from films, Lorde's cover of 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World' first came into my life through the Dracula Untold trailer. In much the same way as the 'Mad World' cover, it harnesses something darker and bleaker that already existed in the song.

In 2003 I stayed late at cheerleading training (that isn't even a joke. It's entirely true. I was one of those) listening to Triple J. I was training with a girl who wasn't my regular partner, and I'm pretty sure everyone else had left. We were getting ready to do another lift, and we both stopped.

'Is that a cover of "Hurt"?', she said. It was.

'It sounds like Johnny Cash.' It was.

Is it better than the Nine Inch Nails version? I think so.

Lastly, I'm going to say to you that as an adolescent I loved The Prodigy, and I still have a lot of time for Music for the Jilted Generation and The Fat of the Land. They're incredible albums. I was so into them that while in London I bought WipeOut XL, which is the soundtrack to a game that I didn't even own at the time, only because it had 'Firestarter (Instrumental)' listed on the back of it. That's where I was at. That album is incredible (if you're into mid-to-late-nineties electronica, which I am). I still have it.

'Firestarter' was the kind of song (like every other song on this list) that had in its original form taken up residency in the surrounding airspace when I was a teenager, so when I heard the Torre Forlim cover something really weird gave way in me. Not in the same way that it did when I heard Mark Ronson's cover of 'Stop Me If You Think That You've Heard This One Before'. That didn't work for me. Torre Florim's 'Firestarter' works for me.

It caught me entirely off guard while I was waiting for my video to start on YouTube. Thank you, advertising.

What covers caught you off guard?

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