Sincerest Form of Flattery

The other day while I was tooling around in my car the song “Landslide” came on the radio; however, it wasn’t the original Fleetwood Mac version, but the Dixie Chicks 2002 cover version. As I was listening to it I realized that I might actually like the cover version more than the original (heresy, I know). The way that the Dixie Chicks’ voices harmonized and melded together simply appeals to me slightly more than the more solo effort of Stevie Nicks. I still like the original, but given the choice I would probably listen to the Chicks’ version. Nicks wrote a beautiful song and does an amazing job with it, but I can’t help what I like.

This got me thinking about cover songs in general and other instances where I prefer the newer version of the song to the original. I’m generally a person who doesn’t like change, so I generally tend to favor the first version of a song that I hear; if I hear a song and don’t realize it is a cover I am far more likely to fancy the new version over the original. It works the other way as well – if I hear the original first, I tend to stick with that version over any subsequent versions that come along. What can I say – I’m a creature of habit and I’m mostly loyal to the first iteration that I am exposed to. This happens with movies as well.

However, I do occasionally buck my own trend and like a cover version even after I have already heard and liked the original. Sometimes a cover brings a new or interesting interpretation to a song; by adding their own flair to the song, the cover artist actually takes ownership of the song and makes it their own. They may change up the tempo or alter the arrangement. Sometimes all is takes is a woman singing a song that was traditionally sung by a man (or vice versa) to change your perspective on the lyrics or make you think of a song differently. You may just prefer the voice of the singer doing the cover version. It isn’t an exact science – I like what I like. With that in mind, here are some of my favorite cover songs:

  • Jem – “Maybe I’m Amazed”

 

Whoa – am I actually saying that I prefer a cover of a Paul McCartney song? Yes I am. The Wings version of this song is actually one of my favorite songs of theirs, but I’ve either heard it too much or can identify more with this song sung by a woman. Sir Paul wrote a beautiful song for his wife Linda, but it takes someone else singing his words to really speak to me. It doesn’t hurt that this song was prominently featured in The O.C., one of my guilty pleasure shows.

 

  • Gary Jules – “Mad World”

 

I will be the first to admit that I didn’t understand the movie “Donnie Darko” at all. I legitimately have no idea what was happening. I know it’s a cult classic, but this is one of those times where I don’t know if the movie was just smarter than I am or people just like weird stuff. However, the one thing I did take away from the film was its excellent cover of the Tears for Fears song “Mad World.” This slowed down version is much more poignant and tragic, which I guess is more my style.

 

  • Dynamite Hack – “Boyz in the Hood”

 

I think it is the sheer lunacy of a bunch of white boys doing an alt rock cover of a song by the rapper Easy-E that appeals to me because I can’t hear this song without smiling. The original is the more authentic, of course, and gives an insight into a way of life. The latter is just ridiculous. Sometimes I just want my music to be fun.

 

  • Sonic Youth – “Superstar”

 

The original The Carpenters version of this song is much more upbeat and not quite so ominous; it’s probably no coincidence that I discovered this Sonic Youth version in the trailer for a horror movie, High Tension. Sonic Youth made this song downright creepy; I’m guessing the lesson here is that I prefer the more unsettling and melancholy versions of pop songs. Perhaps this is something I should talk about with my therapist.

 

  • Metallica – “Whiskey in the Jar”

 

You want to piss off a lot of people on St. Patrick’s Day? Tell them how much you love “this Metallica song” when someone plays “Whiskey in the Jar.” That never fails to get people all riled up. The traditional Irish song was made famous first by the Irish folk band The Dubliners, but I much prefer the hard rock edge that Metallica puts on it. They take this song to a whole other level.

 

  • Tiffany – “I Think We’re Alone Now”

 

Thanks to the radio always being on in my house growing up, I was well aware (unlike most of my friends) that this song was originally performed by Tommy James & The Shondells. But knowing my musical history didn’t make me any less a child of the 80s so I much prefer the updated version that “mall queen” Tiffany released in 1987.

 

  • 10,000 Maniacs – “Because the Night”

 

This is obviously a great song because The Boss himself, Mr. Bruce Springsteen, helped write it. But I have never been much of a Patti Smith fan so her original version of the song didn’t do much for me. I remember being very bored when she was the opening act for R.E.M. when I saw them in concert; I didn’t dig her at all. I am, however, a fan of Natalie Merchant’s voice, so it is no surprise that it is no contest that I prefer the 10,000 Maniacs version to the original.

 

  • Eric Clapton – “I Shot the Sheriff”

 

I happen to subscribe to the “Clapton is God” way of thinking about things, so as much as I enjoy Bob Marley and like his original version of this song, I would much rather listen to ol’ Slowhand do his thing with this tune. Apologies to Marley and the Wailers, but that’s just how things are.

 

  • Nirvana – “Lake of Fire”

With all due respect to The Meat Puppets, once Kurt Cobain gets ahold of your song, it’s pretty much over. No one is going to remember that it was your song, which is exactly what happened when Nirvana performed the song during their legendary MTV Unplugged appearance. Even though The Meat Puppets came first and Cobain was paying them tribute with his version, most people think of this as a Nirvana song.

 

  • Johnny Cash – “Hurt”

 

I liked this song just fine when it was originally done by Nine Inch Nails, but in the hands of the “man in black” the song really takes on a life of its own. Covered toward the end of Cash’s life, his version carries the weight of a man looking back at this life and the mistakes he’s made. It’s tragic and beautiful all at the same time.

 

Definitely NOT making my list:

  • Whitney Houston – “I Will Always Love You”

 

I get why people love this song and there is no disputing that Houston has a gorgeous voice and made this song a global phenomenon. But this is and always will be Dolly Parton’s song to me. Because Dolly Parton is awesome.

 

I’m sure that I missed a bunch – what are your favorite cover songs of all time? Sound off in the comments below.

 

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – May Day Edition

Happy first day of May! While this date used to be commemorated with festivals and May baskets, now it just means that I need to pay my rent, which is decidedly less glamorous. I think we should bring all those celebrations back, if for no other reason I could use a day off from work and it is a gorgeous day outside. I’d even be willing to dance around a Maypole if need be.

While I try to convince my boss that we should be observing this ancient spring festival, kick back and enjoy your bi-weekly roundup of pop culture stories that you might have missed. If you see a story that you think should be included in this feature, please feel free to hit me up on the blog’s Facebook page or tweet me (@AsHeathersWorld). And don’t forget to vote to decide what my summer viewing project will be; the polling sample is small at the moment, but The Good Wife is off to a narrow lead. Finally, a very special welcome to all the new people following the blog – your readership is much appreciated!

Now let’s get our pop culture on!

  • Seth Rogen and FX are teaming up for an animated program about Bigfoot.
  • Check out this jazzy cover version of Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” that will be in The Great Gatsby:

 

  • However, the soundtrack also features this horrific cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.” Beyoncé is fine, but Andre 3000 ruins it:

 

  • Johnny Depp is in talks to star in the big screen adaption of the Broadway musical Into the Woods.
  • The Madonna/Elton John feud has been squashed. This has really been going on a decade?
  • A woman recreated the opening of a bunch of TV shows for her hubby’s birthday:

 

  • More pop culture birthday: a How I Met Your Mother themed party.
  • Mad Men has gone to the dogs:

 

  • After the success of Veronica Mars, Zach Braff has also turned to Kickstarter to fund his new movie. For some reason, this has people all worked up into a tizzy. I know it’s not cool to say, but I actually really liked Garden State, so I’m eager to see this new film.
  • All My Children and One Life to Live have been revived; the soaps started an on-line only run o Monday.

Renewal news:

  • The CW has renewed The Vampire Diaries, Heart of Dixie and Beauty and the Beast. They also picked up The Vampire Diaries spinoff, The Originals.
  • NBC has renewed Parenthood (yay!), Chicago Fire, Revolution, Grimm and Law & Order: SVU.
  • Two and a Half Men will be back, short a half man; Angus T. Jones will not be a regular.
  • Comedy Central has renewed The Jeselnik Offensive and Nathan for You.
  • MTV has renewed Snooki and JWoww and is reviving Nick Cannon Presents Wild n Out.

 

  • Paul Scheer and Will Arnett decided, for unknown reasons, to recreate the Bill Clinton/Arsenio Hall interview (with some creative license):

 

  • Armie Hammer and Tom Cruise are slated to co-star in Guy Richie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E film remake.
  • Neil Diamond is donating the profits from “Sweet Caroline” the week of the Boston bombings to a charity for the victims.
  • Quentin Tarantino’s car – driven by John Travolta in Pulp Fictionhas been recovered 17 years after it was stolen.
  • This guy nails his Louis CK impression (NSFW):

 

  • This is kind of spectacular: Norman Reedus (Daryl from The Walking Dead) photobombed a Game of Thrones fan picture:

Screen-Shot-2013-04-29-at-11.23.10-AM-650x340

 

  • The Tony nominations were announced. Tom Hanks is closer to getting an EGOT.
  • In honor of the Red Headed Stranger’s 80th birthday, watch Willie Nelson’s “audition tape” for The Hobbit:

 

  • I haven’t played in years, but I was interested to hear a new Grand Theft Auto game is coming out in September. I always enjoyed that game, though I mostly just drove around and wrecked stuff.
  • Watch SNL’s Kate McKinnon do her Ellen DeGeneres impression for Ellen on Ellen:

 

  • Fans of The Simpsons may want to check out this website that encourages artists to reinterpret Homer Simpson.
  • Supervillian speed dating:

 

  • This is hilarious – E.L. James, author of the Fifty Shades of Grey series – is releasing a writing advice journal. Those books were a lot of things, but well written wasn’t one of them.
  • NBC will allegedly be burning off the remaining episodes of the dreadful Do No Harm over the summer.
  • Watch a short film directed by Michael Cera:

 

  • I didn’t make it again this year, but the winners of the Tribeca Film Festival have been announced.
  • Michael Bublé put on an impromptu show in the NYC subway:

 

  • House of Card’s Corey Stoll is attached to a vampire pilot for FX from Carlton Cuse and Guillermo del Toro, based on the del Toro’s book The Strain.
  • A musical Dowton Abbey spoof? Why thank you! (contains spoilers)

 

  • Uproxx created a power ranking of Ted’s girlfriends on How I Met Your Mother. Zoey should have been much lower – she was the worst.

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts:

  • It’s a quip off between Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess and Game of Throne’s Lady Olenna
  • Here’s a mashup of trailers for summer 2013 movies:

 

  • The Game of Thrones/Friends mashup (contains GoT spoilers):

 

  • MineKart 64 – Minecraft and Mario Kart 64:

 

  • Statler, Waldorf, & Inglourious Basterds

 

  • This Taylor Swift/Demi Lovto mashup (“I Knew You Had a Heartattack”) is pretty catchy:

 

  • Mad Men and The Simpsons both have done episodes involving Planet of the Apes, so it was only a matter of time before someone put them together:

 

  • An Arnold Schwarzenegger supercut:

 

  • And finally, here is Cookie Monster singing Tom Waits (NSFW). I am embarrassed to say how many times I have watched this: