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 – Epic Roundup edition

So it appears I went a little overboard this week with the links; I was freaking out that I was behind schedule on this post and just started plugging away in compiling links. Next thing you know, the document was nine pages long. I guess I just kind of lost track of what I was doing. So while you wade through all the pop culture goodness I’ve cultivated for you over the last two weeks, I’m going to consider taking a nap after a job well done.

  • Chris Brown is facing possible jail time after an alleged hit and run incident. That’s kind of like getting Al Capone on tax evasion.
  • Don Draper’s childhood home is a real place (and for sale), though it was heavily CGIed for Mad Men. Michael Jackson’s Thriller video and scenes from Chinatown were filmed in the same neighborhood.
  • Get off the ledge – Robert Downey, Jr. is confirmed for Avengers 2 and Avengers 3.
  • Breaking Bad is the latest TV show to get its own beer. Anyone in Albuquerque want to send me some?
  • Um….am I the only one that finds it odd that they are using an Eminem song in the trailer for Despicable Me 2?

 

  • Starz has officially announced a new series Outlander, based on the books by Diana Gabaldon. Not sure it is for me, but sounds interesting.
  • No shocker here – Dan Harmon finally watched the 4th season of Community and he wasn’t a fan.
  • Flavor Flav’s last chicken and ribs restaurant has closed. Fun fact – Flavor Flav is inexplicably one of my Twitter followers (Word up, Flavor FLAV!).
  • Stephen Colbert’s mother passed away last week. If you haven’t seen his touching tribute to her, it is a must watch. I bawled through the whole thing.

 

  • The national nightmare is over – Twinkies, Ho Hos and the rest of the Hostess cake family will return to shelves July 15. I’m guessing the people who dropped a ton of cash to stock up are feeling kind of foolish right now.
  • Someone (brave) got an Arrested Development inspired license plate:

anustart-640x480

 

  • The Faceblock App from the new episodes of Arrested Development can now be downloaded.
  • Shark Week is coming in August – and if this promo is an indication, it’s going to be particularly twisted. RIP Snuffy.

 

  • CNN breaks down the accuracy of the recent Lifetime movie on Jodi Arias (which yes, I watched). Good job CNN – no worldwide crises you should be covering.
  • Nick Swisher and his actress wife Joanna Garcia have released the first picture of their baby daughter and she is just precious:

 

Welcome to the world, Emerson Jay!

Welcome to the world, Emerson Jay!

 

  • Finally! One of Taylor Swift’s (alleged) exes has (allegedly) written a song about her. Oh John Mayer – I knew you were the one that was douchey enough to do this and I love you for it.
  • Jon Stewart was on the Egyptian version of The Daily Show. It switches over to English about 2.5 minutes into the interview

 

I’m still reeling from the death of James Gandolfini and am touched with the various ways he has been honored:

  • The New York Yankees took a moment to observe his passing:

GTY 170957623 S BBA BBN BBO SPO USA NY

 

  • Holsten’s Ice Cream, the locale for the final scene of The Sopranos, saved a table in his honor:

obit-james-gandolfini

 

  • Sesame Street posted a clip of his 2002 appearance:

 

  • Gary David Goldberg, creator of Family Ties and Spin City, passed away. Michael J. Fox remembers him.
  • I’m regretting that I didn’t go to the Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival – it happened only a hop, skip and a jump away in North Adams, MA. I’m especially bummed I missed Wilco’s all cover set, but now I can listen to it online in its entirety.

 

  • Happy 50th birthday to Georgios Kyriacos Panagiòtou (George Michael to the uninitiated).  In honor of half a century, here’s one of my favorite songs:

 

  • A new poster has been released for the final season of Breaking Bad (did anyone else internally yell out Fame? Just me? Moving on….)

breaking bad poster

 

  • Men’s Wearhouse has fired their founder (and star of their commercials). I’m guessing they didn’t like the way he looks.
  • The Village Voice has an interview with my favorite member of The Roots, Questlove.
  • A Street Fighter parody – with cats. My Pumpkin would dominate in this.

 

  • Among the new Houseguest on this season of Big BrotherRachel’s sister (if you watched the show, you know what this means).
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon was really exceptional last week – great guests and fun bits – but this Super Mario Brother’s rap is really fantastic:

 

  • Speaking of…this photo makes me deliriously happy:

Rob Stringer Honored As UJA-Federation Music Visionary Of 2013

 

  • The first episode of the Stephen King miniseries Under the Dome did very well for CBS. The rich get richer.
  • An infographic of Leonardo DiCaprio movies.

tumblr_molhevq4wD1qb74y4o1_1280

 

  • The first trailer for the upcoming Lego movie has been released:

 

  • This screencap pretty much sums up the 90s:

colorbadd

 

  • Parks and Recreation will kick off its sixth season with an hour long episode that takes place outside Pawnee.
  • Disney has (thankfully) decided to change the name of the upcoming Muppets sequel from The Muppets…..Again! to Muppets Most Wanted.

 

  • Ridley Scott. Cormac McCarthy. Brad Pitt. Michael Fassbender. Penelope Cruz. Javier Bardem. Cameron Diaz. All associated with one movie – The Counselor

 

  • The actor in this character might look familiar – he was the awful Oliver on The O.C.

 

  • OK – I PROMISE this is the last Kanye-related thing this week. He made a terrible short film to promote his new album Yeezus that features fellow Kardashian baby daddy Scott Disick and Kim BFF Jonathan Cheban. They are not great actors, but this is kind of hilarious since Disick has always given off an American Psycho vibe. Glad to see he owns his sociopathic-ness.

 

  • This isn’t really pop culture related, but it’s far too crazy not to share (and it happened a few towns over from me).

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts

  • Here’s montage of famous movie actresses, edited to make their heads explode

 

  • Wonder what it would be like if John Lennon auditioned for The Voice? Wonder no longer

 

  • I’m still not tired of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky;” listen to it performed by President Obama:

 

  •  A supercut of all of Troy McClure’s credits on The Simpsons

 

  • Jon Snow gets an 80’s style training montage, as it should be:

 

  • This supercut seems to indicate that David Letterman is kind of obsessed with drums:

 

  • A supercut of zombie headshots

 

  • And finally – Hannibal’s open credits get an Arrested Development make-over:

 

Have a great week!

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Halloween Edition

Tonight trick or treaters will descend upon residences across the nation, in search of the elusive homes that give out full sized candy bars. I never did find them during my trick or treating tenure, but I have heard that they exist. Unfortunately I found plenty of houses that gave away raisins. May tonight’s participants in the Candy Games have better fortune.

So in between handing out goodies to members of the Avengers, Disney princesses and sullen teenagers with pillow cases, check out your biweekly roundup of pop culture stories.

  • The children of New Jersey may get a delayed Halloween, but they will get it. Governor Christie has said he will issue an Executive Order to move Halloween if things are too dangerous. A lot of people have been making fun of this, but I think it’s a nice gesture. I remember how devastated I was when I was little and the pediatrician said I was too sick to go trick or treating. One dramatic crying fit later and my parents were driving me house to house so I could still participate, if on a limited basis. So I’m glad that the children of Jersey won’t be disappointed. They need something to look forward to.
  • Inexplicably, amid all the terrible destruction and damage in New Jersey, The Jersey Shore house was untouched. I was not one to believe in the Mayan prophesy, but this might be enough to convince me.
  • More big news – the new season of Community finally has an official air date. The good news is that the show is back on Thursday nights. The bad news is that the season won’t start until February 7, 2013. NBC – YOU ARE KILLING ME!
  • In other news from the peacock network – NBC has passed on the Dwight Schrute focused The Office spin-off, The Farm. As of now, we’ll still see the pilot episode; it will air as an episode of The Office as originally planned. It probably can’t be worse than Mockingbird Lane, the failed pilot for NBC’s update of The Munsters that they burned off last week. Yowza – that was terrible.
  • NBC has also halted production on the ratings challenged Up All Night and will bring it back as a multi-camera show filmed in front of a studio audience. I’m really not sure how that is going to increase viewership, unless they are banking on audience members forcing their friends and family to watch to see the episode that they saw tape. Otherwise, I think this is putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.
  • One last NBC note – for reasons that I do not understand the network is pulling all their Thursday night comedies this week. Instead, they are allegedly airing a repeat of The Voice. You read that correctly – A REPEAT. However, since 30 Rock has an election focused episode and Election Day is Tuesday (vote early and often!), 30 Rock will air tonight (Wednesday) at 8 pm. I officially give up on figuring out this network; perhaps the newly unemployed Crystal the Monkey (RIP Animal Practice) is now in charge of programming. That being said, they are doing better by 30 Rock than poor Community – their Halloween episode will air sometime in March.
  • Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on winning the World Series! I was pulling for them, though I will admit that I don’t think I watched one inning of the World Series this year. Even when the Yankees aren’t in it, I usually catch a game or two, but that just didn’t happen this time.
  • The first trailer for Iron Man 3 has been released

They were scouting a local location for this movie, but that apparently didn’t come to pass. Maybe for The Avengers 2?

  • I got a kick out of this Esquire article about the author’s experience at a casting call for The Rock’s new reality series The Hero.
  • In a recent interview Total Film magazine, Quentin Tarantino  hints that Inglourious Basterds and the upcoming Django Unchained are two pieces of an unofficial trilogy. I’m on board.
  • Mark your calendars – new episodes of Arrested Development are coming to Netflix April 2013.
  • What the what? Will Ferrell did an ad for Old Milwaukee beer – airing in Sweden.

 

  • Adam Sandler’s next movie will be a Western. God help us all.
  • Chloe Sevigny will star in a new cop drama for A&E.
  • Paul McCartney does not blame Yoko Ono for the breakup of The Beatles. So that settles that.
  • George Clooney’s next directorial effort has quite the cast: Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, John Goodman and last year’s Oscar winner for Best Actor, Jean Dujardin.
  • Axl Rose gave his first live interview in a decade on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Behold:

 

  • My new favorite tumbler? Kanye Wes – a mashup of Kanye West and Wes Anderson.

Now for some Halloween-specific links:

  • Mike Myers as Michael Myers?

 

  • Paste has compiled the 20 best horror movies currently streaming on Netflix Instant.
  • The Awl looks at underrated horror movie heroines.
  • Here are some pretty cool pumpkin carvings.
  • I’ve been fairly open with my criticism of Modern Family, but I did enjoy seeing the show re-cut as a horror film. Clowns are always scary.

 

  • And finally – The Exorcist as an 80s sitcom:

Still better than According to Jim.

Have a safe Halloween!

Looking for a way to help in the recovery from Hurricane Sandy? To donate to the Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org, call 800-Red-Cross or text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Please also consider donating blood as over 100 blood drives were cancelled because of the storm. To donate, call 800-933-2566 or visit www.nybloodcenter.org.