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– Lots of videos edition

Happy Wednesday! The sun is actually shining today, which gives me hope that the rain is behind us for a while. I was so over the dreariness. The good news about all the rain is that it gave me plenty of time to hole up and surf the web in search of pop culture stories to share with you, my dear readers. I found more videos of interest than usual, so this week is more audio/visual heavy than usual. Why read when you can just click a button and watch? Enjoy your biweekly roundup of all things pop!

  • The Dumb and Dumber sequel that would reunite Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels has been dropped by Warner Brothers. Directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly are shopping the project to other companies. Countdown until the inevitable Kickstarter?
  • Congrats to Kate Winslet on her pregnancy. This will be her third child, her first with new husband Ned Rocknroll (still the best name ever).
  • Johnny Depp is FIFTY! How the f*&k did that happen?
  • A new trailer has been released for the next Hobbit movie:

 

  • Also recently released – a trailer for the newest Woody Allen movie Blue Jasmine. Look – It’s Louis CK!

 

  • Happy belated birthday to the wonderful Peter Dinklage. He turned 44 yesterday. I could watch this scene of him slapping Joffrey all day long.

Tyrion_slaps_Joffrey

  • That was quick – after a solid opening weekend, The Purge is getting a sequel.
  • The guy who plays Hodor (Hodor!) on Game of Thrones is also a DJ.
  • What’s that you say? Baseball and boy bands? You have my attention.

 

  • Laraine Newman and company nail this Girls parody:

 

  • Bob Saget couldn’t help but stop by a familiar location while on a trip to San Francisco

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  • True Blood returns for its 6th season on Sunday. Here’s to hoping that it’s better than last season; as you may recall, I was not too impressed.

 

  • The new season of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee drops tomorrow at noon:

 

I didn’t watch the Tonys – Game of Thrones and Mad Men own my Sunday nights – but looks like I missed a hell of a show.

 

Note to Seth MacFarlane – THAT is how you host an awards show. Full slate of winners (and the shows that are now impossible to get tickets to) can be found here.

  • Attention all Juggalos – Insane Clown Posse is getting their own show. I’ll admit – the episode of their webseries that I saw was kind of amusing.
  • The band Portugal. The Man scored some familiar faces (if you are a It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fan) for their newest short:

 

  • Speaking of It’s Always Sunny – if you ever wondered what the guys were saying backwards in the end credits each season, wonder no more:

 

  • I love these covers of songs from Bob’s Burgers. This one is by The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt and it’s great.
  • Looks like I’m planning a trip to DC this fall – An Anchorman exhibit opens at the Newsuem in November.
  • Warner Brothers gave up their rights to Friday the 13th and South Park for a piece of the new Christopher Nolan movie.
  • Samuel L. Jackson reads the iconic “I am the one that knocks” monologue from Breaking Bad. My head just exploded.

 

  • This is kind of cool: Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” reimagined in different musical styles through the decades:

 

  • One thing Kanye ain’t lacking is confidence, as evidenced by this New York Times article with the self-proclaimed “visionary.” The most ridiculous quotes are here.
  • The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Scott Thorson (Liberace’s Ex) about HBO’s Behind the Candelabra (a must see – Michael Douglas and Matt Damon are fantastic and you have to see Rob Lowe to believe it).
  • If you missed it, Google had a wonderful Google Doodle earlier this week honoring the late great Maurice Sendak:

 

  • Look for Alvin and the Chipmunks 4 in 2015. Shows how much I know – I didn’t even know that there had already been 3 movies.
  • Holliday Grainger (The Borgias) has joined the cast of the live action reimagined Cinderella.
  • While waiting for a Green Day concert to start, an Bohemian Rhapsody sing-a-long broke out:

 

  • A Christmas Story, the Musical returns to New York this holiday season (but not on Broadway).
  • Singer Jon Marco isn’t famous, but he’s trying to make a name for himself with a video that features recreations of several 80s movies. Not so sure about the song, but I’ll give him points for creativity.

 

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts:

  • I refuse to tire of these Daft Punk mashups. This one is with moments from the Bill and Ted’s franchise:

 

  • Sex and the City debuted 15 years ago last week. To celebrate, here is a mashup of all the guest stars on the show (I remember almost none of them).
  • Spoilers abound in this Princess Bride/Game of Thrones mashup, so proceed with caution:

 

  • Mad Men reacts to the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones (SPOILERS – but seriously – that episode was almost two weeks ago. Catch up already)

 

  • A supercut of all the fake websites on Arrested Development:

 

  • A mashup of animals who can’t handle mirrors:

 

And finally, these supercuts of NBC’s Brian Williams make me giggle uncontrollably. Damn you Fallon – you’ve done it again:

  • Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang”

 

  • Warren G’s “Regulate:”

 

  • The pièce de résistance– NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton”

 

Have a great day!

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Almost the Oscars edition

We’re in the home stretch – the Academy Awards are this Sunday. All I have left in my quest to see all of the Oscar nominated films are some foreign films and some documentaries. If everything goes according to plan, I think I am going to come up two movies short of my goal. It’s proven to be impossible to find the foreign film No and the documentary The Guardians. The closest that either film is playing is NYC and unless I want to take the day off to make the trip downstate (which I did actually consider), I think the dream may be dead. But still – I’ll come pretty darn close!

As I frantically try to find some Oscar screeners, enjoy your biweekly roundup of pop culture stories you may have missed:

  • A happy belated 75th birthday to author Judy Blume!
  • In honor of the season three finale (what did everyone think??), here’s the cast of Downton Abbey performing One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful”

 

  • Maybe they were jealous of the attention that Jeopardy! has been receiving lately, but Wheel of Fortune decided to up their game with a dog on a scooter.

SCOOTER

  • The 2013 Bonnaroo line-up was announced yesterday. I want to go!
  • I hate Monopoly – it takes way too long and just isn’t much fun – but I might change my mind if I played this Breaking Bad version.
  • Check out Leonardo DiCaprio’s foreign ad for Jim Beam:

 

  • This is hilarious – Guy Fieri didn’t secure the full URL for his restaurant’s website, so someone else bought it and posted a parody menu. Well played.
  • Josh Duhamel and Fergie are expecting their first child; the singer announced the news on Twitter, using the hashtag #mylovelybabybump (which I have to admit is pretty cute).
  • The movie Lincoln inspired the state of Mississippi to finally ratify the 13th Amendment. They somehow hadn’t managed to get around to that yet. Who says pop culture can’t make a difference?
  • Listen to Mariah Carey’s new song from the upcoming film Oz the Great and Powerful (I’m not a fan – she sounds weird)

 

  • I don’t know that it was in doubt, but It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will be back for a ninth season.

glenn

  • So, is everyone else watching The Following and kind of getting obsessed with it? Intellectually I have a ton of problems with the show, but damn it if it doesn’t manage to drag me in every Monday night.
  • SNL continues to be dreadful; I only made it about halfway through last week’s episode with Christoph Waltz. I did, however, really enjoy this digital short:
  • Whoo-boy. Things are not going well for Renee Zellweger. Lifetime just passed on her pilot Cinnamon Girl. Let that sink in for a moment. The network that gave us Liz & Dick passed on a pilot featuring an Oscar winner. I think we may have just found rock bottom.
  • The great Andre Braugher has joined Andy Samberg’s new police comedy pilot on Fox. The likelihood that I will tune in to this show if it goes to series just jumped to 100%.
  • It’s been a good couple of weeks for me – another one of my favorites joined a pilot. Josh Holloway (aka Sawyer on Lost) will star in the CBS drama Intelligence.
  • The New York Times Magazine has a long profile of blog favorite Connie Britton.
  • Sarah Michelle Geller will be starring opposite Robin Williams in a new sitcom.
  • Don’t cry for the B in Apt. 23 – Krysten Ritter landed a role in a pilot for NBC. Let’s hope James Van Der Beek has as smooth a transition.
  • PBS is trying to become the first nonprofit organization to reach one billion views on YouTube.

 

  • HBO may have pulled the plug on Luck, but it lives on in blog form. Added bonus – no horses can die online.
  • I guess they had a lot of fun filming Silver Linings Playbook; Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are reuniting with director David O. Russell on his next film (and holy hell – this film has an amazing cast!).
  • TV Land had become the go-to network for 90s sitcom stars. They have ordered a new comedy starring Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman and Michael Richards.
  • NBC’s new drama Hannibal will debut on Thursday April 4th.

 

  • Jerry Seinfeld stopped by The Late Show with David Letterman to do some stand-up:

 

  • Dean Norris (Hank to Breaking Bad fans) has been cast in the upcoming Stephen King miniseries, Under the Dome.
  • As an unabashed fan of The Golden Girls, I couldn’t pass up this collection of the 10 best musical numbers from the series.
  • The Strokes are back with a new song:

 

  • TV Duck has an infograph of 15 things you didn’t know about The Walking Dead.
  • My baseball husband Mark Teixiera made his Broadway debut in Rock of Ages. Check out video here.
  • The Discovery Channel is launching two new documentary series that focus on marijuana. The are calling the block of programming “Weed Wednesdays.”
  • And finally, a 60 second, live action version of the wonderful Wreck it Ralph: