lenny kravitz

Cover Songs

Yesterday my friend Bev and I got into a deep discussion about music covers. It was prompted by a video I shared with her where the background music was a cover of Talking Head’s “This Must Be The Place” by jam band, The String Cheese Incident. We delved into a deep discussion about her particular taste in covers, my taste in covers, and covers that would never do justice to the original artist or bands. I’m assuming everyone knows what a cover is but just in case you don’t, when someone says a song is a cover it means that the song is a recording or performance by someone who is not the original artist.

There have been plenty of cover songs throughout history that have become more successful than the original. A great example of this comes from legendary rock n’ roll singer Elvis Presley. “Blue Suede Shoes” was originally a song by Carl Perkins. Elvis also did plenty of Chuck Berry covers. Then of course there’s some controversy surrounding the song “Hound Dog”. Some claim that Elvis stole the song from Big Mama Thornton. Truth be told though when Elvis rose to fame racial prejudices were much greater than they are today. As a white singer, he brought many songs that may have been sung by or written by black musicians to fame. Hence, all of Elvis’s music being written by someone other than Elvis, which isn’t uncommon even today, but still.

Another example of this is “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles. The original song was by The Isley Brothers who are also famed for their song “Shout”. To be honest, I didn’t realize until today that “Twist and Shout” was a cover. I was looking for some covers on Spotify and saw it on one of their playlists. Part of me believes I knew this at one point and just forgot but the other part of me is kind of shocked.

Besides these songs a few other famous covers are Otis Redding’s “Respect” covered by Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” covered by Jimi Hendrix (Dave Matthews Band also frequents this cover too), Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” covered by Whitney Houston, Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” covered by The Chicks (formerly The Dixie Chicks), Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” covered by Jeff Buckley, The Guess Who’s “American Woman” covered by Lenny Kravitz, Robert Hazard’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” covered by Cyndi Lauper, and Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There’s also been some recent covers in the spotlight. Two years ago Weezer got some airplay from covering Toto’s “Africa” and lately an indie artist named Ritt Momney is getting some huge hype over his cover of “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae. The list goes way beyond this too. I’m sure you’d be surprised to know just how many famous songs are actually covers. I know I was.

My friend Bev seems to love covers that capture the essence of the original song especially when the original was by a well-known band or artist. What I think makes a great cover is when the song is given a new “spin” or feel like when an artist known for a certain genre of music covers a song of another genre. This is why I was always a fan of the Punk Goes… album series growing up.

These albums started in 2000 with Punk Goes Metal and by 2002 the first Punk Goes Pop album was released. Most of the Punk Goes… albums are cover songs aside from Punk Goes Acoustic which are just acoustic recordings of original songs. While hosting my own radio show in college, I would occasionally do cover shows where I played a lot of covers from these albums.

Although I don’t really listen to punk/pop-punk/alternative music these days, I’m always looking out for a great cover whether it does the original justice or not. I still love and appreciate hearing unique covers. However, strangely enough, I don’t usually love remixes, which I feel are electronic music’s version of a cover song. I have a few I enjoy, but in this instance I seem to enjoy the original version of the song more. I’m not sure if we could even consider these “covers”, but unless a deejay has someone else singing the track, how would they cover the song? I definitely think a remix is “sub-genre” or so of a cover for this reason.

If you’ve ever played an instrument or sang a song, you’ve probably played someone else’s music or sang someone else’s lyrics. It’s a pretty standard practice in music. But just be careful if you ever plan on officially releasing covers. There are copyright laws surrounding music, but thanks to the Copyright Act of 1909 we’re able to create covers (usually with some negotiations between the artists involved and ASCAP or BMI…I linked the act for more info). No matter what your preference is on cover songs, I bet you’ve heard plenty and even have a few favorites. I obviously do so I figured I’d share some of mine to end this post.

  1. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bon Iver (Bonnie Raitt cover)
  2. “99 Red Balloons” by Goldfinger (Nena cover)
  3. “Everywhere” by Yellowcard (Michelle Branch cover)
  4. “Umbrella” by All Time Low (Rihanna cover)
  5. “Megan” by Bayside (Smoking Popes cover)
  6. “Blitzkreig Bop” by Foster the People (Ramones cover) (performed live only, not recorded so check out a live version on Youtube)
  7. “That Don’t Impress Me Much” by HAIM (Shania Twain cover)
  8. “Skinny Love” by Birdy (Bon Iver cover)
  9. “Walking On A Dream” by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (Empire of the Sun cover)
  10. “Over My Head (Cable Car)” by A Day to Remember (The Fray cover)
  11. “Start Today” by Fall Out Boy (Gorilla Biscuits cover)
  12. “Mad World” by Gary Jules (Tears for Fears cover)
  13. “A Thousand Miles” by Mac DeMarco (Vanessa Carlton cover) (performed live only, not recorded so again check Youtube)
  14. “What I Like About You” by The Suicide Machines (The Romantics cover)
  15. “Hospital Beds” by Florence and the Machine (Cold War Kids cover)

Super Bowl XLIX

I don’t think I’d be a good sports blogger if I didn’t write something about one of the biggest days in all of sports. So here it is. The NFL Championship game or the Super Bowl, as it’s most widely known, is the 2nd most watched sporting event in the world (bonus points if you can name the first). Within the last 10-15 years though, it’s become more like a show and less like a football game (until maybe the second half when things finally get settled down and the highly publicized halftime show is over). Then again there’s still the commercials. It’s probably the only time all year when anyone even pays attention to the commercials. So basically it’s become something that football fans and non-football fans alike watch every year.

Super Bowl Sunday is also one of the biggest party days of the year. Tons of pizza, wings, beer, chips, dip, pretzels, hoagies and more are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday. People get together with friends or go out to bars and restaurants to watch the game. It’s a day that really is so much more than football. But let’s face it. Without the actual sport, this day wouldn’t exist at all.

This year’s game took place at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona (home of the Arizona Cardinals) and featured a matchup between the teams with the best regular season record in each conference the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. It was an even matchup throughout the entire game and could have went either way. The Patriots opened the scoring in the 2nd quarter with a TD pass from quarterback Tom Brady to wide receiver Brandon LaFell. Running back, Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks put up 6 when he scored with a little over 2 minutes remaining in the half. Then in the last two minutes before the big Katy Perry halftime show both teams each scored touchdowns. Seattle’s came on a gutsy pass call with 6 seconds left (rather than just kicking a field goal that would have assured them 3 points) that if they hadn’t converted, would have left them going into the second half still down by 7.

Since this is a music blog too I guess I should mention the half time show. I don’t listen to pop music including Katy Perry, but it’s kind of impossible not to know her songs since I usually end up hearing these big deal pop songs in one way or another. Although, there was that time I happened to see her Warped Tour set in 2008 (yeah warped was weird that year). Anyway, she was joined by Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott in an elaborate half time show which is the standard for Super Bowl halftime shows these days. If there’s anything she did right though, it was sharks and palm trees.

The second half of the game saw a strong start by the Seahawks as they took the lead for the first time in the game with a 27 yard field goal by Steven Haushka in the 3rd quarter. They followed it up about 6 minutes later with another touchdown and extra point giving them a 24-14 edge over the Pats going into the 4th. But with a game so tight from the get-go, you knew the Patriots were going to push on and attempt to tie the game or take a lead. That’s just what happened. The Patriots scored two 4th quarter TD’s giving them a 28-24 lead with 2:02 on the clock. It was plenty of time for the Seahawks to try to score a touchdown and win the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year. During their final drive it seemed as though they might do it. They ended up on the NE 1 yard line on 2nd down as they let the seconds tick off the clock. Rather than letting Lynch try to run the ball in for what would have been the game winning touchdown, a questionable pass call lead to an interception thrown by quarterback Russell Wilson. Malcolm Butler of the Patriots was the guy who intercepted the ball and secured the fourth Super Bowl win in the last 15 years for the New England Patriots. Tom Brady won his fourth Super Bowl and third Super Bowl MVP award tying him with quarterback great Joe Montana and the rest is history until next year when the Super Bowl turns 50 and the game moves to the newly established Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco, California.