Cover Zen: Tyler Ward sings Katy Perry

Tyler Ward’s garnered a bit of a following by this stage (this video alone has over 2 million hits). I really like Katy Perry’s original version and I like Tyler’s take on this song too. As with all effective covers I think he wins a few more fans who wouldn’t normally give the original a second listen.

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I don’t know if this interview with Katy Perry about the meaning of the song (from her Official Youtube Channel) is real or not but if it’s a joke (maybe hubby Russell had something to do with it?) then it’s hilarious lol… If you thought the song was a metaphor for otherworldly love and being transported to another place and time by transcendent union then let Katy explain what it’s really about.

Grunter’s Pick: The Ting Tings

I don’t have a TV – I haven’t had one for years and my family never had one when we were kids. Dad used to read to us and we’d listen to the Sunday morning radio show which had fare ranging from Bad Jelly the Witch to the Matchstick Girl (such a morbid tale for kids).

Anyway! The point of that rambling nostalgia trip was that the only thing I miss about TV are the music channels; I had a TV for years after I moved out of home and it was always set to the music stations (except when certain people wanted to watch Shortland Street >_<). NZ’s had some great channels (yay for Max and C4!) – not all MTV pop – and I discovered great music during the years that I had a TV.

Now that I don’t, I have to rely on my main Eye on the Choob – Grunter. A man of varied tastes, Grunter’s given me the heads up on songs from Disturbed’s latest metal anthem to the alt-pop of the Ting Tings. After checking out their latest video I found this acoustic version of “Great DJ” (which I prefer), performed on Yahoo’s music channel. (Thanks Grunter!)

Note: replaced with live at SXSW video as other vid has been removed

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Angus and Julia Stone launch a Paper Aeroplane

It’s an oldie, but brother and sister duo Angus and Julia Stone are Aussies and I’m gearing up to my NZ music post with some neighbourly action xD (and here’s an interview wherein you can hear their charming aussie accents : ).

The quiet, folky, acoustic number really appeals to me and they do it so well; both are singer / songwriters and each has their own style but their writing method (each composes alone, then brings the song in for help with structure and harmonies) ensures they retain a cohesion to their sound. I like it, yo.

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5 Great Covers of Old School Songs

These 5 cover songs – in their original versions – appeared between the 70s and 80s. I can’t say I was a great fan of all the songs in their original form at the time but they’re all classics and I certainly came to appreciate them eventually. Each of the artists in these cover versions brings their own flavour in some way and each cover fulfils my 3 Tenets of Cover Songs (which I’ve made up just now):

1 – Be Original: the Cover Artist must bring something fresh to the original song, whether it be supplanting the song into another genre or casting it in a different light through context, tempo, musical colour, etc.
2 – Have a Point: the Cover Artist has to have a reason to cover the song – and we need to see it, whether it’s simply a love for the original or an outright mock; the remake should make the artist’s intention clear and convince us that they really did have to make a whole new version of an old song.
3 – Respect the Original: “respect” doesn’t mean that the Cover Artist can’t make fun of a song – it just means that they have to know what worked musically and build off it or reference it in some way that makes it clear they’re not just slapping their own music on a more popular song to try and gain some fans. Usually, a Cover Artist is covering a song that’s well known and was once popular to some extent so they should have some degree of respect for the fact that the songwriter knew what they were doing.

I like ‘em all – I hope you like them too! (and thanks for the help fOo!)

Hungry Like The Wolf

by Incubus

As always, when live, Incubus prove that they’re a cut above many of their rock peers as far as musicianship and performance quality. They take a while to get into the song but it’s worth the wait – this cover is one of my favourites; the live instruments and rock sensibility gives the song a needed edge and Brandon’s voice is a great fit for this synthy pop classic.

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Heart Of Glass

by Lily Allen

Some people hate this version but I think Lily’s cover is great (sorry about the picture slideshow – it was the only video I could find with halfway decent audio). The music changes the feel from the original disco almost back to its original reggae roots – albeit an uptempo, hybrid pop version.

Oi! Blondie originally recorded the song in 1975 as a much slower blues / reggae version before Producer Mike Chapman suggested the disco angle for the 1979 release. After its release the band were lambasted by their peers for supposedly “selling out”.

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by A Perfect Circle

Maynard James Keenan (also of Tool) brings his anguished vocal to this Lennon classic – as well as the judgemental, cynical outlook that contributed to “Vicarious” and other Tool staples. In this cover, however, Maynard’s skewed cynicism doesn’t manifest in lyrical poetics – it is present in the dark chord choice and melody, a stylistic decision that adds a twisted air of disillusionment to Lennon’s anthem of hope.

Oi! When the Liverpool airport was named after Lennon, a phrase from the song, “above us only sky”, was painted on the ceiling of the terminal. When commenting on this, the panel of Have I Got News for You joked that the baggage handlers’ motto was taken from the same song: “Imagine no possessions”. – [Wikipedia]

The video ably supplements the gray mood with a barrage of images that throw a stark light on the optimism of the lyrics. Ultimately, I’m not sure whether Maynard is laughing at Lennon’s premise (the baby dolls, ice cream cones and the rugby ball look faintly ridiculous) or calling our attention to the need for it now, more than ever.

Warning: some reasonably graphic images of war from various news programs / documentaries contained herein.

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Send Me An Angel

by Deadstar Assembly

Gotta love the bizarre cartoon video for this pop-metal / goth cover of Real Life‘s 80s hit. Love that anime hair! xD The best video for this song has to be the clip from 80s BMX movie RAD, though. And is that a young Lori Loughlin (of Full House fame) performing figure skating type dance moves on a BMX? Why yes, it is.

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by Strawpeople

And finally, a cover by our very own Strawpeople – NZ’s pop electronica duo (plus vocalist Bic Runga) (the video’s not available on Youtube but it’s not that great a loss as it featured cheap CG ants DJing in a club, from memory… O_o). Strawpeople featured various guest vocalists from NZ’s talent pool – at one time Fiona McDonald (also of the Headless Chickens) sang for them.

This is probably a good time to mention my forthcoming post dedicated to NZ music – it’ll be a good chance to catch up on some great music from our little country for those of you who haven’t heard much of it!

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Honourable Mention

Mullet Inc. cover Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” and change up the verse lyrics to confess their love for the 80s… (You can watch the full mockumentary of Mullet Inc. here.)

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Sounds Like: Michael Jackson vs S Club 7

This comparison is no secret, no stunning new revelation – but I think it’s a worthy one to note because most people can respect Michael Jackson on some level, but not so S Club 7 (I am one of those xD) and because of that, some prolly haven’t given this song a fair listen yet. This mash-up makes the similarity clear.

Written by S Club’s usual songwriters, Simon Ellis and Shep Solomon (and the rest of the band if those credits are to be believed… ^_x) Don’t Stop Movin’ is a great pop song with a stonkin’ beat and bass line just like Billie Jean‘s. It can’t be too bad… besides all the other industry accolades it made it to number 3 on Q magazine’s “Guilty Pleasures” list in August 2006.

Oi! Fred Astaire himself called Jackson to congratulate him the day after the famous first public peformance of the moonwalk on Motown 25. Apparently, the jaw dropping performance is cited by many as one of the greatest live performances of all time and its effect on popular culture is compared to the Ed Sullivan appearances of Elvis Presley and The Beatles.

The verse follows the template of Billie Jean’s exactly – and why begrudge them for copying one of the greatest pop singles of all time? Some say the Billie Jean reference is the only reason the song has any value but I think it’s a great little pop number in its own right.

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Pop Drop: Will.I.Am wants One More Chance

This new single comes from the debut album of Will.I.Am (of the Black Eyed Peas) and I like it for the fact that the hook is light and catchy and unexpectedly un-hip hop in style. This clip shows Will’s live performance of the song last year on Letterman.

The official video for the song can be found here.

Oi! Will has been cast as teleporting mutant John Wraith/Kestrel in Hugh Jackman’s 2009 X-Men prequel of sorts: X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

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Retro Reminiscence: Imogen Heap Getting Scared

This vastly underrated song from Imogen Heap’s debut album “I Megaphone” (the title is an anagram of her name) deserves a lot more fame than it’s had to date; it was the first single released and my favourite at the time. I bought the album on the strength of the first verse and chorus and the effect they had on me.

Over the opening riff with the D pedal tone Imogen sings a vocal melody in the Mixolydian mode which gives it that slight edginess (suited to a song about come-uppance for a childhood bully) and makes it one of my favourite verse melodies ever (gasp).

Turn your ugly face, are you so surprised to see me?
Yeah, I was your little childhood playground toy
And if I remember, yeah if I do remember rightly
I said the tables will be turned around boy…

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Pop Drop: Gabriella Cilmi… Lies Live

Sixteen year old Australian Gabriella Cilmi reminds me a bit of Anastacia – soul and sass in a little package. Like Anastacia, her power output surprises. This is a live performance of her excellent second single “Save The Lies” (<— be sure to check out the produced pop-soul version if you haven’t been thrashed by it over the airwaves already.)

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Cover Zen: Katie Melua and Jamie Cullum are Lovecats

Further to yesterday’s Katie Melua post, and the day before’s Jamie Cullum post, here’s one combining both of them covering “Lovecats” by the Cure. Jamie gets a tad exuberant and I don’t think it suits the song, just personally. What do you think?

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Here’s an awesome acoustic version by The Cure:

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And since we’re on the topic ;-) – here’s one of my favourite Cure songs from the same awesome acoustic sessions:

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Cover Zen: Katie Melua sings The Cure

Call me a cretin but… I used to hate the Cure. In my defense, I was about 14 and into thrash metal so I had no discernment at the time xD. Robert Smith’s wavering, on-the-verge-of-crying voice filled my little metal soul with rage and I wanted to grab him by the scruff of his neck and slap some macho manliness into his frail frame.

Fortunately for me, my friend – and mentor to all things alternative – Sir_-_Jeff was unmoved by my whining and vitriol and enjoyed torturing me with an endless barrage of The Cure, Def Leppard and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. (It was my fault, after all, for spending weekends in his garage recording metal epics on his much-coveted 4-track recorder.) And yes, at those times and in my peer group those bands were alternative xD (and retro!)

Needless to say, I fell in love with all the bands above (thanks Sir_-_Jeff!) and can’t see what all the fuss was about now ;-). So here’s Katie Melua’s cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven“. Katie’s version is quiet and touching; it makes a nice change but I do prefer the pop bounciness of the original (click that link above to see the awesomeness of the Cure live!)

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On a side note, check out The Delete Bin‘s “10 Cover Songs You Thought Were the Originals“. I had this idea sitting around on the back burner but I don’t think I could’ve made it to 10 xD. The Delete Bin is a great music (and other) blog with informative, well-considered writing. And it’s full of Top 10 lists – so for Top 10s, go there; for Top 5s come here xD.