Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Take Cover

I've held off; I've bitten my tongue, for the last two weeks; but I just can't do it any longer. After being subjected to this cover version in the gym every time I go, I just HAVE to have a rant. Brace yourselves...

To be fair: I'm not anti-cover versions per se. For one thing, it introduces the next generation to some excellent tunes, allowing those of us getting a bit long in the tooth to smile indulgently with the hope that they'll also find the original. Sometimes the original really isn't worth finding, and the cover improves markedly. Sometimes, even if the original is good, the cover version becomes definitive - such as Jeff Buckley's version of Leornard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'; or Hurt by Johnny Cash, which trumps the original by Nine Inch Nails, and gives me goose bumps Every. Single. Time.

Then there are those covers by the original artists themselves, often with the 'it's for charidee' tag. They should quit while they're ahead. Why couldn't The Police leave 'Don't stand so close to me' alone - could it be the m-o-n-e-y? And why did Dead or Alive feel it necessary to reboot their only hit single - oh, wait. I see...I suppose 'You spin me round (Like a record)' has its charms: any song title with brackets does it for me, I'm partial to well-placed punctuation. Although one cover leads to another; in which case they are indirectly responsible for this, this, and indeed this. For which there is clearly no excuse. As for Bono teaming up with Mary J Blige to RUIN one of my favourite tracks EVER...words fail me. Respect your own, Bono. Leave 'One' alone. Dierks Bentley did a far better cover of a U2 track, coming over all bluegrassy on 'Pride'.

Then there's the 'Could do better' category of covers; the ones that leave you wondering what exactly they were meant to have contributed. Such as the (usually reliable- but he should probably stick to being creative: this was a film tie-in) Rufus Wainwright cover of 'Across the Universe'. Pretty, but...meh. I mean, if you're going to do a cover, bring something new to the table! Surprise me! For example: I seem to be making a collection of covers of 'Love will tear us Apart. I adored the original, the angry relentless eighties Joy Division track. But I also love the sweet whimsy of Nouvelle Vague's version; and the slow bleeding anguish of Susanna and the Magical Orchestra. All feel necessary to me; they are facets of the same jewel.

So WHAT, in the name of ALL that is SACRED, is this TRAVESTY of a cover version that has got me so SHOUTY and NEEDING TO TYPE IN CAPITAL LETTERS, I hear you ask?

The White Stripes burst onto the music scene all minimalism and tight bass and drum riffs. Seven Nation Army was their definitive single, raw and perfect. Even a version I saw performed by 11-year-olds in a school hall couldn't disguise its brilliance. And it's this that X-factor runner-up - RUNNER-UP on a TALENT SHOW - Marcus Collins thought he'd have a crack at.

The video has (*shudders*) girls. Dancing girls. Dancing girls, standing behind him, waving their arms in a parody of a Hindu goddess.

Don't say I didn't warn you. But in case you need to wash your ears out, here's the original. And kids - accept no substitutes. Cover versions - Just Say No. At least when it comes to X-factor fodder.


4 comments:

Rick said...

This was new to me and I must say that I am only partly with you. Yes the video is utter naffness but the cover is not bad. It is well produced (which always gets a plus from me) and doesn't use auto-tune (which always gets a minus). He can sing, it drives along and is very danceable. I agree that the original has subtlety for close listening but the cover is a creditable one.

just Gai said...

Leave it alone, indeed. I hadn't heard either version before but I agree with you on the superiority of the original.

However on the subject of Hallelujah I'm afraid there is no one to beat Leonard Cohen rasping delivery. Not in my opinion anyway.

bigdaddystevieB said...

I love you wheeler!
just feel really sad that you actually knew that your gym version of the song came from X-factor runner-up!
x

Tracey Wheeler said...

Steve - don't worry, I had to check (in order to make an informed rant). Wouldn't know an X factor runner up if they bit me on the bottom. x