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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Post about music they said (also, sweet, I found it)

(So, I found it, yay.)

Ok, maybe "they" was an overstatement, but one of you guys yesterday said I should post about music, so here it is.

This isn't your typical post about OMG I love such and such a band or such and such a singer, this is about a particular subject in music. The cover song. Pros, cons and the reason(s) to do it of cover songs include: attempting to be as close to the original as possible, (occasionally difficult, but nice when successful) trying to give your own spin on a song (can be good, can be bad) trying to get your name out there (cheap) and trying to fix a possible flaw you see in a song (noble, but probably futile). I'll give a rundown here and an example or two of each.

Attempting to mimic the original is probably the most often done sort of cover song and is probably also the most commonly failed variety. The problem of course with this sort of cover is that if you're trying to be the original song so badly why even bother? That's why we have THE ORIGINAL SONG. Shinedown's version of Simple Man is an excellent example of a colossal failure of a cover song attempting to be the original. The instrumentals aren't too bad, but they lack the third guitarist, so it'll never be perfect and the singer tries WAYYYY too hard. You guys aren't southern rock boys, don't try to be. As for some successes in this genre I give you Trivium's version of Master of puppets and Therion's version of Iron Maiden's Children of the Damned. Both songs stay true to the source without either overdoing it or being too bland. It's very hard to find a singer who can possibly do what Bruce Dickinson does, but Therion manages it. And as for Trivium, they've just got the timing and tone of Master of Puppets down to perfection.

The putting your own spin on a song style of cover is where you're going to find your worst covers without a doubt. No one is going to listen to a Zydeco Swing Disco version of Stairway to Heaven, but you can bet your ass someone will write (or possibly already has written) one. A good example of this type of song though, oddly enough, is Frank Zappa's Stairway to Heaven. I'm not a Led Zeppelin fan by any stretch, but I'll admit that Stairway is a decent song and Zappa turns it on its head while still making the song perfectly listenable and enjoyable. As Zappa is wont to do he doesn't so much sing the song as he talks it, but with his style and perfection on guitar it works well. He does something similar with his Purple Haze cover (going so far as to actually say "Excuse me while I kiss this guy") The fact that he even breaks out the brass section towards the end and actually does start to sing is pretty nice, too. Another good (in my opinion anyway, my nephew hated it) cover that strays from the original is the cover of Run to the Hills by Sign on the Kerrang compilation Maiden Heaven. The original song has a somewhat frantic pace to it as if the events are still happening and you can almost feel the panic in the natives' hearts as the song goes on. The version by Sign is played at about half tempo and the way it sounds it's almost as if they natives have already accepted their inevitable defeat and have already given up the fight, but they go on running just to attempt survival for however long they can. It's almost haunting.

Ahh yes, trying to get your name out there. The least noble of all the cover songs. Kelly Osbourne tried this tactic with Madonna's Papa Don't Preach. Why she felt she needed to is beyond me. She's already got THE metal god for a father and at the time it was released she was still on TV with The Osbournes. Maybe she knew more than I did though, because even with an already well known song as her first single and already mentioned advantages her music career went nowhere. A second example of this song is Alien Ant Farm's Smooth Criminal cover which I didn't even know at the time was a Michael Jackson song. They may have ridden this song to their one (already) hit wonder status, but you could see from the way they made their video that they really did this song out of respect for MJ as a musician. For this I forgive them of the attempting to ride another artist to fame deal.

I don't really know why I even included the trying to fix a flaw in a song category. There's only one song I can thing of that would fit it and I don't even know if that was part of their original motivation or not. The song I am thinking of it The Kovenant's cover of Metallica's The Memory Remains. The Memory Remains was in my opinion a song that just didn't belong in the Load/Reload era because it was too good. I think Metallica knew this too, so they went and fucked it up by sticking in an old bag whining towards the end. It's like they were listening to it during final mix down and were like "WhoawhoaWHOA! This song's... good. We gotta do something about it. Ohh, I know, let's stick a moaning old bag in at the end. that'll ruin it. YEAH!" Then a few months later when they were shooting a video for it they ran into the same problem. They were like, "Hey, people might like this video! What should we do? I got it, we'll call up that old bag and stick her in there. And and AND... we'll give her a fucking parasol!" There's nothing quite as UNmetal as an old bag with a parasol. And those fuckers damn well knew it.

ANYway, about the song. The Kovenant take that whining old bag part and they replace it with what sounds like a chorus of female opera singers and it improves the overall song by leaps and bounds. They've also got a really cool synthy sound to their guitar distortion that I think helps bring the song up to date.

Ohh, I just realized I forgot a type of cover song. The Genre hop. Both Children of Bodom and Dweezil Zappa cover Britney Spears's Baby One More Time, both to hilarious effect. check em out. Oddly (and sadly) though you never seem to see the genre hop go in the other direction. Wouldn't you love to see Miley Cyrus cover Symphony of Destruction? I know I would. I mean, there's Richard Cheese's lounge versions of EVERYTHING, but that's really it.

Well, that covers (ha) my bit on cover songs, but I can't end this without mentioning a few more simply awesome cover songs:

Machine Head do the most amazing cover of Iron Maiden's Hallowed Be Thy Name.
Sepultura's Symptom of the Universe is pretty incredible as well.
Acid Bath have nice covers of Inna Gadda Da Vida and Lord of This World
Speaking of Lord of This World, Corrosion of Conformity do that song some justice.
Primus show the Charlie Daniels Band some love with a cool cover of Devil Went Down to Georgia. If you look around on YouTube or some such you might find their computer animated music video of it.
And if you like metal covers of Gary Numan songs look no further than Fear Factory's cover of Cars.

I've run out of desire to type about it and I feel this post is going on too long so tomorrow I'll post a little rant about cover bands.


  1. great read and you had a few interesting points! kudos

  2. I usually enjoy cover songs, they just might take me a while to warm up to them. Sometimes I feel as if they are an insult to the original.

    Some of my favorites are:
    A Perfect Circle - Imagine (John Lennon).
    Puscifer - Rocketmantastic (Rocket Man - Elton John)
    Gary Jules - Mad World (Tears for Fears)
    Tool - No Quarter (Led Zeppelin)
    Johnny Cash - Hurt (Nine Inch Nails)
    Moby - That's When I Reach for my Revolver (Mission of Burma)

  3. Good thing you recovered it, it's quiet the post.

  4. Nice, can you post some links for those artists?

  5. One of the nicer blogs i've read.

  6. Children of Bodom's cover of Britney Spears was indeed hilarious :D

  7. I'll post some links at another time Swifty. I'm a little out of it and sleepy right now.

  8. Dude that was a very comprehensive post! You've got a good way with expressing your opinions.