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12 November 2010 @ 02:59 pm
Writer's Block: Cover me  
Which songs have been covered better by artists who didn't originally sing them?

Which songs have been covered better by artists who didn't originally sing them?

Joe Cocker's classic Woodstock rendition of "A Little Help from my Friends" accomplished the amazing feat of improving upon the Beatles, and did it at the height of their popularity.

Few artists have so completely made a song their own, with such a distinctly different take on the original arrangement.

I also confess a particular fondness for the Shiny Toy Guns cover of Peter Schilling's "Major Tom (Coming Home)". Yes, the one from the car commercial. Shut up.

I've always liked Schilling's original, but I think this band has the surreal spaciness nailed. The male vocalist doesn't quite click for me, but those haunting, resonant, slightly-processed female vocals on the chorus ... ooh.

And, call me a heretic, but ... I've always preferred Bonnie Tyler's take on "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" over the Creedence Clearwater Revival original. It irks me that this version never gets any airtime on the radio. Yes, I still listen to the radio. Shut up.

Finally ... I have the deepest respect for Jim Steinman as a composer and a lyricist, but any song he's released by himself has always sounded better when Meat Loaf sings it. I'm not just counting the songs Mr. Steinman wrote for Mr. Aday personally; I'm talking about the albums full of songs that later showed up on Bat Out of Hell 2 & 3. The only person who can handle Steinman's operatic bombast nearly as well as Meat Loaf is, in fact, Ms. Bonnie Tyler, featured in the above video with a non-Steinman song.

I would dearly love to see Mr. Aday and Ms. Tyler perform Mr. Steinman's classic duet, "Total Eclipse of the Heart".

Bobyourbob on November 12th, 2010 11:07 pm (UTC)
As long as you don't include that idiot Houston's travesty of Miss Dolly Parton's "I will always love you", the original of which can't be beat with or without a dead horse.
lyttlebyrdlyttlebyrd on November 12th, 2010 11:24 pm (UTC)
I, too, love that version of "Major Tom (Coming Home)" It's one of my favorite songs anyhow, and you're right, the female vocals in that one are striking.
Hafochafoc on November 13th, 2010 12:15 am (UTC)
Johnny Cash doing Hurt. Smashmouth doing I'm A Believer, although since the Monkees (shudder) didn't write it in the first place, can you really call it a cover?
Stalbonstalbon on November 13th, 2010 06:17 am (UTC)
Absolutely on Cash covering 'Hurt'. It remains one of my favorite things to listen to, period. I'm also very fond of the various covers of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah', though mostly the two by John Cale and K.D. Lang.
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on November 14th, 2010 07:07 am (UTC)
I would have to say every cover of Cohen's I've heard is an improvement on the original. Numerous overcome their lack of vocal talent with their hard work and passion, but as a singer, he makes a pretty good songwriter.

The GLEE cover of Christina Aguilera's "I Am Beautiful".
Araquan Skytraceraraquan on November 13th, 2010 06:28 pm (UTC)
I'm fond of that Smash Mouth cover as well.
Leodrleo on November 13th, 2010 12:22 am (UTC)
I'm digging on that version of Major Tom. I've always liked that song, and yeah, the female voice on the chorus is really good.
Darkwulfjdarkwulf on November 13th, 2010 01:21 am (UTC)
I admit becoming a fan of Shiny Toy Guns after those commercials. I'd apparently heard a couple of their songs before, but not frequently, and I mostly had to seek them out.
Tephratephralynn on November 13th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC)
My friend Kris suggested Joan Jett's verison of "Crimson & Clover" to which I have to add that Joan's version of "Have you ever seen the rain" is pretty awesome too.

May favorite cover of the moment though is Disturbed's "Land of Confusion".
(Deleted comment)
Tephratephralynn on November 15th, 2010 06:30 am (UTC)
You're welcome. :)
doc_mysterydoc_mystery on November 13th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
William Shatner's cover of Common People.

Way more fun and cool than the original by Pulp.

Check out the live version in the video below, with back-up by Joe Jackson and Ben Folds on keyboards.


Araquan Skytracer: Broadcastaraquan on November 13th, 2010 06:30 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I like the Shiny Toy Guns cover of "Major Tom (Coming Home)" but Schilling's is still my favorite.

And hey, there's nothing wrong with radio. :)
Kymrikymri on November 16th, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC)
While I'll have to respectfully disagree on the Bonnie Tyler version of 'Have You Heard the Rain' (I certainly do not dislike it, I just prefer the non-80s-ified sound of CCR for that particular song, oddly enough), there are a great number of excellent covers out there.

In particular, the Wallflowers' version of David Bowie's "Heroes" is vastly superior to the original; I always felt Bowie's delivery was inappropriately over-the-top and turned the song into a sort of self-parody that fell flat. Jakob Dylan's delivery worked much better for me.

As a rule, I enjoy cover tunes a great deal, the world's full of stuff that works better when someone else improves on the original writer's song (Jimi Hendrix vs. Bob Dylan for 'All Along the Watchtower', as an example).
Your Obedient Serpentathelind on November 17th, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)
I will confess that my preference for Ms. Tyler's version is due in part to owning Faster Than Night on cassette, and playing it regularly between purchasing it and 1989, when the Loma Prieta quake knocked my boom box off its shelf. It's The Version I'm Used To.