The ubiquitous cover song. There’s not a band out there that hasn’t done one. I think covers fall into three types: the band is a fan of the band they’re covering; the band wants to prove they can reproduce the song note for note; the band thinks they can do better.
Personally, I like oddball covers which would fall in the third category. I like to see the covering band take a song, slap it around a little, drag it through the gravel, stick it in a sack and throw it back to the audience.
Of course I’ve devised categories for this. The song is so odd that you listen to it all the way through just to make sure they meant to do that. The song is so bizarre that your face settles into a WTF expression and you’ve lost the will to hit skip. The song is so odd that when you do hit the button you hit replay and you’re not mad about it.
Here are a few oddball covers I’ve collected over time. Check them out.
Harvester of Constant Sorrow. This one is a rare trifecta: a mash up, and a double genre bender (country to metal, metal to country). The Native Howl takes Metallica’s Harvester of Sorrow and mashes it up with Man of Constant Sorrow. Man of Constant Sorrow is a country staple made popular by the Stanley Brothers in the fifties. It was written in 1913 by Dick Burnett, a blind fiddler from Kentucky. This mashup cleaves more closely to Metallica than Stanley Brothers. Or as closely as you can with banjos involved.
In the Air Tonight. I’ve recently become a fan of In This Moment and this is an example why. Phil Collins professes not to remember what this song is about, but Maria Brink sings it like she knows EXACTLY what it’s about and she’s not having it. She rolls through the song with a dark, accusatory tone. At the drum break she breaks into an anthemic delivery. This cover is better than the original. Nonpoint also has a rocked up version of this but it lacks the necessary oddness. And while you’re checking out In this Moment, try their version of the Debby Harry hit Call Me.
Down With the Sickness. Disturbed’s disturbed song came to light for the movie Queen of the Damned, part of Anne Rice’s vampire series. It’s a very angry song. But not for Melodika Bros. They’ve come along and called it Down With the Sickness (Way Too Happy) and set it to a reggae beat. Suddenly you’re drinking some kind of rum drink with your toes in the sand and who cares about turning into a vampire anyway. Melodika Bros has quite a few covers severely genre twisted.
Paranoid. Black Sabbath’s track becomes emo/black/dark metal in the hands of Type O Negative. From the opening maniacal laughter to the tortured guitars gloomy vocals it makes the original sound down right happy. And yet, it’s good. Type O Negative has a few genre flip covers that are worth a listen: Day Tripper and Cinnamon Girl for example. Those two may be more odd than Paranoid.
Warpigs. Another Sabbath tune taken on a little trip via Hellsongs, a 3-piece acoustic outfit from Sweden. Their whole gig is taking hard rock and heavy metal songs and giving them a lighter, stripped down feel. They call themselves “lounge metal” and that surely fits them. But it’s oddly compelling.
Iron Man. Yeah, still on Black Sabbath. And you’ve not heard this song until you’ve heard it on harps. The Harp Twins are a set of identical twin, classically trained harpists. They offer a little bit of everything, but their standouts are metal songs arranged for two harps. This is the first time I’ve ever seen harps used with effects. This particular cover is even more interesting if you check the YouTube video for it to see just how they get those sounds out of a concert grand harp. They also do a cover of White Wedding that even Billy Idol likes.
Safety Dance. This tune came out in the 80s from Men Without Hats. “If your friends don’t dance then they’re no friends of mine.” Enter Leo Moracchioli, a Norwegian metal musician with a penchant for converting pop songs to metal songs. He does it well and has quite the catalog.
Whole Lotta Love. Mary J. Blige takes a Led Zeppelin classic and turns it into a decent hip hop metal tune. When it first came out I played it for a Zeppelin expert and he seemed to think the song was offensive. I don’t get that, but you know people get pretty jacked up about messing with Zeppelin sometimes. I kind of like it.
Trampled Underfoot. This is probably my favorite Led Zeppelin song. Now here’s Steven Marque thinking he’s gonna do something with it. And he did. It heeds the original mostly but he’s set it to a groove that’s a little funkier, a little more danceable. It’s likable. Marque does other Zep songs this way. I’m not mad about it.
There you have it. A sample of eclectic covers. I could go on (my Spotify playlist is at 9 hours of them right now) but I don’t want to add to the WTF of the songs with the size of the list. Anyone have any oddball covers for me to add to my playlist?