You’ve probably watched a couple episodes of MasterChef, yes? So then you’ll know all about the the Reinvention Test. For those of you who
l̶i̶v̶e̶ ̶u̶n̶d̶e̶r̶ ̶a̶ ̶r̶o̶c̶k̶ have no idea what I’m talking about – this is a task in which contestants have to present a classic dish in a new way. For instance, the winning dish in the fish and chips reinvention test was a crispy-fried coral trout wings with blue mackerel and taro chips – a unique, delicious-sounding take on a classic.
Cover songs are the musical equivalent of the reinvention test. Some are awful and uninspired, some are homages to the originals, and at times a cover can be so pervasive, that it becomes more than just a rendition of the song. I’ve been compiling my favorite cover songs for a while now, and thought it would be a great playlist to share. You can listen to the mix here:
Here’s the song list:
1) Lonely Boy (The Black Keys) by Matt Corby – This slow, passionate acoustic version of ‘Lonely Boy’ is a perfect foil to the Black Keys’ garage-rock version. It’s seductive as fuck. To quote a Youtube comment on the video of the cover, “He takes my pants off with his voice.”
2) Wicked Game (Chris Isaak) by James Vincent Mc Morrow – Stripped down to a powerful falsetto voice and a little guitar, this cover manages to give the song even more passion and intensity than the original version.
3) Lovefool (Cardigans) by The Morning Benders – With some of the pleasantest male harmonies around, ‘Lovefool’ by the Morning Benders is as soft and pleasant as falling asleep on goose-feather pillows. The song’s probably the most charming, melancholy could ever seem. I believe The Cardigans would approve.
4) Billie Jean (Michael Jackson) by Chris Cornell – It’s impossible to not be mesmerized by the melancholic turn of the song coupled by the sheer rawness of Cornell’s voice.
5) No Surprises (Radiohead) by Regina Spektor – Regina takes the song in a new direction, and still effortlessly makes sad look pretty with her piano cover.
6) Maneater (Hall & Oates) by The Bird And The Bee – This cover is pretty faithful to the original and Inara George and Greg Kurstin nail the totally ’80s hooks of Hall & Oates. However, they still put their own stamp on the song with soft keyboards and less saxophone – it’s peppy, fun and you’ll find yourself humming it in the shower.
7) Stayin’ Alive (Bee Gees) by Ozzy Osbourne – Bee Gees + Ozzy? This is one of those covers where you don’t know what to expect – it’s Ozzy singing disco after all – and then halfway through the song, you suddenly think “Holy shit! This is funny but good at the same time”.
8) I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor) by Cake -Probably the best example of a band taking another artist’s song and making it their own. This soul disco diva’s anthem about heartbreak and survival is famous in its own right. Cake delivers the same song anew as a rock & roll, mariachi, blues, soul, funk and grunge masterpiece. It’s addictive, especially the bass line.
9) Sara Smile (Hall & Oates) by The Bird And The Bee – Clearly an homage to the Hall & Oates original, George and Kurstin’s multitracked harmonic rendition of ‘Sara Smile’ is sweet, charming and evokes 70’s bell bottoms, big hair, cycling in the sun imagery.
10) Pursuit Of Happiness (Kid Cudi) by Lissie – Cudi’s hazy, chiller song is transformed into a defiant, almost-breathless alt-rock chanter.
11) 99 Problems (Jay-Z) by Hugo – More a remake than a cover, Hugo introduces Jay-Z’s rap song to it’s hillbilly cousin (banjo and all). I love the blue-grassy, thumping, twangy, quirkiness of it.
Enjoy the music.