November 10, 2005

Undercover Lover

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Last week, I managed to download three covers of the same song; Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear us Apart.” This is what happens when you manage to occupy the time you should use for other productive activities screening mp3 blogs. I’ve had Nouvelle Vague’s version of the tune for quite some time now, a band whose gimmick is actually performing ’80’s new wave hits sung by a rotation of sexy Parisian lounge singers. Is Joy Division, a group that has been defunct for over two decades just incredibly popular this year? What’s up with all the covers? I don’t know, but I for one, happen to enjoy them very much. Hearing all this appreciation for love tearing us apart again and again and again, I began to compile a list of my favorite covers because well, making lists is what I do.

If you think I’m going to talk about Adam Duritz and Vanessa Carlton’s despicable “Yellow Taxi,” Hilary Duff’s dreadful “Our Lips Our Sealed” or the laughable cover of Jackson Browne’s “Is She Really Going Out With Him” by Sugar Ray, I’m going to have to say no, no and an even more emphatic no. With those nasty thoughts of past disasters out of sight and out of mind, here’s to some great cover songs:

Teenage Fanclub – “Like a Virgin”
I love it when bands perform pop flavors of the week. A good friend recently sent me a file of Death Cab singing Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” and I’ve heard the Starting Line’s “I’m Real” courtesy of J-how-Lo-can-you-go once or twice. But Teenage Fanclub’s cover of Madonna’s tribute to that very first time is 100% pure ecstasy. It’s sweet and complete and listening to it makes me feel all shiny and new.

Fugees – “Killing Me Softly”
The way that Lauryn Hill breaks it down in the chorus of this song is a perfect match to Roberta Flack’s vision. I think her second album is long over due.

D’angelo – “Cruisin” / Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis – “Cruisin”
Honestly who wouldn’t like a remake of a Smokey Robinson classic? Gwyneth manages to hold her own singing with a Newsless Huey and D’Angelo’s fly voice on his smoother than smooth version is icing on the cake.

Maxwell – “This Woman’s Work”
So I’m not going to lie, this is an interesting selection for the sexy soul singer Kate Bush’s declaration of how hard it is to be a woman. But Maxwell does his thing and does it well, and is proof that guys can “understand” too. Or sound convincing singing about it.

Ryan Adams – “Wonderwall”
The guy who manages to put out a new album as often as the seasons change made a stunning interpretation of Oasis’ Wonderwall. It’s simpler than the Gallagher brothers’ original, but I think I like it just the same.

I am Sam Soundtrack
Especially the Wallflowers’ “I’m Looking Through You,” Ben Harper’s “Strawberry Fields” and Rufus Wainwright’s contribution, “Across the Universe.” This brings me to Fiona Apple, as the crazy broad created another rendition of “Across the Universe” as well. Both are equally sublime.

Jeffrey Gaines – “In Your Eyes”
I don’t know too much about this guy, but my brother alerted me to this Peter Gabriel live cover a couple of years ago, and I’ve been in love with it ever since. Sung with a huskier voice and acoustic guitar, the song will still bring memories of John Cusack holding up a boom box.

Weezer – “Velouria”
This is actually from a really bad tribute album to the Pixies, but I think Weezer’s contribution to the compilation is the best. Rivers Cuomo and co. capture the Pixies’ energy and irreverence perfectly.

Moulin Rouge Soundtrack
Who says actors can’t sing? Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman gave it their all in this movie and I say they deserve an “A” for effort! Or a cookie at least. Ewan’s “Annie’s Song” is so touching it brings tears to my eyes. And thank you Baz Luhrman for mixing “The Can Can” with “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” That’s what’s up.

The Postal Service – Against all Odds
This song was on the Wicker Park soundtrack, which was an absolutely horrid movie, I mean really, it was bad, but out from the rubbish film plot came a brilliant song listing. The Postal Service decided to cover this Phil Collin’s hit and it’s a dapper cover indeed.

Archived article by Sophia Asare
Sun Staff Writer