Tears for Fears Tag

My Favorite Cover Songs

OK, Ashley, you asked for it. In a recent post, you shared some of your favorite cover songs and asked the rest of us to do the same. Open the flood gates.

 

Like Ashley, I’m going to begin with a Tears for Fears cover. Michael Andrews and Gary Jules’s cover of “Mad World” might be my favorite cover song of all time, and that’s saying something. A stark and haunting combination of vocal and piano, their version drives home the song’s dark core for me in a way that the original’s ’80s synth-pop sound just can’t match.

I know some people will never forgive me for what I’m about to say, but I believe that Bob Dylan songs are always better when someone else sings them. Here are two examples from my own collection. First, I adore Cassandra Wilson’s version of “Shelter from the Storm,” one of my favorite Dylan tunes. If Wilson’s rich, silky alto doesn’t create a sense of shelter, I don’t know what will.

 

And then there’s this nice slow-jam cover of “Just Like a Woman” by Gov’t Mule, Gregg Allman & Friends. I could

listen to it all day. On a side note, I always thought the lyric was, “She tastes just like a woman” (hey, the next line is, “She makes love just like a woman,” so it made sense to me). Then I learned that the line is, “She takes just like a woman,” which changes the tone entirely. I sense a topic for a later post: Songs you loved until you learned the correct lyrics.

Next up is William Shatner’s cover of Pulp’s “Common People.” That’s right, I said William Shatner. You got a problem with that? Shatner’s 2004 album Has Been was produced by Ben Folds, and the best decision he made was to bring in Joe Jackson to provide the backing vocals on “Common People.” Jackson lends just the right amount of British contempt to complement Shatner’s American disdain. Pulp’s original song is really catchy and makes you want to bounce. Shatner’s version makes you want to punch someone in the face—but, you know, in a good way.

I know it’s April, but I can’t talk about my favorite covers without mentioning U2’s version of Greg Lakes’s “I Believe in Father Christmas,” which the band released a few years ago to raise money for RED. The original is surely a classic, but there’s something about the quieter U2 version—The Edge’s classic weeping guitar sound combined with Bono’s characteristic wail in the “I wish you a hopeful Christmas” line—that makes me weepy every time I hear it.

Speaking of getting all weepy, my last pick is Peter Gabriel’s remake of “The Book of Love” by The Magnetic Fields. It appeared in the remake of the film Shall We Dance?, and Scrubs fans will mostly certainly remember it from the finale. Gabriel’s vocals and orchestration give the song a sweetness and sentimentality that pulls at the heart strings, but the almost Bowie-esque quality of the original is fantastic, too.

 

I could name a bunch more, but I think it’s time for someone else to grab the ball and run with it.

—Adrienne Maxwell

Adrienne Maxwell has been writing about the home theater industry for longer
than she’s willing to admit. She is currently the managing editor and video specialist
at HomeTheaterReview.com. Adrienne lives in Colorado, where she spends far too
much time looking at the Rockies and not nearly enough time being in them.

Confessions of a Shameless Cover Songs Lover

There are few subjects I feel as strongly about in music as I feel about cover songs. You know, the age-old tradition of artists taking a timeless classic and making it their own, keeping the basic melody and words but adding their own flavor and tone. Or totally butchering it, killing the original song’s spirit and the spirits of any listener.

 

You could say I have a pretty hot and cold relationship with cover songs. I either love them or hate them—but a good cover? It’s almost as good as discovering the original—sometimes even better. Not only does it give you a totally different perspective on the lyrics but it can transform the meaning and the feel of the original. It can turn an upbeat song somber or a serious topic lighter.

 

One of the best parts of streaming-music platforms like Spotify is the ability to find lesser-known covers. But no matter how good I am at finding killer cover songs from my favorite and lesser-known artists, I know there are many I’m missing.

 

How about I share my top list and you share yours?

 

Let’s start with an ‘80s classic that definitely played in your dentist-office waiting room on repeat. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” was among Tears for Fears biggest hits (along with “Shout,” their dark rebellion anthem) and tackles similar themes of searching for power and the struggle it creates.

A trio of sisters from Portland who call themselves Joseph decided to tackle the TFF beat on their 2017 album Stay Awake, and it’s perfect in every way. Joseph is a folk band, so the tune is decidedly more mellow than the synth-pop original, but the cover’s quieter tone forces the lyrics forward, creating an tune that feels as relevant as ever.

 

(And if you like it, you’ll love all of their work. Thank me later.) 

There are several covers of the Leonard Cohen’s gorgeous, gutting “Hallelujah,” and it’s honestly hard to choose which one I love the most. Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright (the piano in his version is to die for)—they are all beautiful in their own way. But in 2010, k.d. lang took the stage at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony and belted out what is to this date the most beautiful rendition of any live song I’ve heard, anywhere.

There’s nothing more to say that will do it justice—but it’s worth a listen if you happen to be unfamiliar and it’s important (I think) to watch her sing it live:

 

This might be an unpopular opinion but I love Walk the Moon. They are a newer, pop rock band and they’ve had a few radio hits. I’m not generally one to fawn over pop music, but their music just makes me want to dance. I can’t help it. And their live shows are so much fun. In a world where everything feels so damn heavy all of the time, they are my escape. Some people have trashy TV—I have Walk the Moon.

Their last hit, “Shut Up and Dance” was overplayed on the radio, almost ruining its perfection as a great gym workout song. (I still love it.)

And it’s hard to see how it could feel like a ballad—and yet. Kina Grannis. A lovely human with an incredible voice and a penchant for turning popular tunes into art.

 

You can see where this is going. Her version of “Shut Up and Dance” stopped me in my tracks. “Felt it in my chest as she looked at me, ooh, we were born to be together” and you forget you’re listening to a song that made it to a 2015 Kidz Bop album. That is not a typo.

I could go on and on with cover recommendations—perhaps this deserves a Part 2? But it’s your turn: What’s on your top cover songs playlist and why? I’m itching to add some new tunes into rotation.

Ashley Daigneault

Ashley Daigneault knew she was a writer before she left kindergarten and has a particular
love for writing about tech, literature, music, and politics. She is currently the VP at Caster
Communications
, a full-service tech PR and social-media firm, and works with B2B and
B2C tech brands. She lives in New England with her family, which includes kids and dogs
who think they are kids.