Cover Songs Archive

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Covers Revue – Janelle Monáe covers “Smile” :: Originally by Charlie Chaplin

Janelle Monae

If you’re familiar with EnterTheShell.com (more specifically, Sara’s blogs), then you know that Sara is obsessed with Janelle Monáe. She has released two albums (the most recent a major contender for Album of the Year on numerous music news outlets) is signed to Bad Boy Records and was discovered by Diddy and Big Boi of OutKast. So nothing can go wrong for Miss Monáe, right? WRONG! You probably thought Sara could never hate a Janelle Monáe song, but here I am saying that I hate her cover of Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 song, “Smile.”

Charlie Chaplin composed “Smile” for his 1936 movie, Modern Times. Used as a score, there are no lyrics, but it is rife with strings. Though it’s a song meant to cheer someone up, it sounds terribly depressing. “Smile” is very slow and mellow until the end where it picks up a bit of speed and begins to include some horns.

Monáe’s material is best when it’s fast-paced and to cover a slow song and keep it slow did not work to her benefit. The song definitely shows off the young artist’s vocal range and talents, but the slow tempo causes you to tune out if you’re looking for something to pump you up.

Here are some pages on EnterTheShell.com that you may enjoy as well!:

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Covers Revue – Ten Covers of Pop Songs by Country Artists

I know I already posted a Covers Revue for this week but I had to share this gem with you!

BuzzFeed.com has compiled a list of their picks for The 10 Best Country Covers of Pop Songs.

Now I’m not a fan of Country music, but some of these are pretty good!

Click here to listen to Country versions of classics such as “Gin & Juice,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “Toxic” and one of the best Country covers, “Hurt.”

Here are some other pages on EnterTheShell.com that you may be into!:

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Covers Revue – The Bird and the Bee covers “Don’t Stop the Music” :: Originally by Rihanna

Inara George and Greg Kurstin of The Bird and the Bee

We all know Mailo looooves terrestrial radio! So of course he loves Rihanna … Wait, last I checked, I don’t think he really knew who she was but he’s heard of her now that one of the loves of his life has covered her hit, “Don’t Stop The Music.”

If you haven’t heard Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music,” just know that it is typical Rhi-Rhi: club beats, poppy melodies and her strong voice. The muffled bass beat pulsates as she sings while a sample of MJ’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” slowly makes its way into the foreground. “Don’t Stop the Music” will definitely get you moving and if you’re at a sweaty club, you best believe the gays will jump on a box and squirm around seductively to this song!

When Inara George and Greg Kurstin covered “Don’t Stop the Music,” it wasn’t meant to be a club banger. Instead, the song takes on a more somber tone, reminiscent to early The Bird and the Bee material. It begins with spacey whirs, whirls, chimes and a keyboard. George’s soft voice and the slow keyboards build (slightly) into a slow drum beat. Just like Rihanna’s version, which is VERY Rihanna, The Bird and the Bee’s version of the track is VERY Bird and the Bee. The dynamic duo definitely succeeded in making this song their own by toning it down a notch or five.

Here are other pages on EnterTheShell.com that may tickle your fancy:

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Covers Revue – Brendon Urie and Dallon Weekes cover “Skid Row (Downtown)” :: From the movie “Little Shop of Horrors”

So we’ve never done a cover from Broadway before but here we are. And who cares if it’s too late for Halloween? “The Little Shop of Horrors” sounds like an awesome movie (cultivating a plant that feeds on humans? how can that NOT be awesome?) but I’ve never seen it. The performance of the song “Skid Row (Downtown)” totally encapsulates that whole Broadway feel though. From the gospel/soul voice fluctuation of the opening voice and the tingling piano to Rick Moranis’ geek-chic normal guy voice, this scene/song has got it all covered!

Brendon Urie is known for his work in Panic! at the Disco, a band that became known after their hugely pop-tastic debut, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. His voice was understated in those albums but in this cover, his voice has drastically improved and is perfect for the part. Dallon Weekes, of The Brobecks, adds a light, almost femmy aspect to the song. The two combined along with the more guitar-driven cover make a pop-alt-punk concoction that serves as a great substitute for the real thing.

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Covers Revue – Youth Group covers “Forever Young” :: Originally by Alphaville

Youth Group

Alphaville’s track “Forever Young” failed to make any big waves when it was released in 1984, but for some reason, it has become one of the songs that defines the 80’s. We saw it at the closing scene of Napoleon Dynamite, and last year, Mr. Hudson re-worked the song for the chorus of Jay-Z’s “Young Forever,” which appeared on his highly-anticipated Blueprint 3. The slow organs and synths coupled with that classic 80’s, Eur0-accented-croon certainly make this song a classic for those who grew up in that era. The big drum breakdown is perfect for that slow dance at the end of prom or for the lead-up to, you know, that horizontal dance.

Australian band  Youth Group covered the song and kept its slow disposition. But instead of relying heavily on synths and beat machines, the Australian quartet decide to keep the song within their rock roots. The slow guitar melody and drums that build up ever so slightly to include a tambourine make this track the classic for those who grew up in the early 90’s indie-scene. Peaking at No. 1 in their home country and even claimed the No. 1 download in the first ever download charts.

The track is not a far cry from the original, maintaining the mellow tendencies but Youth Group does give it their own treatment by keeping the guitars intact. It’s a great cover, but I’ll just have to forget the fact that the producers of The O.C. approached the band about covering it, therefore are responsible for this great cover.

Here are some other pages on ETS that you may be fond of:

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Covers Revue – Elton John covers “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” :: Originally by The Beatles

This week in the Covers Revue, we have another classic covering a classic! The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was long suspected to be about the biggest trip in history, but John Lennon claimed the song was about a painting his son Julian came home from school with. Riiiiight! We all know The Beatles were trippin’ in their psychedelic days! At any rate, “Lucy” is one of the greatest Beatles songs of all time. From the creepy guitar melodies to John’s child-like voice during the verses, “Lucy” certainly makes you feel like you’re on a trip. The chorus’s organs and harmonization make this song super fun and poppy, but the verses come back to that weird LSD-trip feeling.

Fellow across-the-pond-er Elton John is a legend in his own right and his 1974 cover of “Lucy” topped the Billboard charts at one point. It certainly didn’t hurt that Lennon provided backing vocals (under the name Dr. Winston O’Boogie). John’s version is a little more funky, especially during the verses, but the chorus doesn’t stray very far from the original. A little more guitar and pop feeling make John’s a less trippy version, but a great version nonetheless.

Were you digging this article? Here are some others you may want to get your shovel out for!:

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Covers Revue – Colin Munroe covers “Sunday Bloody Sunday” :: Originally by U2

Though I’m not a fan of U2’s recent work, their older stuff is great! My all time favorite song by the Irish band is “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” a song that Canadian musician/producer Colin Munroe absolutely reimagined.

Now I’m not one for songs with political statements, but “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is the major exception. With a snare drum that mirrors the British Army gunshots that were fired into a crowd protesting civil rights in Ireland, U2 created a heart-wrenching anthem to what became known as 1972’s Bloody Sunday Massacre. The anger and pain comes through in Bono’s voice as he chronicles those who were murdered on that fateful day (innocently, as was proved when bullet wounds were found in the backs of many of those killed). Bono’s emotional cries, The Edge’s guitar melody and those drums that make you think of a line of intimidating soldiers marching towards you creates an incredibly powerful song.

Colin Munroe, known for his soft and sweet voice, remakes “Sunday Bloody Sunday” but takes away the power in the message. I am a huge fan of Munroe and if I was listening to this song with no intention of being emotionally touched by it, I could tell you that this is a great cover. The fact of the matter, though, is that this rendition does nothing to encapsulate the power and anger that Bono conveys in U2’s version. Munroe’s sweet voice coupled with the banjo and guitars really take away the real message of this song.

Here are some other pages on EnterTheShell.com that you may be into:

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Covers Revue – Lykke Li covers “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” :: Originally by The Shirelles

Lykke Li

There is a reason why many of the covers featured on the great Covers Revue are “oldies but goodies”: these songs are CLASSIC. This week’s exploration of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” is definitely one of these, as not only did it propel The Shirelles (and Carole King, who write it … I told you Carole King is involved in a butt-load of songs!), but it placed The Four Seasons on the Billboard Charts as well (No. 20 on Billboard Hot 100).

The original version contains nothing but a double-snare beat and Lead Singer Shirley Owens’ voice at first. On “paper” it sounds boring, but Owens’ voice gives this song all the character it needs. After the first chorus, the string section comes in and so do the “sha-da-da-sha’s” from the other gals in the group. Ball all these things up together and you get a classic (early) 60’s hit.

In July 2009, Swedish songstress Lykke Li covered the classic and stripped it down to nothing but a piano and her voice. This version’s tempo is slowed completely to the point you feel like she’s playing it under water (the echo definitely contributes). The feeling and emotion definitely come out of this version, making it seem like a whole other song from the upbeat and poppy Shirelles’ version.

Though Lykke Li plays the part better than The Shirelles did, I can’t say that I prefer the newer version. For one, I’m not a fan of the echo; actually, it really bugs me. Also, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: nothing beats a classic!

Here are some other pages you might enjoy:

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Covers Revue – Lauryn Hill covers “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” :: Originally by Frankie Valli

Frankie Valli was known for many great hits, either with his group The 4 Seasons or solo. You may remember that high-pitched falsetto leading songs such as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man,” which just scratch the surface of the popularity of Valli’s hit-making voice.

“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” Valli’s 1967 single reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned him a gold record. The song is classic oldie, with the horns making this track. Valli’s sweet voice is much stronger than his falsetto, yet still exudes sweetness. The upbeat chorus makes you think of a classic time when you were dancing in a club and everything was in black and white (even though you weren’t watching yourself on old film). The strings that come in halfway through the song make this song even more beautiful after hearing an upbeat pop performance accompanied by the voice of a generation.

Miss Lauryn Hill’s version of this classic is a classic in itself for a completely different generation. Upon first listen of Hill’s voice, you get the impression that she’s either high or careless or both. But the beat boxing gets you into it and her amazing, scratchy voice kicks in proving that this once seemingly-sane Fugees pioneer. Gone are the horns, strings and sweet voice and in their place are a simple beat, a church organ, light beat-boxing and Hill’s instantly recognizable voice. As the penultimate song on Hill’s debut and only solo release, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, this track helps wrap up the album and apparently a blossoming solo career.

Unfortunately, Hill lost her shit for awhile and stopped performing but she seems to be getting her life back on track now. She really did a number on this song and made it an amazing classic for herself. One can only hope she releases an amazing comeback album more than 12 years later. As my boy Kanye West says, “Lauryn Hill said her heart was in Zion/I wish her heart still was in rhymin’.”

Here are some other pages for ya: