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Cover Battle – “Shake it Off” November 21, 2014

 

Oh dear Lord -

 

I LIKE A TAYLOR SWIFT SONG.

 

 

Yeah, let that shite sink in, why don’t you.

 

Shake it Off” is one of those perfect little pop songs that will just not leave you alone. It’s got a really catchy hook, and it actually says something. Swift is basically taking all the crap that people say about her (“I go on too many dates; But I can’t make them stay; At least that’s what people say“) and basically saying “whatev”: that no matter what you do people are gonna say what they want to say (“haters gonna hate hate hate hate“) and I’m just gonna do me. That is such an excellent message for young girls, who are her chief fan base, and for people in general. I like that.

 

And I recently saw her on The Graham Norton Show, with John Cleese and cricketer Kevin Pietersen. She was intelligent, well-spoken and very engaging. She was funny, and she held her own – with John Cleese, for goodness sakes!?! And … and … she named her cat Olivia Benson, after the Law & Order: SVU character played by Mariska Hargitay! How cool is that? She’s probably like a really good best friend. Also a bit of an annoying best friend ‘cuz she’s so sweet and so charming, and so good at stuff and ugh, my god. Okay Taylor – I almost kinda like you. Sort of. Gosh darn it!

 

Kelly Clarkson put a gospel-tinged, bluesy-soul spin on the opening lines of the song. It’s unexpected, but it works. I would have liked to hear her do the whole thing that way, but I’m not sure it would have fit. After that first chorus she brings it back to the original pop sound. There’s a quick section, around the 4:00 mark where she and her backup singer trades licks and really throw down. Over all, it’s a nice fun cover.

 

All About That Bass” singer Megan Trainor sounds very light and sweet in her live radio performance. It’s just her and an accompanist playing guitars in the studio.

 

At first look I wasn’t sure about this parody video, by Youtube user Lisbug: the lyrics sung were so snotty and rude, but then I realized what was going on. She perfectly illustrates the message of the song by using some of the negative comments that she herself has received in the past, but then ‘shakes it off’ with the positive encouraging comments she’s also gotten. It’s a shame that people can’t just dislike something and move on; they have no problem saying ugly disgusting things. I would love it if we could all just be a little more human to each other.

 

Another parody video, from MyLifeSuckers, is pretty cute. It’s basically about mommy guilt from not being perfect and getting everything done. Her vocal skills aren’t all that stellar, but that’s not really the point. Everybody’s having fun, so it’s all good.

 

The last parody video I have (’cause there are quite a few out there) is from morning show Live with Kelly and Michael, featuring Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa. It’s not even a parody, really; it’s pretty much a faithful recreation of Taylor’s official video. Same lyrics, setups and moves. That doesn’t make it any less enjoyable, though.

 

The cut I found from Alex Boye & Changing Lanes is listed as an “African Hipster Version”. It rocks, it swings, and it’s seriously fabulous. It’s even more up-tempo than Taylor’s version. I love this so much.

 

The loveliest and classiest cover is an instrumental violin version from the stylish ladies of Chargaux. They definitely elevate the composition to something more, yet they still keep it relatable and modern.


 

   

   

 

Cover Battle – “Fell in Love With a Girl” November 14, 2014

 

 

I had never heard this song until I got into the cover version from Joss Stone. Actually she switched up the gender and changed it to “Fell in Love With a Boy”. I’m a big fan of Joss Stone. She’s got an old-soul, rhythm voice that’s just amazing for someone so young. (Damn, whippersnapper!) She gives this a funk-tastic, sexy vibe. I love how the song opens with the scratch of an old 45 single. The great drumbeat is provided by producer and The Roots drummer Questlove.

 

The original version -“Fell in Love With a Girl” – was written and performed by The White Stripes. It’s a seriously fast-paced track that goes by in under 2 minutes. That’s practically unheard of these days. Hearing this original version is jarring compared to the smooth soul of Ms. Stone. This is very hard rock, loud, punk like. And just like Joss’s cover has an old throwback style to it, the White Stripes version also feels retro. Can’t say it’s something I would put on repeat, though, but the Lego video is pretty cool.

 

I found an acoustic version from the White Stripes as well. I’m kind of a sucker for stripped down, acoustic stuff and I could get into this more than the fully produced punk one. It’s making me wonder what it would sound like if Joss and the Stripes did a collaborative version. Could be amazing; could be a mild train wreck.

 

I also found something by The New Royales. It’s definitely more in line with the White Stripes feel. It adds a pulsing electronic sound that can get annoying, and possibly seizure inducing. It’s a good cover though. Pretty well-done.

 

The strangest cover I discovered is probably the most unexpected. It’s done as a “Lullaby Rendition” (?!?) and it’s just too freakin’ cute. I love this thing.


 

   

   

 

PRINCE!!! ON THE INTERNET! November 10, 2014

Filed under: Found Objects,Music,Videos — jerzygirl45 @ 3:31 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

   

I fully expect this to get taken down at any moment, so enjoy it while you can

   

   

 

Cover Battle – “Helter Skelter” November 7, 2014

 

It took me several listens to decide which Beatles version of this song to bring you. I wasn’t really sure if I could discern the subtle differences, so I kept going back and forth between two of them. Then I decided – what the heck? – I’ll bring you both!

 

The “original” recording of “Helter Skelter” sounds rough and raw and primitive. Not unprofessional, by any means, but there’s a sense of wildness to it and an improvisational grit that’s common in early recordings without benefit (?) of modern technology. It has texture. There’s a remastered version from 2009 that sounds a shade cleaner. I think I prefer the first one, but just by a hair. I actually think, however, that some of the covers I’ve heard are better to listen to than either of these “originals”.

 

My first introduction to “Helter Skelter” was through the album Rattle and Hum. I think I knew there was a song named “Helter Skelter”; I knew it was by the Beatles, and I knew that Charles Manson had used it for his own purposes or whatever (resulting in a book by Vincent Bugliosi and a subsequent movie with the same title), but I had never actually heard the song before U2 recorded it.

 

I took an immediate liking to it. Even now, writing this, I’m rocking out in my chair, furiously bobbing my head and putting it on repeat. It’s done before a live audience so you have the energy and appreciation of the crowd, that big arena sound, and the skill, talent and enthusiasm of a band at the height of their worldwide popularity and acclaim. The U2 version takes a rock classic perverted by a madman and, with jangly, driving guitars, hard drum beats and Bono’s impassioned voice, reclaims it for the people.

 

I heard bits of the song, again, in the movie, Across the Universe. It’s performed as part of a scene that starts peacefully with the title song and then goes into the more rebellious fury of the cover battle song. It’s a powerful segment exemplifying the spirit of the 60’s: war, social unrest, groundbreaking activism, and a radical rethinking of the established view of government, citizenship, war, peace, death and life.

 

The figure that you glimpse performing “Helter Skelter” in the movie is actress/singer Dana Fuchs. I have her doing a full version in a live performance. It’s really nice to see this done by a female artist that rocks out just as hard, if not harder, than some of the male artists that usually tackle this. Her voice is strong and raspy ; bluesy and soulful. She has a take-no-prisoners intensity to this and just blows it out of the water.

 

Another take charge, balls to the wall female rocker that handles this without apology is Pat Benatar. Her commitment level is perfectly matched by her band. This is another great performance from a solid artist.

 

Motley Crue gives this the heavy metal treatment: big, bold, noisy and head-bangy. It doesn’t bring in anything different or innovative but it’s a fine enough version.

 

Sir Paul McCartney delivers a truly incredible performance of this during the 12.12.12 Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund concert in NYC. There’re a few instances of vocal strain, but so what? It’s Paul freakin’ McCartney!!! The dude continues to be fantastically awesome. At the age of 72 the man is still creating, still expressing – still kicking major ass onstage, and he never half-steps it. And his band (including Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters) is right there with him.

 

As for Siouxsie & The Banshees:

 

 

stahp

 

 

‘Nuff said. Moving on.

 

I happened upon a sample sound clip from Roger Daltrey of The Who. It’s from an all-star tribute album, The Art of McCartney, that’s due out on November 18. Just this tiny little snippet makes me excited to hear a full version. Should be quite wonderful.

 

The cover version from Oasis really had to grow on me. My first impression was that it was quite unremarkable, and I couldn’t really come up with what, in particular, made me see it that way. But after several replays I’m finding more of an appreciation for it. Paying more attention to the music and the arrangement on the back end of the song, without the vocals, helped me to reevaluate things. Now listening to the whole thing a little deeper I can see that the vocals fit in very well. It sounds like they were using some throwback technology that made the recording, especially the vocals, sound like they were recorded back in the day. There’s an almost tinny echo underneath the whole thing that takes it slightly out of time from modern musical production advances.

 

With Steven Tyler’s trademark yelps, Aerosmith stays faithful to the song while still maintaining their signature style. The guitar work is strong and on point, if a bit rushed. A really good interpretation.


 

   

   

 

Cover Battle – “Across the Universe” October 31, 2014

 

Across the Universe“, written by John Lennon, was originally released in 1969. The more I listen to it the more beautiful it becomes to me. It’s very positive and uplifting. It puts me in a peaceful frame of mind, and subtly expresses the idea that our thoughts float out into the universe and we become in tune with each other. It seems like such a simple song, but it’s incredibly profound and enlightening.

 

The “best version” (as touted by the YouTube poster legendofbirdbridge) begins with what sounds like a nature documentary (or Hitchcock’s The Birds). I believe this was done in connection with a World Wildlife Fund charity album. After the avian influx John’s voice comes in all swirling and psychedelic. It’s almost like you’re falling into a meditative state. And maybe that was the intent.

 

The “rare version” (uploaded by rizlatune) is much simpler, more beautiful and effective. It does have a little bit of a symphonic background to it, but it’s not overwhelming.

 

When I saw this next version listed in my YouTube search results, I got really interested to hear it. I mean, how could I not? David Bowie and John Lennon doing the song live? Just the idea of it is pretty awesome, right? But, turns out, this is some sort of “fake-out” or really an impersonation of both artists. It’s listed on a YouTube channel under “Mersey Boys“, in association with British comedian Stevie Riks. He does a bunch of other “interesting” musical impersonations/homages, as well.

 

At first I was like wtf is this? It’s really cheesy and a little trippy (granted the song itself is kind of trippy. Or maybe it’s just the background in the video). But the singer/impressionist is pretty dead on with the sound and persona of both artists. Although his Bowie does remind me a bit of a Tom Baker acid trip version of Doctor Who.

 

The British group 10cc does a live version that’s pretty faithful to the original, if more stripped down. It’s done simply, with no overblown orchestration and it’s very soothing and quite lovely.

 

On the album Abbey Road: A Tribute to The Beatles, the song is performed by Jackson Browne and Robbie Krieger. This one’s a little painful to slog through; it just doesn’t work for me. The addition of the choir around the 2:32 is too much. There’s so much going on that it detracts. And distracts. Sometimes in paying tribute you screw up the beauty of the pure song and this kind of does that for me.

 

The bell/chime/whatever-it-is that opens the Cyndi Lauper cover is jarring to my ears. This is another example of throwing in too much stuff. As I noted above the song is a bit trippy on its own but adding in a bunch of airy, new age, hippy dippy, crunchy granola, ethereal-sounding elements devalues it, taking the focus away from the simple, profound beauty of song. It’s interesting, though, that the closing section (around the 4:06 mark) is reminiscent of the out of this world ending music on The Beatles’ A Day in the Life.

 

Now, having said what I did about a lot of stuff being thrown into a cover, the fact that there’s a lot going on in David Bowie’s rendition does not make me hate it. In fact I think this is fantastically executed. Even though it’s much less meditative, what he’s done in no way overshadows the song; it only enhances it.

 

Fiona Apple is a very intense, thoughtful, passionate artist. I think she’s a really good fit for this song. Her voice is sweet and airy, very light, yet strongly focused and effortlessly serene in her interpretation. As in the video, her voice is an island of calm response to the chaos that can sometimes surround us all.

 

Another beautiful interpretation is brought to us by Rufus Wainwright. Again, not sparse, but nothing overly produced. What he does comes in service of the song, not a drive to be clever or a showy sense of ego.

 

The German rock band Scorpions bring us a guitar-laden cover that’s very earnest and sincere. Their version feels almost like a lullaby. It’s nice.

 

In the Julie Taymor-directed musical Across the Universe, the main character, played by actor Jim Sturgess, begins “Across the Universe” and gradually ends up in the middle of piece that focuses on the riotous song “Helter Skelter“. The visuals in this section (in the whole film, really) are just stunning.

   

   

 

This never ceases to entertain me October 23, 2014

   

   

 

… and I love how, no matter how often he does it, Alfonso Ribeiro always seems to enjoy himself. He’s having fun. It never gets old.

 

If you’ve never seen The Graham Norton Show you really need to check it out. Graham is great and you get so many funny moments and wonderful stories from his guest panel. It’s always entertaining.


 

 

Cover Battle – “Sweet Transvestite” October 10, 2014

 

The song “Sweet Transvestite” is one of the many highlights of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a cult movie obsession. It comes up in our first onscreen introduction to Dr. Frank N Furter, played by the remarkable Tim Curry. From that moment on he owns the movie. The song, and Curry, offer an erotic temptation, blatantly causing us to reexamine and redefine our own inner desires and perversions, magnetically drawing us out of the box and over to the kinky side.

 

This next version is done by actor Mark Pellegrino. You may not know his name, but if you own a television or have gone to movies I’m pretty sure you’ll recognize his handsome face. At the 2012 Salute to Supernatural convention in Vancouver (or VanCon, as it’s known) he performed a really good, sexy karaoke version on stage with costars Richard Speight, Jr., Matt Cohen, and singer Steve Carlson. He definitely has fun with it, and the audience just eats it up.

 

Actor Anthony Head brings this one back to the Brits with his rendition from a 2006 tribute show. Just as Tim did, he brings a mesmerizing flirtiness and raunch to the role, without imitating Mr. Curry. Anthony puts his own brand on the experience.

 

Apocalypse Hoboken starts their cover out slow and draggy; making it sound like the song was done not by Frank N Furter, but by the character Riff Raff. I don’t really feel any sort of eroticism in this – just a brute heavy metal sound, that plays more on the wild, counterculture, non-conformist aspect of the whole Rocky Horror proceedings. They do have a bit of fun with the “antici … pation” part of the song, though.

 

Please don’t hate me for this but I brought you a Glee take on the song, with a woman as Frank N Furter. On one hand it makes no sense, but on another it does. Even though Rocky Horror is considered a “cult” classic, it’s so popular that you might even call it mainstream. By having Frank N Furter portrayed by a biological woman it’s kind of taking it back to its original roots of playing with “alternate” sexualities and making you question the constructs of gender identity. Or maybe I’m just over thinking this. Basically I’m just putting this here as a showcase for the incredible voice of Amber Riley.

 

There was one version I really, really wanted to find for you guys. And for me, too. It was Eric McCormack performing it in the Rocky Horror 25: Anniversary Special put together by VH1. After repeated searches using a ton of different word configurations I found segments from other celebrity performers, but not the one I desperately wanted to give you. And myself. So, alas – no video of Eric. ;-(

 

But, at the last minute, I did find pictures.

http://eemoticons.net
 

   

   

 

#itouchmyselfproject October 5, 2014

   

   

Chrissy Amphlett’s husband Charley Drayton opens up …

   

 

Cover Battle – “Bad Moon Rising” October 3, 2014

 

The song “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival is a familiar tune; it’s been around since 1969. It’s been used in movies (An American Werewolf in London, Blade, The Big Chill); in tv shows (Supernatural, The Following, Cold Case); and in video games (Guitar Hero). The song talks about that sense you get when you just know something bad’s coming, it feels like the universe is throwing you outsized warnings and you’re kind of on pins and needles waiting for it. But the music behind it is so bouncy and peppy it makes you feel happy, not nervous.

 

Another tv show that’s used the song is The Walking Dead. Even though it’s one of my favorites, I really don’t remember this Mourning Ritual version being used in a trailer. No matter, though. It seems to be a perfect fit with the dread, foreboding and fear of the ever present zombie apocalypse depicted onscreen. The slow, creepy opening, and the persistent throbbing drums that get you pumping and amps up anxiety. It makes you feel there’s something just over your shoulder that’s coming to get you. A totally different feel than the original. The more I listen to this the more it gets my neck hairs standing on end. Well done.

 

Jerry Lee Lewis released an excessively twangy country-sounding version of this. Oh my god, no. This doesn’t work for me at all. It’s not that I necessary have a problem with the really raw, jam session, home-studio sound of it, it’s just the backwoods shack, jug and washboard, moonshine, Deliverance feeling it gives me. That might be more unsettling and uncomfortable than what’s actually going on in the song.

 

Jerry Lee also recorded this with the song’s original writer, Creedence lead singer John Fogerty. Still has some ultra twangy guitar licks, but it sounds way more polished and artfully produced than Jerry’s solo turn, which makes it a bit more palatable.

 

Oh lord – now I’ve really I’ve fallen into a twangy vortex! This next one is by the artist Emmylou Harris. So country. So honky-tonk. Lots of wailing. Whoever does the piano solo on this is really good, and the harmonizing Emmylou does with the backup singers blends together well. But still – I may have to listen to something seriously head banging after this.

   

   

 

Cover Battle – “Bohemian Rhapsody” September 19, 2014

 

Bohemian Rhapsody“. What words can I use to describe it?. Epic. Operatic. Dramatic. Theatrical. Performed by the legendary group Queen, this … masterpiece is like nothing you’ve ever heard. It sweeps through different tempos and stylings and vocals and levels. Excuse my French, but, it’s mother-fucking-brilliant! As such, this is one of those songs you think of as untouchable, not that others haven’t tried. But for most, they’d consider it sacrosanct – not to be tampered with, redone, reimagined, or covered. Except by The Muppets. Theirs is the only alternate version I would even deem worthy. It’s totally cute and hilarious and fun. But that’s it. Up until last week, that is.

 

During the season episode of the final season [ :-( ] of Sons of Anarchy, the ending montage begins – a variety of scenes with a musical underscore – I’m looking at the screen, and listening to the music. I hear the opening words, and they sound familiar, and I’m like “wait – what? No. No way; they did not do this” But yes, they did: they covered “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

 

The musical director for SOA, Bob Thiele, has always been incredibly adept about finding just the right songs for the show. They’ve redone a few other songs over the years, that I never thought I would like as covers and they’ve blown me away each and every time. This was no different. I was floored by the audacity, but it was so well done, and so appropriate, that I loved it.

 

As mentioned above, the cover done by The Muppets is a true joy. Not only do they cover the song, but they pretty much recreate the stance of the original Queen video. They do change the words in some parts to fit into the whole Muppets world, but it’s still pretty perfect.

 

In checking the internet, I also found another really fun one. It’s a parody version with a Star Wars basis. It’s well executed, with a lot of attention to detail. I’m sure it would go over big at any Comic Con.

 

The group Panic! At the Disco does a live version which, surprisingly, I actually like. I don’t think it has the same force and power as Freddie Mercury’s vocal with Queen, but it’s really, really good. And I’m not just saying that because the lead singer is shirtless, I swear.

 

Actor and singer Adam Lambert performs parts of the song on stage with the surviving members of Queen. During the performance they play major portions of the original video, then Adam and the band come back in. It’s very effective and captivating. It gave me chills.

 

Adam actually performed the song for his audition on American Idol. Leading judge Simon Cowell clued into his theatricality and flair, and seemed a little unsure of him being a good fit for the competition. He ultimately gave him a “yes” vote. As did the other 3 judges, enthusiastically, because Adam is a good singer. The drama and exuberance is just a thrilling bonus.

 

In addition to performing the song with Adam Lambert, the band also did a performance of it with Elton John, tackling the earlier, more ballad-like section, and Guns N’ Roses front man Axl Rose, taking on the later raucous role. They come together for the very end. I like hearing Elton’s voice. There’s a true respect and admiration for the material, the band, and Freddie that’s evident in his care with the song. Axl gives the later hard rock section his usual all-out frenetic gusto. It’s a respectable job.

 

A few years ago, a new hotel, The Cosmopolitan, was opening up in Vegas and they brought out a series of really … interesting commercials. (Their tag line was “Just the right amount of wrong”.) One of them featured the song, acted out, in a very dramatic way, using only the lyrics. The guitar riffs and whatnot were brought in at the end. I thought it was very creative and successfully done.

 

The most unexpected cover has to be the one from Jake Shimabukuro’s 2010 TED Talk presentation. On the ukelele. It’s unbelievably cool. This video is longer than the other versions only because they tack on a 3 minute Rolex commercial at the end. So, unless you’re seriously into Rolex watches you can shut it off after the 7:03 mark.

 

As they tend to be, cover versions done by William Shatner are usually pretty out there and have a strongly WTF? flavor. But this has to be one of the most batshit crazy things I’ve heard in quite some time. I think medication might be in order. For him, and for me.

 

I found a documentary on the making of “Bohemian Rhapsody” that you might also be interested in. It runs just under an hour.

   

   

 

 
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