As I sit down to bring you this article on whether cover songs are great or tragic, I’ve asked Spotify to play me a playlist of ‘Rock Covers’ to inspire me to bring you this piece. Within 3 seconds of this request, my ears have been violated with what can only be described as an absolute monstrosity. Bad Guy by Billie Eillish is bad enough, but The Interrupters have brought to the world what could be the world’s worst cover. If you fancy a laugh, check it out and if you manage to listen the whole way through I’d advise you to go get your ears checked out…
Right, I wanted to write this with an unbiased frame of mind, surely not all covers are tragic right? The Interrupters (Ironically named) have launched the attack for the argument that covers should be banned full stop but what if we have songs out there that we don’t know are covers, songs that we all love unknowing that it’s not one of their own. Well as we go through this article there may be a few that surprise us all and restore faith in a good ol’ cover song.
Let’s start with one of my favourite songs of all time and surely it’s in most people’s top 10, Dancing in the Moonlight by Toploader. I’m well aware that there is a diabolical EDM rendition of this anthem knocking about in the charts these days but that’s not why this is in the article (albeit a strong argument against cover songs…). Toploader didn’t originally bring us this track, I know, I was just as shocked as you are right now. This wedding classic was originally released by French-American rock band King Harvest! The original is a bit of a banger as you can well imagine, but Toploaders version will forever be everyones go to when requested by uncle knobhead 7 pints deep at your sisters wedding.
Next up we have Twist and Shout by the Beatles, now this was news to me, I couldn’t believe it when it popped up on a covers playlist I was listening to, surely it’s a mistake? Nope, no it isn’t. Originally recorded by the top notes in 1961 it became a chart hit the very next year when the Isley Brothers released the banger upon the world. The Beatles then took the song which wasn’t too shabby and created a song that still gets people on their feet to this very day, restoring my faith in cover songs.
The Clash, Who Fought The Law. Another absolute banger right? The rebellious feels that ooze when this track thrashes the speakers. It’s also a cover….. Unreal I know! You get the theme here, in my amazement I went on the hunt for this song’s origin and it took me back to 1966! The Crickets released this track which only became popular, believe it or not when it was covered! The Bobby Fuller Four covered this track and if you haven’t ever seen it, check out the music video. I don’t even have words, it’s just bizarre.
I’m not sure why I haven’t turned off this cover playlist yet that I have blaring out of my speakers, just when I was convincing myself that the world is a better place with cover songs in it. The Regrettes cover of Don’t Stop Me Now, the phenomenon brought to us by Queen has just fully convinced me that 2020 is the year that covers should be banned (pun intended). How anyone could have the audacity to speed up and create a pop punk version of this song is more than beyond me. I have a good mind to stop writing this article right now and sit in silence but I can’t wrap this up on a sour note can I?
So finally, before anymore soul crushing covers fly out of my Google Homehub, I’ll present a very good reason that the cover game must go on. The 1967 classic All Along the Watchtower written and recorded by Bob Dylan would later go on to be the inspiration for one of the greatest covers/songs ever. The Jimi Hendrix Experience covered this song and as we all know it’s iconic, anyone who’s anyone knows this song and just how insanely good it is. If you haven’t heard it A) What on earth have you been doing all your life and B) Put it on right this second and educate yourself, you don’t realise what you’ve been missing out on all these years!
So cover songs, to answer the question I based this article on. Who cares that there is a sea of truly truly awful covers. When we get to unearth a song that has been taken and made into absolute gold such as All Along the WatchTower and Dancing in the Moonlight then we will just have to grit our teeth and cope with the rest.