Over the last two weeks I’ve reviewed two cover albums (Stone Sour’s Meanwhile in Burbank EP and A Perfect Circle’s eMOTIVe), so I thought I’d round off this theme by discussing my 3 favourite individual cover songs.
Apocalyptica – Helden
Apocalyptica’s take on David Bowie’s Heroes is one of the most unique covers I have ever heard. The effect-laden musical backdrop of Bowie’s version is changed for emotionally-charged cellos and the understated vocals are swapped for Till Lindemann’s (Rammstein) deep, brooding tones. The greatness in this cover is that although it is played in a completely different style and has lyrics that are unrecognisable to the non-German speaker, the key melodies are faithfully reproduced, making this song instantly identifiable, yet completely fresh. The strength of Apocalyptica’s cover should come as no surprise though, as the quartet began with cover records, before working in their own compositions.
Johnny Cash – Hurt
The sign of a great cover is when people don’t realise it isn’t an original song. I have had to tell many people that Hurt was originally by Nine Inch Nails (NIN), which is testament to Johnny Cash’s version, especially considering that NIN’s version is considered to be an industrial rock classic. Where the original was a landscape of cold and harsh sounds with fragile vocals, Johnny Cash’s interpretation uses the warm tones of an acoustic guitar accompanied by a piano, but manages to maintain the poignant feeling. What makes this version of Hurt even more special is the eulogy-like video and its timely release, seven months before his death.
Marilyn Manson – Sweet Dreams (are made of this)
Marilyn Manson has a history of great covers, including Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus and Soft Cell’s version of Gloria Jones’ Tainted Love, but perhaps his greatest cover song is Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams. With each of his covers, Manson manages to impose his own gothic style onto the music, often completely changing the emphasis of the song and making you forget they aren’t the original version. Sweet Dreams is top of the pile mainly because of its significance in their career, as it launched them to mainstream success with a music video that has stood the test of time and remains as creepy and bizarre as it was in 1995, twenty years ago.
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