The idea of writing a post about cover songs has been on my mind for a while. I’m a big fan of cover songs and lately I have run into a couple of them that, I must say, are not that great. It is really hard to make a cover of a song that is already fantastic; the chances of not getting it right are very high. For instance Mary J Blige, did you really think you could sing One better than Bono? We all have our boundaries, no matter how famous we are. Cover songs are a tricky business; the way I see it, they have to be different enough from the original song to make it memorable, but at the same time, they have to capture its essence and original intent. That is why when you listen to a great cover song, you find new elements and meanings in the same lyrics you have listen to, many times. There are no rules for cover songs, its success only resides on pure talent, and that’s the bottom line.
Since I feel passionate about this topic, I had no option but to create a top 10 of my favorite cover songs, I hope you enjoy it:
10. Everywhere – Vampire Weekend (Fleetwood Mac) : This Fleetwood Mac song from 1988 is found in their album Tango in the Night. I always liked this song and The Vampire Weekend version from 2008 is a great re-make.
9. Dancing in the Dark – Pete Yorn (Bruce Springsteen): Dancing in the Dark from Bruce Springsteen was in the first cassette I ever had. My cousin gave it to my for my birthday in 1985 and every time I listen to this song I remember my younger years. Wake me up before you go-go was also in this cassette. Pete Yorn’s version is more mellow and slow bringing a new dimension to this song.
8. Nobody Does it Better – Radiohead (Carly Simon): I must say I’m not a big Carly Simon fan; I only like her song You’re so Vain. However, the cover of Nobody does it better by Radiohead is fantastic. The transformation of this song into a rock ballad makes it a more interesting song. Thom Yorke’s voice captured my heart and allowed me to enjoy this song.
7. Thank you – Chris Cornell (Led Zeppelin): I’m a big Chris Cornell fan, I like this version of Thank you more than the original. Thank you Chris Conell!
6. Bizarre Love Triangle – Stabbing Westward (New Order): This New Order song was released in 1986. I remember dancing to this song in the 80’s and early 90’s. There have been many covers of Bizarre Love Triangle, but this version by Stabbing Westward adds a rocker side to it that I think is great.
5. Just Like Heaven – The Watson Twins (The Cure): To make a cover of any of The Cure’s songs is a big risk. I think The Watson Twins were smart by transforming this song into a slow ballad. You don’t notice how sad this song is since The Cure’s version has a faster bit and sounds more cheerful.
4. Modern Love – Last Town Chorus (David Bowie): This is a classic example of a great song and a great cover. It is hard to pick one over the other. The David Bowie’s version, released in 1983 has more synthesizers and a faster tempo. The last Town Chorus version transforms this song into a slow, sad but beautiful ballad.
3. High Tide or Low Tide – Jack Johnson and Ben Harper (Bob Marley): Jack Johnson + Ben Harper are a perfect duo. These two individuals can sing anything they want and it will always be beautiful. I discovered this song when my friend posted it on Facebook and since then it has become one of my favorite songs. Unfortunately I have not been able to find it in any album. There is another version of this song by The Belle Islanders that is pretty good too.
2. Sea of Love – Cat Power ( Phil Phillips): This song by Phil Phillips, released in 1959 was a great success in the US. It hit the #1 spot on the Billboard R&B Chart. Its most famous cover was made by The Honeydrippers (1989). The Cat Power version was featured in the film Juno from 2007. This song also appears in the Cat Power’s The Covers Record, I just downloaded it and it is pretty good. There is not much to say about this cover other than it is fantastic!
1. If you Leave – Nada Surf (OMD): This is one of my favorite songs! I love it! The OMD version is great, but the cover by Nada Surf, in my humble opinion is simply amazing.
Last week was Valentine’s day; a holiday created to remind your special one of how much you love him/her. I have never felt inclined to celebrate this holiday, it was never been a tradition of mine and I don’t feel compelled to adopt it, as I adopted Thanksgiving; my favorite holiday since I moved to the US. The fact that this holiday is just for couples, leaves all the single population without celebrating, making them feel lonely and frustrated for not having a Valentine. It also puts pressure on couples that expect something extraordinary from their loved one, possibly creating anxiety and disappointment. This holiday is not for me – no Sir, the calendar keeps me very busy between birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, and father’s day. I think that these are all I can handle and that is the reason I have chosen to ignore Valentine’s day.
Despite the fact I don’t celebrate Valentine’s day, it is really hard to get away from the commercials and sale events that come up around this time of year. This year, all these media bombardment got into me and I started to think that if I wanted to celebrate Valentine’s day, I would have a hard time selecting my ultimate favorite love song. If you think about it, selecting a favorite love song is a very difficult task. Most songs are about love. Love is what makes our lives worth, it’s what inspires men and women of all ages; it is the essence of humanity. I’m not only talking about crazy, passionate love, I’m talking about relationships in general. Everything in our lives is about relationships and we are better or worse human beings because of the people in our lives. That is why, man throughout history have felt the need to sing about love.
When I started to think about a favorite love song, or even 10 great love songs, millions of songs started to pop in my head, I immediately realized that there are two variables that make this selection process particularly difficult and these are: Love Stage and Genre. Love Stage: The first question I asked myself was: what king of love are we talking about? There are 6 essential categories that songwriters have used when writing about love, these are: Wanting Love, Crushes, Recently Found Love, Passionate Love, Steady Love, Lost Love and Heartbreak. So if we are talking about Valentine’s day, we could easily narrow it down to three categories: Recently Found Love, Passionate Love and Steady Love. Still among these categories there are millions of songs that could easily be on my top 10. Genre: The second thing that came clear to me was that genres could not be ignored. In other words, it is impossible to compare songs that don’t belong to the same genre. As you can see, these two factors create a matrix that could be used as a method for song selection. However, this process can take a very long time since each section of the matrix could bring a series of subcategories that would make this task almost impossible to complete.
Having hit the wall on the music matrix, another idea came to mind, I decided to narrow my search and pick only one Love Stage and one Genre, so I decided to use Steady Love and Alternative Rock, and that was easier to do.
Not Long ago I rediscovered The Cure, I started to listen to their albums after a 15-year boycott and fell in love with their songs. This time, I found their lyrics to be the most beautiful ones I have heard in a long time. When I started to think about love songs, The Cure was on my top list. I guess Robert Smith doesn’t hold back when writing songs about love. The difficulty was in the song selection. I narrowed it down to two songs that, in my mind are particularly beautiful: Lovesong and Mint Car. Below are my favorite parts of both songs, and since I couldn’t make up my mind, you can decide which one you like the most.
Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am home again
Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am whole again
The sun is up
I’m so happy I could scream!
And there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be
Than here with you
It’s all I ever wanted
I almost can’t believe that it’s for real
I really don’t think it gets any better than this
And a gorgeous strawberry kiss!
Birds sing we swing
Clouds drift by and everything is like a dream
It’s everything I wished
I was so close to spend this winter without any sickness. I did everything I could to keep my immune system strong and alert, but finally the cold my daughter and husband had, got to me. So, with a tissue on my hand and a cup of tea I salute you nasty cold! But don’t worry, this post is not about cold and diseases, it is about a terrible cover of a song I love.
So here we go,
As you get older, you star finding that the pleasures of life are found in simple things. When I need a break from the craziness my life has become, one of my favorite things to do is to go to a bookstore, order a cappuccino and flip through magazines. The shallower the magazine, the more relaxed I feel… It is my guilty pleasure, and I love it! I guess that the idea of not doing anything, is what is appealing to me. I don’t have to think at all, or run around from one place to the other. For a couple of hours, I get to sit down, drink my coffee and enjoy the magazines.
The other day I was at the bookstore, drinking my cappuccino, flipping through a magazine, enjoying the view through the window when I noticed, on the background a familiar melody. First I didn’t recognize it, because the melody was slower than the original song and the singer was basically whining instead of singing. I started to pay more attention to the song and finally realized that what I was listening to was a bad cover of I hate myself for loving you. It is funny because until that moment I have never noticed how pathetic and depressing the lyrics of that song are;
“I think of you every night and day.
You took my heart, then you took my pride away.
I hate myself for loving you .
Can’t break free from the things that you do.
I wanna walk but I run back to you, that’s why
I hate myself for loving you .”
So why I didn’t notice it before? I guess it is because the original song is sang by one of the coolest woman on earth; Joan Jett. Her presence is so powerful that the content of the songs, don’t really matter. She can sing about the most ridiculous thing and still make a great song. In fact, what makes I hate myself for loving you fantastic, is the contrast between a heart-broken, needy woman who is singing with a powerful voice and confidence. This is one of those songs that turned into a ballad becomes a complete disaster. In my opinion, transforming a rock song into a slow, mellow ballad, is very tricky. Most of the time, the songs lose their power and energy. As a result, you end up at a bookstore listening to a mediocre song and feeling annoyed with the whining of the singer, imagining a poor guy completely depressed and wishing that somebody would be brave enough to put an end to his misery – and to the song.
Joan Jett and other female rockers of the 80’s such as Ann Wilson ( Heart), Stevie Nicks, Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), Pat Benatar and Annie Lennox influenced a whole generation of women. They were women in control of their lives and their own destiny. They were strong, confident and fierce vocalists that delivered powerful songs. I grew up watching them and even though I don’t have a motorcycle and walk around in leather pants and punk hair, I like to think that part of that “powerful women” is in me today. It is a shame that main stream female artist of today like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry lack of a strong point of view. I guess after women fought for their rights, made peace and not war, and became equal to men, their only concern left is how to be sexy and fit in really short outfits. (Do I sound like a mother or what?)
I love this time of the year! I just feel a great excitement as the days pass by and we start to get ready for the holidays. I like to go shopping for the perfect gifts, (I like to go shopping no matter the occasion), to do the arrangements for our vacation and to wrap up projects….but most of all, what I really enjoy is to have a break and to spend some quality time with family and friends. I love the excitement that the beginning of a new year brings. The opportunity for a fresh start and the hope that anything we wish for can become true in the year to come. I also like that christmas is a time for reflexion; a time to think of the blessings and the good things that happened during the year, it is also a time to think about things that went wrong and need to improve. Christmas is a time of happiness…. I really love this time of the year!
However, despite of this happy mood that christmas brings to my life; there are two things that I can’t stand about this holiday:
1. I don’t like putting christmas decoration in my house. Please don’t get me wrong, I love seeing christmas decoration all over the city, I just can’t force myself to decorate my house. The reason? Many years of torture, unpacking and packing the ridiculous amount of christmas ornaments that my mom has accumulated during the years. Does the term christmas-aholic exist? if it does, somebody needs to go to rehab! Every year me and my brother were forced to spend entire days unpacking boxes and boxes full of angels, Santa Clauses, christmas balls, baby Jesus figurines, christmas boots, snow men, etc… you name it, my mom has it. Every year, at the end of this intense effort, my house is completely unrecognizable… it looks as if Santa Clause had vomited all over the place. Back then, packing the ornaments back in January was even worse, we had to wrap every item in news paper and placed them back into the boxes that were carefully stored until the next year. As we grew old, it became harder and harder for my mom to get us excited about putting up all the Christmas decoration. We always invented things to do with the only purpose of avoiding her (sorry mom, but it is true). So my mom had to branch out to my aunts and whoever innocent creature would be around to help her with her christmas challenge. Since I moved out of my house, I haven’t own a single Christmas ornament, until last year that my mom was with us, and off course started her christmas tradition – overseas. The worse part is that now that I have a daughter I might have to start decorating my house, but I promised myself that I’ll keep it minimal.
2. I hate christmas songs! I just don’t like them, that’s all. I don’t think I need those song to be happy or to find the spirit of christmas. I’m perfectly fine on my own. I specially get annoyed by the radio stations that play christmas songs all day long. I don’t think anyone can stand more than 5 min. of that music. They are torture… Anyway, there are only two songs, that though corny, I love with all my heart, they are: All I want for Christmas is you by Mariah Carey and Last Christmas by Wham. Those two songs are diamonds floating in the nasty waters of Christmas songs!
I want to dedicate this post to my husband who has been the victim of a blogger.
Since we got married on a sunny Saturday of May 2007, my husband – whose name I won’t reveal, because nobody can say it -, has been bombarded with all kinds of music. From salsa, regueton, and latin rock, to indie, alternative and hard rock; I have dominated the music scene in our house. Sometimes, for a split second, he gets to plays a song he likes, but as soon as I get the chance, I take over the speakers again. I am the one who is always playing music while cooking, dinning, driving and cleaning; I’m practically listening to music all the time. I think, this musical obsession started when the yellow Sony Walkman came to Colombia, and now, many years later, I’m so used to have music in my life that I can not function without it.
I would say that for the most part, my husband has a small tolerance to the music I listen to. I’m not sure if the problem is in the quantity or in the quality, but I do appreciate that he doesn’t complain – too much. Through time, we have learned to enjoy the things the other one is passionate about. For instance, I became interested in the NBA and watched with him last year’s playoffs. In return, he allowed me to developed – through a system of trial an error – a series of playlists of music that I love and that he can tolerate; our favorite one is Bossa Nova. The key word here is compromise, right?
Since I started to write this blog, I’ve been in an exploring mood. I have downloaded tons of music, I have read newsletters and articles and I have played more music than ever before. Sometimes I even get tired of this musical rollercoaster and I have to stop and allow myself to have some moment of silence. I can not imagine what is going through my husband’s head and that is why I want to dedicate this post to him. Because not only he has supported me with this blog, but also, he has bared, stoic, by my side through the rain of music we listen to every night.
One of my husband’s favorite artists is Billy Ocean,
There is no point in denying it any longer. The 80’s are back, and they have been back for a while. I was trying to convince myself that it wasn’t happening but this morning while I was listening to a group called Phoenix, it became pretty obvious to me that this fascinating decade is back. For the record, I don’t have any problem with the 80’s, I enjoyed them; I had the big hair, the over sized shirts and the colored socks that matched the colored sweaters. I did it all and I’m not ashamed of it. The problem is that when a decade’s trends repeats on your lifetime that means that you are getting old and that is where the problem relies. It is bizarre to see little girls wear the same things you used to wear at their age. Personally, I think that is ridiculous to dress the same way you used to dress 20 years ago and that is why I have decided that there are somethings I will never wear again:
- Oversized Shoulder Pads: What is the point of looking out of proportion?
- Leggings and mini skirts: In the last 20 years my body has changed, and not in a good way. I had a baby, I gained a couple of pounds, and there is no way I would look good wearing those things.
- Converse Shoes: I like them, but every time I’m going to buy them, I remember my gym class and I feel silly wearing them.
- Neon Sunglasses – Neon earings: I don’t think I need to explain this one.
- high-waisted jeans: They are very uncomfortable
- Biker shorts: I don’t see any possible situation where I would be wearing biker shorts
- Stirrup Pants: These are the pants that have a strap at the bottom of each pant leg. No comments
Anyway, while the 80’s fashion have some big question marks, the music that is coming out with 80’s influence is pretty good.
There are two groups that I really enjoy lately; Phoenix and La Roux. Phoenix is a band from France, their album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix won a Grammy Award on January 2010 for best alternative music album. Their sing “1901” hit #1 on the Billboard Hot Alternative Songs chart short after.
La Roux are an English electropo and synthpop duo. Their debut album, La Roux (2009) was nominated to a Mercury Prize and an MTV Europe Music Awards. These two groups are fantastic, you can clearly notice the 80’s influence, but you can also notice the new sounds they bring to the table.
Yesterday it rain continuously in Washington DC for at least 24 hours. I have been living in D.C. for 7 years and I have never experienced this crazy amount of rain; I reminded me of Bogotá of my soul. I guess what bothered me the most is that I wasn’t ready for it and off course the city was a mess. Last night I couldn’t sleep, maybe I had too much coffee during the day, maybe all the driving in the rain got to me, what ever the reason was; I was awake for a long time. As I was laying down in bed, listening to the constant rain, I started to sing – in my mind – songs about rain, and I came up with 10 great songs about rain, from salsa, to adult contemporary, you name it! . I guess rain has inspired many great songs. I don’t know if snow has the same effect on people, the only song I know about snow is Frosty the Snowman.
So here is my list of great song about the atmospheric phenomenon that is the rain (Lluvia in Spanish):
- Singing in the Rain – Gene Kelly: I love this song because it gives a positive spin on something so annoying, like the rain. I wish I could have that positive attitude every time it rains, but I just get frustrated.
- November Rain – Guns n Roses: This song was very influential in my younger years, it is fantastic and I just don’t have enough words to express how much I like it. The piano intro is unforgettable and Slash is the best guitar player ever.
- Lluvia – Eddie Santiago: Eddie Santiago is the king of a subgenre called porno-salsa… His songs are about desire and sweaty sheets. Most of them are tacky and dramatic, but he sings with so much heart that it is almost impossible not to like him.
- Blame it on the Rain – Milli Vanilli: Who didn’t sing Blame it on the Rain or Don’t forget my Number? Please don’t deny it, everybody liked Milli Vanilli at some point in their lives, their catchy songs, the leggings and wide shoulder suits will always stay in our memory, despite the scandal.
- Gotas de Lluvia – Grupo Niche: El Grupo Niche is one of Colombia’s Salsa embassadors to the world. Their songs are in the hearts of every colombian and Gotas de Lluvia is not the exception. I remember I knew all the dance steps featured in the video.. DISASTER
- No ha parado de Llover – Mana: Some people say that Mana is the Latin U2, I really don’t see the resemblance. I’m not a big fan of Mana, but I like this song.
- Why does it always rain on me – Travis: Travis has amazing songs and this one is fantastic, it captures the mood I’m in when ever it rains.
- No Rain: Blind Melon: This song is a Classic!
- Kiss the rain: Billie Myers: Beautiful ballad
- I can see clearly now – Johnny Nash: Great song
I hope you guys enjoyed my music selection, and I also hope it doesn’t rain today again!