One of the crowning achievements of the Holland-Dozier-Holland production team and a bit of a departure from the established Supremes sound, this is one of my favorite songs by the Supremes as well as one of my favorite Motown songs ever.
Lake Street Dive is a band that is probably as unconventional musically as the name they have chosen (I always end up referring to them as Lake Shore Drive). The group is made up of a foursome of classically trained musicians who blend pop, jazz, folk, and soul into an eclectic mixture that incomprehensibly ends up working sublimely. One of those moments of auditory perfection is on the group’s cover of the Jackson Five classic “I Want You Back”.
This version, recorded on a street corner in the Brighton area of Boston, is just amazing from the arrangement to the incredibly soulful vocals of lead singer Rachael Price, to the astounding way that the group can somehow sound so good while playing an unplugged set outside in the middle of nature, traffic and everything else.
Pumped Up Kicks is a snazzy little tune that tends to get stuck in my head for days on end every time I hear. Well now I am going to have to make the mental decision of which version I will be hearing…the original Foster The people song or the Usher cover that he did during an appearance on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge. Usher add some very usher like flourishes to it that did nothing to ruin the song but instead made it just different enough to be interesting. There is nothing worse than a beat for beat copy when someone decides to cover another artists song.
Usher – Pumped Up Kicks
I am not really a fan of the original version of this song by Rihanna but I am finding myself enjoying the heck out of covers of it. I posted the Jessie J cover a little while ago (pointing out how a powerful singing voice can do wonders with a song originally sung by a lesser vocalist) but the Bat For Lashes cover got me for a completely different reason. If you listen to the lyrics of We Found Love you notice that it isn’t the most shiny happy song. The problem is that Rihanna doesn’t have the depth of vocal prowess necessary to evoke the dark emotions of the song. That is not a problem for Natasha Khan (the offstage name of Bat For Lashes) who really drives home the maudlin vibe of this song.
Bat For Lashes – We Found Love
Amy Winehouse’s version of the classic by The Shirrelle’s is one of my favorite Amy songs. She had a way with delivering lines that made you really feel the lyrics.
Amy Winehouse – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
To commemorate the passing of music legend Michael Jackson, who died on this day in 2009, I give you this cover of MJ’s “Billie Jean” by Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. Well-crafted pop confection gives way to a deeply soulful interpretation that sorta suits the subject matter of the song a lot better than the original’s more upbeat, dance inspired style.
Chris Cornell – Billie Jean
It’s always interesting to me to hear how a song originally sung by a less than stellar vocalist sounds when attempted by someone with a real voice. That is why I like the Jessie J live version of Rihanna’s “We Found Love”. Rihanna is a total studio fabrication whose vocals sound like a mix between a robot and a rejected American Idol contestant. Jessie J on the other hand can actually sing. Sure she has a penchant for overindulging on ad libs and runs but when she is under control she is one of the best young voices in music.
Jessie J – We Found Love