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
Mark Ronson does what Mark Ronson does best on his cover of the Radiohead tune “Just“. Ronson takes this song, that admittedly is one of the best rock songs of the 1990s but is also not the happiest song in existence either, and turns it into a bombastic mix of oldschool (I love his use of the horn section) with just the right pinch of newness thrown in. Ronson’s version (with vocals by Phantom Planet‘s Alex Greenwald) makes you want to get up and dance…Radiohead’s version makes you want to write depressing poetry.
Mark Ronson feat. Alex Greenwald – Just (Radiohead Cover)
Performed during an upcoming appearance on MTV UNPLUGGED, Florence + The Machine’s version of the Otis Redding classic “Try A Little Tenderness” exhibits the trademark ethereal nature that is commonplace on any song that Florence Welch sings without losing any of the ache and heartfelt emotion that is necessary to make the song sound true to its core. The Florence + The Machine episode of Unplugged airs on April 21 on MTV or you can see it now at MTV’s Unplugged site.
I’m not the biggest Katy Perry fan on the planet…I appreciate her place in the world of today’s current crop of pop princesses and I recognize that she is capable of writing catchy little tunes. So while I am not a fan I also don’t have a distaste for her or anything, I just don’t like much of what she puts out. So with that in mind it kinda shocked me that I found myself enjoying her rendition of MGMT’s “Electric Feel”. I think what I dig about it is the rawness of the vocal…Perry performed it as part of BBC’s Radio 1 Live Lounge show (the conceit of which is that performers come on the show to perform their own songs plus covers of other artists songs). Perry slows the song down a bit and tries valiantly to hit every note which she does not succeed at but it is that added flaws in her voice that makes the whole thing really work for me.
Katy Perry – Electric Feel
I’m a bit bummed by the news that soul legend Bobby Womack has been diagnosed with colon cancer. Womack is the definition of soul and never has been given the deserved amount of kudos that I have always felt he earned through the half-century that he has been making kick ass R&B music. So in honor of Bobby and to send out good vibes towards him during his fight against cancer I decided to feature his raw and powerful cover of The Mamas & the Papas classic “California Dreaming”.
Bobby Womack – California Dreamin’