Covered songs can be an extremely touchy subject. I’ve known people to completely swear
off the thought of even listening to covers. Personally, that seems a tad ludicrous but some folks attach themselves to certain songs in such a way that they become offended by those that even attempt duplication – God forbid someone ever try and cover a Beatles song (Straylight Run’s cover of “I’m Only Sleeping”) To be completely honest, the thought of not listening to these covers is offensive. These tracks are almost like a safe-haven to me. Simply put, some of the greatest songs of all-time are redone. Closet fans of Katy Perry can finally admit their love of her hits with the ever-so popular compilations Pop Goes Punk. So I figured why not share at least a little taste of the recorded (not live) covers that I enjoy, without mentioning the obvious “Mad World” or “Hallelujah.”
1. “Jack the Ripper” by AFI (Original by Morrissey)
Nobody can quite touch something the way Davey Havok (with a K, not a C) can. He has been responsible for covering “Ziggy Stardust” by David Bowie and “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure. So why not just add a piece of Morrissey’s collection into the mix. Each of the three can be classified in that “Why in the world would you cover them?!” category. Yet, AFI (A Fire Inside) not only covers these songs, they do them magnificently. With “Jack the Ripper”, the darkness and beauty of the song is only escalated by Havok’s sheer brilliance on the microphone. For those fans not familiar with the original by Morrissey, the cover would almost seem like an AFI creation. Nevertheless, the boys of AFI put on a clinic with this one. The track takes on a much more haunting persona with this version – a staple of AFI’s Sing the Sorrow and Decemberunderground days (my personal favorite). The band does this without distracting from Havok’s undeniable charisma, dark and flamboyant. Something only a few can take credit for (Bowie, Morrissey and The Cure’s Robert Smith – interesting).
2. “No One’s Gonna Love You” by Cee Lo Green (Original by Band of Horses)
You will not find a brighter specimen on a list of covers than this one – I know right? That
is quite the claim to make. The best covers will test a certain balance. That balance of pushing the envelope of the song, while maintaining its original beauty. In this case, Cee Lo Green offers his twist on an already dazzling track originally done by Band of Horses. The song could be designated as one of the best written by the band, and yet a well-rounded and original hip-hop artist decided to spin the record (direct covers are rarely seen in the hip-hop genre). Hip-Hop artists always use tracks to back-drop their well-thought and creative verses, only to make way for the original track’s chorus. An identical cover in Hip-Hop is one of the rarest things you can find in the music world. What Cee Lo is able to do with the song is really quite simple and altogether magical. He maintains the splendor of the track while incorporating his own funky twist. It is quite breathtaking.
3. “Hallowed Be Thy Name” by Cradle of Filth (Original by Iron Maiden)
Cradle of Filth, along with front-man Dani Filth are usually on the forefront of some
pretty hefty criticism. Whether it comes from Dani’s style of screaming, the band’s insanely thought-out concept albums, or the standard Black Metal outfits they sport, there is always a complaint to be thrown at Cradle. While I am a fan of all three aspects of the band, I find myself defending their talents more often than not. To me, it just doesn’t seem fair – case in point, Cradle of Filth’s cover of Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” Now, while the band is known for their covers (especially with re-release deluxe editions), this one definitely stands out. The genres at least partially mold together making it easy for Cradle to duplicate the original. From the start it is easy to tell that it is a cover of the Iron Maiden classic, but the biggest difference is found with Dani Filth. Obviously there is a drastic change in tone between Dani Filth and Iron Maiden’s front-man Bruce Dickinson. All in all, the dissimilarity works wonders for the song. The band sticks to a modern spin on the track while Dani Filth adds his classic screech and growl combination (with a few spits strewn about). Definitely one of my favorite covers, as controversial as that may be.