With old school divas like Bette Midler and Jessica Lange making headlines for their AMAZING covers of TLC’s “Waterfalls” and Lana Del Rey’s “Gods and Monsters” (respectively), it made me think about some of the covers I’ve grown to know and love through the power of television shows, films, or just good ol’ radio.
Here are nine cover songs worth listening to:
Beautiful – Elvis Costello (Christina Aguilera)
As part of the soundtrack for the Hugh Laurie/Fox hit “House,” Costello gives what I call a “perfect cover” in which he breaks down the song and makes it his own while still leaving the original pattern of the song intact.
Smooth Criminal – Alien Ant Farm (Michael Jackson)
I used to be incredibly opposed to anyone covering a MJ tune…until 2001. Alien Ant Farm managed to give “Smooth Criminal” hard-driving guitars without compromising the spirit of the song overall. AAF treated MJ’s hit with a ton of respect and it shows in this cover.
Gods and Monsters – Jessica Lange (Lana Del Rey)
I canNOT get this version of Lana Del Rey’s song out of my head and to be quite honest, I love this version MORE than LDR’s. This small scene from this week’s “American Horror Story: Freak Show” absolutely blew me away. If Jessica Lange made an album where she sang LDR covers as her character Elsa, I’d buy MULTIPLE copies.
(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding – Elvis Costello And The Attractions/Bill Murray (Brinsley Schwarz)
Contrary to popular belief, this was NOT an Elvis Costello original. Brinsley Schwarz – fronted by songwriter Nick Lowe (who also wrote/sung “Cruel To Be Kind”) – performed this classic that most people know because of Costello’s take on it. Not to mention Bill Murray’s rendition from Lost In Translation makes me wish HE had an album of covers.
Boys Don’t Cry – Grant-Lee Phillips (The Cure)
Most “HIMYM” fans are familiar with this cover and may know Phillips by his former band, Grant Lee Buffalo, and it’s his soft, gravel-like voice mixed in with some croon that makes ladies like me want to marry him. Phillips successfully took an 80s pop hit and turned it into a deep yearning to get back the one he loves.
The Killing Moon – Grant-Lee Buffalo (Echo And The Bunnymen)
While the original version by Echo And The Bunnymen is deeply intense and alluring, Phillips gives it that extra bit of flavor that makes it a top hit for any “make-out mix tape” out there. If you want more amazing covers like this, check out his album of covers, “nineteeneighties.”
Battle Of Evermore – The Lovemongers (Led Zeppelin)
1992 was a big year for me, and Cameron Crowe’s Singles film and soundtrack spoke to my frustration of being a young adult and dating in the real world. Crowe just happens to be married to Heart guitarist/vocalist Nancy Wilson, so it was a no-brainer that the Seattle native and her sister Ann would not only become The Lovemongers, they would unleash one of the greatest Zeppelin covers ever, “Battle Of Evermore.” The Wilson sisters will always have the approval of Plant and Page, as evidenced when they – along with John Bonham’s son Jason on drums – brought the living members of Led Zeppelin (and yours truly) to joyful tears with their cover of “Stairway To Heaven” when they received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor in 2012.
Please Go Home (Stay With Me) – Daniel Franzese and San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (Sam Smith)
Okay, so it’s a parody but it’s a well-made parody and Mean Girls/”Looking” star Daniel Franzese crushes it with this tale of what happens when your one-night stand wants to cuddle and won’t GTFO. You go, Glen Coco!
Waterfalls – Bette Midler (TLC)
Midler has a new album coming out next month and it’s a doozy. “It’s The Girls!” is her tribute album to the girl-group and TLC’s biggest hit gets a makeover, Divine Miss M-style, and it’s pretty amazing. I grew tired of the TLC hit, due to over-saturation on every radio station and video music channel (remember those?) on the planet, but Midler knocks it out of the park with this soulful re-imagining.
And there you have it. If I’ve left any of YOUR favorite cover songs out, feel free to list them in the comments below!
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