The Best Weird Cover Versions Ever - Articles - Soundblab

The Best Weird Cover Versions Ever

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

There are two kinds of weird cover version. The first is knowingly weird - the artist or band has consciously chosen a song which is incongruous for them. Maybe they're a metal band and they're having a bash at an 80s pop classic (This was briefly fashionable a few years back thanks largely to Marilyn Manson. The results were, without exception, terrible). Maybe they're a weedy, barely musically competent NME flavour-of-the-month act, laughably struggling through some 90s hip hop or R&B on Radio 1's cunting Live Lounge, serving only to prove how unsexy and talentless they really are. Maybe they're Mumford & Sons and they're playing something that's not completely shit for a change.

The point of such a cover choice can be threefold: the show how diverse their music tastes are; to show they have a sense of humour by covering something 'wacky'; to extend their demographic reach by playing something in a genre different to the one they usually work in. However, as you can tell by preceding paragraph, many such covers are not weird so much as misjudged, or plain awful. Why? Because those are cynical reasons for choosing a song to cover.

If you genuinely have Catholic tastes, just choose something you love that's a stretch for you. The master of the 'unexpected' cover version is undoubtedly Tricky, who's made an artistic tick of covering something you just wouldn't expect from him. Right from the start he had this down: witness his awesome 1995 reworking of Public Enemy's 'Black Steel', which mixes the creamily cool vocals of Martina Topley-Bird with sheer, balls-out punk rage. No one expected that from the golden boy of trip hop.

However, for pure 'what's the fuck'-ness, the winner has to be his cover of Kylie's number one 'Slow', on which Tricky (who's got his "best dress on") sounds like he wants to kill you, frankly. Back away from him - slow.

The other kind of weird cover version is the best of all. That's the one which is, as far as one can tell, an honest attempt to do something new with a song, usually an established classic. Often the best examples come from places where a language or cultural barrier just might have hampered translation. Take, if you will, a listen to the cracking 'Der Hund Von Baskerville', a go-going reworking of Black Sabbath's early metal classic 'Paranoid' by disquietingly intense duo Cindy & Burt. They've given the song a whole new set of lyrics, and in this vid, they're competing for your attention with cute little dogs. It's the side of 70s German rock you don't hear about.

Meanwhile, what else could improve the blandly perfect disco pop of Abba's world conquering 'Dancing Queen' than some cheesy Bollywood moves and distinctly wobbly singing from Salma & Sabina, surely India's answer to Althea & Donna?

Finally, ever wondered what David Bowie's timeless classic 'Space Oddity' would sound like with a comedy Mexican voice shouting over the top? You have? Well, wonder no more, friend! Los Hermanos Calatrava are here to make your dreams come true. The result is... Definitely odd.

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