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Top 5 Cover Songs That Outdo the Original

Posted on 23 Sep 11 Top 5s | 1 Comment
gary numan
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It’s obvious that we have an affinity for cover songs at Synconation. And sometimes . . . it’s rare, but sometimes, a cover will outshine the original. That can be a true stroke of genius, to take something that exists already, is celebrated and known, and redo it to the point that it’s actually a better song. In my statistical analysis of absolutely nothing, I’ve found that at least 75% of covers are bar band garbage, another 20% are solid renditions and then there is that last 5% where the artist takes the song to a whole new level, sometimes even reinventing it. So, go ahead, cry foul, weep, mash your teeth and pull your hair, but these are five cover songs that I consider better than the original. What say you?

Them and Van Morrison – “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue”
Original – Bob Dylan

Van Morrison had an absolute vision for this song. He took a rather boring sounding Dylan tune and added lush layers and a gorgeous arrangement to make it emotive, rather than annoying. I mean, Dylan throws in some hobo harmonica stylings, but otherwise it just feels more like the same; odd emphases, a few chords and piety. The cover absolutely clobbers the original, but I’ll admit, I almost always like the remake better when it comes to that king of periphrasis, Dylan.

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Red House Painters – “All Mixed Up”
Original – The Cars

One of the handful of Red House Painters songs that I can still tolerate, “All Mixed Up” is a complete re-imagining of a rather bad Cars song. It’s moving, big and kind of beautiful. The Cars’ original is just flat and makes you wonder why it wasn’t relegated to a B-side.

Foo Fighters – “Down in the Park”
Original – Gary Numan

Those battlers of the ever mysterious Foo killed what is a beloved song by that commissar of cold, Gary Numan. But there is just something in this cover that gets under you skin, that retains a touch of the cold while introducing a rocking element that brings home the rather cryptic lyrics.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – “Higher Love”
Original – Steve Winwood

Even in a live version, you can hear the strength of their harmonies, energy and instrumentation that make you wonder exactly how fucking good it would be if they were to give it a go in the studio. Admittedly, it’s not a huge departure from the original, but just gives some life to the neat and tidy production of the 80s classic.

Flaming Lips and White Dwarfs – “Borderline”
Original – Madonna

Yes, I’ve been known for spinning superlatives, but this cover is revolutionary as far as I’m concerned. Want to cover a song? Listen to this and decide if you should even bother. They pull no punches and redid a song that was a bubble gum pop standard, making it gigantic and incredibly dynamic. It’s a journey from beginning to end. They gave it all they could. Be sure to check out the official video.

1 Comment

  1. Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I want by The Smiths. Dream Academy did an amazing cover of this song that blew it out of the water. An instrumental version of it can be heard during the museum scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I prefer the one with the vocal accompaniment. Check it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBjx6ekd2FA

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