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.
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.