NOTEWRTHY: Covers Done Right
Welcome back to Notewrthy, your #1 source for music opinions (no one said they have to be good opinions).
Today, let’s talk about what I consider the second-highest compliment in music: Covers. Specifically, those that are done well and are a worthy remake of a song that was already top tier. Let’s talk about 5 of my favorites.
Starting off strong, we have Calpurnia’s cover of “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer. While Weezer themselves tend to get massive flack for their recent releases, the smash hit off of their 1994 self-titled project commonly referred to as “The Blue Album,” is nonetheless a good song. In 2018, the band Calpurnia recorded their cover of the song at Spotify’s New York Studios as a part of Spotify’s “Spotify Singles” series. The instruments capture the essence of the original song while still sounding like the off-center and slightly gritty sound that Calpurnia was known for. Leader singer Finn Wolfhard brings his ever-interesting rough but clean vocals to the track, giving it that little bit of extra spice that was needed to make this track amazing and complement the instruments. Overall, a great song and definitely one worth checking out if you haven’t.
The next cover I want to mention is one that many people probably don’t even know is a cover: “Hurt” by Johnny Cash. Many don’t know that the iconic recording is actually a cover of the song originally by the band Nine Inch Nails. With Cash’s famous skills with an acoustic guitar and his deep, emotion-filled vocals, the song is a masterpiece of emotions and hits a very deep spot with those that listen to it, myself included. The 2002 hit is actually Cash’s most streamed song on Spotify, and he’s not the original singer. This stands as a testament to Cash’s ability to make something even better than before. The cool Southern smoothness over such a vulnerable song creates a remarkable sonic atmosphere and great listening experience.
If you missed 2016’s Suicide Squad, I don’t blame you, I haven’t seen it fully either. But what I have seen, is Panic! at the Disco’s cover of the worldwide sensation “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. Now, before you grab the torches and pitchforks, Queen’s version is still far better. However, it is worth noting that this cover is still very good. Despite the fact that Panic!’s frontman Brendon Urie may be a pretty crappy guy, the guy still had a pretty good voice that definitely did the song justice; especially because he has/had a very similar vocal range to that of Freddie Mercury himself. Plus, the grittier guitar that was added to the famous climax of the song fits very well with what I have seen of the movie it was recorded for, and adds something that makes the song even more powerful at its peak. It’s hard to improve on what’s almost perfect, but this cover came pretty close.
Next up, a cover that I didn’t know even existed until very recently: Fall Out Boy’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” While the original itself is great, this version is another example of an amazing take on an insanely popular song. Fall Out Boy’s famous pop punk/emo sound combined with Michael Jackson’s pop themes makes this recording amazing. The song was a part of Fall Out Boy’s 2009 compilation album Believers Never Die – Greatest Hits, and also features John Mayer on the track. From the screaming guitar and heavy drums, all the way to the famous high-energy vocals, this is yet another one that replicates the original while not taking anything away from it.
Finally, let’s talk about another cover I found recently, Remi Wolf’s cover of “Pink + White” by Frank Ocean. In its own right, “Pink + White” is another song that probably didn’t need a cover, but the one we got was still fantastic. The original is my favorite song off of the entire album, so when I heard that there was a cover, I was skeptical of its quality. I was delighted to find out that my skepticism was misplaced. Remi Wolf’s voice is straight-up beautiful, and her natural tone allows her to hit some very high notes without them sounding forced or piercing. The emotions of Frank’s original recording aren’t lost at all, and given that the entirety of Blonde is an emotional and heartfelt hurricane, this is no small feat. When I tell you that my mouth was literally hanging open when I heard this cover, I’m not lying. Definitely one of my favorite covers.