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Collaborations & Cover Songs

Maija Gustin, Declan Sullivan, Jordan Gamble, Stephanie DePrez, Brandy Cerne, Nick Anderson | Friday, February 19, 2010

Since U Been Gone/ Maps — Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
   Originally by Kelly Clarkson and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

We already mentioned a cover of one of these songs, but I guess that Clarkson’s original was just so sweet it merits two!  The Yeah Yeah Yeahs recorded the second half of this acoustic two-fer by Ted Leo, who has been touring with The Pharmacists since 1999.  The mash-up works well, as Leo has the skill to seamlessly transition from one song to another, and the pure acoustic take on each brings out whole new feelings for each song.  If that doesn’t do it for you, Leo is also a Notre Dame grad, so double bonus points that.


Love Rollercoaster — Red Hot Chili Peppers
    Originally by Ohio Players

What happens when you cross a classic disco song, one of the most successful bands of the last two decades, and the Beavis and Butt-head movie?  An awesome funk/rock cover song, duh.  This cover was recorded by the Chili Peppers for the movie soundtrack to “Beavis and Butt-head Do America,” so it does not appear on any of their studio albums.  The original was recorded by the Ohio Players, and it is most definitely an awesome disco song in its own right, but the Chili Peppers’ version takes the classic and somehow manages to elevate it to epic-ness.

Fluorescent Adolescent — Kate Nash
    Originally by Arctic Monkeys

The British speak-songstress, often compared (perhaps unnecessarily) to Lily Allen, covers fellow Brits Arctic Monkeys’ “Fluorescent Adolescent” in a live recording from 2007. Nash’s version is just a little bit lighter, faster and more upbeat than the original, and her unique voice and musical style give it a little extra oomph that makes it hold itself up well against the Arctic Monkeys’ classic.


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Yellow — Jem
    Originally by Coldplay

Jem’s cover of “Yellow,” originally done by Coldplay, provides a completely different sound for the pop hit. Even though Coldplay’s original is seemingly very down-tempo, Jem sets it with light piano accompaniment, making the lyrics far more intimate and giving it a very vulnerable tone. Turning the lyrics around and having them come from a woman instead of a man also makes this song appropriately separate from the original, and its own piece.

Womanizer — Lily Allen
    Originally by Britney Spears

While Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” is fun, catchy and dance-party friendly, Lily Allen’s slowed-down version has a heavier weight to it. Her superior vocals and stripped-down quality lend the song more authenticity than Spears’ mass-produced pop. Allen’s trademark cheekiness present in all of her songs is also more suitable to “Womanizer’s” scolding message.

Use Somebody — Paramore
    Originally by Kings of Leon

Kings of Leon’s “Someone Like You” had barely hit the airwaves before Paramore’s acoustic cover took over YouTube. The raw recording of Hayley William’s voice above an acoustic guitar in the Live Lounge spurned many a negative comment, mostly for covering a song so recent. It manages, though, to be different enough to garner its own sort of respect, and brings a new tenderness to the song.

Under Pressure — My Chemical Romance and The Used
    Originally by Queen and David Bowie

When David Bowie and Queen did this the first time, it was epic. When My Chemical Romance and The Used joined up to cover “Under Pressure,” it was suitably emo but still entertaining. Freddie Mercury would probably approve of Gerard Way’s wailing chorus, even if this version doesn’t do much to put a new spin on the song.

Since U Been Gone — Mark Ronson and Florence Welch
    Originally by Kelly Clarkson

Brits Mark Ronson and Florence Welch take on American Idol Kelly Clarkson’s biggest hit as an acoustic number featuring Welch on vocals and Ronson on guitar. Welch’s unconventional and imperfect vocals may initially shock those used to Ms. Clarkson’s careening pop voice, but she seems oddly at home on this mid-2000s standard. Beloved as the original is, this cover deserves a listen, as it not only pays homage to Clarkson, but also creates something entirely new out of it as well.

Whatever You Like — Anya Marina
   Originally by T.I.

This cover of the T.I. song starts off with Marina’s little-girl voice, and it sure sounds like some self-consciously precious background music for “Gossip Girl” (which it was, for an episode last fall). With unmistakable lines like “stacks on deck, Patron on ice,” it’s difficult not to sing along with this deliciously ironic remake.

Let the Beat Build — Nyle
    Originally by Lil Wayne

New York University college rapper Nyle took the hook from Lil Wayne’s song and repurposed it with the help of about 40 of his classmates, recording the audio track and video together in one take. While the song itself veers away from Lil Wayne’s lyrics (such as when Nyle raps “we don’t need no samples, got a girl with a banjo”), the homage does serve as a great basic for a frankly amazing clip, which has racked up thousands of hits on YouTube.

Naive — Lily Allen
    Originally by The Kooks

Lily Allen tackles Brit-import The Kooks’ “Naive,” turning the indie hit into a fluffier tune, done in Allen’s typical nonchalant, light pop style. It sounds almost nothing like the original, but does it justice just the same. It relies almost solely on Allen’s vocals and a little guitar, very unlike the rock tune, but is a great testament to the versatility of the Kooks’ lyrics and harmonies.

You Belong With Me — Butch Walker and the Black Widows
    Originally by Taylor Swift

We have all tried to resist singing along with Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me,” but it is pretty much impossible. Butch Walker’s folksy version captures this catchiness but makes the song actually enjoyable and fun to listen to. Switching out a few lyrics and adding a mandolin, Walker’s cover is endlessly listenable. Be ready to sing along without feeling any guilt.

Satisfaction — Cat Power
    Originally by The Rolling Stones

It takes a certain amount of guts to cover a song when you know for certain that there is no possible way to outperform the original. Instead, most bands just play the best tribute they can. Cat Power took the opposite route when covering The Rolling Stone’s iconic “Satisfaction.” Dropping the universally known opening rift as well as the well-worn chorus, Chan Marshall makes the song near unrecognizable. Marshall reverses the tone but creates a reflection on the meaning that can only be understood in light of the 35-year difference between the recordings.

Hounds of Love — The Futureheads
    Originally by Kate Bush

Covers have become the stomping grounds of ironic hipsters. Take a song that’s not cool, play it, and at worst you can all laugh about how uncool the song is. The correct way to do it is to take a song you love and try to make it better. The Futureheads, a young, punkish foursome from Sutherland, did just that with Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love,” the guitar driven, semi-a cappella rendition of Bush’s 1986 minor hit. It tops the original not only in style but also on the charts.