Sunday, April 5, 2009

remakes and samples, part 1

In undergrad, I was that girl who would always correct people about who originally did what song. For example:

Girl: Ooh, I love that new Puffy song* with Faith Evans...what a great, original hook!
Me (gritted teeth): It was originally done by The Police.

(*"I'll Be Missing You," since the year was 1997 when this conversation occurred).

Anyways, usually I err on the side of the original in terms of preference. "Edge of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks instead of "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child. The Smiths' version of "How Soon Is Now?" as opposed to Tatu's. And damn you, Cold War Kids, for running Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" through the wringer; I can't unhear that ever again.

Some pairings, however, are equally appealing. The remake either offers something very different, but just as interesting, as the original, or the original is used in a really surprising way.

  1. "Got To Get You Into My Life" (The Beatles v. Earth, Wind, and Fire)

    My dad, being an EWF fan, infinitely prefers that version, but I really vacillate between the two versions. The Beatles version is driving, intense, and almost demanding; the EWF version is truly joyous and celebratory. Bonus points because the EWF version posted is from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band movie with the Bee Gees and Peter "F-ing" Frampton.

  2. "I Will Survive" (Gloria Gaynor v. Cake)

    This is a case when the styles are so different, it almost doesn't seem like the same song. Gaynor's version was disco at its finest - strong, female message but infinitely danceable. Cake's version dovetails with the general post-breakup self-pity theme of Fashion Nugget, and sung by a male, reclaims some of that female empowerment to reflect on all sides of broken relationships, belittlement, and ultimately, triumph.

  3. "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" (Judy Garland v. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole)

    Judy Garland: one-of-a-kind voice, singing with a maturity beyond her years. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole: most gentle voice I know. Both sadly gone before their time.


Molly said...

I agree with you on both levels. I almost always prefer originals to remakes and get really annoyed when someone remakes (and butchers) a good song. But you are right that some people do quality covers that put their own good spin on it. Although 99.9% of the time I like Beatles originals over any other Beatles covers. I grew up listening to the Beatles and love their sound, so I'm incredibly picky about covers.

Molly said...

Oh wait! I have another comment. Christian's little brother was walking around singing the line, "Insane in the membrane" (quoting some movie). I asked him if he knew what song that was or if he knew who Cypress Hill was. He didn't know either, so I looked up the song and made him listen to the entire thing. If you're going to use the line, you at least have to know the song.

madichan said...

I actually grew up more listening to Motown and 70's funk music. In fact, I didn't realize that there were whole other genres of music (such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and the Doors) in the 70's until high school. And I didn't start getting into the Beatles until early teens.

Re: "Insane in the Membrane" example I am in full agreement; you should definitely know what song you're quoting. Plus, Cypress Hill is so much fun!