You need a certain type of talent, and a very big pair of… eyes to tackle songs that everyone knows – and change them. It’s even harder to do it successfully.
There are many bloggers who like to make lists of ‘awesome cover songs’, and i’m a little miffed that they’re mostly america-centric. Now, very humbly, I am going to blow your mind with covers that you have probably not come across (unless you’re French).
1. Song 2 (Blur)
Blur is my generation. Along with Radiohead, Queens Of The Stone Age, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (and don’t say Oasis, I hate ’em, all brawn and no brain).
Dionysos and Louise Attaque are two bands that have built their careers on live shows – and having become famous around the same time, they have toured in the same places. This cover could not have been successful without the obvious complicity between every member of these two bands. Two drummers! Two violinists! The idea was good and even though it would have been hard to record without sounding messy, they pulled it off.
Now if you wish to discover more about Louise Attaque, please watch one of their most famous songs here :
They have been more dynamic as well; allow YouTube to show you the way. This is typically one of these bands who is more interesting on their least famous songs.
Ìn case you were more seduced by bouncy Mathias Malzieu, Dionysos’ first hit was Song For Jedi (very dirty sound and image but it gives you an idea of how much energy they blast away):
An interesting thing is that the violinist of that band released an album. And Malzieu‘s girlfriend (Olivia Ruiz) also released an album. Their voices sound terribly similar. I had a theory about them being the same person, but then they were sighted in different places at the same time, which leaves the only possible explanation that they are clones. And speaking of clones…
2. Toxic (Britney Spears)
Ah-ha, the Britney song that was appreciated by musicians all over, justifying their fascination for Britney’s chest and hair (ha ha, I really almost wrote chest hair) by pointing out how good the bass line is. It’s truly a good song, regardless of who wrote it and who interprets it… But wait until you see what Yael Naïm makes of it.
You haven’t heard sexy before you’ve heard that. She owns the song like no one. Such gentleness, playfulness. Layer over layer of feelings are here to show that with a very simple arrangement it’s possible to make a better song than the original.
A little trivia about Naïm : she served in the Israel Armed Forces, like every Israeli man (3 years) and woman (2 years) – but she was a soloist in the Air Force Military Band. I want to hope that there were auditions, and that a lot of people, TV-show like, gathered and performed for a series of foul mouthed judges.
For the record, most of what she touches turns to gold, with the very minor problem of being a bit repetitive sometimes. My very favorite Yael Naïm song features amazing dancers:
Go To The River has also a quality that plays into its obsessive feeling: the song’s tempo is very similar to my pace. Listen to this when you walk and you’ll have your life’s very own soundtrack.
3. Seven Nation Army (White Stripes)
Simple. Powerful. To the point. Black, red and white imagery, one of the least complicated drums (right here with you, Ringo Starr), the song is meant to be a sort of hymn that every acneic teenager can cover in their bedroom.
It was a few years ago and Seven Nation Army was already in every stadium because you know, of course belching “back and forth through my mind behind a cigarette” with a broken voice is obviously what you want to do when you’re watching soccer dudes kicking balls all over the place. …And then came along Ben, the Soul Uncle. Retro sunshine !
His name is meant to be a nod to Uncle Ben, the Rice grandpa, and he always wears a bow just like his homonym. He is a regular occurrence at Jazz festivals. He references the Motown (his label is Motown France, I didn’t even know we had that), and basically every african american idol you can possibly think of. His music video for Soulman shows just how much he’s a good singer – and really American at heart.
4. I want you (The Beatles)
To be fair, this piece of Abbey Road weirdness has been covered many times before. The Bees Gees and the Flaming Lips: how do you top that?
Let’s just have a look at this band who was hailed in France as being perhaps one of the best rock bands ever to walk the surface of our country: Noir Désir. They are dark, poetic, strangely fascinating and subject to much controversy in the person of their lead singer, Bertrand Cantat (I won’t say it, just go on his wiki if you want to know more). And yes, they covered The Beatles.
Suddenly the song becomes a very, very steamy affair. We say that most of the French rock acts of the late nineties have been inspired by Noir Désir, like for instance the band Louise Attaque, that we saw earlier with the Blur cover song. But also Miossec, Damien Saëz, Cali, and so many others.
Because Noir Désir was able to take other peoples’ songs and make them into their own, I can’t resist giving you as well their interpretation of Lennon’s Working Class Hero, because it feels just as tragic as the band’s history.
5 . Killing in the name of (Rage Against The Machine)
Again the hymn of a generation, the same words that tons of people chanted in their bedrooms under posters of Jimi Hendrix and Che Guevara, claiming to be different. Oh, all right, it’s still a wonderful song, and it is incredibly cathartic, and it feels like spitting blood and brains and tears in the face of everything that you hate and feel manipulated by. It never really gets old.
When a bunch of guys from the north of France decided to cover that song, little did they know that the cover would become a legend (of non-violence). Taking everyone really by surprise, this cover song was fast all over our social networks. (It feels so American that I was sure that the band was from Québec for a shamefully long time).
And as a bonus, La Maison Tellier also covered Britney Spears’ Toxic. In the comments of this video, some anonymous Internet person said that decidedly, everyone is sexier than Spears on this song (including Mark Ronson).
How about you; know any cover songs that’d blow my mind?