Joanna Wang – Girl (Beatles cover)

All us internet-saavy music fans cruise youtube looking for that golden video.  A guy or girl sitting in their room, playing ,and just brimming with talent and it-ness.  Well, we found one:

 

 

A girl — We know now she’s emerging artist and Taiwanese music producer’s daughter Joanna Wang  — singing a classic song in an original and stylish way.  Compared to the Beatles’ original, her tempo is slower with a feel that’s more contemplative and mellow.  She completes the effect with minor tweaks to the melody and tops it all off with a dark, smokey folk-indie vocal.  In her hands the song takes on a new life.  We’re compelled to love the Beatles even more, and we have a new awesome video to show our friends.

Why are great covers so hard to find?   The same reason good performances in general are hard to find:  most artists aren’t that great.

Cover versions usually fail in one of two ways:  they are either watered down knockoffs or infuriating bastardizations.

 

Compared to the original, lots of covers are similar, but a little worse.  This kind of record is pointless at best or a heartless cash-in at worst:

Orgy – Blue Monday (uneventfully covering New Order’s classic)

Lemonheads – Mrs Robinson (same but lamer version of Simon and Garfunkel)

Metallica’s version of Whiskey in a Jar (dumber, uglier copy of Thin Lizzy)

Alien Ant Farm’s Smooth Criminal (adding a totally unnecessary white suburban guy thing to Michael Jackson)

 

The opposite kind of fail is messing too much with what works.  We’re all for originality, but that’s no excuse for twisting a classic song to fit into one’s narrow stylistic niche

Nirvana – Where Did You Sleep Last Night (great, but nowhere near Ledbelly’s version)

Ike and Tina Turner – Proud Mary (over-covering Credence Clearwater Revival)

The Byrds – Its All Over Now Baby Blue (cheesy, unlike Dylan’s original)

 

And finally some beautiful, goldilocks covers like the one above.  In these, the artist lovingly re-purposes a great song to fit his or her style and ends up with music that’s new and interesting while still benefiting from he extremely high quality songwriting of the original.

Eater – Queen Bitch (a faster, less dramatic version of the Bowie classic)

The Raincoats – Gloria (a totally unexpected all-female post-punk take on one of the Kinks’ signature tunes)

Jimi Hendrix -All Along the Watchtower (everyone’s favorite good cover, of Bob Dylan’s little known b-side)

Johnny Cash – Hurt  (another genre-jumper and fan favorite covering Nine Inch Nails)

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *