Charles Caleb Cotton once said “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
To take a piece of music and try to do justice to an already much loved track is daunting, to dare to reinterpret someone else’s work is full of pitfalls, and often the results are a horrendous crime against music (I am looking at you Madonna with your version of American Pie). But I do not come here to remind you of the bad, but to highlight the good, and every so often a tribute, a remake, a cover surpasses the original and becomes loved in its own right.
Most of the songs I have chosen are a stark contrast from the original. Most are simple stripped down almost acoustic versions, such as Biffy Clyro’s cover of Umbrella, Will Young’s Hey Ya and Nouvelle Vague’s Teenage Kicks. Some of the songs were unknown covers to me. Only after falling in love with Hallelujah and Unchained Melody was I told that they were not the originals. I now think of Leonard Cohen and Jimmy Young (one of 4 people who released the song in 1955) as the usurpers of musical crimes.
Sometimes, in a vary rare moment, a combination of song and artist come together in an exquisite combination of heartbreaking emotion and lyrics which are beyond words. Listen to Johnny Cash sing Hurt (a song not short on powerful meaning in its original form), whilst the video shows him bearing his soul in the last months of his life, looking back with the lyrics “Everyone I know, goes away in the end”
1) Biffy Clyro – Umbrella (Orignal Rhianna)
2) Scala & Kolacny Brothers – Creep (Original Radiohead)
3) Will Young – Hey Ya (Original Outkast)
4) Amy Winehouse – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (Orginal The Shirelles)
5) Mike Skinner – Your Song (Original Elton John)
6) Nouvelle Vague – Teenage Kicks (Original The Undertones)
7) Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah (Original Leonard Cohen)
8) The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody (Original Todd Duncan)
9) Fugees – Killing Me Softly (Original Roberta Flack)
10) Johnny Cash – Hurt (Original Nine Inch Nails)