I came across this little gem on a wet Sunday afternoon at the French Institute in January watching an animated film called ‘Ma Vie En Courgette’ ( My Life As a Courgette). It cropped up in the film at a sad point ( well sadder, most of the film is sad) and my ears pricked up and then again as it played over the end credits, so sat listening to find out who it was.
‘La Vent Nous Portera’ is a cover of a huge hit in France by Noir Desir from 2001. The original has an aura of tragedy and edginess around it as the lead singer was subsequently convicted of killing his wife, the actress Marie Trintignant, in a drunken fight in a Lithuanian hotel room.
No video for this version by Swiss singer Sophie Hunger, but that adds to its atmosphere, an alluring mix of ‘Kid A’ Radiohead strumming and Sylvie Vartan flower power vocals…
Well, this isn’t exactly a cover, but it is Covered in Glory. Turns out George Michael was the inaugural Carpool Karaoke guest — the very first one! James Corden said that he broke the ice for all the stars to come — Mariah Carey said, “if it’s good enough for George, it’s good enough for me.” So here’s wee bit of Wham! I MISS YOU GEORGE MICHAEL xoxo
I should really have posted this yesterday, but my next choice is a schrodinger’s cat of a tune, being both a cover and not at the same time – a cover because its an interpretation by a different artist and also not because the original artist guests on it. Its also a tribute to the original artist’s huge influence on the birth of hip hop . From 2004 I give you ‘Metal’ By Afrika Bambaataa featuring Gary Numan.
I was fearful that my day five choice would be seen as contentious, but find some comfort in following Roy’s lead. Alfred Matthew Yankovic or Weird Al” (always with quotes) has had a career that stretches back to the mid-1970s. He started by writing polka tunes because his parents had the (ahem) wisdom of selecting the accordion, and not the guitar, as the instrument young Alfred would learn as a child. Drawing on the rich American history of performer/humorists like Tom Lehrer & Stan Freberg, “Weird Al” brings a madcap, Mad magazine sensibility to his tunes, both covers and originals. While he talks fondly of his own compositions, he acknowledges that his real success has been found in his affectionate adaptations (one might call them distorted covers) of some of pop music’s biggest hits. “Weird Al’s” particular skill is in changing the lyric in novel and entertaining ways, while leaving the fundamental aspect of the original tune intact. I challenge anyone to listen to “Like A Surgeon”, “Amish Paradise”, “Fat” or his palindromic Dylan tribute “Bob” without simultaneously hearing the original sung in parallel. The videos for these songs could all be a candidate for today’s choice (and worth viewing again if not seen recently*), but the greatest “Weird Al” cover to my mind is his version of Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit”. Dave Grohl is on record as saying that they knew Nirvana had “made it” when “Smells Like Nirvana” was released; Kurt Cobain was quoted in the Australian press as describing “Weird Al” as a musical genius. Here is “Weird Al” and “Smells Like Nirvana”.
Although the intention of this list is to provide versions that are preferable to the original, on some of my selections, I’ve chosen versions which are not necessarily better, but certainly equal, and crucially, different from the original. And so this is true for today, which was the closing track on Ride’s debut album “Nowhere”. However, this version is a much more laidback affair from an American indie band called Trespassers William, who I confess I’ve heard nothing else by! Rest assured, I will spend the weekend hanging my head in shoegazing shame…