Covered In Glory Day 5: Sophie Hunger, Africa Bambaataa, George Michael, Trespassers William & Weird Al

Covered in Glory LogoRichard:

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…

Anne:

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

Roy:

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.

Ian:

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”.

Andy:

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…

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11 thoughts on “Covered In Glory Day 5: Sophie Hunger, Africa Bambaataa, George Michael, Trespassers William & Weird Al

  1. 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

    1. Not seen that before – I guess the difference with Carpool Karaoke is that Corden is ‘in character’ here as Smitty from Gavin & Stacey. Did you get that series in the States? Well worth checking out. Poignant to see George here, but also the shot of BBC TV centre at White City, which I used to walk past every day on my way to school. It is now luxury condominiums. Sigh…

  2. 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.

    1. How have I not heard this before? It’s glorious. Call myself a Numanoid? Mind you, slightly in my defence I think Numan must tie with Justin Bieber for some sort of record for appearing on other people’s records, two or three a year usually. Nice to hear this reinterpretation and hoping for lots more when we see him with an orchestra at the Royal Albert this winter.

  3. 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”.

    (* I had hoped to provide links to the listed songs but could not work out how to do so on the post without putting in the full image; if kind editor is so inclined to insert the hyperlinks I can supply them).

    1. I do remember this and his versions of ‘Thriller’ but not much else – I think he was lumped in with the likes of Russ Abbot in the UK and as a result had limited impact on anybody who was even half -way serious about music

  4. A postscript to my “Weird Al” post. Rolling Stone published an article yesterday that begins “Earlier this week, “Weird Al” Yankovic wrapped up his Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour after 77 shows across North America”. They note that at the end of each show, he and the band performed a cover version of a well known pop or rock song – each show a different tune. Someone has collated samples of all the encores and created a Youtube video (audio only) of the performances. I present to you “Weird Al” and 77 different covers:

    1. Ah! The comedy cover. A whole sub genre of it’s own. This is proving most illuminating. We didn’t get Weird Al over in the UK, apart from I think his version of Thriller. Some of our readers may remember that the comedy cover market in the UK was sewn up by the Barron Nights for over a decade. Their schtick was to do excerpts from three or four recent hits, nominally linked by a comedy theme. They were staples on Christmas Top Of The Pops in the late 70s, but I had not realised that were around in the 60s as well. The first clip actually is not too bad. The second is more typical though.

  5. 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…

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