Bad Cover Versions Bad Cover Versions: Armed only with a sense of self-loathing and the knowledge that Duran Duran’s cover of Public Enemy’s 911 Is A Joke is the single most useless song ever committed to tape, Joe Sparrow boldly, nay bravely, documents the worst cover versions of all time.
A curiously alluring, yet mind-bogglingly stupid world awaits...

27 April 2011 // Written by Joe Sparrow // 44 Comments

George Michael – True Faith

Apparently, when you die, time slows to a syrupy trundle and your whole life flashes before the eyes; the most beloved memories distending and stretching into long, glossy swathes of gorgeous nostalgia.

It’s a lovely thought; albeit one which cuts both ways – and the other direction heads towards clammy-necked horror.

What if the only life memory your brain can dredge up is that one time when you listened to New Order’s True Faith whilst under heavy sedation and encased in industrial packing foam?

As curious a scenario as it may seem, in retrospect this is the only reasonable circumstance under which the creation of George Michael’s cover of True Faith could actually occur.

For a man whose recent career has been characterised by one hilarious misfire after the other, by covering True Faith in the style of a near-comatose bends victim, managing only to gabble out lyrics in painfully slo-mo gasps, he has still – astonishingly – managed to catch the general populace off guard.

The whole song appears to have been arbitrarily slowed to half speed, and George’s phoned-in-from-a-parallel-universe-of-hopelessness lyrical style gives us a useful inkling of what it must be like to be trapped in both a vegetative state and a hospital ward along with a rabid fan of early 90′s synth pop.

One common theme that slops throughout the environs of the Bad Cover Version is the Horrifically Distended Vocal Performance. It’s as if the perpetrators have reached a point in their careers where egos become so inflated that Air Traffic Control frets whenever they get within 10 miles of Heathrow, and the simple act of making a nice song just doesn’t cut it any more.

Relief from George’s ennui was found in the form of the – apparently – newly-discovered opening in the front of his head that makes all sorts of amusing noises when that bit of muscle inside flops about.

Inert with tedium, and ill with Distended Vowel Syndrome, the lyrics subsequently supplied might well be an attempt to remember some lyrics he once half-heard from a song someone once hummed to him. Which is then processed, naturally, with Autotune.

Nonetheless, George set about this task with relish, and carefully documented the results, most of which sound a bit like, “Hhhhnnn-owvah-thingsa-that’ve-a-cowssttt-a-me-too-a-mwwuch,” but are much less entertaining when actually sung.

This is the sort of aimless, bottomless, thoughtless music that is piped into the lobbies of boutique hotels. The kind of music specifically designed to be as vapid as possible without alienating the well-meaning simpletons for whom the words “George Michael covering New Order” doesn’t sound the kind of internal alarms you’d associate with incoming Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles.

At least when children make vague burbling noises they have a valid excuse: they’re just trying to communicate their wide-eyed, inexplicable, endless love for Mummy and Daddy.

In making the same noises, George Michael simply communicates the fact that he has a mouth that can make sounds when he wants it to. Atrocious.

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21 January 2011 // Written by Joe Sparrow // 11 Comments

Robbie Williams – Song 2

Robbie Williams is trapped in hell. It’s true. He’s trapped in his own, peculiarly comfortable MOR hell, and it’s almost possible to feel pity for him – almost.

Robbie – jack-the-lad-in-chief to the masses – wishes he was a rock star but will absolutely, resolutely never be allowed to be one by his cosy audience who adore him just the way he is.

The worst of it is that he is viscerally, painfully aware of all of this. Inhabiting the equivalent of a musical coma, he is able to see the world he wishes he was in, but is unable to communicate with it beyond dumb, involuntary spasms. His demented tilt at Song 2 is one such twitch at rock stardom.

Whilst performing Song 2, we are privy to Robbie in full eye-swivelling, mouth-gopping, arms-a-flailing look-at-me! mode. They’re the behavioural tics of a man who can’t believe this cheeky-chappy-playing-at-being-a-star-schtick still actually works; a man saddled with the realisation that merely going through the motions, as he is here, will still have the intended hysterical effect on his audience.

By piecing together his RAWK persona from odds and ends, Robbie creates Frankenstein’s monster of bland rock: Liam Gallagher’s most ludicrously crick-necked swagger, the mic-stand grab ‘n’ rush of a Turkish Freddie Mercury impersonator, and the tentative put-upon hyperactivity of a teen-dad, who, unaccustomed to the effects of cheap lager, has been overwhelmed with befuddlement on his first proper night out.

That blank look of disoriented discomfort is all his own, however.

Robbie treats words in the same clumsy manner in which a two year old treats plasticine: something to be stretched beyond natural elasticity, pummelled into uselessness and, ultimately, chewed on without any intention beyond filling both time and the large open void on the front of his face.

Thus, when he gets the lyrics in the right order – which is not a given by any means – simple adjectives like ‘Heavy Metal’ transmogrify horrifically into ‘Heeea-vvvy Meey-a-tayyyll-ah’.

This is proof that Robbie Williams is either paid by the syllable, or that he’s actually a genuine post-modern, art-pop pioneer – inventing the idea of the meta-lyric, where all previously-applied meaning is ruthlessly stripped away, leaving only the sound itself remaining.

Having long departed the realm of mere Pop Performer, he leaps with both feet into the role of Situationist Art Prankster, entertaining himself and his audience with the same physical movements, but each on an entirely separate mental plain to the other.

So by the point where he has his hand firmly thrust down the front of his trousers, he’s perhaps desperately rummaging for his own off switch – and we can all can gravely nod our heads, regarding the flipping of it as an entirely unselfish act.

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21 December 2010 // Written by Joe Sparrow // 7 Comments

Ronan Keating & Maire Brennan – Fairytale Of New York

Ronan Keating has a problem. It’s not him – it’s you. Or at least, his audience demographic.

Eking a living from pensionable old ladies has been easy enough – his CDs are just another of life’s little OAP luxuries, along with boiled sweets, slippers, and commemorative plates with pictures of boiled sweets and slippers on them.

But these grannies are a cash-flow disaster waiting to happen: soon, Ronan’s Horlicks-smooth vocals will lick their ears for the final time through the muffling walls of a coffin.

Ronan, by accident or by design, is the full-time in-house entertainer of God’s Waiting Room. Some men achieve greatness, others have it thrust upon them. This particular man needs a bit of edge, and fast. Something to attract the kids, something with spirit.

Shane McGowan knows all about spirit, in every sense of the word. But he’s the stumpy-toothed and boozy yin to Ronan’s squeaky clean yang. Ronan needs a compromise. And where better to find such perfect balance than in The Pogues’ Fairytale Of New York, the premier Christmas song of the last 25 years?

This song houses another example of Cover Version Hate Crime #1 – changing lyrics to suit the coverer’s purpose. So here, the tail end of “you scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot” becomes “you’re cheap and you’re haggard,” which is not so much a cop-out as it is an ‘Entire-Garda-Police-Force-Of-Ireland-Out.”

Agonisingly torn between monstrous offence and devil-may-care cool, Ronan boldly compromises by ditching the homophobia and manages retaining the misogynistic knock-about charm, chirpily labelling  co-conspirator Maire Brennan “an old slut on junk.”

That Ronan and co. changed the lyrics most offensive to his blue-rinsed audience is not his only crime. With an impressive disregard for a song celebrated for its perfectly pitched tilt from disaster to beauty and back again, he ruthlessly reduces it to easily digestible mush.

This awkward plateful of love, hate and drunken kinship is carelessly scraped into the Kenwood kitchen blender of MOR Hell. Five awful minutes later, out dribbles the remnants, softer than a full colostomy bag, as eerily warm and just as unpallatable.

As the song gets going in earnest – or as near to ‘earnest’ as you can get whilst retaining the slow pace designed not to cause heart attacks in the nursing home ballroom – the verbal jousting really begins, and it is here that the song exposes its tender, emotional core.

Maire Queen Of Slops enunciates each crystal-cut vowel with agonising precision, Ronan grunts his anger with the gruff menace of a Labradoodle, and we all gaze longingly at the drinks cabinet, wondering if its possible to drink enough eggnog to slip into the sweet release of coma until New Year’s Day.

No-one has missed the mark so wildly since Evel Kneivel tried to jump the Grand Canyon. And after recording this wan bland-stravaganza, strapping Ronan into a Sky-Cycle and firing him suicidally off a cliff would seem to be a wholeheartedly reasonable response.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

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30 November 2010 // Written by Joe Sparrow // 7 Comments

Simple Minds – Sign O’ The Times

There is rarely reward in wasting brain cells wondering why the plucky rock stars on the pages of Bad Cover Versions do such things; acceptance of the fact that there can be no reasons is the surest route to remaining sane.

But the groups themselves would tell you differently, bristling at any suggestion of your incredulity. Some of them, like Simple Minds, are doing it for your own good, OK?

Just because you think that the very idea of Simple Minds’ covering Sign O’ The Times sounds like the dictionary definition of the word ‘feeble’, it doesn’t mean you are right.

In fact, it sounds like exactly what it is: a group of middle-aged millionaires taking time out from their busy schedules - schedules that mainly involve a lot of lounging on yachts with Croatian glamour girls – to wrinkle an artificially tightened brow over, like, the bad stuff in the real world.

Now, I don’t doubt that Jim and the boys care about poverty, AIDS and crime. I don’t doubt that they have seen these things. I don’t doubt that they have idly scribbled off a cheque now and then to help put things right.

But what kind of band would cover a song specifically designed to be a mirror displaying the worst of the world, and then polish it until all you can see in it are their own preening faces?

Some people cannot abide stillness, silence, or space, and here we discover that Simple Minds are the agoraphobes of rock. It must have been agony – and I’m sure they fought their demons bravely – but they simply could not bear to replicate a song containing virtually nothing.

Having been presented with a song so famously sparse, the afflicted band inevitably find acres of room to uselessly scatter their tediously slick musicianship all about them, like a handful of grey clay slung angrily at a rainbow.

The hardy Jim Kerr goes the extra mile in his Quest For Musical Anonymity, prancing about on stage for an audience of tired 30-somethings who just want a night off from looking after the kids, and would willingly listen to him read the share prices from the Wall Street Journal if it meant not having to wipe up sick for a bit.

To their eternal credit, Simple Minds try hard to stupefy their audience, who clench clammy fists at the thought of their Jim physically interacting with the stock-footage “bad” world.

And quiver, little children, at the horrors on display – a terrifying world where ethnic minorities go about day-to-day life: stepping in and out of cars… with AIDS! Riding on a bus… made out of crack! Playing basketball… while it rains nuclear missiles!

Preserved here is the exact moment when pop music was drained of joy. Simple Minds bravely remind us that any pleasure derived from a stark snare drum or daring bassline is an example of our sickening greed; when really we ought to be be shouting loudly, seriously and sweatily about the world’s problems. Preferably whilst dressed in a white jeans ‘n’ waistcoat combo and falling over a lot on a stage in front of lots of nice clean people.

Now that’s how you make a difference.

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01 November 2010 // Written by Joe Sparrow // 4 Comments

The Script – Lose Yourself

Bands covering hip hop isn’t as unwieldy an idea as it sounds, so how do almost every band get it wrong? This question is left rightly unanswered in this Eminem cover which is less Straight Outta Compton, and more Sliding Hopelessly Into Comedy.

More importantly, just how much does Danny from The Script truly believe he actually is Eminem? This cover explains, patiently and horribly, the dangers of non-committance.

You see, Script singer Danny just isn’t sure if he’s ready to commit into full-blown Gangster mode; fearful, perhaps that donning a do-rag, a platinum grill and a splash of tattoos honouring fallen homies might alienate his core audience of middle-aged aunties.

For reasons best unexplored, Danny communicates this indecision via the much-maligned medium of interpretive hand-mime. Thus, we are treated to a display of hand-waggling that tempers any of that nasty rap posturing and yet still allows the singer’s inner-Playa to emerge.

Although he begins boldly with a series of deft hand-chopping reminiscent of those seen in Steven Segal’s later, more ludicrous movies, Danny couldn’t be accused of resting on his chop-socky laurels; through the song he variously imitates:

  • a paranoid schizophrenic urgently swiping away invisible bees that are trying to sting his ears;
  • a madman trying to direct traffic on a distant four-lane motorway;
  • Bez “Bez” Bez from the Happy Mondays during one of his more thoughtful on-stage moments.

Eminem’s lyrics usually linger close to absurdity, only gaining anything close to credibility due to his impeccable delivery and the feeling that his tongue is firmly pressed into his cheek. Danny’s helium-lightweight delivery here suggests that his tongue is firmly slurping betwixt his own buttocks, self-massaging ego and perineum all at once.

For this is a prime example of the Ballooned Self-Importance Cover – the point at which a band have such misguided confidence that the decision to cover an utterly inappropriate song in a wholly flaccid manner seems entirely reasonable.

If you’re going to cover Eminem, your most pressing issue is to decide whether you’re going to rap or not. Singing is fine, rapping is fine; but remember that a halfway house of faux-soul jabbering which clambers all around the note without actually ever settling upon it can only result in humiliation. Guess which road The Script saunter down.

Hence, the word “Yo” becomes a yodel cruelly deformed into sub-Mariah Carey man-warble; a sound that turns itself inside out with bizarre dexterity and ultimately, having reached the outer limits of incredulity, vanishes out of sheer embarrassment.

Towards the end, we realise that we have glimpsed the inner workings of Danny’s mind. Drawn inexorably away from the pub-karaoke goings-on that pass for real life, he is Eminem in 8 Mile. He is struggling, downtrodden factory worker Rabbit, dwelling in rap’s last-chance saloon – an angry young man whose life is tumbling down, down, down towards the neon exit sign marked ‘Blue Collar Hell’, barely managing to dredge up the energy for one more weary pimp-roll up to the mic.

And as his dream spools on, fuelled by the straight-from-the-mean-streets-of-Detroit fire that burns in his hip-hop heart, his latent brilliance emerges, unfurls and results in his glorious, diss-spittin’, rhyme-slinging, Phoenix-like thrust towards the stratosphere, all the while showered with credibility, adulation, and the knowledge that he *definitely* isn’t the deluded singer in a bland MOR rock group.

NB: As an amusing aside, whichever hardy soul found the inner strength to upload the video titles it “Loose Yourself”, which is exactly what Eminem’s bowels may do when he hears this.

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06 October 2010 // Written by Joe Sparrow // 22 Comments

Jonas Brothers – Take On Me

Ageing is merely the physical manifestation of the gap between birth and death. By this token, when this song ends we can all honestly claim to have meandered just that bit further through the forest of life, ageing just a smidgen ourselves. By which I mean, of course, that we will have all died a little inside.

The Jonas Brothers are not teen sensations because of their adroit musical innovation – they’re massive tween-rock behemoths because they’re so damn cute. Thus we are faced with a Bad Cover Version that, yes, is truly hideous, but is of secondary importance to everyone – and everything – involved.

This is the first bad cover whose dreadfulness isn’t just acknowledged, or even taken for granted – it’s entirely glossed over. The song is but the rigid, exoskeletal conduit for all that is contained within it. And yet peering inside reveals… nothing at all.

This song is a ‘unique take’ indeed – if by ‘unique’ you mean ‘abject, soul-crushing, spirit-corroding, lumpen, lice-infested genericness’. But hey – our virgin heroes aren’t totally to blame. Behold their sizeable backing band, who not only seem suspiciously more active than the brothers, but also do a pretty good job of hiding in the shadows of the scenery that hasn’t yet been chewed by the singer during his histrionic pre-watershed strut.

Like every backing band, here are the usual array of middle-aged muso-hacks, and their bizarre coiffures are to be savoured accordingly. Tick them off as you spot them: blonde dreads, ginger curls ‘n’ cap combo, and a shock of glossy locks that was last sported by one of Spinal Tap‘s drummers. In fact, that might actually be one of Spinal Tap’s drummers. (Spinal Tap, you’ll remember, have some previous experience in supporting a puppet show, and this can hardly be very far removed from that.)

Sadly they aren’t the intended focus. Just as young bamboo shoots burst forth so fast that the naked eye can actually watch their growth, so the Jonas Brothers appear to age before our very eyes. They use three minutes of all our lives to undertake a precious journey.

The singer – possibly Randy Jonas – prematurely induces puberty whilst straining for some of the higher notes, and the resultant flood of adult hormones that sluice into his veins wholly explain the wobblier vocal moments in between vague groin thrusts.

The guitarist – possibly Liberace Jonas – has the appearance of John C Reilly having grown up in a low-gravity environment. Complete with novelty joke-shop stick-on sideburns, and free of shame or a sense of direction, he finds time and space to pull the kind of poses that even Slash would reject as being too absurd.

He and guitarist #2 – possibly Adolf Jonas – are Living The Dream. Except where some teenage boys dream of being Mick Jagger, and sampling all that his life entailed (namely sex, drugs and more sex) their dreams involve wearing car-salesman suits, shaking their blow-dried hair and stubbornly ignoring any opportunity of light petting that may come their way.

And then, just when you think proceedings had reached their ludicrous zenith, the ballroom dancers appear. Unexpectedly, their camp and sprightly prancing adds much needed gravitas to a situation that was rapidly spiralling into uncharted waters marked ‘Here Be Cretins’. A fitting end to this three-minute circle of life.

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10 September 2010 // Written by Joe Sparrow // 8 Comments

Peter Gabriel – Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Has Peter Gabriel‘s version of Street Spirit (Fade Out) been aligned merely with the word ‘bad’? How gauche. This cover is worse than bad: it’s so astonishingly stupid that there are a number of taxing questions that could legitimately be asked with a straight face.

  1. Could two five year old children have done any worse?
  2. Could these children have done any worse if they were deaf?
  3. Or blind?
  4. Or without arms and left to bash the instruments with spanners held between their teeth, whilst also trying to sing the words?
  5. etc.

Spoken word introductions rarely work, but here, Peter’s stab at the first few lines veers dazzlingly close to William Shatner’s epically ridiculous Speak-The-Song, Take-The-Cash cover of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.

Undeterred by such an unambiguously shonky start, he then proceeds with a song that could kindly be described as ‘sparse’. In fact, the song is virtually empty – to the point that it seems most likely that Gabriel accidentally pushed down 122 of the 124 faders and then absent mindedly pushed the “Send to record label” button.

Careful investigation has revealed a tantalising glimpse into the legendarily bold and experimental in studio approach practised by Peter. To achieve such an idiosyncratic sound, he took the hole-punched cards from auto-playing piano, gave them to a monkey to cut up and reassemble, then fed it back through the machine, all the time clapping like an excited toddler.

After a while, his derring-do tilt at boundary-prodding includes a trip into an infant-regressive state. Like the child given a tape recorder who initially fills the first ten minutes pretending to be on local radio, he too then starts making bored mouth-noises to fill the remaining 80 minutes of cassette tape.

If Peter Gabriel had indeed recorded himself aping a local radio DJ – inventing traffic reports, wacky phone-ins, news stories about grannies fending off hopeless attackers  – it would honestly be preferable than listening to him grunt, squeak and grimace his way through Street Spirit.

This song isn’t just a waste of time, it actually sucks in time from the rest of your life: as you ride the bus, drive the car, or at any moment when your mind is idling even a millisecond – each of these times when you wonder how this could have ever been considered a beneficial contribution to humankind’s greater good.

Oh, time, precious time. The only thing between each of us and the endless black, empty nothingness of death – all greedily and unwittingly gobbled up by Peter; Peter the Great Destroyer of Time.

And every time you even think of how bad this song is, or what we have done to deserve it, or how you could have recorded a better version by farting through a recorder and teaching a duck to quack the lyrics, Peter has robbed you of just a few more precious seconds, and you will be just that little bit closer to the end, the final sweet release.

Every time an unwanted stride closer to escape. Escape from the agonies brought about by a cover that proves that there are no winners, just losers; losers who savagely crippled their precious eye-wink of existence stranded on a meaningless planet in an endless universe listening to Peter Gabriel’s cover of Street Spirit (Fade Out).

Huge thanks to Chris from Broken Sound for bringing this monstrosity to my attention. If you know a woeful cover that will make us all feel that bit better about ourselves, why not email me and share the dubious wealth?

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01 September 2010 // Written by Joe Sparrow // 21 Comments

Jamie Cullum – High And Dry

It’s unfair to dislike someone simply because of their face, but Jamie Cullum, a man for whom the phrase ‘Housewive’s Favourite’ would cruelly besmirch the assumed mental capacity of a whole nation of housewives, has a fizzog of such a uniquely irritating munchkin nature that he manages to arouse such feelings with consummate ease.

Then again, by massacring Radiohead’s most lovely song, tripping that particular emotional switch is made just a little bit easier.

Money-phobic Factory Records supremo Tony Wilson claimed that jazz was the last refuge of the untalented. On today’s evidence Jamie Cullum has managed to poke filthily through even this lowest mantle, and emerges breathless, bewildered and with the intention to mangle vowels on a previously untenable scale.

This cover of High and Dry, possibly taken from his album ‘Will This Do?’, finds Cullum treading water in the shallowest waters of Faux-Jazz. In the long list of Faux-genres that regularly crop up on Bad Cover Versions, faux-jazz is by far the most heinous.

Why? Assuming that you have now removed your fingers from the back of your throat, peer through them upon the look he sports when singing the words ‘make love’, and witness your skin crawl straight out of the nearest window.

It’s the very-depths-of-hell smugness worn by a man who knows his inexplicable fame has allowed him to hook up with women of an endlessly more attractive calibre than nature would allow. This man is beating evolution‘s inbuilt system, all through the black magic power of lounge jazz.

The song itself barely exists – intruding like a wet fart, it would be barely noticeable at all if it wasn’t for the putrid smell. At times his voice reaches such agonising depths and contorts so many sounds at once that Jamie almost hits the fabled Brown note, the end result of which would be a blessed, sloppy distraction from the music.

Soiling oneself would certainly be preferable to reliving the moment when Jamie takes a Marinas-trench-deep breath and pronounces the line, “It’s the best thing that you’ve ever had,” as, “Eeeyuts theeeey beyyyyst thing thayyyyt you’ve ever Hhhaaaaiiiyyyeeeaaaaaaadddah.” If the whole song was written down phonetically, it would look like Welsh.

Funnily enough, this song is so jaw-droppingly poor that one listen is simply not enough – it is as if the ears simply cannot believe what has just been heard and are compelled to revisit the horror to complete the comprehension.

This eagerness to dive back into the sound-sewer is the equivalent of studying a giant machine, of the vast Victorian piston-and-flywheel type that you see in science museums, thinking “I wonder what would happen if I just popped my arm into that blur of hot metal and steam…?”‘, doing it, and then, after spending six agonising months in rehabilitation, on the very day that one leaves hospital, zipping straight back to the museum and sticking the other arm in, just to make sure it wasn’t all a terrible dream.

After it’s all over, Jamie Cullum actually emerges as almost likeable, simply because one has to admire the huge grapefruit-sized balls he must possess to even consider passing off this half-hearted musical swill-back as a finished product.

Finally: calculate the self-discipline required when presented with all this material and resisting even a single ‘little pianist’ joke. A nightmare of almost endless proportions.

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17 August 2010 // Written by Joe Sparrow // 13 Comments

Candy Flip – Strawberry Fields Forever

Quick – name two songs by late 80′s chart-toppers Candy Flip. You’ve got three paragraphs to come up with an answer.

During this twitchy pursuit of Bad Cover Versions it has occurred to me that all pertinent questions can swiftly be boiled down to one, simpler, one – albeit one uttered through agonised, ragged and contorted lips: but… why? Why do this to that song/yourself/my poor sullied ears that I was forced to attack with hot knitting needles?

The general pattern of answers is thus, and the reason behind the cover depends on the career arc of the participant:

  • 1st album – surprise hit single follow-up album content-provider
  • 2nd album – the materialisation of the ‘we could record ourselves farting and they’ll buy it!’ realisation-moment
  • 3rd album – sheer, utter contempt for audience

But as a debut song? A non-album track? Like Sylvester Stallone’s face, such slack and incoherent madness deserves closer, tentative inspection.

The Beatles‘ songs are like Shakespeare in that they’re the definitive versions: you can re-write them, or re-appropriate them, but the original versions will always be the best. You know, unless you slow down that James Brown ‘Funky Drummer’ beat that’s been used on every half-arsed hip-hop track since time immemorial and slap it on top of one of everyone’s favourites.

Candy Flip dared to reveal the true extent of pop music’s progress since 1968. Despite decades of bold innovation and exploration – punk, funk, hip-hop, cod-reggae – Candy Flip simply went with their gut and realised that what people really want to hear are the songs they are already comfortable with, but with a briefly fashionable twist.

And so they simply condensed all of this musical derring-do, all of these giant strides into the terrifying rock wilderness, by spending 20 minutes mucking around with an Atari ST and welded a lumpen baggy beat onto a song that its intended audience could either remember from their childhood or heard in their dad’s car as they got driven to swimming class on Saturday.

Even the best efforts of the video’s director fails to deliver the desired payoff. Setting the singer loose to prance around like a loon in a smoke- and flame-filled studio, encouraging the smashing up of violins into dry, tempting tinder, and draping swathes of loose-fitting man-made fibrous clothes around their pasty frames: every viewer is left left praying for something to snag on a candle-holder and suddenly become engulfed in surprisingly huge flames. We are left unsated and any hopes of neat, analogous scenes akin to the demise of once-happy memories of Strawberry Fields Forever are sadly denied.

So be thankful that everyone’s favourite chestnut-haired, perma-thumbs-aloft, monoped-fancying Scouse bass-twanger hasn’t joined George and John in the great Cavern Club in the sky, because the combined centripetal force of their unified grave-spinning would jerk the Earth firmly out of orbit and send it lurching in one ungraceful, brutal arc into the centre of the sun. All the while soundtracked by Candy Flip. Fiery death would be a merciful blessing.

A final thought on the song’s conception. Candy Flip either realised that remaking Strawberry Fields was a clever route to a guaranteed smash, or realised that here was a vital opportunity for they, the young, pristine torch-bearers of  pop perfection, to improve on the original. I sincerely crave for the latter to be true with every thrusting sinew of my being.

Astonishingly, this song reached #1 in the UK and #11 in the USA.

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10 August 2010 // Written by Joe Sparrow // 20 Comments

The Corrs – Little Wing

We’ve been here before.

What is it about Jimi Hendrix‘s Little Wing that induces such foolhardiness and drives bands to turn their minds inside out attempting to replicate the song?

After Sting, apparently overfed on ego and too much fois gras, performed an audio force-feeding and distended the song into a horrifying nine-minute aural catastrophe, the only grease-sodden crumb of comfort was that surely no human being could host the latent evil to spawn a more awful version of Little Wing.

That knee-weakening wave of nausea, that primal prickle of the arm hairs, that icy ripple of pure terror strumming the length of your spine: it’s announcing the realisation that the unthinkable has already happened.

The Corrs manage to make music so flaccid that they would give Cliff Richard’s wizened phallus a run for its money. Sneering contemptuously at Sting’s attempt, they correctly identify that the song could sound even more comprehensibly limp and pallid, if only someone could remove any last vestiges of rock extravagance from it.

And so they tooled up to meet such a challenge head on by grabbing their chosen implements of torture – the school-hall agony of the tin whistle; the faux-folk violin, scourge of a million Irish theme pubs; and a singer Andrea Corr’s vomitously cloying voice, sounding the closest a human being has ever managed to accurately portray the comatose vocal nuances of a gaily-painted rocking chair.

In doing so, The Corrs have unwittingly answered one of rock’s most tantalisingly unanswered questions: why does Little Wing fade out at the precise moment that every listener is urging it to continue with every straining fibre of their being?

The answer is that Jimi Hendrix – a man who could play the guitar so well that it sounded like two people were playing, remember – was too short sighted to realise that what the song really needed at that point was a generic diddley-dee Irish fiddle solo, coupled with even more generic woah-oh-woah vocal-sturbation. It seems so obvious in hindsight.

But becoming privy to such greedily-envied knowledge comes at a price. In the case of the Corrs, they not only lost their souls, but also their minds. For Jim Corr now spends his time jabbering about conspiracy theories on radio phone-ins, possibly whilst sporting a tin-foil hat to stop the Lizard-beings from reading his mind. A cautionary tale indeed.

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