It’s long been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (no one knows who said it, don’t ask). I’m not entirely sure that that’s true, but I do know that in music it’s at least usually entertaining.
Lately my musical bent has shifted to covers. Maybe it’s the attention cover music is getting thanks to Fox’s new hit Glee. (BTW – the version of “Dancing With Myself” from last week’s episode is worth a listen.) A good cover isn’t just so-and-so’s rendition of a song, but a version that both pays homage to and/or reinvents the original. Cover songs need to be well-known in their original version, but a spectacular cover will make one forget (at least momentarily) the original all together. There’s a difference between covering a song and just recording a song. The movies “Across the Universe” and “I Am Sam” offered up some fabulous Beatles covers, but the fact that everyone seems to be recording “Hallelujah” in the 00’s doesn’t mean they’re covering the Leonard Cohen original (except possibly Jeff Buckley). See the difference?
I’m compiling a playlist of sensational covers. My favorites on the list so far are: Bob Schneider’s “If I Only Had a Brain,” The Fray’s “Heartless,” Tyler Hilton’s “Missing You” and Gavin DeGraw’s “Let’s Get It On.” I’m realizing that for every great song covered (like Queen Latifah’s “California Dreamin'”), there’s an equally schmaltzy and horrific cover on the market. (Mandy Moore’s “Mona Lisas and Madhatters” is just wrong.)
The list is ever-growing, but I definitely need more suggestions. What are your favorite covers?