It’s busy season for people recording cover versions, and those keeping track of them. It’s a much maligned artform, the cover, and indeed, more often than not it pales in comparison to the original version. This does not need to be. Some of my favourite all-time pop classics are covers: Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” was originally recorded by Gladys Knight & The Pips, and Otis Redding’s “Respect” arguably found its defining (female) form in Aretha Franklin’s recording. This blogpost highlights two striking cover versions #nowplaying on 22tracks: “Dear God 2.0″ by The Roots featuring Jim James (on the hiphop playlist) and “All That She Wants” by Chuck Norris (disco).
“Dear God 2.0” is an unusual record for several reasons. First, the original came out only a few months ago. To many people, it’s not all that familiar. Second, it’s in an entirely different genre (folk-pop) than The Roots’ style. Third, the original singer, Monsters Of Folk‘s Jim James, is making a star-reappearance. This may look like a strange way of working, but to the Roots crew it’s not. They did almost the exact same thing seven years ago with Cody ChesnuTT’s “The Seed”, turning it into their biggest hit, “The Seed 2.0“.
Anyway, here is the (beautiful) video for Monsters Of Folk’s “Dear God”:
Chuck Norris is an alias for Norwegian disco god Todd “Terje” Olsen. His take on “All That She Wants” is of the kind where people cover totally uncool hits from the past. Except this cover is not a joke, or possibly even ironic. Zoning in on Ace Of Base‘s Scandinavian reggae touch, Olsen has produced a dubby, instrumental disco version of a bona fide ’90s classic that only needs to hint at the original version to put a huge smile on your face. If you need to have your memory refreshed, here’s Ace Of Base in 1993:
Covers have become a marketing tool as well, peeking your interest with both novelty and the familiar. Two brands are currently distributing free cover MP3s. Dr. Martens has the likes of Dam-Funk and Buraka Som Sistema playing The Human League and Neneh Cherry. Levi’s had the same idea, and has hired (amongst others) Nas and Dirty Projectors to shine their light on Slick Rick and Bob Dylan, respectively.