Monday, November 13, 2017

REMAKES Blog Fest: The Music

Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner.

Remakes – most of them suck. Now and then, one comes along that is as good as, if not better, than the original. And after all of the bad ones we’ve endured, we want to know about some good ones.
On November 13, 2017, blog about your favorite remake: movie (or television show into movie and vice versa), song, or book – or all three! Post a YouTube video and links where we can find these treasures. Tell us why THIS remake doesn’t suck!

Full list of pariticipating blogs at the bottom of this post.


I love covers. Absolutely adore them. So much that I will often listen to musical genres I don't even usually like if someone has a new and interesting take on an old tune. I am unabashedly a fan of "Grey's Anatomy" covers of old pop songs. The show has made an industry out of indy-acoustic remixes of 80s pop hits, and I have Spotify playlists full of them. I also have an unusual number of bluegrass songs on my iPod, but all of them are covers of heavy metal or mid-2000s emo punk bands.

The best for me is when the artist takes a drastically different spin on a classic riff, like turning a slow ballad into thrash metal or remaking a hardcore hip hop song into something romantic. As with any kind of remake, it only works when you have something new to say. Just redoing the same thing the same way it was done before is boring. It's why covers of holiday classics are usually terrible - it's just a soulless rendition of the same thing we've heard a thousand times before.

Baby It's Cold Outside
Cover by CeeLo Green & Christina Aguilera
"Baby It's Cold Outside" is already an awful song for obvious reasons, but the recent Christina Aguilera/CeeLo Green cover made me want to claw my eyes out. It's just two very talented singers, who are obviously not even recording in the same room, trying to out-sing each other. There's no fun, no new take, nothing interesting about it. I supposed you could argue that about a lot of Holiday music, but then most holiday songs are covers, so I wonder why that works out, huh?

Anyway, on to the good stuff...

Love Will Tear Us Apart
Originally by Joy Division, covered by Nouvelle Vague
Quick story: I first heard Nouvelle Vague at a restaurant when I was out to dinner with my wife and in-laws. I loved the music they were playing so much that I asked the waiter what they were playing and immediately went out and bought the CD. I never do that, either talk to people or buy CDs, so that tells you how much I love this band.

Nouvelle Vague is french for "new wave," and it the name of a French group that almost exclusively covers "new wave" music from the 70s and 80s (like Joy Division, Depeche Mode, & New Order) with bossa nova beat (which itself is Portuguese for "new wave"), Besides being an awesome play on words, the musical arrangements are outstanding, and provides a wonderful background soundtrack to lounging around at a classy cocktail party. I always feel so continental when I listen to this stuff.

I'm Afraid of Americans
Originally by David Bowie, covered by O.R.K.
This is one of my favourite David Bowie songs, probably because it was heavily influenced by Trent Reznor during Bowie's dalliance with industrial music in the 1990s. My two favourite artists, together at last? What could be better?

Well, after the tragic events of November 8, 2016, I figured a cover of this song HAD to happen, and sure enough it only took about 6 months to come to light. While I prefer the actual musical arrangement in Bowie's original and Nine Inch Nail's remix, O.R.K.'s version makes the single most important musical change of this decade by swapping all the references to generic American "Johnny" with "Donny" in the lyrics instead.

Donny wants a plane
Donny wants to suck on a Coke
Donny wants a woman
Donny wants to think of a joke
Donny's in America
Donny's in America
Donny looks up at the stars
Donny combs his hair
Donny wants pussy in cars
Donny's in America

I'm still waiting to see if A Perfect Circle come out with an ever better cover when their inevitable new album drops. Their eMOTIVe album of anti-war cover songs, released during the height of W's presidency, was outstanding.

While I'm on the topic, I might as well throw this one out there:

Originally by John Lennon, covered by A Perfect Circle
(Warning: Some graphic content and disturbing images)

Some folks might be a bit miffed on such a skewed take on a classic, hopeful song, but I think the material was open for it. Not to mention I'm a sucker for anything Maynard James Keenan does.

Imagine has always been a hopeful, positive song, asking us to picture the amazing things that people could do in a perfect world. A Perfect Circle twists this meaning, talking about the wonderful things people are capable of but reminding us that they're not doing it. The dissonant key and the minor chords in this just hit you right in the heart (even without the disturbing video above). It's a melancholy, bittersweet take on that hopeful message. It's ironic and almost mocking, as if to say, "Hey wouldn't it be great if we could get along? Too bad we never will."

Ice Ice Baby
Original by Vanilla Ice, cover by Richard Cheese
Okay, just so we don't go out on a total bummer, please enjoy the smooth stylings of Richard Cheese.

Now, to be fair, Richard Cheese is a lot like Nouvelle Vague. It's all jazzy lounge music, though instead of covering one particular style of music, he'll do anything and everything - hip hop, metal, 80s pop, TV theme songs, anything that's fun. Here's the thing: Richard Cheese is, technically speaking, a novelty act, but he's a great singer and always surrounds himself with talented musicians and awesome arrangements, so even though he's doing it tongue-in-cheek, the songs are amazing.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love it when people don't take themselves or their art too seriously, so someone who names himself after smegma and make nu-metal songs palpable is okay in my book.

Check out some of the other great blogs participating today:

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