Music Review – 5 Covers: Songs Originally Sung By Men Covered By Women

I like collecting cover versions. I’ve said before: Remakes = good, copies = bad. To me this applies to films, television and music; all adaptations. They should be the same but different. There’s a cover going around at the moment of Paramore covering the Kings of Leon song Use Somebody, embedded below, which The Guardian described as a ‘romantic down-to-earth studio performance‘.

[video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Pxqer3hYjo]

I suppose that’s what I look for in a cover. A distinction. A different angle. Something new that maybe even the original artist didn’t see in there.

So I thought I might put up some of my favourite cover versions that do this well, but just thinking about it, I thought up so many that I figured I’m best limiting it to five and then (if I remember) I’ll do another five next week until I run out of stuff I want to share.

I’d proably be best doing this thematically somehow but I’m far too lazy for that so what I’ve decided to do for this week are Songs Originally Sung By Men Covered By Women (SOSBMCBW)… I will try and do better next week, and suggestions are welcome, nae, suggestions are encouraged, in the comments.

1) You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)Thea Gilmore and Mike Cave (orig. Dead or Alive)

Thea Gilmore. Wow. I remember the first time I heard Thea Gilmore,  I must have been 15, I was in the car with my father and the radio was on (I think it was Radio 2) and they were featuring her album Avalanche (brilliant record), and I was immediated captured by her sultry voice and sharp lyrics. And it that voice which turns this cheesy 80s anthem into something else – Thea Gilmore makes it delicate, needy and erotic. Images of Pete Burns melt anyway and all I can hear is this lust-riddled ballad. Mmm.

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUVYj0ahHOw]

2) Light My FireShirley Bassey (orig. The Doors)

Another classic song. I’m not a die hard Bassey fan I’ll admit but there is is no doubt that there’s a lot of power in that voice. And there’s something so campy and theatrical about this that I just can’t resist. There’s no movement in this video because I opted for the recorded version over live recordings as I think it sounds superior – she speeds it up live – though her backing dancers do put on a performance.

3) How Deep Is Your Love?The Bird and The Bee (orig. Bee Gees)

This time it’s the original I’m not that keen on. I remember my Dad playing Bee Gees records and it used to drive me nuts (particularly because, for the most part, I like my parents’ taste in music but Bee Gees… really?!)  however when I heard this version, it was the first The Bird and The Bee track I heard, and it just seemed so sweet and tender and romantic – it just sort of clicked for me. I realised that whereas I didn’t like the vocals before, lyrically it was lovely. So I hope you enjoy this track, just ignore the weird choice in dress and occasional sudden arm movement…

[video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8DAP_zl9Cw]

4) Rich Girl Danielle Ate The Sandwich (Orig: Hall and Oates)

I can honestly say that Hall and Oates are part of the musically legacy my father passed on that I love (and I think my mother still doesn’t understand fully of either of us) but I love them – dozens of their songs would get into my ‘Favourite Songs of All Time’ list, and this is definately one of them. What I don’t know is how I stumbled upon Danielle Ate The Sandwich, it was either looking for covers of this song or else looking for ukelele music and, either way, I saw a description of it and thought ‘wow, 2 plus 2 equal epic win!’. Rich Girl is already an upbeat song  but Danielle, with her ukelele and (now no-so) surprise interlude (I didn’t mention – I love it when two songs are mixed up, be it like this, a mashup, a remix, whatever… though in this I just found it a bit bizarro), manages to make it even more fun and silly. Nina Simone has also done a great cover of this which I can’t seem to find online.

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZoqsfFGGPY]

5) Hot in Herre Jenny Owen Youngs (orig. Nelly)

I am a sucker for women who cover rap or RnB type songs. I think it’s because so often those songs they cover try to appear so wrapped up in machismo and badassery (not that women can’t be badass) but when you listen to this it’s more gentle, more playful. Jenny Owen Youngs has this intensely sweet voice but when she’s clever and wry even when she sings with sadness and remorse (see Fuck Was I) so it’s nice to see her having some plain old fun. I know I’d love to be rocking out in an igloo with Jenny Owen Youngs, a polar bear and penguin – hey, it’s a fantasy, it can be as non-canon as I please…

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIYKPjalb6Q]

So that’s five for this week, see you soon folks? If you have your own favourite SOSBMCBW, please let me know in the comments.

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6 Comments

  1. RandomEnigma

    Yeah, I actually really like Jenny Owen Youngs cover of Hott In Heere…as a guy I actually find something about women rapping very sexy! Probably why I like Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas so much!!

    I also love Paramore and Hayley Williams! Such an amazing band and singer! I hope their new record makes them houshold names though it’s unlikely seeing as how most of the World views punk pop records!

    But they do really good covers. They were fantastic at Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2 and My Hero by Foo Fighters. I must chec out their Use Somebody cover now.

    *The video isn’t coming up on my comp!:(

  2. Gerard McGarry

    My sister in law suggested last night that Leona Lewis’s cover of Run (originally by Snow Patrol) might be a contender. However, the more I think about it, it doesn’t have that off-mainstream appeal that some of the artists in Priya’s list have. I also think that because it’s a ballad it doesn’t work as well – turning “machismo and badassery” on their heads makes the songs you’ve suggested work much better.

    1. priyabhakta

      I remember being pleasently surprised by Leona’s cover of Run, and I didn’t discount it for any reason other than it’s not one of the ones that instantly popped into my head (I don’t think I even have a copy of it).  Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  3. Simon

    I’d suggest Hem’s remake of Jackson (originally Johnny and June Cash) – they slow it right down, and make it much more emotive than the original.  Also more or less anything on Kathryn William’s covers album Relations.

    1. priyabhakta

      I adore Kathryn Williams. Whilst I wasn’t too keen on her Hallelujah I think Spit on a Stranger is a slice of heaven and was so disappointed I didn’t find a video of it for this post.

      I’ll definately check out Hem – thanks for the suggestion.

  4. Gaz@NokiaMusic

    Unfortunately I have no suggestions but wanted to add that the Cowboy Junkies cover of Velvet Undergrounds ‘Sweet Jane’ is another great SOSBMCBW

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