• Mon, Apr 15, 2024

7 Unexpected Covers You Must Hear

Oct 11, 04:24pm

Here at RSJ, we have a tendency of often staring aimlessly at the screen, watching YouTube videos when we're supposed to be working. Especially on Fridays. So we decided to mix work with pleasure in this special feature where we bring you seven unexpected covers by bands we like - covers that came totally out of the blue. Feel free to add your own at the bottom.

(Screenshot of Barack Obama watching Heart cover 'Stairway to Heaven' taken from here)


Periphery – ‘Black or White’ (Michael Jackson)


There was a time, back in ’09, when Periphery were just starting off and their self-titled debut hadn’t yet released and propelled them to modern metal stardom. ‘Twas the time when the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson, was still around, trying his best to turn into a complete parody of himself. And then Wacko Jacko popped it. It was a sad demise for a man who’d done far more for pop music than anyone rightfully could have, and he left the music world orphaned and in a state of utter shock. Periphery, shaken by what’d happened, decided to record ‘Black or White’ as a tribute to the man. Their version retains the magnetic melody of the original while adding that all important distorted punch, a punch we’ve come to know best as ‘djent’. For posterity’s sake, we feel compelled to tell you that Periphery have also covered Avril Lavigne, that modern day punk rock goddess.

August Red Burns – 'Baby One More Time' (Britney Spears)

This version of ‘Baby One More Time’ by August Red Burns is impossible to trace back to the original. (Sort of like how when Britney Spears went bald, you couldn’t tell it was her.) There’s something very creepy about a fully grown man, possibly sporting a beard or at least a moustache, growling “Baby baby hit me baby one more time baby” with a thundering rhythm section pounding shit in the back.

Never mind that; the song is part of Punk Goes Pop 2, the second edition of the compilation series Punk Goes Pop, wherein punk and hardcore bands cover famous pop songs – Britney, Rihanna, Backstreet Boys, Miley Cyrus, they’re all there.

Metallica – ‘53rd and 3rd’ (Ramones)

When trash metal legends Metallica aren’t busy suing Justin Timberlake’s P2P company or going for group therapy or having cathartic weeping sessions with each other and Dave Mustaine, they write music. Some hit, some not so much. ‘53rd and 3rd’ definitely falls in the former category (hit!), possibly because it’s originally a Ramones song – that’s one connection we didn’t see coming. Metallica do a decent enough job of making the song their own, and it was featured on 2003’s We're A Happy Family: A Tribute to Ramones, which was curated by Johnny Ramone himself. It’s a great album that also has Rob Zombie, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Waits, Marilyn Manson, U2, KISS, all covering Ramones’ songs in their own special way. And, obviously, it has Eddie Vedder too, because Vedder is convinced that he’s very much an integral part of the Ramones. Let it go, Eddie. 

Dave Grohl – ‘Arms Wide Open’ (Creed)

Since we were just talking about Eddie Vedder, it’s only fair that we move on to Creed next. For anyone who follows him, Dave Grohl has a notorious sense of humour, and Creed – Scott Stapp, particularly – are notorious for being easy targets of all kinds of jokes and jabs, second only to Chris Martin.  It’s the perfect storm, we should think.

So Dave Grohl once did a little rendition of Creed’s classic, ‘Arms Wide Open’. His impression of Scott Stapp’s impression of Eddie Vedder is…how do we put it…spot on. Uncanny, even. And Grohl delivers the perfect knockout blow by adding in a couple of words about “went to church” something-something and “band got paid” something-something. It’s hilarious.

Scribe – ‘What Goes Around...Comes Around’ (Justin Timberlake)

(Scribe playing 'What Goes Around...Comes Around' at the Rolling Stone Metal Awards 2013)

Justin Timberlake is a brilliant performer. The guys in Scribe are brilliant performers too. That’s where the similarities end. Or so we thought…

We were busy bouncing to their brand of groovy/hardcore/performance art/humour/etc metal in August this year at RSJ Live Nites (photos here), watching people going berserk with all the moshpits and the stage dives and everything. Suddenly, out of nowhere, this piano melody popped up, and the vocalist started pretend-playing it on his imaginary piano. And then they broke into ‘What Goes Around, Comes Around’ by Justin Timberlake of Napster fame. Madness is what it was – an all-girl moshpit was formed too, as per their instructions, in addition to the hundreds of stage dives.  To Justin Timberlake.

Thom Yorke – ‘Wonderwall’ (Oasis)

In an interview with The Observer back in ’95, Noel Gallagher (Oasis) said he wished that Damon Albarn of Blur would “catch AIDS and die” (they’ve since kissed and made up and Gallagher has clarified that AIDS is no laughing matter – no shit, genius). Fair to say that Gallagher has snark and wit in abundance (we’re not all that sure about musical talent but that’s a topic for a different day).  And, naturally, he’s said enough shit about good old Thom Yorke (Radiohead) over the years too.

Here’s a recent tirade by Gallagher about Yorke:

“Thom Yorke sat [at] a piano singing, ‘This is fucked up’ for half-an-hour. We all know that, Mr. Yorke. Who wants to sing the news? No matter how much you sit there twiddling, going, ‘We’re all doomed,’ at the end of the day people will always want to hear you play ‘Creep’. Get over it. 

“I never went to fucking university. I don’t know what a paint brush is; I never went to art school.”

But Yorke is no mug – a pretentious git often, possibly. But not a mug. Here was his delightfully concise response on the band’s official site.

“I did. It taught me to respect other artists.”

Oh snap. Aside from the worrying information that Gallagher doesn’t know what a paint brush is, we’ll call this battle of zingers a draw. The original rant was caustic, but Yorke’s response was apt in a chilling sort of way. But then, Yorke moves slightly ahead through this pre-emptive cover of ‘Wonderwall’, done back in the ’90s. If you can’t tell, he’s clearly mocking Oasis and enjoying the melody – it’s called having your cake and eating it too. 

(As an aside, we suggest you check out Liam Gallagher complaining about Radiohead writing about a tree [referring to 2011’s King of Limbs] – “A thousand-year-old tree? Go fuck yourself! You’d have thought he’d have written a song about a modern tree or one that was planted last week. You know what I mean?” Gold.)

Heart – ‘Stairway to Heaven’ (Led Zeppelin)

This one possibly doesn’t qualify as “unexpected”, but no list of cover songs can ever be complete without some Led Zep in there. And while we considered having Grohl for this entry (he is to Zep what Vedder is to Ramones), we went instead with Heart (because we love most things Nancy Wilson does) doing a fairly standard, albeit a very large-sounding, version of the song. They stick to the structure of the original, with a horns section and a backing chorus serving to embellish the sound. But what’s really cool about it is that the surviving members of Led Zeppelin are in the auditorium watching them. You can even see Robert Plant welling up a little. Also in the crowd is the POTUS himself, Barack Obama, sitting alongside wife and FLOTUS, Michelle. And Dave Grohl. Let it go, Dave.

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