Friday, January 30, 2009

Art of the Cover

I have a small obsession with the idea of the "correct" (and by "correct" I really mean "innovative") cover. Covering is an art that demands a combination of sensitivity and originality from its practitioners, requiring them to take a completed art form and reinterpret it so that it uncovers a new facet of the underlying structure in the original without destroying whatever made the song noteworthy in the first place. There are good covers that meet both criteria - Jimi Hendrix's handling of "All Along the Watchtower" might be the most famous, but props also to The Cure for "World Through My Eyes" and there are bad covers that miss on one - A Perfect Circle's version of "When the Levee Breaks" gets points for originality but obliterates the original - or the other - Black Tide's take on "Prowler," like pretty much everything else the band does, is completely derivative - or both - see: the pop punk fad covering 80s material - but rarely does the cover completely excel in both areas. A short list would already include Marilyn Manson doing "Down in the Park," Pig covering "1979," and Arch Enemy ripping through "The Oath," but after watching video above, I'm happy to add the Bare Egil Band joins this elite group for their treatment of "Umbrella." Somehow the band managed to make a fairly cheery song sound like the harbinger of the Apocalypse without destroying the hooks that originally made it a hit. My hat is off to you, sirs.

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