Cover me legendarily: “Without You” by Badfinger

The history behind Badfinger and one of the greatest, most dramatic love songs ever written and performed is a sad tale of the horrible, not very good music industry. In 1970, Badfinger released “Without You”, one year later, Harry Nilsson covered the song brilliantly which is nowadays probably the version most music fans think is the original. But then in 1994, Mariah Carey, diva and voice extrodinaire, sang a version that is THE VERSION and will forever be the greatest version of all.

Badfinger could have lived from the royalties till eternity but then some unfortunate lawsuits financial and managerial issues led to one of the members to commit suicide in 1975. 1983 another member committed suicide and at that point the band still couldn’t get all that sweet money whenever the song was on the radio or in a movie.

Now, the original is beautiful and has a completely different vibe than Mariah’s version which goes to show that a good song can change shape according to the artist and be amazing whatever you do with it (the best example for this is a weird reggae version of Britney Spear’s song “XY” which is better than it should be).

You can hear that Nilsson’s version was the one that Mariah was inspired by, a bit like everyone covers Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in the Jeff Buckley-version even though Cohen’s version is equally amazing but a little edgier. Nilsson is an amazing performer because he simply sounds authentic in all his emotions.

Say what you will about Mariah, this woman was an integral part of the sound of the 90s, next to Whitney, Toni Braxton and that’s it, sorry, those three were the trifecta of “I can’t believe their voices”.

And even though aspiring singers would take the wrong cues from her dramatic performances (those runs, all those runs on “American Idol” were always unnecessary), she created a (back then) modern version that brought a little more church choir into the mix which is never a wrong thing (give me a gospel background choir anyday, anytime, anywhere).

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Horror movie lists: Lin Shaye is the actual Scream Queen

You know, I always disliked the term “scream queen” because I for one do not appreciate the blood-curdling scream of any given woman in any horror movie. Sometimes, it comes from female characters who are not even characterized as being overtly expressive in their emotions. It never comes from men even though men can and do scream just as well, if not louder. Plus, my favorite horror movie heroine, “Ripley” from “Alien” simply doesn’t scream but is still the greatest horror movie protagonist of all times.

So, let’s redefine the scream queen. Let’s make her a queen who makes people scream. Enter Lin Shaye, mostly known for the “Insidious”-franchise by the masses but also beloved in a gazillion independent and B-movie productions from the outright ridiculous to the downright terrifying.

If you want to get to know Lin Shaye as the contender for the scariest scream queen, I present my suggestions for a very frightening Lin Shaye appreciation movie marathon.

(Small spoilers ahead) Continue reading

Favorite Song: Ivy Sole – “Dream Girl” is a soft cloud of love

I am absolutely floored, how much comfort and warmth this song has. The song is from Ivy’s Album “Eden” and heavily references an innocent, open vulnerability in a relationship, close to the purity that Adam and Eve (and for a short while, Lilith) had back in the Garden.

Her style in this song is beautiful, laid-back old school rap, add to that her lovely singing and a gorgeous stripped-down production and this is a song to start the day, to take a break from things, to soothe your soul.

Cover me badly: The Police and “King of Pain” by Alanis Morissette

First things first: “King of Pain” by the Police, released in 1983 on their album “Synchronicity” is a perfect song. The simple percussion at the beginning, Sting’s voice having this weird echo as if he’s singing from the other side of the room and then this dirty piano and the key change towards the chorus that doesn’t even feel like a chorus before everything gets into focus.

The amazing thing about this song – a real skill of the Police – is a really sad song that at first glance does not sound like a sad song but immediately feels like one. It’s the best example of that weird juxtaposition that so many 80s songs had, with those danceable beats and deep, sad truths.

With that being said, Alanis Morissette’s cover version (recorded for her Unplugged session) is a beautiful cover because it does two things:

It strips the song down but it keeps the structure.

It keeps the melody, my god, it keeps the f***ing melody. Do you know how many musicians cover a song in a “naked” version and then completely butcher up the melody? I’ve written about it over and over again, that’s how many. She plays a little bit with it by the end of it but that’s about it.

I also really like how Alanis manages to turn this specific 80s-sounding song into a song that has a distinct sound of the 90s with the jazzy piano and of course her voice which is part of the 90s musical canon.

Favorite Song: Anna Calvi ‘Don’t beat the girl out of my boy’ is intense!

Whether it’s that late 80s early 90s indie guitar or that banger of a chorus, Anna Calvi’s new single is absolutely mesmerizing. It’s such a statement piece, a true, pure single that takes bits and pieces of older pop but reframes them in ways that place this song steadily in the year 2018. This is alternative post punk rolled up in the pathos of Frankie goes to Hollywood. And that video – well, I am not into sexy videos but this is one heck of a sexy video.

I recommend the whole album (“Hunter”) by the way, because it’s basically this song but different. Everything on this album is super intense, retrograde 80s and brilliant. It is a bop.

Horror movies: Caves and Tunnels are creepy

I am planing this list for a while now because some of my favorite movies involve tight underground spaces. The reason is simple: claustrophobia is wide-spread, darkness is horrible and everything underground always counts as a metaphor for burials, death and hell, so if that’s not enough for horror movies, I don’t know what is.

As usual: I try to avoid heavy spoilers but I will talk about the plot, so there might be some spoilers out of a necessity. “Is good” might be enough for Czernobogh but it’s not enough for me.

Oh and: be careful with the trailers. Usually, trailers have massive spoilers when it comes to horror movies. So watch at your own risk. Continue reading

Cover me badly: ‘Only You’ by Yazoo

Look, it might be that I heard the Flying Pickets first with their version of “Only You”. It might even be that I really loved that version and put it on all my mixtapes. But as soon as on some 80s sampler or the other Yazoo turned up and Alison Moyet drowned everything in her soulful voice, I was done with the Flying Pickets (and you know how much I love a cappella).

Margaret Thatcher supposedly liked this song version.  

This is one of those instances that completely obliterate the popular version as soon as you hear the original. Because Alison sings it so sweetly and the synth-sounds by songwriter Vince Clarke give this the weird 80s polish that exemplified great vocals back then. I really love love songs that cling to the fraying ends of a relationship. There’s so many beautiful songs out there (many of them dealing with metaphorical ghosts) and this is yet another example that the time before the break-up can be just as heartbreaking as the break-up itself. There’s an interpretation of this song floating in the web, that Clarke wrote this mainly as a way to deal with his departure from Depeche Mode but as all great songs go, it is about what you hear and feel when you hear it. And thanks to Moyet, that’s a lot.

That outfit is a statement. I don’t know whether I agree with the statement but it is a statement nonetheless.

PS: At some point I should write about Vince Clarke who is also the main composure of Erasure’s songs since 1985 and therefore has written some of the greatest bops of the 80s including his stint with Yazoo.