Weezer’s cover album is boring, here’s 11 better cover versions of the tracklist

I have three pet peeves, when it comes to cover songs:

  1. breathless whispered sad sack ballad versions of amazing upbeat pop songs
  2. „funny“ parody cover songs that show that the cover artists don’t really get the original (that does NOT include Weird Al because he usually really loves the songs he covers and yes, he’s kinda in the “Africa” version but come on …)
  3. Cover songs that are so similar to the original that all you can ask is, why they exist in the first place.

Welp, Weezer „surprised“ the world with a cover album and the whole tracklist is 3. and I know a lot of you love it because you love Weezer and yes, Weezer are very charming but still, this album is not it.

While I get that one or the other song might be really fun because you love River Cuomo’s voice (I’ve heard people especially loving „No Scrubs“ and „Everybody wants to rule the world“) but other than that, these songs are just one tracklist full of uninspired Karaoke. There’s bits and pieces that are a little different, but all in all, there is hardly any deviation from the originals, no spin, no interpretation, really. If this were school, this would be that poetry recital where the pupil was hellbent on learning all the words but really didn’t try to understand what the poem is about. It’s the kind of cover song that would give you so-so-critics on „American Idol“ (unless you have a voice like La’Porsha Renae or Haley Reinhart, but they were always on point and amazing and unique in their interpretations, so there’s really no excuse).

I have a big achy breaky heart-relationship with cover albums. I did love Peter Gabriel’s project „Scratch my back“ and „And I scratch yours“ because it was such a labor of love (even though not all cover songs by Gabriel or the other artists were amazing, it was an impressive project all the same and one that oozes mutual respect which is my cup of tea).

Other than that … if you are not a seasoned musician who can really put their all in these interpretations and make them their own in new unique ways like Johnny Cash did – why bother? I can get better cover songs at the Mauerpark Karaoke in Berlin every Sunday during Summer. I mean … wouldn’t an EP be enough?

Oh, and also: they could have really put a smaller, lesser known song/band on the radar but their selection is really such a Karaoke night clichee, it hurts my heart.

And because it’s lazy to simply write off this album (which probably was a lot of love and passion for Weezer), here’s a list of cover songs of these Weezer covers that I personally prefer. Yes, I do put in the work if I have to.

Africa (Toto) – Angel City Chorale

Look, “Africa” is cheesy as it gets, so if you do a cover, cheese it all up. The a cappella-choir version feels amazing because most singers seem to genuinely enjoy being part of this and the essence of the song stays but it’s also just an EVENT! I love it.

Everybody wants to rule the world (Tears for Fears) – Lorde / Maps & Atlases

I usually don’t like cover versions that warp melodies too much but I really dig that creepy, dark, post-apocalyptic version that Lorde presents and it’s a full commitment to the song, her vocals are amazing and somehow, that dark, looming doom fits the lyrics perfectly.

By the way, everyone and their mother covered this song, so there’s plenty of versions out there waiting for you to enjoy. Me, I also truly love Maps & Atlases’ version because they’re a guitar band and Dave Davison not only has a lovely voice but he also puts a little something else in his rendition which is appreciated.

Sweet Dreams (Eurythmics) – Fitz & The Tantrums

I like the nearly manic energy of this version, this and the slightly 60s feel of it still feels as sinister as the original but turns the fear factor out on the dance floor.

Take on me (Aha) – The Blanks

I had no hecking idea that “Ted’s” a cappella band from “Scrubs” was an actual thing. But here we go. Sam Lloyd has this amazing ability to play an incredibly pathetic character with “Ted” but as soon as he’s singing, it’s just honest and charming and lovely.

Happy Together – Miley Cyrus

Look, my problematic fave has such an amazing voice and usually a great grasp on the songs she performs that her cover versions are usually a knock-out. There’s no surprise then, that her “Happy Together” is equally fantastic (and a little more sexy than the original).

Paranoid (Black Sabbath) – Liliac

Look, as soon as the vocals started, I dropped my lower jar. That’s an amazing voice. And it’s Melody’s vocals that make this a truly fantastic cover. She adds juicy little changes to the vocals and I would go so far to say that she sings it better than Ozzy (sorry, not sorry).

Mr. Blue Sky (ELO) – Connie Talbot

Apparently, this song is so well composed (no wonder, Lynne is a beast) that no one is able to put a tiny bit of variation into the cover. But Connie Talbot’s version is something sweet. It might be too saccharine sweet for some but I think it is adorable and it makes me smile and that’s basically the main reason why this song is so popular – it makes us smile. I also like the trumpet solo.

No Scrubs (TLC) – Unlike Pluto ft. Joanna Jones

Yes, if you cover such an epic song then you better do your thing with it. The greatest thing about this cover version is the power it has. This song is all about trashy dudes and women who are over putting up with them and this version sounds exactly like that. Also, that voice is gorgeous.

Billie Jean (Michael Jackson) – Aloe Blacc

This is a killer cover song. You hear laughter when Aloe starts singing because no one expected it. That’s how you do a cover song on stage. The version turns the 80s pop song into a version that goes back to the 70s, Bill Withers style. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

Stand By Me (Ben E. King) – The Kingdom Choir

This song was one of my first song obsessions I ever had. I loved and still love this song to death in the Ben E. King version, it moves me so much that I get almost angry whenever I hear a version that feels lackluster. And let me tell you, that fucking Weezer version is lackluster as it get. What a bunch of fucking punks, singing like they’re a cheap lounge band on an all-inclusive cruise, like they’re Avril Lavigne’s supporting act in lesser known cities circa 2003. Even 4 the Cause had more heart. Respecting a cover song also means to drop it if you can’t give it justice. And there was no justice given.

But the Kingdom Choir does it justice. Everyone who is all up in the UK Royal’s affairs has probably heard it at the wedding of Harry and Meghan. It’s a beautiful performance that has gravity. Goose bumps, yes please.

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Horror movie night: Late Night Shifts will kill you!

Because I once got robbed at the shitty video rental I worked at temporarily, I got to spend a lovely night at a police station. Because it was a late night shift and – I think – they had moved most of the personnell to a newer building, I got the whole creepy, empty and dark hallways, grainly video feeds of the doorways and some horrible second hand stories from the policemen who was supposed to take my statement but was busy with a burn victim (an apparent suicide). so, let’s just say: Night Shifts are absolutely terrifying.

It’s no wonder then, that the night shift, graveyard shift, whatever is a lovely topic for horror movies, some of which are pretty good (some of which are not). Continue reading

Favorite Songs: Yola Carter ‘Faraway Look’

You know that feeling when you hear the first notes of a song and your heart flutters and you feel the love washing over you and then the vocals start and its everything you wanted it to be?

Yola Carter’s new single “Faraway Look” is my love at first tender note. With a soft morning light coming straight from the 70s, with the euphoric chorus of a Mamas and the Papas song, Yola sings “That faraway look in your eyes, it’s getting harder to disguise”.

This is a love song for people who love to dream and to think of better things. And I’ll be damned if we don’t need more alternative love songs. This song is the embodiment of levitating through the day, gazing through people, through buildings and hours to some place, some time and something that fulfills you, that gives you joy and fills you with hope. It’s the 21st century’s equivalent to “your own kind of music” that we never knew we needed but that we obviously needed. I also thought of the amazing P.P. Arnold who knew how to start slow and then go all out in the chorus.

The arrangement is gorgeous, we get the whole orchestra and it’s a lovely soothing background for Yola’s incredible voice (no surprises there, her voice is amazing). I have to say, I never did and never will grow out of these over top dramatic arrangements like these because why hold back when you have so many emotions?

If this is the kind of music that is to be expected from Yola’s forthcoming album, I am so so so excited.

And because Yola sounds equally amazing live, here’s the song live on Jools Holland again. GOOSEBUMPS!

TBT: John Frusciante ‘To only record water for ten days’ is a friggin’ masterpiece

I still can’t believe that I made the switch from the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album “By the Way”* to John Frusciante’s solo albums within weeks without batting an eye lid. The cumbersome heavy melancholy that not just dribbles but is flooding throughout “To only record water for ten days” can be too much at times, especially as Frusciante – in stark contrast to a singer like Kiedis – lets his voice crack and splinter, go into all the directions that are not pretty.

It’s astounding how an album that is such an inaccessible mountain of fuzzy guitar (and vocals) and electronic dabbling, can be – at a second glance – such a welcoming, warm experience.

Continue reading

Coversongs: ‘It takes a muscle’ by Spectral Display

I had NO idea that M.I.A.’s amazing version of “It takes a muscle” was a cover song. Even on Wikipedia, the first sentence to the song is “is a song by British recording artist M.I.A.” and only then says that it’s a cover. In my opinion, that’s shoddy since it should say: “is a song by Spectral Display, more known for the cover version by M.I.A.”

M.I.A.’s version is lovely because she amped up the slight reggae feel of the original and performs it in a nearly playful way which makes it a cute, fun love song to relax to. It also works quite well on the dancefloor when everybody is already super drunk because you can just sway forth and back for a couple of minutes. I like that the cover kept a little of the 80s vibe but modernized it. It’s a gorgeous cover version.

Spectral Display are from Dutch and the song was released in the early 80s and is a super weird, chill reggae-synth love song that is honestly, it’s own gem. I absolutely adore M.I.A.’s version but this original is such a beast! It’s really stripped down during the verse and then during the chorus a synth wall creates this dramatic feeling and then the song goes into this absurd synth solo (which only ever can be absurd).

This version is a lot more melancholic and feels almost surreal which I guess fits the feelings when you’re falling in love. It doesn’t feel playful but rather heavy, even a little sad. This and the cover show how you can shift the whole mood of a song with slight changes in the production, it’s fascinating, really.

Spectral Display were founded in 1980 by keyboarder and producer Michel Mulders and discovered Henri Overduin who wrote the lyrics (which are genius) and sang the song. As far as I can tell, they only released two albums, their self-titled debut in 1982 and “Too much like me” in 1983.

There’s a ridiculously horrendous homepage out there, saying that the band is back (dated: 2012) and they are working on new music.

Best of 2018: 30 things that made this year better than it should have been

It’s that time again, my best things of the year which not necessarily were produced or released this year but which I read, watched, listened to or otherwise enjoyed this year. So it will be full of stuff that makes you go: Geez, Juliane, that’s like, totally old news, in what kind of cave are you living?” And I’ll be like “I live in one of those parts of town in Berlin that no artist would ever move to because they all think it’s sad and dangerous and poor, so it’s actually kind of like a cave but a metaphorical one!”.

Anyways, let’s enjoy this list (or not, what do I care). Continue reading

Mattiel ‚dto‘ – the Wild West never sounded better

Look, if I were to become a long ranger and needed to hype myself up in the morning to fight evil (space?) baddies, I would totally turn up Mattiel’s incredible self-titled debut album because it’s HOT!

Mattiel apparently grew up in rural Georgia on a farm which might be the reason why her music sounds like a thousand miles of solitude but the kind of solitude that makes you mysterious instead of eccentric and weird.

After moving to Atlanta, she started to write and play music alongside Randy Michael and Jonah Swilley. Her debut album is released on the Burger Records label.

Also: Style queen (what a babe)

Oh, what an album, honestly. Back in the GDR, people were obsessed with cowboys and Native Americans (even though most of it was cultural appropriation and worse things) and I remember this kind of music being such a staple of the lonely rider on his horse, trailing his shadow along. Mattiel takes this old fashioned (and ultimately always wholesome) genre and kicks it into the 21st century. Her style is a glorious boost of duststorm-kickassery.

But more than being retro, this album is a whole load of loud, noisy, rambunctious fun. Mattiel is the Coyote’s knees (urgh, pun-alert) when it comes to gorgeous Wild Western Blues Rock.

Again: what a babe