I have three pet peeves, when it comes to cover songs:
- breathless whispered sad sack ballad versions of amazing upbeat pop songs
- „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 …)
- 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.