I’ve already written about my love of cover songs, and it’s time for more interesting, weird or simply fantastic cover songs. YouTube is a fantastic resource for covers. You can find covers of almost any semi-popular song, and once you start exploring the playlists of cover artists, YouTube becomes an inescapable bottomless pit of creativity.
TommyLeeDepp – Blue (Da Ba Dee) (Bass Arrangement)
When Eiffel 65’s Blue (Da Ba Dee) was released in 1998 I just listened to it on repeat over and over. As I’ve gotten older, my tastes have changed. But this is a cover I can listen to over and over again. TommyLeeDepp has done something quite unique. He has taken a song frequently maligned for being annoying but he manages to shape it into something deeply relaxing. This power of transformation is at the heart of why I love cover songs so much.
Patty Gurdy – Sweet Dreams (Hurdy Gurdy Version)
Some songs simply attract covers like moths to a flame. Sweet Dreams has been covered many times. I could have easily included the Marilyn Manson version for making a dark song darker. But I had to choose this version because of my love of the sights and sounds of the medieval world.
The hurdy gurdy is a fantastic instrument, and is one of my favourite unusual instruments. Played by turning a crank, a wheel rubs against strings in the same way as a violin bow. Because they have multiple drone strings, they can be used in place of bagpipes. Dating from medieval times, it was a popular instrument during the Renaissance.
This track represents a fusion of ancient and modern that is really exciting to me. Such a combination never fails to fuel my imagination. Picture a world where this version is the original. What would the world look like? How different would it be from our own?
Ensiferum – Breaking the Law
Usually my posts include crazy cover songs. Usually a metal band covering a metal song wouldn’t be worthy of a mention. Usually songs don’t include horses.
Breaking the Law is an absolute metal anthem and Finnish folk metal band Ensiferum definitely do the song justice, but the horse is just the icing on the cake.
Spontaneous Dentohydroplosion – Last Resort (Ska Version)
Genre switching is a very popular style, with groups like postmodern jukebox having over a billion views on youTube. But I decided to highlight one of my newest discoveries, highly under-rated youtuber Spontaneous Dentohydroplosion. He has both a crazy name and a delightful stash of cover songs. This genre-swapped number will get you dancing and skanking in no time.
The channel has the feel of a fun side-project, with fewer than 200 subscribers at the time of writing. I hope, someday, the channel will grow and take off. Until then I will carry on enjoying his covers even if they are sadly under-appreciated.
TheRealSullyG – Take on Me (Played on an Otamatone)
I said that Sweet Dreams was a popular song to cover, but it pales compared to Take on Me. The number of covers is mind-boggling. The Reel Big Fish cover is the version I have always listened to, but you can find Take on Me covered in almost any genre or any genre. So why not showcase one of the craziest instruments you can buy.
Coming from Japan, this odd beast could be easily dismissed as just a musical toy. Containing a musical synthesizer and played with two hands, the Otamatone is a surprisingly intricate creation. The stem is played like a guitar, switches change the octave and shaking the neck creates a vibrato effect. TheRealSullyG has clearly mastered all of these skills and puts them to good work covering Take on Me. This has always been a feel-good song, but using this silly instrument takes the fun-factor to another level.
Vitamin String Quartet – The River
How did I start down this path of raving about cover songs on the internet? Vitamin String Quartet were my gateway drug to the world of cover songs. Performed by a rotating roster of violinists VSG constantly pump out new songs. Their back catalogue is breathtaking. If a song is popular, you can bet VSG have covered it.
Using only four violins, this quartet are a real test of how beautiful a song truly is. With lyrics, drums and extras stripped away, these covers are a chance for the melodies to shine through. Not every genre sounds great in this style, but that doesn’t stop the VSG factories churning out new songs. I could have chosen one of many many fantastic VSG covers, but I chose this cover of a Good Charlotte song for how beautiful it is. I like the original song a lot, but the contrast between the two is pretty stark. I’m certain I’ve listened to this version more than the original.
Weird Al Yankovich – Constipated
I must have listened to the original Avril Lavigne song hundreds of times. Her first two albums were the soundtrack for summer after my first year of university. So I really appreciate how faithful this song is to the original. The lyrics may be utterly different, but the song flows syllable for syllable in the same way as the original. This is a true masterpiece of staying faithful to a song, whilst making it into a completely new song.
What makes Weird Al’s covers so great is that he always gets permission to satirise some-one’s music. You know you have really made it when Weird Al wants to turn your music into a big joke.
Leo Moracchioli – Duality
This song raises an intriguing question. How heavy can you make an acoustic song? Leo’s take on the Slipknot classic is a worthy contender for the heaviest. At the same time, Leo Moracchiolo signature use of children’s toy instruments adds an absurd comedy to the song. This may be a faithful homage to the original video, but the silly instruments give it an air of parody. In my eyes, this is a cover that shouldn’t really work, but instead creates a cohesive and distinctive sound.
Luca Stricagnoli – The Prodigy on an Acoustic Guitar
A variant on the cover song is a tribute to a band and their whole discography. This lets an artist combine every famous riff or lyric in one song. Normally I’m not a big fan of this kind of song, but this piece is just so well done. Luca just walks and picks up new instruments and bangs out new tunes without even breaking stride. The effect is almost hypnotic.
Check out Luca Stricagnoli’s other videos where he plays some really crazy guitars.
Kick The Jet Engine – Super Mario World Levels (Extended Mix)
I’m not an Avicii fan but I’m a massive fan of this cover. Made using only sounds from one of the best video games of all time, this version of levels is a bubbly energetic number guaranteed to put a smile on your face and get you dancing. I love the way the sounds of Mario are matched with the individual sounds from the original track. The attention to detail is fantastic.