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RadioPotato Goes Under the Covers : RadioPotato

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Monday, September 16th, 2019

RadioPotato Goes Under the Covers


Before the Jersey Shore was aware of the convenient short cut of an orange spray tan, I used to pile on my way-too-dark foundation, pour myself into my hoochie mama ho’ clothes and head down the shore to see my favorite local band play at Jenk’s Night Club on the Point Pleasant boardwalk.  Back in the dirty days of  ’99, this band was the jewel of the Jersey Shore, famous COVER BAND, THE NERDS!  Even after doing “research” for the article, I realize that they are STILL around and still rockin’ after 20 years. Spaz, Mongo, Biff, and Stretch would keep the guidos fist pumpin’ to your favorite “bar traditionals” and suspend the bar fights at least until the end of their set.

Sad to say it, things have changed a lot in the past 10+ years.  My dear friend, Amanda, was saying how much she liked Mat Kearney’s cover for Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.” I haven’t even heard his version but I already hate it.  I admit it.  I drink gallons of Hate-orade against cover songs.

After working in radio and being forced to see too many bad cover bands/butchers at every OTP Atlanta watering hole, I think my light to find any sustainable freshness in a cover has permanently burned out.

Evidently, I’m not alone in my plight to abolish covers.  There’s a music feature on Entertainment Weekly’s website called “Maim That Tune.” Even though there is a cool history of the cover song, let’s quickly go down a brief list of garbage that’s been played to death and then shoplifted by someone else:

  • NO, I don’t want to hear a dance re-mix of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On
  • We are the World…really?  Again? Fine, I’ll text “haiti” to 90999
  • Brit-Brit covering Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative?” Come on…nobody can touch Bobby…except Whitney.
  • Limp Bizkit covered George Michael’s “FaithI guess it gives new meaning to “rock out with your c*#k out”
  • Jessica Simpson murdering/whailing Robbie William’s “Angels”
  • Don’t even GET me started on American Idol’s music massacres

Unless you’re Michael Buble covering ANYTHING or Johnny Cash covering Nine Inch Nails, please Quit it.  Go in the woods by yourself and don’t come back until you have songs that are distinctive and UNIQUE!

In similar news, I actually love sampled music. I like the Open Source feel of a good hook and artists turning a familiar music bed into their very own.  Here’s a GREAT new one that’s been blazing up the charts. Can you name the sample of the original song?

Melanie Fiona – “Give it to me Right”

I admit, there are a few covers that truly are successful in my book.  Sometimes the cover is done so well, people forget the original. Whitney did this to Dolly Parton with “I Will Always Love You.”  Maybe the moon was hitting just right for these particular covers, but here are some of my favorites. Can you tell me who the original artists are?

Susan Tedeschi – “You Got the Silver”

Jeff Buckley – “Hallelujah” (duh, of course)

Eva Cassidy – “Fields of Gold” (voice of an angel, RIP)

So, I’ve come a long way from the Nerds.  In some ways, I wish I wasn’t so jaded.  The truth is that the general public craves the familiar and will keep supporting mediocre replicas of what were once originals.  My quest?  To get more artists and listeners to step out of the familiar musical doldrums and adventure into something fresh, new, and inimitatable.

I’d love for you to share about your favorite/least favorite covers as well as any comments.  This is the first entry to my section “Opinion or Truth?” Please leave below and THANK YOU for reading!

About the author

Allison Hare wrote 138 articles on this blog.

A modern-day dame with a bionic ear for discovering emerging artists and a penchant for live shows. Admitted radio junkie



9 Responses to “RadioPotato Goes Under the Covers”
  1. Jake C. says:

    I thought that Fear Factory did a decent cover of “Cars” by Gary Neuman, who made an appearance on the FF version. Otherwise, the whole “wouldn’t it be funny if we did an ironic cover of an 80’s tune” is played out and, to quote Rahm Emanuel, effin’ retarded.

    To dial it down a bit, I really hate when a cover becomes a bands “breakthrough” single. We saw this happen with Limp Bizkit, even though the original tunes on their debut album $3 Bill, Y’all were actually good and stood on their own merit.

    Repeat offenders (I’m lookin’ at you, Disturbed) have got to stop.

    I loved that the Deftones covered Helmet’s “Sinatra”. In doing so, the ‘tones paid homage to the highly influential, yet “unsung” (get it?) post-hardcore legends. Since it only surfaced on the Deftones B-Sides and Rarities release, it’s not like anyone heard it, anyway.

    Other covers, like Natalie Merchant’s rendition of “Because the Night” or Jimi’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” don’t bother me at all. Your example of Johnny Cash applies.

    I think it all comes down to artistic intent. If the cover is done in honor of a great artist, I’m for it. If it’s done to make (or break, as they say) a band…it’s unnerving.

    Just my $.02, and damn well worth the price you paid for it.

  2. Allison Rizk says:

    Jake, if only you knew your music….maybe we could have a conversation.

    Haha! Thanks for the comment. You know covers better than me!

  3. Gach says:

    I have to be honest upfront… I am a HUGE cover fan. But I think what makes people love covers is based on what types of music they actually like in the first place. For example, I love what Disturbed did with both Tears For Fears ‘Shout’ and Genesis’ ‘Land of Confusion’. Again with full disclosure – I’m a big Disturbed fan. I also loved – LOVED – LB’s ‘Faith’ – heck, that was the song that really got me to pay attention to covers in the first place! On the other hand, i hated FF’s ‘Cars’, but I am not a fan of their music either. Also, I prefer the DMB version of ‘Watchtower’ than either the original OR Hendrix’s.

    Rizk – let me suggest these to you… one I am sure you’ve already heard is Gareth’s recent release of the Jackson Browne cover ‘Somebody’s Baby’. Two others I think you may enjoy, based on what types of music you like, are Ray LaMontagne’s cover of Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ and James Morrison’s cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Man In The Mirror’… they make it their own without really losing the integrity of the original in my opinion.

    Here’s a couple other kind of obscure – and rather interesting – covers… totally different looks on the originals:

    Ayo Technology – Milow (original performed by 50 Cent and Justin Timberlake)
    Crazy – Mushroomhead (original performed by Seal)
    Billie Jean – Chris Cornell (original performed by Michael Jackson – this is where David Cook got the version he used on Idol)
    Against All Odds – The Postal Service (original performed by Phil Collins)

    I could go on for days on what covers I think are great… and I guess it’s because I’m just kind of taking them what they are for – other bands interpretations on songs that they like. Sometimes does their ‘creative license’ go a bit too far? ABSOLUTELY – just listen to any of the ‘Punk Goes Pop’ albums – but for the most part I think they’re pretty interesting.

  4. Allison Rizk says:

    Gach, I KNOW you love covers and karaoke. I wish I wasn’t so damn jaded about them – but I’m glad you’re not. It’s an easy way to make you happy all the time! Thanks for weighing in. I always love your opinions-

  5. Chris Bro says:

    A few covers to search out that might change your mind.
    William Shatner – Common People
    Placebo – Running Up That Hill
    Sissy Bar – Gin and Juice
    Iron and Wine – Love Vigilantes
    Pixies – Head On
    East Easy All Stars – Paranoid Android
    The Walkmen – Subterranean Homesick Blues
    Turin Brakes – Break the Girl (RHCP)
    Seu Jorge – Changes (Bowie)
    Social D – Ring of Fire
    Mary Lou Lord – Jump
    Israel K – Somewhere Over the Rainbow
    Timbuk 3 – Born to Be Wild
    The The – I Saw The Light
    Fountains of Wayne – Hit me Baby One More Time
    Faith No More – Easy

    Just a few that I dig. Let me know if you like any of these.

  6. Allison Rizk says:

    Hey Chris! Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll have to reluctantly check them out. But only because they come from you…and you’ve got good ears! Thx!

  7. Bill Shaw says:

    I find this after admitting to you to being in a cover band for 10 years on that same Jersey Shore. :p

    The Killer at the end of the Sawdust album do a great cover of Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits – which gets me thinking … I’d never have heard that song if it weren’t for my love of that Sawdust album. I do admit to liking the Dire Straits version also though; but covers bring songs to a wider audience if nothing else.

    Here’s the thing about cover bands I will say … you can’t take yourself too seriously b/c while you are a working musician and you can add your creative bent to songs – you didn’t write any of it.

  8. Allison Rizk says:

    Hilarious, Billy! For the most part, I agree – but there is something to be said about a GOOD cover that makes you forget about the original. Rare, though. 🙂


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