Thursday, April 19, 2007

Best Remakes of All Time

Eagles' Hotel CaliforniaI'm sure you could add others but my criteria was whether the cover was better than the original (or at least as good as, but in a new and exciting way).

Here goes:

1. Route 66 by Depeche Mode. It's a bit embarrassing to admit I'm still a Depeche Mode fan. I had to Google the original artist, I wasn't sure if it was Nat King Cole--it was. But this classic song has also been sung by The Rolling Stones, Manhattan Transfer, Buckwheat Zydeco and The Cramps (and I cheated on those last two--have you even heard of those bands?) If you want to hear more, try itunes--I bet there are others who've sung it too, but D.M. has the best version.

2. Hotel California by The Gypsy Kings. This is one of the greatest American songs ever. EVER. I'm not saying that the Gypsy Kings sing it better, but their version is so fun, so ethnic, so cheerful (and as we all know, Hotel California is all about sunshine and rainbows) I love it. It may not be better but it's a unique version that's terrific.

3. Painted Black by U2. As much as I love classic rock I've never been much of a Stones fan--for as much music as they've produced very few songs do it for me ("Ruby Tuesday" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" are the exceptions). I liked the original "Painted Black," but U2 gives it a cool edge (ha! "Edge," get it? You'd have to be a fan to understand . . . ) and it deserves a ranking on this humble list.

4. Songbird by Eva Cassidy. Another classic song done better. I love Fleetwood Mac (their album "Rumors" is fabulous) but Eva sings it better. She's amazing.

5. I Got No Strings by The Gypsy Kings. You'll crack up when I tell you that this was one of the songs from Disney's Pinocchio. Bizarre? You betcha. But it's so terrific a cover--you'd hardly recognize the original song at all I promise--that it's a must-hear.

6. Ain't No Sunshine by The Lighthouse Family. I've already mentioned this song as one of my favorites on my current playlist but it too is better than the 1970 Bill Withers original. It's got a hip new beat yet keeps the theme of the original.

7. Scarborough Fair by Simon and Garfunkel. Does this count as a cover? I mean it's an English folk song from the dawn of time so I suppose this would be the ultimate remake and it's beautiful. Every time, thirty years later, always.

8. There Is A Light by The Ocean Blue. Besides Depeche Mode I'm also a Smiths fan. Nothing like the Smiths to cheer you up when you're down (listen to "Girlfriend in a Coma" whenever you need a pick-me-up) but I was at an Ocean Blue concert where they sang this classic and when they got to the chorus, "And if a double-decker bus . . . crashes into us . . . to die by your side . . . is such a wonderful way to die . . . " and I was singing with the rest of the crowd. Terrific cover though I don't think they ever actually recorded it. Does it count? You be the judge.

9. The Nearness of You by Norah Jones. Everything Norah sings is lovely, but she makes this Hoagie Carmichael (think "Heart and Soul") classic even better. It's haunting, it's lyrical, it's a new classic. Is that an oxymoron?

10. Over the Rainbow by Eva Cassidy. I never cared that much for either the Wizard of Oz or Judy Garland's signature song. I mean it was okay, but nothing like Ella Fitzgerald singing "Someone to Watch Over Me." But Eva. EVA sings it with everything I'm missing from Judy. I know I'll get hate mail over this one, but there it is.

11. Istanbul (Not Constantinople) by They Might Be Giants. Obviously I'm still stuck in an 80s/90s time warp but you can't beat this catchy remake which was based on Irving Berlin's "Puttin' on the Ritz"--a catchy song in it's own right and admirably remade by Taco back in 1980-something. Yes, I'm still stuck in the 80s, can you believe I remember Taco? The lyrics are fun and the tune is catchy and They Might Be Giants make it unforgettable.

12. Pipeline by Stevie Ray Vaughn. This cover from the 1950s tune is still on my workout playlist and if you were to take a peek around here some time you might catch me doing a wicked air guitar that the Great Stevie Himself would envy.

13. American Woman by Lenny Kravitz. I love this cover. Better than the rather droning and annoying original. It's got the classic melded with the modern in a way that makes me want to dance every time.

***

Good enough? I find it a crack up how so many 80s hits are creeping up in movie soundtracks as remakes. "Just Like Heaven" by the Cure or "I'll Melt with You" by Modern English were great songs and didn't need to be remade--and the covers are far inferior to the techno-bop they morphed into. If you feel I've missed a cover that should be added feel free to correct the oversight by leaving it in the comments.

Technorati tags:

69 comments:

the new girl said...

I have had times where I'll listen to Over the Rainbow by Eva Cassidy over and over. It is a-mazing.

Also a good remake:
Boys in the Hood by Dynamite Hack.

JennyMcB said...

Now I have to go over to Itunes and check a few of these out. It amuses me when I tell my kids that the songs they love are remakes.

scribbit said...

I remember my mother and father chuckling over songs I loved that were remakes from their era, it's come back to haunt me :)

Joan said...

Of all time? These are definitely some good ones. My TT is also posted.

Christine Kane said...

Eva Cassidy does an amazing version of Paul Simon's Kathy's Song. Truly wonderful voice she had. wow.

(You know, you may want to apologize for forgetting Tiffany's cover of "I Think We're Alone Now." Just a thought.)

Missy said...

I love Kravitz's version of American Woman. This is a great list!

This Eclectic Life said...

You may be a Depeche Mode fan, but "Personal Jesus" was better by Johnny Cash. Nine Inch Nails' song "Hurt was better by him, too.
Good list, even if you left off The Man In Black.

ancsweetnsassygal said...

I haven't heard Depech Mode do Route 66, but I love the version by Manhattan Transfer. And I think Lenny does an awesome cover of American Woman too. Great TT list. Mine is up also.

Janet said...

#3 is Paint It Black ;-)

It's funny...a friend of mine knows how much I love the song, Over the Rainbow and she sent me Eva Cassidy's version. Didn't care for it! I do love Iz Kamakawiwo'ole's version, what a beautiful voice he had!

mcewen said...

Hmmm now I feel ancient - there again I suppose there must be a passage of time in order to have had a gap to permit a remake to be possible!
Best wishes

dcrmom said...

Love, love, LOVE 3, 7, 11, and 13. I'm a huge Stones fan, though.

Jamie said...

They Might be Giants and Lenny Kravitz incurred a smile from me.

In agreeance on those two fo sho

Jamie

snarflemarfle said...

I love the Eva Cassidy's Over the Rainbow!

And I'm embarrased to day that I never caught the Puttin' on the Ritz/Istanbul (was Constantinople) connection! What kind of music major am I?

Thomma Lyn said...

Yeah!! Great list. And I'll be embarassed with you: I like Depeche Mode, too. :-D

I love Scarborough Fair by Simon and Garfunkel -- so beautiful and haunting. And I agree, Lenny Kravitz's American Woman kicks the original version's butt.

Stevie Ray just plain ROCKED. :)

Take care, and Happy TT!

Barbara said...

Oh, I remember Route 66 by Nat King Cole. I loved to hear him sing.

Check out my TT.

she said...

*psst* it's Paint It Black, not Painted Black ;) I believe it's a reference to how doors were painted black when a house was in mourning. If I recall corrently, a blue door indicated there was a daughter of marriageble age inside and suiters were welcome. red doors indicated that all were welcome.

*sigh* add me to the embarrassed group. I've loved DM since I was a little sprout visiting the auld sod.

Damselfly said...

I love this post! I didn't know U2 did Painted Black, but I've heard the Vanessa Carlton version. I also love Norah's "The Nearness of You" and Lenny's "American Woman," and you're right about the Cure's song not needing to be redone. (Is that from the "50 First Dates" soundtrack?)

I would like to add as an honorable mention "I've Got You, Babe" by UB40 (and Chrissy Hinde), which is better than Sonny & Cher's version.

Crazy Working Mom said...

Wow, great list! :)

Awsome idea as well.

Kevin Spencer said...

Why be embarrassed about being a Depeche Mode fan? I didn't realize there was a stigma behind admitting you liked them. Me? I'm a huge DM fan by the way ;-)

L^2 said...

I like Eva Cassidy's version of several songs better than the originals.
I also like U2's remake of Paint it Black. Actually I kind of like Vanessa Carlton's remake of that one too.
Happy TT!

allrileyedup said...

Coming from a major Stones fan, it's actually Paint it Black. No worries, though. I mis-hear song lyrics all the time.

I just bought the new Harry Connick Jr album, Oh My NOLA, and I cannot get enough of his cover of Working in a Coal Mine. It is excellent.

They Might Be Giants is the best. Did you ever watch Tiny Toons? They did a video to Istanbul (not Constantinople) and it's pretty cute: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-05xJ5bHmY

G's Cottage said...

Okay, I think I was in a music coma in the 80's. But I do love Eva Cassidy. She has a great version of "Wade in the Water".

Also Michelle, I tagged you for "What kind of writing I love." You had an interesting post on books and I was interested in your other tastes in writing. No deadline.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I am still in love with Depeche Mode and I miss my old Route 66. I grew up with it down the street in LA. ~sigh~

Love Simon and Garfunkel and I think the live version of Hotel California by the Eagles rocks.

scribbit said...

Okay okay okay. Paint it Black. Got it. I'm an idiot :)

But I'm also a big U2 fan and was too busy dancing to look at the title :)

Rory said...

What about All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix?

The original Bob Dylan song was a sparse and minimalist acoustic number, off the album John Wesley Harding, and it was fine in itself. But Jimi Hendrix took it and turned it into a trippy, electric-guitar-thrashed, psychedelic screamer. I'm sure it is so good that Dylan himself declares it as one of his favourite Dylan covers.

scribbit said...

Well I didn't put it on because I didn't realize it was a cover. I'm actually not a Dylan fan and don't have a one of his songs. I do, however, have Jimi's song on my favorites list and listen to it frequently--now I know more thanks.

Laughing Muse said...

I'm stuck in that 80s/90s timewarp with you. I love DM's Route 66, TMBG's Istanbul (not Constantinople), and U2's Painted Black. I also love Napthaline's cover of the Dead Can Dance song, In Power We Entrust the Love Advocated.

my4kids said...

I haven't heard of either of the last two from the Route 66 one either.
I like alot of those songs but I tend to be a little stuck in the 80/90's music myself sometimes still.

la bellina mammina said...

Apart from 8 and 11, I know and like all the songs on your list!

(I've put up a photo of the 'fish fingers' on my blog;-)

Julie said...

Oh, I absolutely LOVE Eva Cassidy's version of Songbird. It is just full of emotion. I am a Fleetwood Mac fan myself, but I agree with you that Eva's remake seems to be just that bit better than the original. Great pick!

Ni Yachen said...

There are some great ones listed. Seanad O'Conner's cover of Nirvana's All Apologies has got to be near the top. I also like Siousie and the Banshee's cover of Wheels on Fire.

Robin said...

Actually I have heard of Buckwheat Zydeco. It's a cheat though, I studied American Folk Song and Ballad in college. I'm a bit of a purist at heart and generally like the older version better, that techno stuff can really crap up a good song... I'll give you Scarborough Fair as the latest incarnation in the folk process, a remake in its way, and a truly gorgeous song.

jchevais said...

hmm.... Scarborough Fair. Love that song...

Miscellaneous-Mum said...

Now, my age is showing because although I KNOW of those other songs, the only one I've remembered hearing on the radio is Lenny Kravitz (oh, U2, too)

Please don't hate me ;)

Nicholas said...

I hate to contradict a lady, but are you sure Scarborough Fair is an old English folk song? I'm English and I have never heard it by anyone other than S & G. I thought it was composed especially for "The Graduate", though I am ready to be corrected if anyone knows different.

Kim said...

I totally loved Depeche Mode when I was in high school/college! Their Route 66 is good!

Char said...

Michelle - we definitely share music tastes - I am in absolute agreement with you on #1 and #8.

Dragonheart said...

Those are great re-makes. Although, as a Canadian and Winnipeg-native, I prefer The Guess Who's original "American Woman". :)

Kathleen aka Coffee Mom said...

It sounds like we have the same taste in music. I love 80's bands, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Joy Division/New Order and more recently The Gipsy Kings. Great list!

scribbit said...

Sorry Nicholas but I'm right on this one (I may not know my Stones' titles but this one's another story)

Origins date from the Middle Ages, perhaps you're thinking of "Mrs. Robinson" that was the theme for The Graduate? Or was that an old Irish love song? :) Kidding there.

Shalee said...

Love the 80's theme because, you know, I'm old. I agree with many of your remake choices, especially 6, 9 (I've had the pleasure of seeing Norah Jones twice now - she's even better live), 11 and 13. I like U2's remake of Painted Black; however, I think Vanessa Carlton's version is also exceptional.

And one of my favorite remakes is Ronan Keeting's When You Say Nothing At All. Beautiful.

Oh, and I can't forget about Lick the Tins "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You." They beat the sequined pants off Elvis Presley with that recording.

I'm on my way to find some Eva Cassidy. She hasn't been on my radar before, but she's beeping now.

JAM said...

I was getting bummed, because I hadn't heard ANY of these covers until I got to 12 and 13. I'm not a blues fan, but Stevie Ray's Pipeline is great, and I know lots of people who hate Lenny Kravitz, but I like his music a lot. I agree that his American Woman is much better than the original.

Yeah, the Smiths/Morrisey weren't what one should listen to to improve your mood, but their lyrics could be like a loose tooth, you can't leave it alone. Morrisey's November Spawned A Monster comes to mind.

I'll check some of these out. Many times I like covers better than the originals.

Melissa R. Garrett said...

I'm a big fan of The Gypsy Kings ~ I know exactly which version of "I've Got No Stings" you are talking about. Hmm . . . I imagine that's likely to be going through my head all day now ;-)

Jordan said...

Aw, I really love The Guess Who's American Woman. I will say, though, that American Woman is the best of Lenny Kravitz's songs.

I think my favorite Eva Cassidy is "At Last." Although I'm a big Eva fan, I didn't like her version of "Poor Wayfaring Stranger."

I didn't know the title was "Paint It Black" either, especially since the lyrics of the song say "painted black" a billion times and "paint it black," 0.

Julie Pippert said...

Great list...some of my favorite musicians/bands/singers, and few of my favorite always like to ehar it songs!

FWIW, I not only know about Buckwheat Zydeco, but I like the music. :) I found them during my Neville Brothers stage.

Eva Cassidy, so talented, so tragic.

(P.S. Oh I hate myself for this but can.not.stop.self. Gipsy Kings. Okay slapping own hand for being total Type A Wanker Corrector.)

Julie Pippert said...

P.S. So bummed I haven't seen anyone doing the song list or music meme mention the Violent Femmes.

K T Cat said...

How about "Roll Over Beethoven" by ELO?

Also, being a big Monkees fan, while I like Smashmouth, I hated their remake of "I'm a Believer" for the Shrek movie. You can't improve on Micky's vocals and that's that. It's like editing Hamlet and thinking you made it better.

I have no TT today. I always love yours.

scribbit said...

I agree about the Monkees. Smashmouth is okay but most of the remakes on that soundtrack aren't as good as the originals.

I need to do a list of remakes that aren't as good as the originals, though that would probably be way too long.

I think Whitney Houston's remake of Dolly Pardon's "I Will Always Love You" is better, but the Pet Shop Boys' remake of "You Were Always on My Mind" wasn't worthy of Willie Nelson's excellent ballad.

Babystepper said...

Well, I'm not sure what this says about me, but I only recognized "Over the Rainbow" and "Istanbul/Constantinople". Maybe all it says is that I'm young, but probably it says that I'm quite culturaly unaware.

SusieJ said...

I am still a Depeche Mode Fan myself. 80s are pretty awesome.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Here I am, late to the party and it's not even noon. 50 comments already! You hit a nerve with this one!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Depeche Mode's Route 66. AWESOME.

Haven't heard the Gypsey Kings do Hotel California yet, but I do love the original.

And I love both the They Might Be Giants and the Lenny Kravitz versions you mentioned. They rock! I'll be Lenny's American Woman any day of the week, and Twice on Sunday!

Most interesting remake, to me, is the Scissor Sisters covering "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd. How they had the chutspa to take a song that makes you want to kill yourself, and turn it into a song that makes you want to shake your ass and DANCE is beyond me.

Schelle said...

I love They Might Be Giants ;) Favourite song is "Build a Little Birdhouse In Your Soul"!

My mind is a blank when it comes to thinking about good remakes at the moment - sorry I can't add to your list

Amy said...

I think I've only ever heard #7 and #11, although I've listened to the originals of quite few.

Fun idea for a T13!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Yes!

One of my other favorites is Metallica's cover of Bob Seger's Turn the Page. Really emotional delivery.

Ooh, and another! Alien Ant Farm's cover of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal!!!!

Happy TT!

scribbit said...

I love "I Don't Feel Like Dancing" by Scissor Sisters, I'd never heard of the group till I saw the creepy/hypnotic video at Sweetney's months ago.

I looked up their Comfortably Numb cover on itunes and it didn't give me enough of it to give me much idea if I'd like it--the original is so great. It was our senior song, or prom song or something like that.

scribbit said...

I had to go look up Johnny Cash's Personal Jesus and I have to say it's better than D.M's version. It sounds more soulful, like the song should be.

Dan, I looked up Sinead's version of All Apologies and have to say that I still like Nirvana's better, but I do love her voice and she has some great other covers "I Wanna Be Loved By You" for example.

There are a few albums like Rod Stewart's versions of American Classics which are wonderful, all, but I couldn't say that I thought he sang it better than the original. Hard to beat the likes of Ella, Billie, Louis, and the rest. They're hard to top, even for Mr. Stewart.

scribbit said...

Actually, I love the way itunes will give you alternate versions of a song you query.

Look up "Personal Jesus" and you get Marilyn Manson (yuck), Gravity Kills, Johnny Cash, Depeche Mode and others that have sung it. Kind of cool to hear the different versions.

Chris said...

Dragonheart- I recently downloaded Cummings & Bachman's "American Woman '06." I thought it was the best version of it.

There was a cover of "Just Like Heaven" (The Cure) by someone else on the "Just Like Heaven" soundtrack. It was really mellow & so pretty.

Oh and Canadians: Jann Arden did "You're So Vain" on her album "Uncover Me" that I just LOVE.

Mom Unplugged (formerly "Mom of 3") said...

I find it weird that '80's music seems now to be considered retro. Hey, that was MY music! Am I really "retro?" My kids probably think so. Great list!

My TT is about a "TV Turn-Off Week Blog Challenge" that I am trying to put together if you are interested!

Judy Callarman said...

I agree especially with "Scarborough Fair"--wonderful song for always.

Also, "Unchained Melody"--my kids thought it was new and were impressed that I knew it!

My TT is (finally) posted.

Lisa said...

I love your list. A few are ones of which I'm not familiar. But I could probably find them on You tube. :-)

Tendrils said...

I am with ya on Eva Cassidy! What an amazing voice! Too bad we had to lose her at such a young age! She was AMAZING!

Catherine said...

Someone I don't know recently did "Heaven," by Brian Adams. The tempo was different, but I kinda liked it! Then again, maybe it's just the song. I loved that song in junior high.

And I'm totally awed at your music knowledge.

Heffalump said...

I am musically behind the times. But I now feel a sudden urge to go and dig up my Depress Mode tapes from high school and give them a listen.
A remake I love is Midnight Train to Georgia redone by the Indigo Girls. I have it on one of their live albums. Unfortunately their last few albums have not been to my liking. I only like their older music.
Another favorite remake is Dancing Queen, orinally done by Abba, and remade by The Real Group (my all time favorite group. They are from Sweden and sing A Capella/Jazz they have a fabulous blend and talent.)

wesleyjeanne said...

I adore Eva Cassidy and everything she sings, especially the two you've mentioned. Her death was a sad loss.
Thanks for sharing your list--I'll check these out.

Danielle said...

2,7, and 13 are also my favorites.

Great TT

Be well and enjoy the day

Chaotic Hammer said...

Sorry to show up after the party's over here, but I like your list and have a few to add...

I like Fiona Apple's cover of "Across the Universe" better than the Beatles' original.

Gary Jules' cover of "Mad World" better than Tears for Fears' version (the remake captures such a strong morose mood the original didn't have).

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".

Great subject and list, by the way. Seems like covers rarely exceed the original.

dlj said...

I'm WAY late to the party but I had to chime in with a couple of my favorites. Cake's cover of "I Will Survive" never fails to make me smile, and though many will find this sacreligious, I just love The Lemonheads' cover of "Mrs. Robinson." I also have to respectfull disagree with whomever didn't like the PSB cover of "Always on my Mind" - love their version. Thanks for such a great list!

Izzy said...

There is NO shame in still liking Depeche Mode!!!

And Hotel California was the first vinyl album I ever owned!

Did you ever hear that remake of New Order's Blue Monday by Orgy? It was pretty bad.