Monday, November 26, 2007

I Know, I Know, It's Really Serious:
Girlfriend In A Coma, revisited

Hi, folks! Boyhowdy here, host of folk coverblog Cover Lay Down. Since I showed up at the door bearing some rather insistent covergifts, the Fong-ster has graciously invited me in to write a short follow-up piece to last week's post on The Smiths. It was either that or slam the door in my face, if you know what I mean.

(Meanwhile, Fong isn't slacking -- he's spending the day over at Disney coverblog Covering the Mouse, while Kurtis, who usually hosts the Disney covers, is over at my place. It's a game of musical coverblogs, and everybody wins!)

Now I can't claim to be an expert on the subject of The Smiths -- not by a long shot. But though my tastes these days run towards folk and indie, once upon a time I was a child of the eighties, with a prized vinyl copy of The Smiths' Strangeaways, Here We Come. And there was a week or seven there when, trapped in my own adolescent relationship angst, perhaps even longing for a convenient medical excuse to break up with someone, I played Girlfriend in a Coma incessantly.

Girlfriend in a Coma may be standard Morrissey emopop, but lyrically speaking, it takes on a fairly complex conceit: the ambivalence one might feel if someone close but not THAT close ended up in a comatose state. Notably, this is a girlfriend, not a spouse -- and, as the lyrics tell, this is a girl with which the narrator has had some ups and downs, enough that "there were times when I could have murdered her". Sure, our narrator is a nice guy -- he "would hate anything to happen to her." But does he truly care? How much? And if he cares at all, why does he need to keep reassuring us that he knows this is serious? Methinks he doth protest too much.

There are multiple ways to interpret these lyrics, mostly because Morrissey leaves lots of room to do so: here's one close reading, which I'd give a halfhearted two out of five for both literary merit and basic accuracy. To be fair, though, I'd give any close reading of these lyrics which claims to be able to "solve" its meaning a low score. That's because, in my opinion, since the story asks questions, we must look to the tonality of the music -- the instrumentation, the pace, the level of angst in the voice -- to help us understand the answers.

And here's where covers of the song get interesting.

In the original, the poppy emo-tone of lead singer (and now solo artist) Morrissey speaks well of the narrator's intention, if not his commitment to the comatose girlfriend. His hopeful narrator seems to really think she'll pull through, and really want her to. As if he regrets his homicidal tendencies, and longs for the second chance that an awakened girlfriend would bring. The lyrics are ambiguous enough to leave open the possibility that the coma is in fact the boyfriend's fault, but we feel like, even if it is, the narrator is genuinely concerned about it, at least a little.

But changing the narrative approach changes the way we see the boyfriend, which in turn changes the way we see the relationship.

Mojo Nixon's rockabilly cover, for example, really ignores the ominous possibility of even the slightest hint of ambivalence. It's as if the narrator here is just telling a story of a hurt girlfriend, which makes little sense given the back-and-forth of the lyrics as written. Is he bemoaning her comatose state? Possibly; it's hard to tell. But beyond that, not much in the way of emotional tone interferes with the rockin'.

Nixon's cover also complicates matters by adding extra lyrics imagining the narrator at the girlfriend's bedside before the song devolves into an long, lame joke about Nixon being a kind of anti-Morrisey. But the truth is, Nixon loses us long before we can realize that the real narrator of this song is too concerned about himself to really visit a hospital bed. This version is about the singer, not the narrator. By totally misunderstanding the song's meaning, Nixon doesn't make much of a case for himself as an artist with the chops to compete with Morrisey at all.

On the other hand, comedian Tony Hawks' radio gameshow challenge to sing Girlfriend in a Coma to the tune of Tiptoe Through the Tulips reveals a surprising greatness. Hawks' masterstroke here -- for which he shares credit with his wry accompanyist -- is to apply the ridiculously giddy psychotic bounce of Tiny Tim, whose Tiptoe is known well by his listeners, to the challenge. To this, he adds a hint of bawdy lust found in the original of neither song.

Though it was intended to be a joke, the utter insanity of putting this song to the tune of Tiptoe Through the Tulips turns out to be a unique opportunity to reveal the potential of a coversong to truly bring new meaning to an existing song. Questioning the sanity, rather than just the emotional stability, of the narrator in this song brings a whole new light to its meaning. Most significantly, it raises much more ominous questions about the origin of the coma itself -- is the girlfriend actually dead? Was she intended to be? Is the girl in question not actually a girlfriend at all, but the victim of some psycho stalker who only imagines that this girl cares?

In the end, Girlfriend in a Coma is a song which is long overdue for some real, earnest covers. It's hard to figure out the appropriate tone for this -- the balance Morrissey originally wrote into the lyrics is, admittedly, a hard one to recreate without wandering into the maudlin, or losing too much of the subtle meaning. But I'd love to hear anyone with a sense of literary flair and a good set of musical chops give it a shot. If you think you've got one, feel free to send it our way, and I'll tack it on to the list below.

The Smiths, Girlfriend in a Coma (the original)
Mojo Nixon, Girlfriend in a Coma
Tony Hawks, Girlfriend in a Coma
*Joshua Radin, Girlfriend in a Coma*

Afterthought (Updated 8:14 pm): Thanks to long-time reader and fellow coverfan Jeff, who unearthed the Joshua Radin cover above just a few hours after our original post; "It's a fantastic cover that adds a whole new level of "moody" to the song", says Jeff, and he's right on the money.

According to Wikipedia, there are still at least two more covers out there, including something by Bleach, and one by the Jack Palance Band. Anyone got 'em?

Still here? Over at Cover Lay Down, we like to end a post with bonus covers -- songs which are related to the post topic, but weren't close enough to include in our main post. So here's some other great covers of Smiths/Morrissey songs worthy of your attention, as a reward for making it this far.

Ether Aura, Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me
The Thrills, Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me

I'm especially fond of the vastly different covers of Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me, originally played by The Smiths as a majestic emo ballad; you can hear the same evidence of Morrissey's genius for open yet poetic narrative in the way each artist manages to bring different yet stilldeep meaning to a deceptively simple song.

The Karelia, Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want
Muse, Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want
Weezer, Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want

A languid, resigned plea with tense undertones of strings in this cover by The Karelia (with apologies for the full minute of dead air at the end of the track) strongly contrasts the grungy guitar of Muse's glamrock take and Weezer's feedback-laden throwback to rockstar days.

Ben Lee, Shoplifters of the World Unite
The Decemberists, I've Changed My Plea To Guilty

Indie artists love The Smiths, too! Ben Lee's in-studio cover pays a mixed acoustic/electric tribute to Shoplifters. And it's hard not to love The Decemberists, who know what to do with a Morrissey song in concert.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

How Soon is Now?

Fong Songs, now reporting to you live from sunny Vancouver, British Columbia. That's right, sunny. Notoriously known for its "rainy day depression" in the winter months, it's been surprisingly nice the past few days. I moved in Sunday and have been settling in nicely, thank you.

At the behest of a friend in the UK, I am to do an all-Smiths cover post. This poses a bit of a problem since the only Smiths song I know is How Soon is Now?. But I'm open to a challenge, especially when there's Led Zeppelin bribery involved. Instead of running out and searching for covers of songs I don't know, I figured I'd scour my own iTunes collection and see if I happened to have Smiths covers unbeknownst to me. Surprisingly, I had a few so here they are, plus the inevitable glut of How Soon is Now? covers.

Death Cab for Cutie - This Charming Man [originally by The Smiths]
I always feel that there's pressure within the blogosphere that I'm supposed to actually like Death Cab for Cutie. Or I often come across Ben Gibbard covers that are supposedly amazing. I do like a couple of their songs, but I'm generally hit by a mighty wave of indifference when faced with their music. I've listened to them, seen them live, and remain open to convincing.

Puppini Sisters - Panic [originally by Morrissey]
I have never heard the original, so Morrissey fans will have to weigh in themselves on this cover. The Puppini Sisters are Andrews Sisters revival cover band, sort of. They take the doo-be-doo harmonized singing of the 30's/40's and revamp modern songs, plus throw in a few originals. According to their official website, founding member Marcella Puppini was inspired to create the group after seeing the Triplets of Belleville (nice!). I first heard of them via a particularly swinging cover of Heart of Glass from last year's Betcha Bottom Dollar. Their latest album The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo just came out in the last month or two, depending where you live. Both albums are available on Amazon and are worth a pick-up. While the arrangements and music are great, my only beef with them is that several of their cover choices are borderline cover clichés: I Will Survive, Spooky, Walk Like an Egyptian, Heart of Glass, and even their "offbeat" selection of Beyoncé's Crazy in Love. Dear god, I'm becoming a cover snob! That said, there's nothing wrong with the covers themselves and I really look forward to future releases from the Puppini Sisters.

Nouvelle Vague - Sweet & Tender Hooligan [originally by The Smiths]
Nouvelle Vague and the Puppini Sisters have a similar approach to cover songs: take a distinct musical style (in this case, bossa nova) and apply to a vastly dissimilar genre. As evident by their name, which is New Wave en français, they tackle new wave songs including Heart of Glass. See? Cover cliché. Again, I know not the original.

The Killers - Why Don't You Find Out for Yourself [originally by Morrissey]
I think this is a good cover... but I've never heard any Morrissey in my life so I can't rightly say.

t.A.T.u. - How Soon is Now? [originally by The Smiths]
In a March 2007 issue of Uncut, Johnny Marr said "t.A.T.u.'s version was just silly. Plastic music." That basically sums it up. It's practically the exact same song, but with dual female lead vocals. Not terrible but kinda pointless, as far as covers go.

Everclear - How Soon is Now? [originally by The Smiths]
A rock version, fairly standard. Everclear has a couple songs that I really like, but their cover songs are generally pretty blah (Santa Baby excepted).

Quicksand - How Soon is Now? [originally by The Smiths]
Hard rock version.

Love Spit Love - How Soon is Now? [originally by The Smiths]
If you listen to 5 versions of How Soon is Now? in a row they all start to sound the same, adhering pretty closely to the original and this one is no exception. Though apparently this may be the most well known cover having been the theme song to the TV show Charmed (shiver.).

Snake River Conspiracy - How Soon is Now? [originally by The Smiths]
This band is the only one to actually do something interesting with the song. As it starts I'm thinking "Here we go again, carbon copy cover", then a strange thing happens at the 47-second mark: as the chorus begins, all the instruments cut out leaving the female lead and a decidedly euphoric string arrangement. I dig it. The next time 'round, it ups the ante with a heavenly choir accompanying "Oh shut your mouth, how can you say I go about things the wrong way?" This one wins the cover challenge hands down.

Noel Gallagher & Johnny Marr - Tomorrow Never Knows (live) [originally by the Beatles]
And we end with Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr joining Noel Gallagher for a John Lennon tribute night.

Dear UK friend, I hope this is to your liking.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

CooooOOOOOOoooonQUEST is Where It's At

Last week the White Stripes newsletter team sent out notice that Jack and Meg had finished up a new music video and 3 brand new songs including a "special collaboration". Would it be a re-teaming with Loretta Lynn? The long anticipated Bob Dylan/Jack White combo? Patti Page coming back to reclaim Conquest? In the latest in a series of curious coincidences, just days after posting about Beck it was revealed yesterday that he was in fact the special collaborator of three new songs with The White Stripes coming out next month! SCORE! This brings me back to the glory summer of 2005 when I saw Beck, Aimee Mann, and the White Stripes (twice!) in Vancouver all within a few weeks. And to think I almost missed that Beck concert, which I assumed was sold out then I ended up buying a ticket 3 hours before the show. It was general admission, but since I was concerting solo I was able to snag an empty spot in the 8th row. Sigh, good times.

The White Stripes, who aren't finished yet despite the unfortunate cancellation of the rest of their US and UK tour earlier this year, are busy prepping the release of their latest Icky Thump single Conquest, which incidentally is a cover of a Corky Robbins tune. A music video set for release on November 26th will feature an "explosive - if unconventional - love story that pits man against bull in the ultimate conquest". Jack White even underwent training with bullfighter Dennis Borba, bullfighter teacher of the stars. I've read that Borba specializes in bloodless bullfighting, in which the bull is "pierced" with a spear that velcros to a patch on its back so it isn't harmed or killed. Though as I understand it, even bloodless bullfighting is banned in the majority of the States unless it is part of a religious festival...

From the White Stripes newsletter: "Jack and Meg recently recorded the new tracks with Beck, who co-produced all three tracks during a recording session in his living room and also contributed vocals and piano to "It's My Fault For Being Famous" and slide guitar on "Honey, We Can't Afford To Look This Cheap". The third song is called Cash Grab Complications On The Matter, which will be on the flipside of an "Acoustic Mariachi version" of Conquest. The vinyl singles (with each song as a B-side) will be released December 18th.

The White Stripes - Conquest [originally by Corky Robbins]
Popularized by Patti Page in the 1950's that's currently making the rounds in an eBay commercial, the White Stripes version appeared on this year's Icky Thump. Has anyone even heard the original by Corky Robbins? I've had a hard time tracking it down.

Lounge Brigade - Where It's At [originally by Beck]
A lounge cover of Beck for good measure.

Now I guess this collaboration was inevitable considering the number of times Beck and Jack have teamed up in the past, though this is the first time on any official release that Beck and The White Stripes (as in Jack AND Meg) have made sweet, beautiful music together. Let's see here...

In conjunction with the release of Beck's Sea Changes in 2002, Jack White interviewed him for Interview magazine, using Chuck Berry's 13 Question method. As you might imagine, this was not your typical interview. For example, "Question number 10: I would love to own a pet chimp. But, I recently heard that they cost $40,000. What do I do?" Read the whole thing here. Don't know the 13 Question Method? Neither do I, but Ry Cooder knows all about it and it's definitely the one to use.
Ry Cooder - 13 Question Method [originally by Chuck Berry]

Beck cameoed in the White Stripes video The Hardest Button to Button, directed by the Michel Gondry. If you're a fan, check out the brilliant DVD compilation The Work of Michel Gondry, part of Palm Pictures' Diectors Label series. Much looking forward to his upcoming Be Kind Rewind next month, which incidentally stars Jack White's cosmic doppelganger Jack Black.

Beck has covered The White Stripes' Black Math live in concert before, although a bootleg has never surfaced. By the way, THE most conprehensive index of every live Beck song (invaluable to this post) can be found at

At a 2002 concert in Ann Arbor, Michigan Jack White joined Beck on stage for three songs, two of which were covers. As far as live recordings go, these are pretty great.

Beck with Jack White - 99 (live) [originally performed by Barbara Feldon]
Beck struggles with making a proper introduction to his special guest, who turns out to be Jack White (not Ghostface Killah). Now get this: they cover a novelty song spun off from the classic series Get Smart sung by Agent 99 herself, Barbara Feldon. Now I know as soon as you read that last line you were all itching to hear it, so here's the original too:
Barbara Feldon - 99

Beck with Jack White - Cold Brains (live)
Next, they played the acoustic folk song Cold Brains from 1998's Mutations.

Beck with Jack White - Last Fair Deal Gone Down [orginally by Robert Johnson]
...and then a Robert Johnson blues cover. Nice!

Beck - Go It Alone (featuring Jack White)
From 2005's Guero, Jack played bass on this groovy track. Producer duo The Dust Brothers produced Guero as well as 1996's Odelay. which reminds me... I've got to post that Dust Brothers remix of the Squirrel Nut Zippers sometime.

Beck - Wish Coin (Go It Alone) [Diplo Remix]
And because I'm fascinated with reinterpretations of all sorts, here's a remix of Go It Alone from the Guerolito remix album.

This isn't the only Beck that the White Stripes have teamed up with. In 2002, they played a set of Yardbirds songs with Jeff Beck himself, but that's a tale for another day...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Misery Waits in Vague Hotels

If you missed it, I was shocked to learn that the Batman cover I posted a couple days ago was performed by none other than Boyhowdy's brother's band Skavoovie & The Epitones. In the semi-immortal one hit wonder words of OMC: "How Bizarre." Well, a little back and forth in the comments has led to an open invitation for Boyhowdy to guest post on Fong Songs whenever he feels a hankerin' for posting some non-folk covers. Speaking of which, his latest post is a swack of Beck folk covers, which, of course, is awesome. And that has directly inspired me to post my own Beck covers, particularly of my all-time favourite Beck song Tropicalia.

Last year, I was working on a massive post that was unceremoniously wiped out by blogger before I finished. This established the dreaded post label I CAN'T BELIEVE I WROTE A GIANT POST AND DELETED IT (WHERE'S THE BLOODY AUTO-SAVE??), which unfortunately has two victim posts to its credit. So there's still a draft post dated 12/06/2007 lingering forever more, in which I was all ready to post covers of Beck's Tropicalia. Well, here's a good excuse to revive at least the Beck portion of that post. :)

Tropicalia, from the 1998 album Mutations, is chock-full of some of my favourite lyrics ever. From the chorus: "Misery waits in vague hotels... to be evicted". I rectroactively attribute my overusage of the word "vague" and its derivatives to this song. In fact, if you search for "vaguely" on my site (as I just did out of sudden curiousity) you'll find that in two years I have used it over 15 times as recently as the last post. ...OK, 45 minutes have lapsed between the last sentence and this one as I obsessively tried to figure out how to plot my word usage over the life of this blog. After filtering out some overly redundant words that appear on every post (i.e. links, labels, fongolia), this is what I came up with using the nifty word cloud generator from

created at

Hmmm, no surprise at the most common word, though I didn't realize I talked about "Ben" so often.

Anyway, back to the lyrics of Tropicalia. I simply love the rhythm and punctuation of the chosen words even if I have no idea what they mean. I'm reminded of something John Lennon once said (I may be making this up) about writing lyrics with the emphasis on the sounds of the words rather than the meaning, rhythmically finding the perfect combination of words whether it's walrus gumboot, elementary penguin singing hare krishna, or studying pataphysical science. In fact, I have a tendency to blindly apply that logic to any lyrics that I don't understand. Like the Beatles' Come Together, Tropicalia is full of juicy word combos such as "equatorial haze", "colonial maze", "anabolic and bronze", "millenial fogs", all of which baffle and delight me. Even my favourite non-lyric is from Tropicalia. For years I loved the lyric: "I'll see them rise and fall into the jaws of a Pasternak love," which I always thought as a particularly poetic image (Ah, a Pasternak love!) until one day I found out the actual lyric was "jaws of a pestilent love". I hereby lay claim to the lyric "jaws of a Pasternak love". Hmmph, that's why I don't really like to read lyrics too often and would rather wallow in my own nonsense lyrics. The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead is another song where my enjoyment has lessened since finding out the actual lyrics. It's not so much I don't like the real lyrics, it's just that my brain conspicuously hones in when it gets to that particular point in the song with corrected lyrics and I can't listen to the song naturally anymore. At least it takes a long while to hear it smoothly again.

In retrospect, it's funny how MP3s and iPods have changed the way we listen to and collect music. This was one of the first songs I remember digitally recording off the CD using some Windows Stereo program into Wav format (yeah, I used to collect those). Napster would arrive on the scene a year or two later... This is all a very long-winded way of expressing my love for Beck's Tropicalia and my gleeful surprise at discovering multiple covers of it.

Eliane Elias - Tropicalia [originally by Beck]
I distinctly remember Brazilian jazz pianist Eliane Elias from the latin jazz film Calle 54 performing in barefeet. So when I heard she was covering Beck (Tropicalia, no less!) I was excited to hear her version and was not disappointed. This fabulous cover comes from last year's album Around the City, which also includes covers of Oye Como Va and Bob Marley's Jammin'.

Dr. Lonnie Smith & David "Fathead" Newman - Tropicalia [originally by Beck]
This comes from an 11-track cover album called Boogaloo to Beck with selections from the pre-2003 Beck catalogue lending themselves nicely to the groovy jazz instrumentals. Some of the tracks that are pushing the 10-minute mark are destined to be mere background noise (I'm sorry, they just outstay their welcome just a little bit). Tropicalia seems just about right, though I may be biased.

The Smiling Salami's - Tropicalia [originally by Beck]
OK, I really hope Boyhowdy doesn't have any siblings in a band called The Smiling Salami's... because this cover is terrible. I only include it here for the sake of completeness. By the 8-second mark, it descends into surreal chaos as creepy elves incoherently mutter the lyrics to their own random rhythm, completely independent of the ad-nauseum guitar strumming and drunken thumping of some sort of beat. Thankfully it's over fairly quickly as you wonder what the hell you just heard.

Beck - Tropicalia
I guess by this point if you have no idea what I'm rambling about, you should probably hear the original.

Beck - Tropicalia (live on KCRW, November 1998)

Beck - Funky Little Song [originally by Bruce Haack & Esther Nelson]
Ding dong, funky little song. A couple years ago, Beck contributed this (funky) little gem to a tribute album called Dimension Mix: A Tribute to Dimension 5 Records, a label started by electronic music pioneer Bruce Haack and Esther Nelson. Not only were they early artists in the realm of electronic music, the music they released was aimed at children. Not your standard kiddie fare, but apparently hugely influential judging by the pedigree of artists involved on the album including the likes of Eels, Stereolab, and Apples in Stereo. I don't really know much about Bruce Haack having first heard of him via the tribute album (which incidentally features another fav artist of mine, Fantastic Plastic Machine remixing a song called I'm Bruce), so here is where I would normally re-direct you to a wikipedia article so I don't just rehash it here. However when I went to read about him, I stumbled upon a couple of fascinating facts that couldn't just slip by without comment. For the full story, I recommend checking out the bio on, a site run by a former acquantaince of his (Haack passed away in 1988).

Bruce Haack is an Alberta boy(!), born near the Rocky Mountains in the town of Nordegg in 1931. At some point he moved to Edmonton to study music at the University of Alberta (my alma mater!) although he was rejected for lack of musical notation skills and ended up getting a degree in psychology. While at university Bruce "met Charles Laughton who introduced the idea of going to New York City". Whoa, whoa, whoa... what!? The E-Town connection sure surprised me, but how does legendary actor Charles Laughton fit into the picture? As best as I can tell using my formidable research skills, Charles Laughton was in town most likely in 1951 performing Don Juan in Hell with The First Drama Quartet, which was also made up of actors Charles Boyer, Cedric Hardwicke, and Agnes Moorehead (little Charlie Kane's mother?!?). The only online mention I can find is from this U of A alumni article here. Apparently, Laughton must have attended another play opening while he was in Edmonton and is described as "demolishing almost all [of the theatre administrator's] supply of imported cheeses". HA! I'm guessing during this time he must have crossed paths with Haack and inspired him to move to New York. Note to self: Bruce Haack and his music merit further investigation. A documentary came out in 2004 called "Bruce Haack: The King of Techno" made up of current interviews with associates and archival footage of Haack including an appearance on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. I must seek that out.

Friday, November 09, 2007


Hey, guess what I'm back! Yesterday was my last day in Hong Kong. Or was it yesterday? I left on Thursday Hong Kong time (it's Saturday there right now) travelled 10.5 hours to Vancouver and arrived 5 hours earlier than when I had left... Wheee, time travel! But I lost all those hours again sitting in the airport, without wireless internet which is apparently no longer free at YVR at least on the domestic side. Anyway, my trip was a great experience. Now it's time to get back into the groove of things. What am I saying? I'm unemployed, ha ha. I'll have to make arrangements soon to finally FINALLY make my move to Vancouver after months of just talking about it. Enough about that, let's talk Batman!

Last week I found out that The Dark Knight (AKA the new Batman film) would be filming right in Hong Kong! I'm a big bat-fan myself, so this was obviously very exciting news to potentially catch a glimpse of the most anticipated film next summer (sorry Indy!). Unfortunately since I left November 8th, I'm missing the bulk of the filming which is scheduled for the next two weeks or something. My only hope was to sneak a peek at a planned fly-over by the Hercules C-130. Batman's been making the headlines not just in HK but internationally because of heavy pollution in Victoria Harbour scuttling a proposed stunt (Christopher Nolan denies this). Further kerfuffle arose when producers asked the downtown buildings to leave their lights on all night to facilitate filming.

I've posted some pics on Facebook from my wild goose (bat?) chase. Check them out here.

There was a big press conference with Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, and Morgan Freeman at some hotel yesterday confirming among other things that there will be scenes taking place at the IFC-2 tower. Batman crews have already been spotted the past few days scouting out potential shooting locations in the Central district and I was told that there's a big stunt planned on some bridge (according to a sketchily translated radio broadcast). Some spy photos have already surfaced of Freeman and Bale shooting scenes in the SoHo district. Man, it would've been so cool to see some actual shooting while I was there, but alas 'twas not to be. I'll just have to wait until my move to Vancouver so I can watch the Watchmen...

And now one of the only Batman theme covers worth talking about:
Skavoovie & The Epitones - Batman [originally by Danny Elfman]

UPDATE: An interesting development in the post comments... Get this, you know our friend Boyhowdy from Cover Lay Down? Skavoovie & The Epitones were his brother's band! That's like some sort of cover synchronicity or something.

If you're bored, by coincidence it's almost one year to the day since I wrote up a Batman-themed post called Batman vs. Taxman. The song links are dead, but it's still vaguely entertaining to read and way more effort than I put into a regular post.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Covering the Animated World!

Hi there! It's me Kurtis, from Covering the Mouse, taking a break from writing about Disney cover tunes to cover for Fong while he is in China!

Disney isn't the only animation I like. I love a whole ton of different cartoons, mostly North American and a few Japanese. I grew up in the late eighties/early nineties so my favourite shows are from that era: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thundercats, DuckTales, Batman: the Animated Series, Transformers, Animaniacs, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, The Tick, He-Man... You get the picture.

One thing I like most about cartoon TV show is the theme song. This is a one minute pitch to the viewer to get them hooked into the show. The theme song must reflect the show or the viewer will get a bad impression and the show may lose a potential fan.

Cartoon theme songs are fantastic because they don't just stick a pre-recorded pop song in there as a theme. They write a unique piece that describes the show or tells a short story. And now that the children that watched these shows are old enough to record, cartoon theme song covers are becoming more common. Let's take a look at a few:

The best thing about a cartoon being turned into a movie is that we often get covers of the theme song by famous people! When Transformers: the Movie came out in 1985, Lion was there to cover it! When the new movie came out last summer, MuteMath was chosen to take on an updated version. Michael Bublé does a fantastic cover of the Spider-Man theme for Spider-Man 2 and Avril Lavigne covered SpongeBob SquarePants for the movie soundtrack surprisingly well.

Transformers - Lion
Transformers - MuteMath
Spider-Man - Michael Bublé
SpongeBob SquarePants - Avril Lavigne

Here are a bunch of covers from the album Saturday Morning Cartoons' Greatest Hits. The disc contains a bunch of popular alternative artists from the 90s doing their favourite themes. Some are good and some are terrible. Here are a few I like.

Spider-Man - The Ramones
Hong Kong Phooey - Sublime
Fat Albert - Dig
Jonny Quest/Stop The Pigeon - The Reverend Horton Heat (This one is a Hanna-Barbera medley of the themes from Jonny Quest and Dastardly & Muttley In Their Flying Machines)

And more...

Aqua Teen Hunger Force - Richard Cheese
Sailor Moon - Osaka Popstar and the American Legends of Punk
Astro Boy - Osaka Popstar and the American Legends of Punk This pop/punk group formed last year and released a self-titled album that contains two cartoon covers! And they are fantastic!)
Inspector Gadget - Lagwagon
Inspector Gadget - Ska King Crab (I'm not too sure who this is. I think it is the VooDoo Glow Skulls. If any one knows please leave a comment! Inspector Gadget is a popular one for punk and ska bands to cover. These three are just the tip of the iceberg! UPDATE: Thanks to Ian for pointing out that this cover is actually by Ska King Crab!)
Underdog - The Blanks
Speed Racer - The Blanks (This a cappella group is the real-life band of Ted, the lawyer from Scrubs. Both of these songs were featured in one episode.)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - HORSE the Band (Here's one for all you videogame geeks! HORSE the Band is a metalcore band that often uses an LSDJ, Little Sound Disk Jockey, GameBoy cartridge in their music to give it an 8-bit video game feel. This style if referred to as Nintendocore. No joke! However, you won't hear these sounds in this track. You will have to listen to some of their other music.)

I think Fong's coming home any day now so this may be my last post here for a while and you can get back to hearing covers of regular songs rather than all this geeky stuff.

Thanks for having me! It's been a blast!