Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fong Songs 101 All-Time Covers: #88 to 83

Just joining us?
I'm counting down 101 of my all-time favourite covers before packing this blog away in the attic.
Read my countdown preamble here.

Swedish Invasion
88. The Flu - Hate to Say I Told you So [originally by The Hives]
What sounds like a window breaking kicks off this audacious cover with multi-part harmony and a hoedown bassline. At first it's a hilarious context shifting variation on The Hives hit, but by the midpoint I always want to join in on the handclaps, sing along with the climactic harmonized vocal arpeggio right out of Twist & Shout, and folk rock out like there's no tomorrow. I don't know if "harmonized vocal arpeggio" is a proper term, but you know what I'm talking about, right? See also: intro to Bowie's Let's Dance.

87. Love is All - I Ran [originally by A Flock of Seagulls]
With wailing child-like vocals, splashes of saxomaphone, and idiosyncratic drumming, this fun and noisy take by Love is All (from Gothenburg, Sweden) made me completely forget the original, perhaps that's a good thing anyway. They also remind me of a defunct San Diego band I adore called Bunky.

86. Glow - Dancing Queen [originally by ABBA]
It's fun to play this for someone and see how long it take for them to identify the original. This is such a dramatic pop rock reinvention that unless they recognize the lyrics, it might not be until right before the chorus that they finally go "Ahhhhh!". This is from a German ABBA tribute album, aptly named A Tribute to ABBA. That might sound generic, but another cover from this album will grace this list a little later on.

The soundtracks to Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera were ingrained in my head from a fairly early age. I've seen them each about three times and have listened to both soundtracks countless times. There of plenty of Phantom covers though sadly very few Les Miz covers (excluding I Dreamed a Dream). Although Me First & The Gimme Gimmes have a full album of showtune covers (Are a Drag), genre busting covers of any Broadway musical number are somewhat hard to come by. The next are a couple of my favourites while the last one's a bit of a cheat.

85. Nightwish - The Phantom of The Opera [originally from Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera]
The definitive metal cover of The Phantom of the Opera, Finnish power metal group Nightwish delivers a snarling, but faithful rendition with an impressive duet from Nightwish's original classically trained vocalist Tarja Turunen and the band's bassist Marco Hietala. By the way, look up Nightwish in the Urban Dictionary for a laugh.

84. Toy Dolls - Any Dream Will Do [originally from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat]
I've never been completely sold on Joseph, which I also saw when I was quite young. Some of the music is pretty catchy, but my overwhelming impression of the CD soundtrack (I'm probably wrong in retrospect) was that it sounded like one guy on a keyboard playing all the instruments. I'm a big fan of English punk band the Toy Dolls' cheeky rendition of Joseph's opening number complete with children's choir.

83. Jon Brion - Play the Game [originally by Queen]
Technically this is in the Queen musical We Will Rock You so it's getting lumped in here to help fill out the showtunes category. Jon Brion is a remarkable and severely underrated musician/composer/virtuoso. As a producer he's worked on albums for Fiona Apple, Kanyé West (Late Registration), Rufus Wainwright, and Aimee Mann among others. He composed the scores to P. T. Anderson's Hard Eight, Magnolia, and Punch-Drunk Love, not to mention Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He's legendary in certain circles for his residency at L.A.'s Largo club where he'd play setlist-less shows of originals and covers shouted out from the audience, his knowledge of popular music history being so vast that it was a challenge to stump him. He still plays there semi-regularly and I'd love to visit Los Angeles just to see him perform (I've been to the Largo, but my trip didn't coincide with one of his shows). His solo output is limited to his 2001 indie release Meaningless, a long time bestseller on CD Baby, and a handful of guest appearances on compilation albums including Sing Hollies in Reverse and Killer Queen: A Tribute to Queen.

Tomorrow the Fong Songs 101 countdown continues with a quick trip through the 1980s.

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