It’s one of the oldest discussions in the book: name a cover better than the original. And then sometimes you hear a song and think “wouldn’t it be great if x covered this?” But then we at Gigwise had a thought: which songs would be better if someone else had done them in the first place? Here are nine that we thought of. Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments section or tweet them to us.
Radiohead’s ‘A Wolf at the Door’ – Jay Z
As anyone who has listened to Max Tannone’s Jaydiohead mash-up albums knows, there is a certain elegance to pairing the Oxford quintet’s music with the Brooklynite’s verses. But why not go the whole hog and let him loose on this, one of the weakest songs from Hail to the Thief? Take out Thom Yorke’s slurred, spoken word ramblings and replace them with one of the most successful rap artists the world has ever seen and you’re on to a winner.
Arcade Fire’s ‘Antichrist Television Blues’ – Bruce Springsteen
There is nothing wrong per se with this blue collar lament for the working classes from Neon Bible, but the clue as to why the Boss should take this one on lies right there in the phrase “working class blue collar lament”. It is almost a homage to the man who does those better than anyone else; there is only one man who can instil even more urgency and energy than the Canadians into those and he is backed by the E Street Band. It’s already a Bruce Springsteen song: let the master do it.
Bruce Hornsby’s ‘The Way It Is’ – Fleetwood Mac
See above. If you’re going to do a soft rock song with a gorgeous melody then there is no one better at it than Fleetwood Mac. Take the sadness of that piano riff and let Christine McVie break your heart by singing over it. Let Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks add their vocal harmonies over the eponymous chorus line. Let Buckingham’s guitar gently weep deep in the mix. It probably wouldn’t make the cut for Rumours but it would elevate Tango in the Night.
Ed Sheeran’s ‘Galway Girl’ – Steve Earle
Steve ‘Waylon from The Wire’ Earle already did a song called ‘Galway Girl’ and it’s beautiful. Ed Sheeran’s ‘Galway Girl’ is the exact opposite of everything beautiful. As an aside, the New York Times review of this called it Corrs Lite, which is perhaps the greatest insult in music review history.
Ocean Colour Scene’s ‘The Riverboat Song’ – Paul Weller
What’s the one thing you like about Ocean Colour Scene? Yes, it’s the riff to ‘The Riverboat Song’ (OK I’ll admit there are fans out there of the “Woah-oh la la” bit of ‘The Day We Caught The Train’, right, Dad?). Well you get to keep that here, with Steve Cradock playing lead guitar both in OCS and for Weller. As for the rest of the song, you’re replacing Simon Fowler’s vocals with Weller’s gruffness and you’re taking the latter’s ability to tinge a song with soul without it feeling cheap and plastic.
TV on the Radio’s ‘Wolf Like Me’ – Prince
Just watch that performance above. Look at the furious energy. Listen to those near-filthy lyrics. Admit it, the song is so dripping with sweat that your forehead is damp. The music itself glistens with sex, never mind the band. It pulses and it moves at a rate so furious that you’re worried about getting in trouble for watching it when your partner is in the room, never mind at work. It’s as close to porn as rock music can get. Now imagine it in Prince’s hands and try to hide your erection.
The Bangles’ ‘Manic Monday’ – Europe
“It’s just a manic Monday ... [insert that riff from ‘The Final Countdown’]. Run it through your head and it’s perfect. It also works the other way round.
The Manic Street Preahers’ ‘You Love Us’ – Bon Jovi
I’ll make no secret of this: ‘You Love Us’ is far from my favourite Manics song. It’s them at their glammiest and, much as I love the band, I did snort with laughter at a line in the Guardian that described them as “Bon Jovi with politics degrees”. It’s a line that hits home because it’s right. The band are too angry, too intellectual and too bookish for this song to really work in their hands so fuck it, let Jon and Richie Sambora have their way with it. It’ll be a fucktonne of fun.
Literally any song ever – Tom Waits
This one is a scientific fact.