6 Songs That Need Covers

I’m a huge fan of music. For large portions of my life, music helped me mentally get through the day. I have tons of musicians and songs I love, including some songs I’ve listened to on a daily or weekly basis. That said, I also recognize that the best version of a song may not necessarily come from the person who originally wrote it.

Take, for example, “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails.

It’s a good song. I love Nine Inch Nails. I love dark songs. You’d think I’d find this to be the best version of this song. That said…Johnny Cash exists.

If Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” isn’t the single best cover of any song ever, I’m sure it’s at least in the discussion. There’s plenty of songs though that need covers that either don’t have them or don’t have them in the style that they need to be covered in. For today’s post, I thought I’d go through a handful of songs I think need covers in different styles, different vocal ranges, or by certain artists.

“The Waltz” by Neverending White Lights

I enjoy hearing orchestral instruments in a good rock song. This song is one of my more recent discoveries, however I’m fairly sure I’ve listened to it pretty close to once a day since I found it. I really need to sit down and listen to this whole album straight through at some point to get the full experience. That said, something’s off about it. It’s a good song, but it needs a cover by a different vocal range to be effective. I’m thinking a contralto/alto female voice would make the song a bit more haunting. Perhaps something along the lines of Joss Stone or Rachel Sermanni. I get that Sermanni in particular drifts into alto quite a bit, particularly in the song below, but I think she’d be a good fit.

“Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga

I like Lady Gaga as much as the next person. That said, this song is one of the few she’s written that’s just better as a cover. Take, for example, this cover where Lady Gaga’s vocals are paired with instrumentation by Andy Rehfeldt.

Paparazzi is just meant to be a non-pop song. And as much as I love heavy metal, I don’t think it’s the best option for covering this song. Personally, I’d like to see Paparazzi done in a slow jazz/lounge style. It’s been done well before…see Jessica Lea Mayfield’s cover of Nirvana’s Lounge Act for an example. Lady Gaga has done quite a bit of work with Tony Bennett. Why not have Bennett himself cover this song?

“Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies” by Biffy Clyro

This song has been my favorite song for the past three years or so. Nothing else has come close. That said, I’ve only heard it done in one of two styles — either exactly like Biffy Clyro did it, or with a single acoustic guitar. Both of those ways are fine. After all, it’s an amazing song. But there’s something missing. That something is a piano.

In the event you’re not familiar with Vika Yermolyeva, she’s a kickass pianist1It’s at this point that I’d like to mention that looking up one of Vika’s videos has led me down a rabbit hole where I binge watched two hours of her piano videos in one sitting. While doing nothing else. I am CONSTANTLY multitasking. Her piano work is ridiculous.. While I don’t think she’d need to be the one to do the cover of this song, I do think this style of music — where the entirety of the instrumentation is covered by a single piano can add power to a ton of songs. It’s not like Biffy Clyro’s music isn’t suited to piano, as there’s hundreds of piano covers of their songs. That said, the intricate parts of “Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies” make the song more challenging, but potentially more rewarding.

Need another example of how this can be done well? Take a listen to Norah Jones’ cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”.

“Rich Girl” by Gwen Stefani

I just need this covered by My Chemical Romance or Panic! At the Disco. I have no shame.

“Shadow on the Sun” by Audioslave
“Hands in the Sky (Big Shot)” by Straylight Run

I want to end with both of these songs combined into one idea, as when I hear both songs, I immediately think they need big, powerful voices to cover them. I’ve tried singing “Shadow on the Sun”. It is easily the most challenging vocal song I’ve ever attempted. Meanwhile, “Hands in the Sky” is an exercise in vocal restraint, especially as you’re slowly building up to sing with the most powerful voice your lungs can muster. Chris Cornell and John Nolan, respectively, use these two songs as vehicles to show off the amazing talent they have with their voices.

I really want to hear both of these songs done in a female voice. While there’s a lot of good options out there, the singer with the vocal range and style I think would work best — Amy Winehouse — isn’t around anymore for this to happen. That said, there’s a plethora of excellent female vocalists that could do these songs justice. Lzzy Hale of Halestorm seems like a good place to start. Halestorm’s already done some good covers, so they’ve got a leg up on others.

Have a suggestion for a great cover in your mind? Suggest it in the comments.

Lists Full of Favorites

It’s 2017. That means the seemingly neverending global shitshow that was 2016 has finally come to an end. Granted, there’s a lot that 2016 did to mess up 2017 (and beyond) for a lot of people, but hopefully we can work together as a society to ensure that people who deserve rights (read: everyone) receives them accordingly.

Whenever I take a day off from work, I leave a paper letter on the door of my office. While I’m not a big fan of printing things out[1], it’s a tradition that started almost three years ago, so I keep it alive. While the letters started out as completely serious, work-related instructions, they’ve since morphed into a hybrid of that and a place where I just ramble because I can.

More often than not, those letters also includes lists of various things. Usually, these lists are totally random, but sometimes they’re lists of my favorite things of some type or another. There likely won’t be a ton of context in these lists. After all, I’m giving you multiple of these lists at once while on my office door there’s one at a time. If there’s enough caring in the comments/via Twitter, I’ll go back and add context later.

Ten Most Underrated Songs of all Time

10. Bayside – The Walking Wounded
9. Flobots – Panacea for the Poison
8. The Lonely Island – Spring Break Anthem
7. Mumford and Sons – Thistle and Weeds
6. Sia – Chandelier
5. Louis Prima – Sing, Sing, Sing
4. Ram Jam – Black Betty
3. Gwen Stefani – Rich Girl
2. Rise Against – Re-Education (Through Labor)
1. Straylight Run – Hands in the Sky (Big Shot)

Ten Favorite Video Games of all Time

10. Tropico (2001)
9. Madden 96 (1995)
8. Mirror’s Edge (2008)
7. Rogue Trip: Vacation 2012 (1998)
6. Catherine (2011)
5. Super Smash Bros 4 (2014)
4. Brave Frontier (2013)
3. Pokemon FireRed & LeafGreen (2004)
2. Civilization V (2010)
1. Fire Emblem: Awakening (2012)

Ten Favorite End-Stage Gen I Pokemon Evolutions

10. Starmie
9. Blastoise
8. Alakazam
7. Victreebel
6. Jolteon
5. Fearow
4. Cloyster
3. Hypno
2. Dewgong
1. Vaporeon

 

NaNoWriMo – The Soundtrack

As I mentioned in my last post, I just finished up my NaNoWriMo novel for 2015. I was looking back doing a comparison of my 2015 experience with my earlier 2011 experience and realized that they had a common thread. I was greatly inspired by music throughout the process of both pieces. At the encouragement of many of you followers on Twitter((I was considering it anyway, however you guys cared, so woo!)), I decided to put the companion pieces I used while writing chapters here, along with short explanations below.

Warning, minor spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the story. If you have read the story, or if you just want to see the music inspiration and don’t care too much about minor spoilers, here you go. Songs are listed by chapter name with YouTube links out for each.

Armed and Apathetic – Maybeshewill – The Paris Hilton Sex Tape
I blame a fellow blogger, Erin, for making me a fan of Maybeshewill. If I’m ever in a mood where I want or need to write and I can’t, Maybeshewill’s album Not For The Want of Trying usually finds a way to make me want to write. While the song doesn’t particularly lend itself to being an introduction song, I looked at this book as more of a look into someone’s life than a beginning to end story. Looks in don’t start at the beginning of life at all times.

Bee – Metric – Empty
This chapter introduces the two non-primary protagonists, Beth and Nolan. While the focus is pretty equal on the two of them in this chapter, most of the focus (due to her in person appearance) is on Beth. I kind of viewed this as Beth’s theme song in the earlier chapters, thanks largely to its heavy play as I wrote Bee.

The Opening Salvo – No music
One of the few non-music chapters. No real explanation other than I was so focused on writing a coherent press release that I couldn’t listen to music.

Dinner and a Show – Biffy Clyro – Who’s Got a Match?
The first of two chapters with a song off of Biffy Clyro’s album Puzzle. The upbeat piece fits in well with the quirky conversation between Nolan and Beth mid-chapter.

Snow Angels – Mumford and Sons – Thistle and Weeds
The first time Libby actively recognizes Beth’s darker side is in this chapter. Mumford and Sons’ dark ballad fits really well here, though admittedly I don’t know that it fits quite as well as the next chapter’s song.

Ignition – While She Sleeps – Four Walls
All you really need here is the first :54 seconds of the song. The intro to “Four Walls” looped in my head nearly constantly while I wrote this chapter. Seems fitting with the ARM’s righteous motives.

Coming Home – Anberlin – A Whisper and a Clamor
Hello driving home to see my family at Christmas music. Anberlin was in heavy rotation in my college/grad school music playlist. While the song itself does predate the main characters of this story, I think that Nolan and Libby would have some level of appreciation for emo rock based off of some of the other things they mention within the story.

Santa and Skeletons – 331ERock – Theme of Laura
It was hard for me not to use a Christmas song here, but this metal cover of the most iconic song from Silent Hill 2 was on heavy repeat as I wrote this entire book. Considering the general innocence portrayed by Mandy — the youngest member of the Andersen family —  in this chapter, I figured an homage to the Silent Hill series was appropriate. As for why the metal version rather than the original, just listen to the guitar solo.

Live and in Living Color – David Bowie – I’m Afraid of Americans
Pretty self-explanatory one here once you read the chapter.

The Best Laid Plans – Our Lady Peace – Clumsy
So within hours of me writing Live and in Living Color, the Paris attacks happened. Considering the unintentional parallels between fictional and real life events, I needed a chapter off of focusing on the main storyline. This chapter was it. The awkward, yet touching conversation between Nolan and Libby reminds me of Clumsy thanks to a story a friend of mine once told me about a conversation she had with her ex-fiancee. Love can be clumsy sometimes.

A Beacon and A Bomb – Chevelle – A Letter From a Thief
This was the only chapter other than Knockout where I had the chapter name thought up before I had the chapter finished. As soon as I thought of the chapter name, A Letter From a Thief got stuck in my head. And thus, here we are.

In Between – Red Sparowes – A Swarm
Helllllooooo Beth’s dark side again

A Call To Action – Tchaikovsky – Slavonic March
If you’re looking for the ARMC’s national anthem referenced in the chapter, look no further than the 2:20 mark of the song above. Seems commanding, no?

Sadie – Sergei Rachmaninov – Piano Concerto No. 2
The song Sadie mentioned as her upcoming performance recital piece is linked above. It appears that Spotify doesn’t have the Anna Federova version that I have linked above, but that’s why YouTube exists.

Us Inside Another – Escape the Fate – Gorgeous Nightmare
Is the song about Beth, Sadie, or both? You decide.

Only Elpis Remained – Fall Out Boy – This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race
Relevant for most of the chapter? Not really. Relevant for the final 1/3 of the chapter? Oh yes.

Ghosts – Susie Suh – Everywhere
Nothing special here musically other than an eerily calm song against the announcement of a crumbling world.

First of the Month – A Perfect Circle – 3 Libras
From what I’ve been told, those born under the sign of Libra tend to be pretty peaceful. A small party on a night in seems pretty peaceful, especially when the world is about to change, and the dark tone of the song fits well with the underlying dark around the corner.

Dusk – Ayla Brown and the Boston Pops Orchestra – The Star Spangled Banner
As mentioned in the chapter.

Knockout – Straylight Run – Hands in the Sky
I re-read this chapter and couldn’t believe how well this song went with the tone of the events of the chapter.

A Puppet’s Lament – Biffy Clyro – Living’s A Problem Cause Everything Dies
An oddly appropriate outro to a country where hope (outside of memories) has finally been lost.

A Childhood Song Analysis

Shortly before my wedding, I was hard at work getting my lunch ready to take with me to work. On this particular day, I was making a batch of soup beans to go with ham and cornbread((I’ll share the recipe in another post if people are interested, but it’s one of the easiest things to make ever.)) when a childhood diddy got stuck in my head. By now, I’m sure most of you already know which song I’m talking about, however if not, here it is in its entirety.

Beans, beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So let’s eat beans for every meal!

I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself a little bit when I realized what song was going through my head. I was instantly transported back to late elementary school when my cousins and I would sing said song while camping with my grandparents, as there was typically a significant amount of soup beans made on the trip. But then adult me realized that something wasn’t right with the song. For that matter, there are quite a few childhood songs that leave some major gaps in their storytelling — or worse, have inaccurate information. I’m here today to help clean that up.

Beans, Beans, The Musical Fruit

Let’s start right away with the beans song mentioned above. Surprisingly, the first line is not the line I take issue with. After all, according to the Mayo Clinic, beans are a fruit, just like corn, avocado, pea pods, and nuts. That’s right. Technically speaking, when you’re eating a handful of almonds, you’re eating fruit. To me, intelligence is understanding that tomatoes, beans, and nuts are fruits, but wisdom is realizing that they belong nowhere near a fruit salad.

I’m also not going to dispute the natural ability of beans to induce flatulence on those who consume them. I mean, this song has its own Wikipedia page for heaven sakes. No, my issue is with the final line of the song. I am certainly not the type of person who believes that foods have set times of day you must eat them. I’m a strong believer that you can have ice cream for breakfast, pancakes for lunch, and cold cereal for dinner, and you’ll be a champion at adulting for it. That said, if there’s one food that really doesn’t sound appealing in the morning, it’s beans. I’ll take my traditional breakfast of a root beer float with a side of strawberries and call it a day.

K-I-SS-I-N-G

Our second song is a derisive playground song typically directed at any weird/nerdy kid who has an interest of a member of the opposite sex. The song goes something like this.

Eric and Amy((Obviously the names of the two parties in question will replace the names of Eric and Amy.)), sittin’ in a tree
K-I-SS-I-N-G

First comes love
Second comes marriage
The comes baby in a baby carriage

I can recall to this day the first time I heard this song jeered at me. It was third grade, late in the year. I had barely talked to anyone for most of the year, and had just started making friends a couple of months prior. My first female friend was a girl named Ashley who would play football at recess with me and a few of our friends. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she had a crush on me. In addition to this, neither of us were particularly popular. It was only a matter of time before a couple of popular kids in our homeroom would sing this at us at recess. It was extremely annoying.

That said, the song has a lot of errors. First and foremost, it has a very pro-religious slant by assuming that love and marriage must come before having a baby. I’ve met a few people((including potentially a member of my immediate family, depending on whose story you believe.)) who got married because there was a baby and a baby carriage on the way. Furthermore, what if the married couple doesn’t want kids? What if they’re only getting married so that one person can get a green card and move to a country with new opportunities? What if it’s an arranged marriage? I have so many questions.

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

Finally, let’s take a look at a song that predates my elementary school time, though I can certainly imagine it being sang in pre-K/kindergarten classrooms.

It’s raining, it’s pouring
The old man is snoring
He went to bed
And bumped his head
And couldn’t get up in the morning

First of all, fuck limericks.

Secondly, I didn’t realize this as the time as a child, but this song is terribly morbid. I mean, I have to believe that the old man in this song is dead. Not only that, but no one knows about his death until the morning after. Let’s look at the facts here.

  • At one point in time, the man is alive, as evidenced by the fact that it’s snoring.
  • Likewise, he’s elderly. That may not seem important, but stay with me here.
  • It’s raining outside…quite heavily as indicated by the usage of the word pouring.
  • We know that the man suffered some sort of head trauma either in his sleep or as he went to bed.
  • It’s unclear what the specific trauma was or who caused it. We’re left to presume it’s accidental.
  • The trauma is serious enough to cause the man not to be able to rise from his bed in the morning.

It’s possible that said trauma is paralysis, however since the fact that the old man couldn’t get up is where the song ends, I’m lead to believe he has died. That said, how didn’t his family hear him hit his head? On one hand, the bumping of the old man’s head could easily be muffled out by the rain outside, however I have a different opinion. Since the song itself is not found in books prior to the 1930s, I have to believe that the family let the old man die so they wouldn’t have to feed another mouth admist the Great Depression.

Not going to want to sing that song to your kids anymore, are you?

Things You Learn Planning A Wedding (Part 1)

For those unaware/newer to the blog, I’ll be getting married in the not too distant future. The fiancee and I (though mostly her) have been planning the wedding for just over a year now, and as we get closer to the wedding, most everything looks to be in good shape.

I say that it’s mostly been the fiancee planning the wedding because she understands weddings far better than me. Ignoring the religious side of weddings for purposes of this post[1], there are lots of things I didn’t understand about weddings and wedding related activities prior to being involved in the lead up to my own. I’ve decided to write a post tackling a few of these items today. I’m sure there’s someone out there (likely a male, as am I) who will inevitably stumble across this article wondering why certain things happen along the trail to getting married. Hopefully this will give you good advice, keep you from going insane, or at least cause you to reconsider your own morality.

Registries Are Like Parlay (To Others)

One of the more exciting times that the fiancee and I have experienced thus far in our engagement is that of creating a wedding registry. Through the better part of six hours on a Saturday, we spent time walking around a pair of stores, deciding what items we’d like for people to buy us for our new life together. Since both of us had lived alone in our own apartments for at least the past three years, it was easy for us to limit the registries to things we really need, be that due to not owning said item, or because our particular items were very old.

A significant percentage of people look at a wedding registry and think “Oh, look at all these things that the bride and groom would like that I could buy them. Let me find something in my price range”. But then there are people who look at a wedding registry and say “Yeah, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m going off registry because I know best”. The first group is wonderful. The second group is a group that my fiancee is far more accepting of than I am. I’m not exactly sure where the line is that makes people think a registry has no merit, but I bet they’re the same type of people who self-identify as “beer snobs”, “wine connoisseurs”, and “fans of football, or as you call it, soccer”, despite being from the USA.

Wedding Businesses Make Bank

I’m very excited to marry my fiancee. I’ve known that since I proposed to her. What I was never excited for was the prospect of a fancy party for people related to said wedding. I’ve heard the adage that a wedding reception is supposed to be a couple’s first big party to introduce them to society. I’m pretty sure whoever said that has lost far more money and sophistication than I’ll ever have. There were times as the wedding was being planned when I saw prices of certain things and seriously considered suggesting driving to the courthouse and just marrying then. No structured wedding. No reception. It makes more sense financially, psychologically, and I can only assume most other adverbs fit here as well.

You know who would have hated that? My fiancee. I’m pretty sure that’s part of why there are quite a few receipts I never saw.

And that’s fine. Weddings are about the bride[2]. I wasn’t about to say no to something wedding related just because I don’t see the need for something to be at a wedding[3]. It know it’s our day…but it’s her day. That’s just how weddings work. And because of that, if you have a company that does things for weddings, you can make it rain.

Music Confuses People

This one isn’t serious so much as it amuses me. We’ve had multiple people request that we play Stephen Colbert’s song at our wedding. You know, the one where he dances with the Rockettes.

Apparently a far smaller number of people have heard of Daft Punk than I thought. I kind of want to ask the DJ to play “Charlene” (below) right before just to see how people react.

People Will Say No…And You Will Be Sad

Both the fiancee and I experienced this at various points in the wedding invite/bridal shower/bachelor party/etc process. When you make your list of people you want to come to the wedding, there’s always a group of people you feel obligated to invite (because your family will get mad at you if you don’t), a group you’d like to come though you’d understand if they didn’t, and a group you really, really want there. You don’t go into making your list expecting everyone to come. But there’s always someone that catches you off guard — a family member, a co-worker, a close friend — who can’t come to the wedding for whatever reason. It sticks with you for longer than you thought it would. It’s never a fun moment.

More People Send Gifts Early Than You’d Realize

It was no more than a week after we sent out wedding invitations that a gift off of our registry showed up at our door. My boss’s wife, a lady who I’ve met once for a total of 45 seconds, sent us one of the gifts off our registry. Had it been someone from out of state or someone who wasn’t going to be at the wedding, I would have understood. But coming from someone who lives close and who will be at the wedding, it was a bit unexpected.

Between when the invites were sent out and the fiancee’s bridal shower, I want to say we got somewhere between four and eight more gifts arrive via mail. That’s not even counting a couple of coworkers who have offered to send us gifts, even though they’re not coming to the wedding[4]. I don’t get this phenomenon, and it’s not a bad thing. It’s just unexpected.

I promise another one of these lists after the wedding and honeymoon. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to add at that point.