Covered to death?

May 22, 2009 11:26 PM

I had an idea for a Challenge, but I wanted to ask for some help, and also to see if anyone else thinks it's a decent idea... I was thinking, how about a MeFiMu Challenge where we cover a song that's been covered a LOT? I mean, let's take one of the handful of songs that's just been covered in and out and up and down, around and about, by everybody and his sister. One that there just can't possibly be anything new any of us could do with it. Then, of course, we HAVE to do something new with it!

So, the two tunes that came immediately to mind were: 1) Yesterday and 2) Hallelujah. Any other likely candidates? Or is this idea just too stupid? Discuss.
posted by flapjax at midnite (62 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

First song that came to mind was Hallelujah, which you already mentioned, followed by Louie Louie. That song has to have been done by just about every artist, ever.
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:41 PM on May 22, 2009


G-L-O-R-I-A! Glooooooo-ria!
posted by chillmost at 1:04 AM on May 23, 2009


I vote for Stagger Lee.
posted by Roman Graves at 6:42 AM on May 23, 2009


Seven Nation Army.
posted by dobie at 9:03 AM on May 23, 2009


I really like the idea of having us all do the same song, having a bunch of versions of the same song will be fun, interesting, surprising and even pedagogic for some of us, but, I inevitably cringe when I even see Yesterday, Louie Louie or Hotel California written. That kinda kills the thrill for me so, in order to not be a complete killjoy, I propose to do this with a twist: let's all do a song from here. I'm sure selecting one song would be difficult, but perhaps we can sort it out. If someone wants to have a mind refresher of what has been posted, we have the new Archives By User.

Now, if the majority is ok with the former idea, I'll go with it (those are the perils of democracy, after all), and we could still use this for another challenge sometime.
posted by micayetoca at 10:03 AM on May 23, 2009


What about a variation on the former idea, which would be for each person to choose a highly covered song, and do their version? That way, we can choose a song that is compatible with how and what we usually play.
posted by umbú at 10:37 AM on May 23, 2009


Oh, I posted my comment as a song that I feel has been covered to death and that we should let heal for a while.
posted by dobie at 10:41 AM on May 23, 2009


Heh. I like this idea. I do agree with umbu's notion that it might be better to make the challenge general: "cover a song that's been covered too many times already", though we could include a parenthetical short-list of some of the suggestions in here (I think Yesterday and Hallelujah are right on, the latter especially).

I like the idea of a bunch of covers of just the same song, too, though.

As for other suggestions:

Radiohead's "Creep" is pretty done. "Stairway", too. Eagles, "Desparado"?

Do people cover Hotel California or just play it a lot on jukeboxes and/or from their dorm rooms? I may just be looking for an excuse to cover Hotel California, here. The ukulele does strange things to me.
posted by cortex at 10:57 AM on May 23, 2009


Knockin' on Heaven's Door is right up there, too.
posted by umbú at 10:59 AM on May 23, 2009


Do people cover Hotel California or just play it a lot on jukeboxes and/or from their dorm rooms?

Sorry, cortex, just playing it in ukulele won't do this one time.

And in my last comment I was too busy suggesting alternatives to actually contribute something to flapjax's idea. If we go with that one, my vote would be for My Way.
posted by micayetoca at 11:27 AM on May 23, 2009


My Way is a great idea, since the lyrics declare the challenge's theme.
posted by umbú at 11:48 AM on May 23, 2009


Others include Suzanne, Eleanor Rigby, Summertime, Cry me a river (original). This is a great idea!
posted by ORthey at 2:54 PM on May 23, 2009


I'd like to hear Desperado as a Polka. This is a great idea and I like what micayetoca says about all of us or some of us covering the same song just to make sure that the dead horse has been well beaten. Sounds like fun.

The funny thing and some of the brilliance with this idea is that you/we mefi music people are so incredibly creative that whatever you cover is almost guaranteed to be better than all of the thousands of existing covers.

Man, I'm drawing a blank for particular songs though, there's a lot of ground to cover!

Anything by? Black Sabbath, the Rolling Stones, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan?! I like ALL of the above suggestions. This is gonna be a blast.

I have dibs on Desperado as a Polka, now that I think about!
posted by snsranch at 4:29 PM on May 23, 2009


Ya, Yesterday was the first thing I thought of.
This is a tricky challenge. It's hard to get inspired to do a song that's been done to death. The obvious thing is to subvert it or deconstruct it, making it new. Or the whole metal-song-played-on-a-banjo, folk-song-done-with-drum-machines inversion kind of thing. I kind of think that's been done to death.
The harder road, I think, is to be true to the existing song but add something to it, somehow.
posted by chococat at 5:25 PM on May 23, 2009


That sounded kind of bitchy.
Sorry, just thinking out loud.
posted by chococat at 5:34 PM on May 23, 2009


Nah, didn't come off as too bitchy to me, choco. I hear what you're saying about the obviousness of the kind of cover treatments you mention, and I agree, basically. It can be really easy to do the kind of thing you're talking about, and I'd love to see submissions that, as you've put it, are "true to the existing song but add something to it, somehow." That will indeed be a challenge.

And I'm really glad to see the positive response, overall, to this idea. Yay!

As to whether this will wind up as a 'let's-all-cover-THIS-song', or a 'choose-one-song-from-THIS-LIST'... well, we'll see! I think the former would be really fun, just narrowed down to one song, but the latter certainly adds more flexibility.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:55 PM on May 23, 2009


As to whether this will wind up as a 'let's-all-cover-THIS-song', or a 'choose-one-song-from-THIS-LIST'... well, we'll see! I think the former would be really fun, just narrowed down to one song, but the latter certainly adds more flexibility.

Hi!

I vote for the former. The latter just seems like watering down the concept.

As far as the song, I have no specific ideas. It should maybe be a song with a number of versions that are at or near the same "level," rather than one DOMINANT version and a bunch of coattailers ("Yesterday" being an example of that -- I don't think of that as a song that's been covered a lot, I think of it as a Beatles song that, I suppose, has been covered but no memorable versions spring to mind).
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 12:47 AM on May 24, 2009


Hi Karlos!

I vote for the former. The latter just seems like watering down the concept.

I'm leaning that way too. 5 or 10 or 20 versions of the same song, in the same month, well, that'd just be a stone gas, as they used to say on Soul Train.

And I have to say, I think Hallelujah is... likely.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:57 AM on May 24, 2009


There seems to be an unofficial Seven Nation Army contest going already (I've been working out a brass band arrangement on the back burner of my mind for a little while now...), but I would love to hear MeFites beat Hallelujah to death.
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:19 AM on May 24, 2009


Hells yes! Let us all cover the same damn song. And while I would never advocate dictating guidelines for what individuals do with it, chococat has a fine point: the impulse toward novelty/irony could smother this challenge. I'd be fine with Hallelujah . Let's bury Buckley once and for all!
posted by barrett caulk at 3:57 PM on May 24, 2009


I seem to remember reading that Yesterday is the most covered song of all time.
posted by danb at 6:36 PM on May 24, 2009


I'm down with Yesterday. I know we'll probably be offered a list to choose from now, but Yesterday should be really easy to annihilate. (sp)
posted by snsranch at 8:17 PM on May 24, 2009


I'm down with Yesterday.

No, no, snsranch. This is a cover Challenge, no mashups allowed!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:04 PM on May 24, 2009


hmm. That kinda bars goodnewsfortheinsane from resubmitting his crazy Yesterdelilah if Yesterday is chosen.
posted by micayetoca at 5:26 AM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


That kinda bars goodnewsfortheinsane from resubmitting his crazy Yesterdelilah if Yesterday is chosen.

No problem. We'll just have to have another Challenge later on: "cover a song that's already been covered a gazillion times by everyone including yourself!"

But, I'm leaning toward Hallelujah, y'all. Leaning hard...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:00 AM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know that I had actually never heard Hallelujah before this post? Not that it matters or makes any difference, I just thought I'd mention it because it does seem to be wildly popular and I had never even heard about it. I wish I could say that about Yesterday and Gloria.
posted by micayetoca at 7:34 AM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm leaning toward Hallelujah for the monolithic choice, too, yeah. It's structure is more bare-bones than Yesterday, which I think is probably ideal since it leaves people more room to Do Their Thing with it instead of focusing on trying to cover Lennon/McCartney's (perfectly nice, granted) changes and melodic hijinks.
posted by cortex at 8:00 AM on May 25, 2009


Alright then, it's a wrap. Signed, sealed, delivered. Carved in stone. A cast-iron fact.

The June Metafilter Music Challenge is... HALLELUJAH!

And, hey, check it out, everybody gets an extra full week to work on it! Woo-hoo!

today was my birthday, so the early notice is my birthday present to MeFi Music and myself...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:22 AM on May 25, 2009


What do you mean was? it's still your birthday here. Congratulations flapjax!
posted by micayetoca at 8:38 AM on May 25, 2009


Aw, man. What can I do with that? I can only do earnest if I'm pretending to be wayward Givewell philanthropists. I'll give it my best shot.
posted by umbú at 10:49 AM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


God it hurts me to think about that song.
posted by dobie at 4:52 PM on May 25, 2009


No pain no gain.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:34 PM on May 25, 2009


Happy Birthday! Woo Hoo!
posted by snsranch at 6:37 PM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, wait a minute...No mashups? Now I have to start all over!
posted by snsranch at 6:42 PM on May 25, 2009


It'll be... just like starting ooooooover...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:44 PM on May 25, 2009


If I finish what I started tonight you will all be sorry.
posted by dobie at 7:33 PM on May 25, 2009


Hi flapjax - I've obviously arrived too late at this party, but I just belatedly wondered if national anthems count as the most covered songs (I suppose I am taking the piss slightly here). I trombone and paper-covered-comb arrangement of the Marsaillaise (sp?) would be pretty effing cool and would also wind Johnny Frog up a treat. I'm considering having a crack at Halleluja in the style of a drunken Cockney pub singer accompanied by out-of-tune and inexpertly played piano....Gawd bless yer gov'nor!
posted by MajorDundee at 1:02 PM on May 26, 2009


Heh. I think maybe we could roll out National Anthems (Not Necessarily Yours) as a challenge in a few months.
posted by cortex at 1:15 PM on May 26, 2009


MajorDundee, consider your National Anthems idea 'submitted and on file'. I think that'd be a real fun one, and we'll probably be rolling it out soon.

Meanwhile, those of you still watching this thread... send me more Challenge ideas. New ideas needed, keep 'em coming, etc. etc.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:21 PM on May 26, 2009


I'm gonna apologize in advance for the forthcoming ska cover.
posted by Jon_Evil at 4:15 PM on May 26, 2009


Hey, the ska's the limit.

ok, I apologize for that too
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:17 PM on May 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


OK, I admit it, I live in a cave. What should I google or look for on youtube, for hallelujah?!

Maybe I'm just having a brain fart, but this isn't rag or a spiritual right?!
posted by snsranch at 7:11 PM on May 26, 2009


This is the version I always think of when it comes to Hallelujah, than I found out later Jeff Buckley didn't write it but it was Leonard Cohen. I still prefer Jeff Buckley's version, it's really a great great recording.
posted by BrnP84 at 7:19 PM on May 26, 2009


Thanks! I'm off to check it out!
posted by snsranch at 7:24 PM on May 26, 2009


Damn you, MajorDundee. My national anthem was totally going to be my contribution for this challenge, before they settled on Halle-fucking-lujah.
But I guess I'm not as clever as I thought I was. And neither are you!
posted by chococat at 9:26 PM on May 26, 2009


Does anyone happen to have the full 80 verses? Between Cohen's two main recorded versions, I only have about 7, and I'd like to do all of them. Should sound awesome squished down to 10 MB.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 11:10 PM on May 26, 2009


chococat - chill out there - you're one ahead of the rest of us then! I'm not going to do my national anthem - God Save The Queen - because (a) the Pistols did the definitive version and (b) it has to be the most dreary piece of crap ever. Very British though - safe, dull, boring, predictable and wet. So a pretty damn perfect fit then.........
posted by MajorDundee at 1:34 PM on May 27, 2009


chococat - chill out there
Chilled!
That sounded way less hostile as I was typing it when I got home last night.
Sorry about that; I was attempting some levity.
posted by chococat at 4:24 PM on May 27, 2009


I'm not sure how exactly it will go, but rest assured, our version will have Bass Flute.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 12:20 PM on May 28, 2009


Love Will Tear Us Apart could not be covered more.

(unless it's makes the challenge)
posted by bunnytricks at 9:23 PM on May 28, 2009


Two words for y'all:

MacArthur
Park

I'm only half-kidding. Of course the first song I thought of was "Yesterday," but not because I've heard any covers of it, but because I know it holds the record. "Happy Birthday" came to my mind the second.

AH! I got one:

Train Kept a Rollin'
posted by not_on_display at 9:49 PM on May 28, 2009


Thanks for these last minute suggestions, y'all, but the June challenge is definitely HALLELUJAH, or, Halle-fucking-lujah, as renamed upthread!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:32 AM on May 29, 2009


Has anyone noticed, during drunken fumblings with MiFi Music, that if you have one track running and click on another you get both playing at once? An easy challenge (i.e. you don't actually have to record anything) would be to see which hybrid - a sort of genetic modification, I guess - produces the most interesting result. A simple voting system would do the trick. Obviously we would call this the "Frankenstein Challenge". Perhaps one for July or August?? Of course it might simply be that my computer's fucked.....
posted by MajorDundee at 3:49 PM on May 29, 2009


Has anyone noticed...
Yup.
A couple other times too, but I can't find the links.
posted by chococat at 4:58 PM on May 29, 2009


Ok. Who's going to be the first to post their Hallelujah? I'm mostly done with my version that will probably anger anyone who likes Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, or the song itself. I won't have time to work on it more until early next week, but I'm a little distressed that I might be the only person who is actually doing it and I don't feel like being the challenge opener. Is anyone else actually doing this challenge? If you're not, I'm still going to post mine when it's done. But come on - let's actually do this one, because I don't want to post mine and then have people assume that, because I did this challenge, I must actually like Hallelujah.
posted by The World Famous at 11:49 AM on June 4, 2009


I have like three different ideas for recordings I want to do (including an Elvishy uke-based number called "Halle Hula"), but I've also got a busy demo recording I made a year or so ago when I was home sick from work and had gone hoarse. I may post that in a bit just to be sassy.
posted by cortex at 11:57 AM on June 4, 2009


In fact, there you go.
posted by cortex at 12:18 PM on June 4, 2009


Very nice. That will light a fire under me to finish mine, too. Thanks!
posted by The World Famous at 12:35 PM on June 4, 2009


...let's actually do this one

Heh.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:55 PM on June 4, 2009


...let's actually do this one

Heh.


This was intended less as an indictment of the community (I've done what, one challenge track?) than a commentary on my suspicion that enthusiasm for covering Hallelujah might turn out to be less than had been initially anticipated. Given the awesomeness of Cortex' opener, however, I am optimistic.
posted by The World Famous at 3:38 PM on June 4, 2009


Ironically, my track record for followthrough on challenges has been miserable, and in this case I've only got a qualifying entry in the can by coincidence. Let's see if I actually record my other, newer versions. Heh.
posted by cortex at 3:56 PM on June 4, 2009


Someone very awesome wrote up a little history of covers of Hallelujah a couple of years ago: http://www.clapclap.org/2007/04/hallelujah.html.
posted by xorry at 9:32 PM on June 11, 2009


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