Song of the Day – Covers Week

Welcome back to song of the day from another short hiatus.

Covers. You either hate them or you love them. I have read blog postings about covers in the past, but I heard a cover of a song last week which I believe should be in the top 10 worst covers of all time! I spent some time thinking about covers and I have come to the realization that it is VERY easy to find horrible covers of songs, but not so easy to find great covers of songs.

In honor of that moment when I heard that song (which will be revealed below) I am going to call this week, covers week. Each song of the day post in covers week will contain two covers. One that I feel is one of the worst covers I have ever heard, and one that is one of the best. I have not yet thought this through, as the idea to do this just came to me as I have been typing, so I do not know if I will be able to come up with 5 covers that I like, but I will try.

So I think I should have some rules. I am going to exclude covers that were made specifically for movies or stage musicals. There are tons of them (especially movies) and some are good and some are bad, but they have some purpose other than a singer trying to make a buck off of someone else’s work. I am also going to exclude covers that were hits for the artist doing the cover, but not for the original artist. This excludes many many many great covers, for example, Turn! Turn! Turn! By The Byrds is really a cover of Pete Seeger’s song. I think it will be more fun (and more challenging) to find good cover songs without using songs that are obviously good. And that is it! Everything else is game, and I hope that those who read my blog (and there are plenty who do according to my stats!) will comment and add their choices as well!

To start it all off, I am going to include the horrible cover that I heard last week. I say include as I have a number of offerings for this first post, and they are all from the same group.

The Carpenters, Karen and Richard, sister and brother were a mega hit in the 1970’s into the early 1980s. They were a significant group for a number of reasons. First off, they became a pop hit in an era when bands were moving more and more toward heavy rock. The Carpenters were able to become a success with a very soft musical style. They were also one of the first groups to experiment with what we today call the music video. Their success is also attributed to Richard’s collaboration with some of the greatest songwriters of all time, most of whom came from Brill Building success. Richard is also a gifted songwriter, arranger and producer. One other thing that was interesting about them was Karen’s vocal range. Although Karen had a range that covered three octaves, she was well known for her use of her low register. Alto singers were mostly unknown to popular music and that also gave them a distinctive sound.

The Carpenters were also known for covering many songs. Although Richard did write music, more than half of their recordings were written by other songwriters. So for this inaugural episode of cover week I have five covers from the Carpenters. Three of them go on my list of the worst covers ever and two on the best side. I’ll start with the worst (as that is more fun!)

For sure the most covered group in history is The Beatles. Generally, it is my opinion that no one should cover Beatles music. Cover acts don’t bother me (and there are many good Beatles cover bands) but covered recordings are usually horrible (with the notable exception of one of my favorite movies, Across the Universe). The Carpenters covered a bunch of Beatles songs, and at least two were recorded.

Enjoy!?

First we have Ticket to Ride, which somehow became a hit for them.

Next is Help! which was not recorded but there is this live version. Interestingly, Karen was a talented drummer which you see here.

To their credit, this is not nearly as bad as Ticket to Ride, and for sure better than the one that really made my stomach churn

Now for the good side! They made a lot of money doing covers, so you would think there would be something good!

Their biggest hit was a cover of Please, Mr. Postman, a big song by the Marvelettes and coincidentally also recorded by the Beatles. One other note, this video is silly and it was filmed at Disneyland.

One more good cover is of Herman’s Hermits There’s a Kind of Hush.

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