You know what’s funny? When two very different songs share the same name. Especially when it leads to confusing/embarrasing conversations like this one:
Spencer’s (much cooler) friend: “‘Good Vibrations’ is such a great tune…” Spencer: “Oh ya, I love Marky Mark!” Spencer’s friend: “Um…I was talking about the Beach Boys song…” Awkward silence as both parties realize the extent of Spencer’s lameness.
Don’t get me wrong, the Beach Boys’ version is also awesome, but how can you not love the Funky Bunch’s ridiculous ’90s dance moves? And Marky Mark’s shirtless posing. Not to mention that gold glitter hat…
Here are the two songs, side by side:
Oh man! I’m just gonna say it: they are both great. That’s the beauty of two songs with one name — unlike your typical classic vs. cover scenario, you don’t really have to measure how they stack up to one another, or choose between them. You can instead just enjoy each song for what it is. And although these two couldn’t be more different in some ways, when it comes down to it they are both songs about the thrill of hitting that sweet spot, where everything is just waves and waves and waves of good times.
A couple of weeks ago I went to see a friend’s band play. Their name: More Cowbell.
I hadn’t seen a cover band in a long time and I had forgotten how good it feels to know song after song and be reminded of old favorites. There is a real pleasure in the experience of hearing the soundtrack of your life and sharing it with other people. The Cars, the Cult, Areosmith, Blondie, U2, No Doubt, the Foo Fighters, the Ramones… More Cowbell ripped things up for the duration of three satisfying sets. They didn’t play any Rush songs (it’s not often that you hear a band cover Rush), but my buddy on the kit was doing his best to sneak in fills when he could. I found myself singing along and grinning all night.
Weirdly, it felt like a vacation — a vacation from all the new stuff out there, and I don’t only mean new releases. I mean anything new to you – bands your friends suggest, albums that critics write about, music you hear on TV or in movies…There is so much out there and I really do want to give it all a try, but sometimes I just want to listen to the Cars’ first album for days and not feel like I’m missing out on something.
Seeing More Cowbell, and the happiness I experienced that night, made me realize that maybe I’m reaching my cut off point. I might be full, no more room for new stuff. I have assembled my musical cannon and I’m happy with it. I don’t like to believe this. I like to think that I will always be open to new music, but something inside me smirks and says stop foolin’ (immediately thought of Def Leppard) yourself. I remember when it began for me: in 1979, buying 45s at records stores with my allowance money…and now I’m buying my music on the internet with my credit card — innocence lost!
Am I really ready to end my search for new music? No, of course not…but I believe I have learned a valuable lesson: take a vacation, have fun, go out and see a cover band.
You guys! For my inaugural ‘Classic vs. Cover’ post I am very excited to be writing about this song! I grew up with the Tiffany version. I remember rocking out to it at sleepovers in grade six while we did each others’ makeup (peach lip gloss was big that year) and gossiped about the boys we liked (Aaron Prosser, in my case)*. Good times.
*Super embarrassing if he is reading this now.
Back then, I was not aware that the song was a cover. The original was done by Tommy James and the Shondells (their other hits included ‘Crimson and Clover’ and ‘Mony Mony’ – which was, of course, later covered by Billy Idol).
Here is the Tommy James version:
Pretty awesome, right? It’s got a great pop-meets-garage vibe, and I love how they do the ‘heartbeat’ part.
Now, the cover by Tiffany:
Right off the top, it’s way more poppy than the original, with those sweet synth beats and the hilarious/awesome ’80s overproduction. Also, I don’t think we can discount the amazingness of this video. I mean…the dance moves! The acid wash denim! Gumby!! Gah…it’s all so good!
So, which version is best? The classic is much more stripped down than the cover, and I would argue that since it’s a really great song to begin with, the original shows that off perfectly with no need for embellishment. On the other hand, Tiffany’s version is a pretty glorious piece of sugary bubblegum perfection.
One thing I really like about this tune in general is the fact that, for a song that’s all about sneaking off to hook up with someone, both versions are pretty innocent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude — but in this day and age of explicit sexuality and raunchy lyrics, it’s kind of refreshing to listen to a song that contains a line like “The beating of our hearts is the only sound” — rather than, say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me” from Rihanna, this generation’s incarnation of a pop princess (possibly being listened to at little girls’ sleepovers as we speak). I dunno, maybe it’s just the romantic in me.
As for these two versions of ‘I Think We’re Alone Now,’ what’s your preference? Classic, or cover?
Happy Monday, kids, and welcome to a new column that we hope to post on a regular basis, entitled ‘Love At First Listen’.
There are some songs that grow on you. The first time you hear them you may not be completely blown away, but upon further listening you end up appreciating the nuances that, with any song, reveal themselves over time (an example of this for me is U2’s ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’). With others there may be an initial strong attraction, deepening gradually into love (most of my favorite songs fall into this category). Then there is the type of song that you fall for, head over heels, the moment that you first hear it. Love at first listen.
Probably the first time this ever happened to me was the fall of 1993. My friend Chris lent me his copy of The Smashing Pumpkins’ new record Siamese Dream (released in July of that year, but we were living in Singapore at the time and everything came out there a bit later). I remember, vividly, lying on my bedroom floor and pressing play. I liked the first two tracks, but as soon as song #3 started, after literally the very first bar, I thought to myself “This is it. I am in love”. And I was right. As the song progressed, it just kept getting better and better, and I listened along dreamily, stars in my eyes. I was a total goner. I must have played that song 20 more times that day, and had it on repeat over the following months.
The fact that Billy Corgan wrote the song about a day in which he was having suicidal thoughts, with lyrics of depression and self-mutilation, did nothing to diminish my ardor – in fact, being sixteen at the time and suffering myself from the requisite dose of depressive thoughts that go along with being a teenager (though no self-mutilation or suicidal ideation, thankfully), it made me feel less alone to know that there were other people experiencing similar emotions.
As is the case with any true love, my romance with this song continues to this day. It is still as relevant to me ‘Today’ as it was the first time I heard it.
How about you? What song did you fall for the first time you heard it?
It’s December 24th. Christmas Eve. Let Them Eat Vinyl headquarters is a lively place tonight. We may or may not be getting drunk. And by that I mean we are. You know what else we are doing? Dancing around our living room, listening to our favourite Christmas song.
There are many great Christmas songs out there, but this one holds a special place in our hearts. The Finn was in high school when it was released, and tells me that everyone loved it — the punks, the headbangers, the new wavers, the rockers. It was a universal song, and those don’t come along too often. I was seven years old and actually living in Africa at the time, and although I was one of the lucky ones who never had to worry about food on my table, it’s important to remember that this is still an all-too-common problem in the world, almost 30 years after this song came out. So let’s continue Bob Geldof’s good works, and try to help out those less fortunate than ourselves, whenever and however we can.
This Christmas, we wish the best to you and your family. We love you, and we hope that you keep visiting our site, because it is our goal to entertain you and hopefully make you think about why you love music. Music is one of the greatest things in the world, and we are all lucky to have it.
So please enjoy our favorite Christmas song, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’:
p.s. How amazing is this song?? Paul Weller! Boy George! Simon Le Bon! Bono! Phil Collins on drums! And I am kind of crushing on a young Sting. Also, how beautiful is Jody Watley? Everyone looks so ’80s and awesome. We love it. Peace, love and joy to you all.
All right, got my ticket to the concert, check the calendar… 3 weeks to go, what’s next? Train man — train hard like Rocky would.
A typical training regime begins with listening to the artist’s latest CD, over and over again. Sometimes it’s easy. The songs come to you and you feel them immediately. Your body and brain react unconsciously, like Neo dodging bullets. You understand, accept and feel the music completely. This is rare. Training is usually difficult because you have your favorites from the artist and when the new stuff is not measuring up, it becomes work — like running in Siberia with a log on your back (Rocky 3).
I have been training very hard over the last few weeks, and at times have felt totally overwhelmed. I feel like I have given myself only 3 weeks to train for a marathon. Sometimes I question myself — do possess the endurance and mental fortitude necessary to rise to the occasion? Self-defeating thoughts have been entering my mind: I should have started training for this years ago (or maybe when I was 14)… it’s too big, too complex…I’ve never been challenged like this before, and I need more experience. But something brings me back each day to listen again and again, and search the interweb for different interpretations of the music. It is exhausting and excruciating, but then I feel my music muscle memory kick in and I’m starting to get the music version of a runner’s high. I just want to keep listening. I think can…I think I can — I just might be able to — get my mind and body in tune for The Musical Box‘s performance of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway this Saturday at the Danforth Music Hall.
This record is the New York Marathon of progressive rock concept albums. Genesis released the epic double album in 1974, and it is the sprawling storey of Rael, a streetwise kid from Brooklyn and his quest to make a name for himself. Transpose the “a” and “e” and it’s Real — or is it a play on Peter Gabriel? — and that’s just the beginning… I found pages and pages online written by people attempting to deconstruct the plot and explain the symbolism. I feel like I need an English teacher to help me understand this. And this has been the great fun of my current training exercise — remembering the things I love about concept albums. It’s pure escapism, suspension of disbelief, entering Rael’s world and following him along the gritty streets of 1970’s New York and through fantastical magical caves and endless staircases.
Spending time with this album has reignited my interest in revisiting some of my old favorite concept albums and taking a chance on some new ones. Maybe its time for me to give some of the contemporaries a shot – Coheed and Cambria come to mind. I took a break today from training and listened to Arcarde Fire’s concept album The Suburbs. I thought to myself “damn, Rush said all of this in one one song, ‘Subdivsions,’ and also released 3 concepts albums – one about necromancers, one about a dystopian society and one about Greek gods fighting for man’s conscience — and they still didn’t win a Grammy”. Maybe Arcade Fire’s Grammy for The Suburbs was more of a recognition of the brilliance of the concept album. A calling card to other artists to take an idea, add adventurous music, dare to be grandiose, and something special might happen. So special it is still being recreated 37 years after its’ release.
For more on the history of The Musical Box & their collaboration with Genesis, click here.
Today is a beautiful day. It’s sunny out and (relatively) warm, it’s Friday, and I am in a great mood. But more important than all of those things put together is the fact that tonight, I am going to see…oh, only one of the best movies of all time on the big screen.
Whether or not you are a fan of John Hughes, you have to admit that his films were a huge part of 80s pop culture, helping to cement the careers of a handful of young actors (Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, Eric Stoltz, Ally Sheedy, to name a few), and were seminal in the establishment of the teen movie as a genre. Which, as far as I’m concerned, was one of the most important developments of the 20th century. Sure, there were a few other “big” things that happened (women achieving the right to vote, desegregation, man walking on the moon, the invention of the internet by Al Gore, etc) but I’d say that the creation of the modern teen movie ranks pretty high up there.
Although The Breakfast Club is probably considered his masterpiece, Pretty in Pink is my favorite John Hughes movie (with Some Kind of Wonderful coming in a close second). Pretty in Pink has everything — great music, unbelievably awesome 80s fashion, a classic love triangle, new-wave hairdos…all set amidst the backdrop of the ’80s high school class divide (rich kids vs. poor kids, preps vs. outcasts) — obviously a recurring theme in Hughes’ work. Throw in a young James Spader in a crumpled linen suit in what is surely the most amazing portrayal of a rich sleazebag ever to hit the big screen, and what’s not to love?
I mean, look at this guy.
The disdainful smirk, the unbuttoned shirt, the feathered hair… goddamit, everything about this look is complete & utter perfection.
There’s one scene in the movie in which Blane (Andrew McCarthy) takes Andie (Molly Ringwald) to a party, and they stumble upon Steff (James Spader) and his rich bitch girlfriend Benny hooking up in one of the upstairs bedrooms, and oh my god Steff and Benny behave like such awesomely horrible rich douchebags to her that it makes me want to punch myself in the face from pure joy.
I need these two in my life so they can sit around all day making disparaging remarks about my outfits. Somebody please make this happen.
Anyway, I can feel this quickly devolving into a rant about why Steff is the best character in the movie so I’ll stop here for now, but there are many other amazing parts of this movie that we need to discuss (Duckie’s fashion stylings! Harry Dean Stanton! Annie Potts as Andie’s record store boss!) I’ll be posting this weekend about my thoughts on seeing Pretty in Pink again on the big screen, 25 years after I first saw it in theatres (I was 10). Will it live up to expectations? Will it be as good as it was all those years ago?*
*Spoiler alert: of course it will. Obviously I own the DVD and watch it every few months.
Most importantly, we will examine the music that appears throughout the movie and determine whether Hughes hit the mark with the songs he chose for the soundtrack.
I’m taking a walk down memory lane tonight, my friends. If all goes according to plan, at around 10:30 pm I will be sitting in a dark movie theatre sobbing with happiness as this song plays during the movie’s epic final prom scene:
“We’ve always had time on our sides
Now it’s fading fast
Every second, every moment
We’ve got to, we’ve gotta make it last…”
Whenever I hear a song by Cat Stevens, I think of the following conversation that DamnYouSkylon had in high school with his friend Brian:
DYS: “Dude, so Cat Stevens gave away all his money, converted to Islam, and changed his name to Yusuf Islam”.
Brian: “Really? He changed his last name to the same name as his religion?”
DYS: “Yeah man, I guess that’d be like changing your name to, like, John Christian or whatever”.
Brian: “Or Bob Hindu…”
DYS: “Richard Buddhist…”
Brian: “Ricky Jehova’s Witness…!”
Now every time I think of Cat Stevens I hear a little voice in my head saying “Ricky Jehova’s Witness!” and it totally makes me laugh. You could say I’m being disrespectful of Stevens’ (Islam’s) life choices, but to be honest with you I think that “Spencer Christian” has a nice ring to it, so I might change my name too. I’m not renouncing all my worldly possessions though. I’m no dummy. My collection of old Sweet Valley High books might be worth something someday*, you know.
*They will never, ever be worth anything.
Anyway, when it comes to Stevens’ (Islam’s) music, I am totally divided. I love some of his songs (‘Morning Has Broken,’ ‘Another Saturday Night,’ ‘Father and Son’ — which always, always makes me cry) but others annoy the f*ck out of me (‘Wild World,’ for example, literally makes me want to punch myself in the face).
However, my very favorite Stevens (Islam) song is this one, ‘Trouble’. The lyrics are so sad and dejected, and yet the song is somehow uplifting. You can hear the weariness in his voice during the verses, but then all of a sudden he’s got this amazing harmonizing thing going on and it sounds so pretty and hopeful. It’s the perfect song to listen to when you’re feeling down…in fact, I’ve always thought that it was written about depression. Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know, but with lines like “You have made me a wreck / Now won’t you leave me in my misery” I have to think that he’s pleading with the “black dog” of depression (as Winston Churchill so aptly described it) to move on and let him be. Anyone who has experienced a depressive episode will be able to relate to this sentiment, the feeling of being “Shattered and tossed and worn,” and the desire to have the cloud lifted.
But even if you’re not sad, it’s a great song — simple yet eloquent, haunting yet hopeful.
And as a bonus, here’s my boyfriend, Eddie Vedder, performing his take on the song:
Hola amigos, and Happy Monday! We hope you all had a great weekend & hope you enjoyed Part 1 of our California playlist, ‘California Über Alles’. If you missed it, you can listen to it here. And now we move on to Part 2! Honestly y’all, there are so many songs that have been written about California, it’s kind of crazy. I guess it still holds a certain mystique as the land of opportunity, probably a carryover from the old days of frontierism and the fervour of the California gold rush. You have to admit it’d be kind of cool to be out there prospecting for gold, and I can only imagine that when people got there and saw how beautiful it was they’d be hard pressed to want to leave.
Hello everyone & Happy Friday! We have a special treat for you today. Here at LTRV we are obsessed with many things, but one of the things we love the most is the great state of California.
Why California, you ask? Well, here are a few reasons:
It’s sunny and warm, like, all the time
The Terminator was its Governor
There are palm trees and beaches as far as the eye can see
You never have to put on your snow tires
William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper tycoon, built a castle in the countryside where he housed over 100 wiener dogs! Yes! The man was obviously more than a little eccentric, but he was a kajillionnaire so he could do whatever the F he wanted. We love wiener dogs, and it makes us happy to picture them frolicking around the hillsides at Hearst Castle
It never rains in Southern California
Beverley Hills, 90210 — only the best TV show of all time — was set there