I blame IHeartNoise for this one. Ilya linked me to a track by Coma Nova – a cover of The Cure’s Hot Hot Hot which left both of us scratching our heads. It reminded me of some of the other strangest ever cover versions that have been unleashed upon the world …
1. Chiranjeevi – Golimar (Thriller)
This Indian take in Michael Jackson’s Thriller was a huge viral hit back in 2006. Though it mimics some of the outfits and dance moves from Jacko’s original video (as well as parts of the music), it is debatable whether it’s actually a cover version. The song is from the Telegu film Donga, released in 1985.
2. The Baseballs – Umbrella
The Baseballs pull off the bold feat of sounding as though their version is the original, as they tackle Rihanna’s R&B pop classic in a clean-cut rockabilly style. The Germany-based band’s cover was a hit in Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Iceland, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway.
3. William Shatner – Rocket Man
The Shat’s spoken-word intepretations always came over like an elaborate prank by the Star Trek star. Was he trolling? Bernie Taupin kept a straight face, though one can assume that Elton John was hiding backstage, laughing his ass off.
4. Dread Zeppelin – Immigrant Song
Dread Zeppelin’s pitch was simple: reggae covers of Led Zeppelin songs, sung by an Elvis impersonator. It shouldn’t work as well as it does.
5. Mick Jagger & David Bowie – Dancing In The Street
The original by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas was an explosion of beautiful noise. The signature song for the Motown sound, it perfectly balanced the famous “Wall of Sound” production against the most infectious melody the genre ever produced. The vocals, arrangement and instrumentation are – simply put – perfect.
The Bowie/Jagger cover, by contrast, is absolutely f***ing awful.
6. Paul Anka – Smells Like Teen Spirit
I’m sure that when Kurt wrote his anguished angst anthem, he envisaged it being crooned by an ageing lounge lizard backed with a pair of bongos. The phrase “what the actual f***?” has never been more appropriate.