The Flip Side of Cover Songs

This past week, rapper Jay-Z shared his reason for not participating in the 25th anniversary of “We Are the World,” a charity remake to help raise funds for Haiti earthquake relief. 

Said Jay-Z to MTV News, “I know everyone is going to take this wrong: ‘We Are the World,’ I love it, and I understand the point and I think it’s great. But I think ‘We Are the World’ is like ‘Thriller’ to me. I don’t ever wanna see it touched.” 

In a way, I kind of agree with him. 

Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to diminish the fact that these artists (well, and Vince Vaughn) contributed their time and voices to a worthwhile cause. In fact, I hope the song sells millions. I encourage you -- if you like the song, please visit iTunes right now and purchase your copy. If you don’t like the song, there are plenty of organizations, like the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, you can contribute to that provide relief to those throughout Haiti and Chile. 

But honestly, couldn’t a group that talented record a new song? 

“We Are the World 25 for Haiti” just can’t live up to the original. Justin Bieber taking over the intro from Lionel Richie? Um, no. And I’m sorry Celine Dion, you are an amazing singer. One of the best. But nothing can live up to Cyndi Lauper’s screechy, yet mesmerizing, “Well, well, well, well”  near the climax of the song. 

Remakes are a slippery slope. For the few classic cover songs like “All Along the Watchtower,” there are classically bad remakes. Jessica Simpson’s “Angels” for example. The songs that make you want to punch out the radio and pull out your hair. 

The remakes I can’t stomach? 

  1. Madonna’s “American Pie” – I don’t think I need to explain this.

  2. Uncle Kracker’s “Drift Away” – Every ounce of soul from the original version drifted away with this dull remake.

  3. The Goo Goo Dolls “Give a Little Bit” – If you’re going to do a cover song, it needs a new spin. The Dolls’ version sounds the same as Supertramp’s, but without the warm fuzzies.

  4. Will To Power’s “Baby I Love Your Ways/Free Bird” – Two, two, two disasters in one.

  5. Counting Crows & Vanessa Carlton’s “Big Yellow Taxi” – This one gives me the shakes.

Cover songs I adore? “Wild Horses” by The Sundays, “Jolene” by the White Stripes, and “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley.

So, musical mommies, what cover songs can’t you stand? And what ones have you dancing in your car, regardless what the driver next to you thinks?

By Nicole Plegge, Lifestyle Blogger for SmartParenting

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Metro East mom Nicole Plegge has written for STL Parent for more than 12 years. Besides working as a freelance writer & public relations specialist, and raising two daughters and a husband, Nicole's greatest achievements are finding her misplaced car keys each day and managing to leave the house in a stain-free shirt. Her biggest regret is never being accepted to the Eastland School for Girls. Follow Nicole on Twitter @STLWriterinIL 

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