Embarrassing music

Pete and Ginger hash out this article on bad cover songs. I’ve never heard any of them, so I just have two comments. One, I’m not as reflexively anti-“Danny Boy” as Ginger is, so I have to agree with Pete. Johnny Cash is exactly the kind of artist you want covering that old standard, since he’ll resist the urge to get all puffy and faux-emotional, which is what causes most normal people to grind their teeth when they hear it.

Secondly, this is enough to make me question the wisdom of the whole endeavor:

9. Candy Flip ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’

Ric Peet and Danny Spencer believed that one of the most sublime pieces of music ever made could be improved by a semi-simian scally whining over a cheap cymbal-and-snare racket.

“Strawberry Fields Forever” is on my short list of Worst Beatles Songs Ever, so the author of this article and I are clearly coming at the concept with differing ideas of what constitutes racket. The Asylum Street Spankers‘ parody of “Strawberry”, in the epilogue to their hilarious “Whatever”, almost justifies the existence of this song. Almost. On the other hand, I suppose since I dislike the original so much, it makes sense that the cover sucks, too. So it probably belongs.

I have to say, though, I can’t believe anyone could come up with a list of worst covers and not at least mention Michael Bolton, who could generate a Ten Worst list all by himself. Someone explain this one to me, please.

Elsewhere in the Embarrassing Music files, John Nova Lomax gets a bunch of hip musicians to confess to their dark, guilty musical pleasures. Personally, it’s hard for me to identify the music that I like that I ought to be ashamed of because I’m not actually ashamed of any of it. I’ll freely admit that I own every Billy Joel album ever made (in one format or another), even if admitting it risks getting me delinked by Norbizness. I’m nowhere near Pete’s level of expertise, but I had a fondness for hair metal back in the day – really, what self-respecting child of the 80s didn’t have a soft spot for Ratt or Twisted Sister? – and I still regret that I never stole my former roommate Stephen’s copy of the Chess soundtrack. And I don’t feel the least bit guilty about any of it.

Now that I’ve admitted my fondness for Tim Rice, I’ll note with some pleasure how many of Lomax’s artists also share a taste for musicals.

Zamora, Julie. (Singer in the band Modulator.) Atop Zamora’s list is the Xanadu soundtrack. “Olivia Newton-John and ELO make this one my favorite guilty pleasure. She must have been ‘Magic,’ or at least used helium to hit those high notes.” Still on the ONJ tip, Grease is another of Zamora’s faves. “I’m glad you asked: Why, yes, I am an Olivia Newton-John fan. ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ tells the sad story of my life, while ‘Greased Lightnin” makes me want to pimp my ride.” Zamora also likes to mine ABBA‘s Gold (“Swedish melodrama rules!”) and trip the light fantastic to The Bee Gees Greatest Hits. “I had a huge crush on Barry Gibb — it must have been that high, effeminate voice juxtaposed with all of that facial hair. ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ makes me want to get into a fight just so we can make up.” And finally, there’s The Sound of Music. “What can I say? I was named after Julie Andrews. I absolutely love singing the title track (especially the high, lilting backing vocals) whilst twirling about in my apartment. Anytime I’m feeling down, I listen to this gem and go to that calm, happy place where everyone sings in harmony, is Austrian and is built like body builders.”

I’m right there with you, Julie, though maybe without the twirling. My buddy Syd once joked about forming a group called Straight Guys Who Like Show Tunes. I’d sign up as a charter member. You may begin mocking me at your convenience.

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3 Responses to Embarrassing music

  1. Ginger says:

    “Personally, it’s hard for me to identify the music that I like that I ought to be ashamed of because I’m not actually ashamed of any of it.”

    Amen, brother. Hipsters-r-not-us.

  2. William Hughes says:

    Ironically, Johnny Cash recorded a horrible cover of “What’d I Say”. It sounded more like “What Am I Thinking?”

  3. Linkmeister says:

    As the owner of a six CD set of Broadway tunes from musicals dating back to the 1920s, I want a seat at that table.

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