Covers that change what the song means.

Without changing the words or the melody.

In Best and Worst Political Songs thread, I mention Rage Against The Machine’s version of I Could Just Kill A Man.

To me, this song is about impotent rage (against the machine, I guess) and how it all can get to be too much. Cypress Hill’s original take was more of a funny drug song.

Then there’s Smooth Criminal. Michael Jackson’s original sounds to me like a song about a bad lover, Alien Ant Farm’s version-- a guy who actually kills someone.

Completely OT: Does anyone else hear Michael sing “Annie are you Oakley”? Only me, huh?

I definitely heard, “Annie are you Oakley? Are you Oakley, Annie?”

Mine is Faith Hill’s godawful cover of Janis Jopin’s, “Take Another Little Piece of My Heart.” The original is an angst-filled resignation of a lover who knows her heart will never let her escape her relationship, even though the guy’s a right bastard.

Hill’s is enthusiastic and peppy. It makes me want to stab my ears.

Cry by the Philosopher Kings.

The original by Godley & Cream is fantastic, and applicable to any type of relationship.

The Philosopher King’s version is a drecky ‘Girl, why you done me wrong?’ type deal.

ETA: I hear “Annie are you Oakley? Are you Oakley, Annie” as well.

Jeff Buckley’s version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Cohen’s version is steeped in sarcasm; in Buckley’s version he mostly seems legitimately joyful. I think it’s a mistake.


There was a disco version of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar” that turns the song from a condemnation of the greedy record business to “Isn’t this great? We’re making a record! We’re going to be big stars!”

Funny how two different people can hear the same song and come away with opposing interpretations. I hear anguish and loneliness in Buckley’s version. I had to listen to the song again to make sure we were talking about the same thing. Still way different from Cohen, though.

“Memory” from CATS is supposed to be a quiet reflective song. Too many people sing it like a dirge.

My favorite is an intentional change – Big Daddy’s version of Celine Dion’s song “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic turns it into a bouncy, upbeat Elvis Presley song. The first time you hear it, it doesn’t register exactly what song it is.

Of course, changing the style and mood of songs was Big Daddy’s stock in trade. But this one’s such a big change that it’s hilariously wonderful.

You Better Come On In My Kitchen.
Robert Johnson’s is about seduction; Rory Block’s cover is about affection and caring.

That woman sure can play the guitar.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ version of “Love Rollercoaster” changes the Ohio Players’ lyrics from “your love is like a roller coaster, baby, I refuse to ride” to “your love is like a roller coaster, baby, I wanna ride”.

Ah, but that’s changing the words. I’m talking about covers that use the same words but convey a totally different meaning to the song.

Plus, I think the Ohio Players did say ‘I wanna ride’. Hold up. . . lemme play it. . .

It’s sounds more like “I want you to ride” actually. Accentuated by the lead singer saying, “Ride baby, ride.”

I’m trying to google the lyrics to the Ohio Players version, but it seems they’re all saying “I wanna ride.”

Once nice example is in Annie Get Your Gun. Ethel Merman’s version of “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun” is an upbeat song about an independent woman who puts men in their plae, but Bernadette Peters sings it more slowly, turning it into a sad reflection on how she drives men away.

Most versions of Cole Porter’s ‘Night and Day’ (like Sinatra’s) sound lovely and romantic. U2’s cover is dark, almost stalker-ish.

Look out behind you, it’s Bono!

The NIN version of “Hurt” is…bombastic.

The Johnny Cash cover is a painful reminiscence.

[aside]I once saw a striptease act to that song.
Not the best choice of music.


Elton John’s Rocketman is mournful, contemplative, almost sad. He likes his job, but he doesn’t like leaving his family and Mars is a scary, lonely place. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes are excited- they’re going to fucking Mars!

:eek: :frowning:

Decades ago, Tom Robinson, one of the first openly gay rockers, did a cover of Steely Dan’s “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”

A gay guy singing that song gives the lyrics a whole different meaning. Rikki then seems like an insecure straight guy, or a guy in denial of his sexuality… someone who “kinda scared himself” but who “might have a change of heart” and give gay love a try.

‘Stairway to heaven’ Led Zeppelin - was somehow er…refreshed by Rolf Harris

‘No matter what’ Meatloaf, and then Boyzone came along and fucked it up big time

His version is so very differant in sentiment, one is a witness, the other is just teenybopper dreck.