A New Take: Five Notable Covers

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By Elise Montemayor
Music Journalist

1. “All I Need” by Sampha (originally by Air)

Piano man, Sampha, did a jazzy, stripped-down version of “All I Need” for BBC Radio 1’s piano sessions back in 2016. It’s been four years and I’m still in awe of this amazing cover! The original “All I Need” by Air sets a moody and romantic tone within its cords that drives the listener to a warm/hazy feeling. Sampha’s rendition does a perfect job keeping that tone all the while sounding like a Sampha song.

Here’s the video.

2. “Alone Again Or” by The Damned (originally by Love)

At first, I had no idea this was a cover until recently when I finished season one of “Russian Doll” on Netflix. The original song played on the very last episode and I instantly recognized it but it didn’t sound like the one I was used to hearing. So, I did a bit of research and found that “Alone Again Or” was recorded by the band Love in 1967. The original song has a folky ’60s sound with orchestral instruments. The Damned version on the other hand, sounds very ’80s alternative but with the same Spanish flare that the original song creates for the listener. It’s the perfect parallel from the ‘60s and ‘80s and both versions represent those decades. The cover is featured on The Damned’s 1986 album Anything.

Here’s the video.

3. “Moon River” by Frank Ocean (originally by Henri Mancini)

Don’t listen to this song on a plane while looking at old pictures on your phone or there will be guaranteed public crying. Not saying this happened to me…. but it happened to me. The original “Moon River” was written by Henry Mancini, but is sung by Audrey Hepburn for the film, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” While Hepburn’s version is more acoustic with just her and a banjo, Ocean makes his an electronic trip. There are many aspects in the cover that mirror his 2016 album Blonde like the high-pitched auto tuned vocals and long guitar outros, but Ocean still keeps that nostalgic effect that the original has had for the past 58 years.

Listen here.

4. “Across The Universe” by Fiona Apple (originally by The Beatles)

Nineties icon Fiona Apple covered “Across The Universe” for the 1998 film “Pleasantville.” That was 21 years ago and it still stands the test of time. While the cover sounds like a ‘90s era Fiona Apple song, there’s still a tinge of that ‘60s psychedelia the Beatles obviously had in their era. At the same time, the cover feels like a separate song because of the context that it has. The tone is set for the plot of the movie, “Pleasantville” which gives the song a more melancholic feeling. It makes you feel sad but hopeful for the future; it makes you appreciate the beauty of what your life has at this moment. Fiona Apple singing “nothing’s gonna change my world” just hits differently. Maybe causing even more public crying. Anyways, Fiona Apple did this classic song justice (and between you and me, I personally prefer Fiona’s version) .

Listen here.

Fun Fact: This music video is directed by Paul Thomas Anderson who made the films “There Will Be Blood” and “Boogie Nights!”

5. “What You Won’t Do for Love” by Jessie Ware (originally by Bobby Caldwell)

Jessie Ware’s neo-soul rendition of “What You Won’t Do for Love” is literally a shot to the heart from Cupid himself. This cover was released on her SoundCloud in 2012 right before her debut album, Devotion, dropped. It was actually how I discovered her and it took me a few years to find out that it was originally by Bobby Caldwell. The original has a classic, soulful jazz sound that was prominent in the ‘70s. It still stands the test of time, gaining appreciation from newer generations today. Ware’s version is super electronic with light synths and low key beats that the neo soul sound is known for. Even though the cover pertains more to the sound of this generation, she still has that smooth and soulful element Caldwell’s version has with the help of her incredible vocals. I mean really, this woman can sing!

Check it out here.

Another fun fact: This recording was produced by Sampha!

Featured image by Alexander Ward via Flickr.

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