Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Tale of Two Songs: Pretty interesting Remakes

Like a girlfriend who once angrily watched me sleep after I had clumsily pre-ejaculated will tell you, I'm not really a fan of doing things over. Maybe because I have the attention span of a coked up 5 year old, or possibly my outlook on life is so bleak that I'm confident that shit just gets worse, rehashing any thing is just bad news in the life of Humanity F. Critic. Like the one time I took back a girlfriend after she cheated because I loved her so much, only to have her fuck a couple of my friends a few months later.(Having my friends say, "We did it to look out for you!!" was truly a Hallmark moment. It got even more touching when I started beating the shit out of them with a pool cue I was holding) Or recently, when I tried to squash a silly internet beef(that I didn't spark off by the way) with a fellow blogger that erupted 7 months ago, with me basically apologizing to her. Rehashing that was a big mistake, since she took that as an opportunity to say silly slick shit in her email exchange with yours truly, a exchange in which I think drained me of well needed I.Q points because of the million bong hits I took in college.

But in music I am a fan of the proverbial "do over" if you will, because it is always interesting to see what angle the artist will take when covering someone else's work. Will it turn out to be uneventful like when Dave Grohl covered Prince's "Darling Nikki", noteworthy like Jodeci's cover of Stevie Wonder's "Lately", or will at least be interesting?? Well, here are some remakes that I personally find interesting, what do you think?

Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Song: "Higher Ground"(watch remake)
Originally performed by Stevie Wonder(watch original)

Covering Stevie Wonder's music is no great feat, so difficult in fact that attempting to do so can leave the artist in question looking like a pair of tits to be totally honest. With the case of "Higher Ground", Anthony Keides must have a giant set of balls to tackle a Stevie Wonder classic of this calibre. The original version, the one sung beautifully by the man born Steveland Morris, gives you a funky synthesized track, sprinkled with rock sensibilities leaving anyone with a pulse nodding their head like they were in a fucking rhyme cypher. One would think, on paper that is, that those 4 white boys from the west coast would have trouble duplicating the magic of a song that delved into religion, spirituality, and the forces of good conquering evil.

But like Michael McDonald, Eminem, and Larry Bird would surely tell me, never doubt a white boy with pure soul running through their veins. The Chili Peppers hit you with a driving, infectious version of the Wonder classic, truly putting their stamp of approval on this track. The guitar riffs, the way they all sing the chorus, Keides' vocal presence on the track, and that amazing fucking bass playing by flea definitely is in heavy rotation in my IPOD. Interesting side-note, Stevie Wonder claims that this is his favorite covered song so far. You can't beat a seal of approval from one of the greatest musicians ever.

Artist: System of a Down(watch remake)
Song: "Metro"
Originally performed by Berlin(watch original)

The mere fact that I'm an 80's baby makes me reminisce on a few things, George Michael's "heterosexuality", the mark of the beast that was "Reaganomics", my undying love for Lisa Lisa, and the shitload of random rock songs that are stuck in my cranium from that decade. My sister, because she was into a lot of new wave rock besides the obvious Prince and Michael Jackson choices, was a big part of the reason I have a diverse taste today. That being said, I don't know whether to thank her because I know great tunes like Berlin's "Metro", or to curse her because of how many people think I'm gay because of my heartfelt renditions of "Careless Whisper" on karaoke night. Anyways, System of a Downs version of this 80's classic is superb in the way it starts off as a mellow tune, for them that is, then they remind you "We're System of a Down Motherfucker!!" and within moments they erupt into their frenzied, manic version. Serj Tankian takes a step from his normal melodic style and belts out a punk-like rage on the microphone, Daron Malakian's wizardry on the guitar, the driving force behing the drums that is John Dolmayan, and the heart-pounding bass-riffs by Shavo Odadjian will convert even Three-6 mafia fans.

Artist: Anthrax feat. Public Enemy(watch remake)
Song: "Bring the Noise"
Originally performed by Public Enemy(Listen to original)

Okay, I know the fact the original artist is involved in the remake makes this more like a remix, but cut me a fucking break already. Like Stevie Wonder, I have a respect for Chuck D that is unparalleled, that is why I feel anyone who dares remake any Public Enemy tunes is walking on sacred ground. Besides Chuck giving virtual sermons on wax, you have a man who did conscious Hip Hop when it wasn't commercial viable, on top of that I love the fact that he said, "We knew we had a great Hip Hop group when women hated it." "Bring the Noise" is a classic P.E song, where besides Chuck D's attack on political leaders and popular radio(amongst other targets), the song really shows off Chuck's verbal gymnastics that he successfully dismounted on all you motherfuckers.(talk about sticking a landing) Anthrax's version, with Chuck D rapping the first verse and Anthrax's Scott Ian providing the last two, are a sonic cluster-fuck that will leave headbangers and headnodders begging for more like that fucking Oliver kid. For me personally this was the first time that I saw that the marriage between Rock and Rap could be a happy one(Sorry, I love Run DMC, but I never dug "walk this way") where it spawned other happy unions like "Rage Against the Machine", it also spawned wack dysfunctional ones like "Limp Bizkit".

I always wondered why Scott Ian didn't do all three verses. I mean, I love Chuck, but it would have worked without him. Oh, I get it, if Scott did the first verse it would have forced a white guy to say "Farrakhan's a prophet", I understand.

*SideNote* The drum loop at the end of the song, I use that snippet as my alarm clock in the morning.

Artist: Dynamite Hack(watch remake)
Song: "Boyz in da Hood"
Originally performed by Easy E(listen to original)

I'm going to make some Hip Hop fans mad with this, but, since Hip Hop is so dependent on the writing prowess of the MC, do we deduct points from their historical relevance if they didn't pen their hits? I mean, how can anyone put Lil Kim on any Top Ten MC's list, any fucking list for that matter, when it is evident that she has wrote virtually nothing since she has been on the scene? I love Biz Markie and he is a legend, but the mere fact that Big Daddy Kane wrote most of his hits has to be at least included in the argument, right? Even though Easy E wouldn't be on any of my lists in the first place, bless the dead, the fact that Ice Cube wrote basically everything that came out Eric Wright's mouth during his tenure with N.W.A has to at least be relevant. That being said, hearing Easy E in the song "Boyz in da hood" makes me realize that the "Hip hop is forcing young kids to do bad things" argument is a ridiculous one. I was a kid from the suburbs, both parents, middle class, when I heard Easy talking about early morning drinking, pulling a chick by her weave, shooing a friend with a 12 gauge, and shit like that, I knew that those things were never going to be on any of my "to do" lists in Virginia Beach Virginia.(Even though, I did once knock out a girls father though)

The fact that "Dynamite Hack" would sing that great Easy E tune in a "Jack Johnson, surf rock" sort of way is hilarious to me. I actually heard this easy going remake in a grocery store of all places, as I was in line buying groceries I loudly asked the old lady in front of me, like she'd know, "Are they singing "Boyz in the fucking hood"??

*Sidenote* How do I know who Jack Johnson is you ask? Well, I thought I was going to see Mos Def's rock band "Black Jack Johnson" when I was actually at the concert of Jack Johnson. Yes, reading is fundamental.


Justin said...

Easy E had no inflection on his delivery, it's boring to listen to. Whereas Dynamite Hack's cover is a fun sing-a-long for the whole family!

Seriously, I sing along to it whenever it shuffles on the iPod. Their version is better.

Gina said...

I completely agree with the pairing of Public Enemy and Anthrax on the remake/remix of "Bring The Noise". It's probably one of my favorite in this genre. Also check out Dead Kennedy's (original) California Unberalis vs. that done by The Disposable Heros of HipHoprisy. To that note, I have a deep affection for the Afrika Bambaataa & Johnny Lydon (aka Jonny Rotten) creation of "World Destruction".

Anonymous said...

"Woke up quick at about noon..."

Man, that stupid ass song is a classic. The nonsensical storytelling, delinquency and crazy beat is what makes it so enticing.

It made a comeback for me Summer 2003. I played that song like it had just hit the pop charts...every cook out, party, "get together" better believe it was in full rotation!

Suffice to say it's one of my favorite rap songs...just for nostalgiac purposes.

Joey said...

I find the Dynamite Hack version to be the apotheosis of that condescending, insulting attitude toward hip-hop that is so popular among some hipsters. I think that the song's appeal is intended to be of the ironic sort: Listen to how funny these words sound when delivered slowly and with a soft-rock melody, kids! I am not saying that those who like the song are jerks or that you can't like this song and concurrently like hip-hop, but I never got into this remake because I thought it was almost intentionally offensive.

Rex said...

The Dynamite Hack version seems offensive, until I heard that Dr. Dr and Ice Cube think it is funny as shit. If they don't find it offensive, that's all that matters.

Ironman said...

I heard that Dynamite Hack song, it's kinda dumb. I defiantly like that Anthrax track, very nice.

Coffey0072 said...

I'm a huge Stevie Wonder fan, and appreciate the Chilli Pepper's remake of "Higher Ground."
Not everyone can cover Stevie to my satisfaction. They did a good job.

Joe said...

If people think that the Dynamite hack remix is an insult to hip hop, try and find Nina Gordons cover of "Straight outta compton" Imagine a nice gentle country singer, on an acoustic, singing about "A crazy mother fucker named Ice Cube"

Rose said...

I am no big music person but I love me some Stevie Wonder and most people can't touch him. But I will tell you this, you are a funny, can put it down on paper type brother and your posts make me crack up every time. Thanks for that...

Vee said...

I agree with your list of top MCs of all time. I'm a huge Rakim, Eric B, Run DMC, KRS-One, and Slick Rick fan. I raised my 11 year old son on them and the shit he gets at school for listening to good 80's hip hop is pathetic. My son especially likes Grandmaster Flash (the song White Lines)and he wakes up every morning and plays I Ain't No Joke while getting ready for school.

I wanted to get your opinion of the MC list MTV made. While most of the MCs they listed are great, I can't co-sign any list that places Tupac above Rakim. Never.

Georgiapeach said...

Vee I came over here to see if Hc did a big ass post about it..rofl.
Can't wait to see what you have to say about the list.

madame P said...

i see that you are still alive and well...

still pre-ejaculating and shit !!!

still haven't found the wife...

in good time !!!

Justin said...

Let me reiterate, the Dynamite Hack version fuckin' rocks.

That is all.

Georgiapeach said...

Your already.

Crackpot Press said...

The Chili Peppers haven't put anything in a while.. why is that?

inciquay said...

You missed the remake of Snoop's Gin & Juice by The Gourds. It's as different as you can possibly get that song but it works.

Captain Bee said...

Try listening to anything by Richard Cheese. He does lounge music covers of popular music - fucking hilarious. His cover of the 2 Live Crew is just priceless.