Look what they’ve done to his song, ma

I rarely listen to the radio when I’m driving. As soon as I get in the car I whip out my iPhone, connect it up to the stereo’s auxiliary jack, and spend the next ten minutes choosing an album. (If I’m ever late for a meeting with you, this is probably why.)

But sometimes, when I can’t be bothered untangling the audio cable (or I’m running late for a meeting), I’ll switch it on to drown out the traffic noises. (They can’t all be beeping their horns at me, can they?)

Then it’s a question of how long I can put up with the music. And these days it isn’t very long.

No, I’m not one of those people who shake their head and say, “That’s not music. Where’s the melody?” I may not like everything they play, but it’s not enough to make me switch off.

Cover versions and remixes, on the other hand, will make me switch if off quicker than you can say “non-stop hits”.

On the weekend I heard some woman (no idea who) singing Phil Collins’ “Another day in paradise”. The original version is fantastic, so why did she have to record another version? When I hear it on the radio I want Phil singing it, not some woman I’ve never heard of.

(Of course, there are exceptions. The Supremes may have originally recorded “You can’t hurry love”, but as far as I’m concerned Phil Collins owns it.)

Still, at least she didn’t add a drum machine and up the tempo to turn it into a dance track. Sometimes I wonder if anyone even listens to the song lyrics before they trash it. Come on, people. There are some stories you should never dance along to.

Now I’m sure Phil had to say yes before she recorded it, and he probably gets a few extra dollars whenever they play it. But it hardly seems fair, does it? He gets the money, while we have to put up with the song every hour.

I think we should get to have a say. Next time someone does a cover version of a song, we should get to vote on it. If most people like it, then it gets airplay. But if they’ve managed to destroy a perfectly good song, then it should die slowly and painfully (along with the singer, possibly).

And then it really would be another day in paradise.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Jen January 20, 2010, 12:19 am

    The thing that really drives me crazy is when a brilliant song is torn apart for new sales to a young market that apparently knows no better and artists who don’t have a creative bone in their body. They rip the lyrics from it and record their own song with a silly new melody over the top. A couple of years ago it was New Order’s “Blue Monday”. (I can’t remember what that turned into but it was appalling.)

    Last year it was Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJv5qLsLYoo) which became Flo Rida’s “Right Round” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Yq8v9YtXCQ). Worse, in Flo Rida’s version you no longer spin me round like a record, you spin me round when you “go downtown”. *shudder*

    Recently it’s been Gary Numan’s “Cars” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ldyx3KHOFXw). I’ve not looked up the recent release using Numan’s song. I cannot bear to.

    I love “Cars”. It has real significance to a certain point in my life that I’m now able to remember fairly fondly. Every time I hear the intro I get a bit surprised that the radio station I’m listening to is playing it. “Is the music director feeling all sentimental too?” I start my little driving head-bop and get ready to sing along as the lyrics approach, “Here in my car, I feel safest of all…”, but then some annoying female singer interrupts with some stupid lyrics and a silly dance beat.

    It’s the height of fail. It makes me sad. 🙁

    • Bill Harper January 20, 2010, 11:16 am

      Couldn’t agree more, Jen. It’s like they want to record a song, but they don’t have the talent to do their own. So they just find a song they like and use it to make their own version. “Look at us, we made a song.” No you didn’t. You destroyed one.

      Don’t think I’ve heard Flo Rida’s “Right Round” (and by the sounds of things that’s not a bad thing), but I’ve heard a lot of “Cars” remixes. Some aren’t bad, but some are atrocious. Fortunately I’ve got the original tucked away on my computer somewhere, along with a heap more of his music. (If you get a chance to read his autobiography, it’s well worth the read.)

      Time to put some of his music on my iPhone, me thinks.

  • Shaggygirl January 20, 2010, 8:50 pm

    I listen to Audio books. I find it much harder to zone out while driving listening to them because you have to pay attention. Especially good for longer trips. I use them to distract myself from the fact I’m doing housework too. I hate housework.

    • Bill Harper January 21, 2010, 10:09 am

      Don’t think I’ve ever listened to an audio book (well, maybe “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” when I was at uni). But I listen to a hell of a lot of podcasts, especially when I’m vacuuming, doing dishes, etc.

      But I have to be careful about listening to them when I’m driving. Sometimes they pull my attention away a little too much, and I have to switch to music instead. They’re great for the open road, not so much for city driving–especially if I’m taking a route I’m not familiar with.


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