Saturday, July 17, 2010

When a Cover Version Fails

Unlike many people, I like listening to cover versions of songs. I like hearing a different take on a familiar tune. Sometimes even, a band feels more free with a cover and can produce music that is more interesting than their own stuff.

However, there are times that a cover version fails that otherwise, on the surface, there's nothing really wrong with it. The melody isn't butchered, the instrumentation is appropriate. But for all that, something is still missing. This is how I feel about The Midway State feat. Lady GaGa cover of "Don't Give Up" originally by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush.

The song "Don't Give Up" by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush is a strongly emotional and sincere song. And unlike so much pop music, the lyrics and their delivery drive home the meaning of the song. As Bruce Lee said, "We need emotional content." If it's not there, it's hollow, it means nothing. Nathan Ferraro, and to a greater extent Lady Gaga, put no emotion behind it. They are singing the words but they mean nothing to them.

Maybe it's their age. Maybe they haven't really felt failure. I don't know but I think it's unfortunate that two clearly talented artists delivered such a sterile and uninspired cover of a deeply moving song.

Here's Willy and O'Conner schooling The Midway State and Gaga:

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