5 electronic cover versions you should hear before saying “covers are boring”

I really like cover versions if they add something to the original, if they turn it around a bit, interpret it. Because, let’s be honest, a Rock cover of a Rock song might be nice, but it’s not too special. But a Reggae cover of a Heavy Metal song is something different 🙂

And there are tons of great cover versions out there and unfortunately I can’t know them all. I wish… But here are five (electronic) cover versions that I really like and that can restore your faith in cover versions – just in case you’re bored by the umpteenth folkie cover of another folkie 😉

“Lay All Your Love On Me” – Erasure (original by Abba)

Erasure have produced several covers, and even released a full cover album called “Other People’s Songs”. But the first ones they properly released were four songs from Abba, with “Lay All Your Love On Me” being the darkest (and that’s what I apparently like…). They didn’t change a lot, but made it electronic, bleepy and quite clubby.

To me this is a great example of a cover version that turns the original into something new, still preserving all the magic of the original song. But others have done this even more so.

“The Final Countdown” – Laibach (original by Europe)

Going deeper into dark electronic areas. Laibach have always been prolific in covering songs from Pop to Rock to Folk in their very own electronic/rock/opera style, and in doing so really re-interpreting the songs, giving them a new and often different meaning. Already released in 1994, the album “NATO” featured only cover versions (apart from two original instrumentals) from very diverse artists and genres – from “In The Army Now” (made famous by British rockers Status Quo) to Pink Floyd’s “Dogs Of War” to Zager & Evans’ “In The Year 2525”.

One song that always stood out for me, though, is their cover version of “The Final Countdown” – yes Europe’s 1986 Hardrock hit that was overplayed on every radio station around the world and that for a long time  was considered totally uncool 😉 But whenever I wanted to impress people back then and show them that a cover version can transform an uncool song into something very cool, I played Laibach’s “The Final Countdown” for them. And with its choir, dance beats and the baritone vocals they usually were impressed 🙂

Oh, and if you play the song for somebody, make sure it’s the long album version as posted here – it’s quite different and more theatrical than the shorter single version 🙂

“Route 66” – Depeche Mode (original by Bobby Troup)

Ok, this might be a no-brainer, because: Depeche Mode 🙂

But it actually is a great example of a cover version that transfers a pretty joyous, adventurous original into a darker, edgier and a bit more unsettling realm.

“Where The Streets Have No Name (I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You)” – Pet Shop Boys (originals by U2 and Frankie Valli)

Two in one – a great deal. I remember Neil Tennant and Chris Low said, they one day realized, that U2’s 1987 song “Where The Streets Have No Name” seemed to segue into Frankie Valli’s 1967 hit “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” (more the 1981 disco version by Boystown Gang) – so they produced their own hybrid and it worked. As they put it: “We wanted to turn a mythic rock song into a stomping disco record.” I think they’ve managed that, although U2 issued a statement saying “What have we done to deserve this?”

With Tennant’s melancholy, monotonous singing, the electronic beats, the pathos-filled trumpets and the disco feel it might be the perfect soundtrack for a has-been club dancer wandering around a big city at night – down beneath the neon lights, alone between the in-crowd, where the streets have no name…

“Dead Souls” – Nine Inch Nails (original by Joy Division)

Take a pretty dark song and make it darker – I guess that’s what Trent Reznor wanted to achieve. Joy Division’s original is already a dark, disturbing song, supposedly about a schizophrenic man (“a duel of personalities”, “they keep calling me”), with Ian Curtis singing quite nervous and edgy. But the Nine Inch Nails version takes it a bit more to that dark place. Not nervous anymore, but desparate. A bit more hysterical and disturbing.

Shameless Bonus Plug: “The Boys Of Summer” – no:carrier (original by Don Henley)

I said it at the beginning, I like cover versions, especially when they turn the original into something a bit different. And of course I have to try that too every now and then 😉

So here’s a dark, electronic cover version of Don Henley’s 1984 hit “The Boys Of Summer” that we released with no:carrier. I always loved the original and felt that it is quite melancholy and dark. Not the summery song most people deem it to be. And thinking about it, it struck me: It can also be interpreted as a guy stalking his ex-girlfriend. And that notion also was the inspiration for the video:

Yes, I know, five cover versions are not enough – there’s so many more. And I will get to them eventually. Let me know what you think about these five covers (and our own one) and let me know of other great electronic cover versions 🙂

Author: Chris Wirsig

Chris Wirsig enjoyed classical training on piano and saxophone, studied audio engineering at Munich’s SAE Technology College and has more than 15 years experience in music production. He has been writing songs since 1991 and contributed music for computer demos and commercial games throughout the 1990s. Apart from other music projects he started the acclaimed Electro Noire band no:carrier in 1995 and the Electronica/Chill-Out project Virtual Conformity in 2001. He worked as an editor for the musician’s magazine KEYS and founded the first German fair-trade record label, NovaTune. His latest works include music and sound fx for the acclaimed Top Ten iPad game “Alien Tribe 2”, the short mystery movie "20 Matches", the critically acclaimed no:carrier album “Wisdom & Failure”, and their EP of cover versions, "Ghosts Of The West Coast".

4 thoughts on “5 electronic cover versions you should hear before saying “covers are boring””

  1. Like you, I love covers. Especially for those like us who enjoy darker styles of music, electronic covers can reinvigorate old tunes or even improve on some. A well-done cover can make that familiar track we’ve heard often before take on a whole new character and meaning that can speak to us in ways the original might not have.
    And you’re not wrong: There are SO many great covers out there with new ones released all the time! I actually write a weekly blog about exploring them and their origins at http://xanderxero.livejournal.com/tag/sdsd and frequently feature them in my DJ sets.
    Good selection above! And props for starting the list with Erasure and Abba!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – yes there are so many great covers that just five can’t do the topic justice 🙂
      Cool blog, thanks for sharing!
      (if you’d like to get any music from us for your DJ sets, let me know 🙂 )
      Chris

      Like

      1. No kidding… I’ve featured 54 tracks so far and my well has not come even close to running dry.
        Oh… note on Erasure, now that I think about it. Abbaesque wasn’t the first covers they released, though possibly they were the most familiar apart from Blondie’s Rapture. They had prior covers on The Circus and the Innocents… and on the b-side of Chains of Love. Of course two were instrumentals and the one on The Innocents was a not entirely obscure Tina Turner track. ^_^
        (I dug up your bandcamp to put in my cue to review. I’ll let you know. Thanks!)

        Like

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