I like to wander YouTube listening to different artists’ covers of the same song, one after another. It’s like a wine tasting where you try one varietal (like a Zinfandel) from three or four different wineries side by side. You’d think that all Zinfandels would be about the same, but tasting them side by side tasting helps you appreciate the differences and makes it easy to decide which you like best. Seth Roberts called it the Willat Effect.
Here are four good covers of Radiohead’s “Creep” in four different styles. You can hear Radiohead’s original version here.
First up is the Pretenders.
This is Prince’s live cover from Coachella that the Internet is flipping out over this week. You can skip the first three minute of Prince wandering around the stage in the dark.
Macy Gray and David Choi in a radio studio with acoustic guitar.
Scala & Kolacny Brothers, sung by a large choir. If you’ve seen the movie The Social Network, this is the version that played over the credits.
Here’s how I’d rate the four covers
There’s a thing called The One Question – would you buy it again or do it again. So here’s how I’d rate the covers based on one question – would I go back and listen to them again?
Pretenders – It’s solid, and the thing that makes it stand out from the zillion Creep covers on YouTube is Chrissie Hynde’s unique phrasing. It’s good, but I can’t see any reason to listen to it again.
Prince – Some people love it, some people despise it. After listening to it I couldn’t decide which camp I was in. Some things are challenging – they’re so different than what you’re used to that you have to have to wrap your head around them. I liked it better the second time. I don’t think it’s great (and you have to handicap it for being a bad recording of a live show), but it’s a huge contrast to any other cover because Prince. I might listen to it again one day because it’s so different.
Scala & Kolacny Brothers – Beautiful and different. Worth multiple listenings.
Macy Gray and David Choi – The duet format is nice and the Macy Gray uses her aility to express strong emotion without raising her voice. I’ve listened to it over and over. The great camerawork in the video is a bonus.