I have a theory about covers of songs. It goes like this: if you play the song exactly the way it was recorded or performed by its original artist, it’s much less interesting than if you, you know, change it in some interesting way.
For example, one of my favorite reggae albums is a compilation called “Fire on the Mountain: Reggae Celebrates the Grateful Dead.” Another favorite is the Toots and the Maytals version of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” (Of course there’s a flipside to this. If you’re Pat Boone covering/whitewashing R&B songs, you can go straight to hell.)
Last week I stumbled across two more great covers. First is from a woman named Taimane Gardner, a Hawaiian woman who plays a mean ukulele. In this clip she plays a cover of Toccata. Ever seen a ukulele run through an amp? Better question: ever seen someone play the hell out of a ukulele? Well then, here you go:
The next morning I was driving to work and heard two DJs talking about a couple of cellists who covered Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.”
What the … cellists? Playing Michael Jackson? Don’t cellists come from poor Eastern Bloc countries, have band-aids on their knees, and wear mournful looks on their faces?
Stejepan Hauser is indeed Croatian, and Luka Sulic looks to be from whatever they call Yugoslavia these days. But these two dudes are so embarrassingly good-looking, I doubt any red-blooded women would be kicking them out of bed for band-aided knees.
Oh, and their cover? It rocks hard.