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(COLUMN) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper – Listening to Awesome Cover Songs

Kate Rice


Song covers — people seem to love ’em or hate ’em. I love ’em. In fact, I probably listen to more cover songs than original ones. 

Sometimes the original’s great. Sometimes I really don’t like the original, but give that tune a new spin and I’m all over it. Most times, if I fall in love with a song, I actively search out covers of that tune because I just can’t get enough.

Here are a few of my favorite cover songs. Maybe you’ll dig ’em too. Or maybe you’ll swear by the original and feel personally offended that another group dared to desecrate the brilliant source material. Be warned — the songs below are all pretty much classics. I love most of the originals, and really love the remakes. Check out these covers at your own risk…

The Scientist (Coldplay)

“The Scientist” is a melancholy ballad from back in the day when I wasn’t ashamed to say I listen to Coldplay. Over the years, I feel like they’ve become so overproduced that they’re just not worth it anymore, but this song hits, as does the video. Johnette Napolitano’s raw, jagged vocals, however, take the song just a little deeper for me.  

Johnette Napolitano & Danny Lohner cover

You Can’t Always Get What You Want (Rolling Stones)

What can I say? The Stones rule, and this song will always shake. It starts simple enough, but really builds into a rock frenzy with the choir joining in by the end. The Hem cover begins with female vocals and quieter bluesy/country/rock feel, layering in brass and strings as it slowly boils over, similar to the original. This is the one that really gets stuck in my head in the best of ways…

Hem cover

These Boots are Made for Walkin’ (Nancy Sinatra)

My go-to Karaoke song! The Nancy Sinatra version will always be a groovy fave, but I’ve amassed quite a collection of awesome covers over the years. This Planet Funk cover is fun, and the video’s pretty far-out, too (like, it’s so freakin’ ridiculous that it hypnotizes me into watching…)

Planet Funk cover:

25 Or 6 To 4 (Chicago)

Sorry, but Chicago’s brass-laden original is a “nope” for me. I realize I’m probably in the minority on this one. Pacifika’s female-fronted haunting, breathy take on this oldie is, for my money, what makes it a goodie.

Pacifika cover:

The Middle (Jimmy Eat World)

Yet another original I’m not so fond of. Jimmy Eat World’s pop-rock anthem is…fine. And it’s definitely an earworm. But in Caroline Spence’s hands, “The Middle” becomes a beautiful and sweet Country/Americana song of hope. 

Caroline Spence cover

Papa was a Rolling Stone (Temptations)

OK, the Temptation’s version of this song is another classic, and one of my favorite songs of all time. (That bass beat leading to the funky guitar and trumpet solo, then the strings…sweet.) Still, this 1990 Was (Not Was) cover infuses the already brilliant R&B song with its own fabulous instrumentation. It then doubles down by adding rap lyrics, expanding on the singer’s disappointment and determination to roll that apple as far from “papa’s” tree as possible.

Was (Not Was) cover

Black Betty (Ram Jam)

Although there are many versions of this song (dating back as far as the early 1930s), most of us recognize the 1977 Ram Jam rock hit. As glorious as it is, this rough-around-the-edges rock-n-blues Larkin Poe cover really slaps…

Larkin Poe cover

Check these covers out at the YouTube links above, listen on more places like Spotify or Apple Music, or invest in some actual albums/CDs at downtown Casper’s Sonic Rainbow.