Friday Five: Pop Covers

Juli Thanki | October 9th, 2009

Several The 9513 commenters have stated that much of today’s mainstream country music sounds like pop music from the 1970s and 80s. Today we’ll be looking at a handful of artists who’ve semi-recently covered pop hits of that era. Are these versions better or worse than the originals? That’s up to you.

  • the-be-good-tanyas-when-doves-cry5. “When Doves Cry” – Be Good Tanyas

    The Purple One gets the folk treatment here from the Be Good Tanyas on their 2006 album Hello Love, 22 years after “When Doves Cry” topped the charts. Really, these women should be applauded for managing to sing the lyric “Touch, if you will, my stomach” without bursting into giggles.

  • willie-nelson-time-after-time4. “Time After Time” – Willie Nelson
    2002’s The Great Divide wasn’t that great, save one or two songs. Sadly, this version of “Time After Time” isn’t one of them.
  • 3. “It’s a Heartache” – Trick Pony
    I love this song in all its cheesy glory. Juice Newton was the first to record it in ’77, but Bonnie Tyler’s version was the bigger hit. However, Heidi and the boys took their cover to #22 on the country charts and made a hilariously overdramatic video.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qwoKWQ1vHE&hl=en&fs=1&

  • 2. “Drives Me Crazy” – Dolly Parton
    This cover from Backwoods Barbie is pretty straightforward, but Dolly adds a nifty little bluegrass breakdown, and her voice blows the Fine Young Cannibals out of the ater.

  • 1. “I Drove All Night” – Pinmonkey
    This is a good song no matter who’s singing it. Roy Orbison–who actually recorded the song first, but released it after Cyndi Lauper made it a hit—does a fine job on his version, and the early-’90s-tastic video starring Jason Priestley deserves mention. Pinmonkey barely broke the Top 40 with their version and then faded away. It’s a damn shame too; country music needs more bands with Simpsons-influenced names.

  1. Mayor Jobob
    October 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Kenny Chesney covering “I’m on Fire” was pretty good, but hard to find as it was only available as a bonus track at Target. The style suits him.

  2. J.R. Journey
    October 9, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Nice list and I agree about Pinmonkey. I really liked ‘Barbed Wire and Roses’ and their version of ‘I Drove All Night’ is probably my favorite. I also have their 2006 album Big Shiny Cars, and it’s a great record too.

  3. Leeann Ward
    October 9, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I’m not gonna lie, I like Dolly’s cover too. The Be Good Tanya’s cover of “When Doves Cry” is fun.

  4. Matt B.
    October 9, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    There’s always “Sara Smile,” ;)

    I actually think one of the best covers of Cyndi’s “Time After time” is by a UK band brother duo called Journey South. It was acoustic and wasn’t over-produced.

    A bluegrass band from Minnesota named Monroe Crossing recently covered “Purple Rain.” It’s pretty interesting.

  5. Sam G.
    October 9, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    It never got recorded, but I loved Nickel Creek’s version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” And while it’s not country, Richard Thompson did a great job with “Oops I Did It Again.”

    Come to think of it, most Britney Spears songs sound better when not sung by someone other than Britney.

  6. nm
    October 9, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Robbie Fulks did a whole album of Michael Jackson covers once. He was about to release it, and just then Jackson was arrested, but maybe now he’ll put it out as a memorial.

  7. CMW
    October 9, 2009 at 3:06 pm
  8. Juli
    October 9, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    I’d heard of the MJ album, but not of its release. Excellent news!

    Sam, you are correct that the “Toxic” cover is pretty sweet. I also like “Spit on a Stranger,” which did make it to an album.

  9. nm
    October 9, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    I have to put that blog on my reader. I’m always forgetting to check it. Thanks for the update!

  10. Nicolas
    October 9, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    “I Could Not Ask for More” and “Need to Be Next to You” by Sara Evans =)

    and “Burn” by Jo Dee Messina is one of my favorites of hers’

  11. Steve M.
    October 9, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    I’ve seen Pinmonkey live and they are pretty damn good. I would add here the Gourds “Gin and Juice” that takes what to me is a detestable rap song and makes it fun. Plus. didn’t Sawyer Brown have success with their cover “This night won’t last forever”?

  12. Jon
    October 9, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    I wonder which part of “that era” people found so confusing.

  13. Littleboot
    October 9, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    I’m beginning to think that country music fans don’t even know what country music is…

  14. Michael
    October 9, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Haha! I LOVED Trick Pony’s “It’s a Heartache”. Right on the money about Willie’s cover of “Time After Time” (I prefer the Cyndi Lauper/Sarah McLachlan duet version). As for “I Drove All Night”, I think I may be the only person in the world who actually loved Celine Dion’s cover.

  15. Phil
    October 9, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    I would say that much of the mainstream 90’s Country music sounds similar to a 70’s soft rock explosion (Restless Heart, Billy Dean, Lonestar, etc.), while much of today’s mainstream Country sounds more like pop music from the 80’s (Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Lady A., etc.). Kenny Chesney basically reminded me of Jimmy Buffett the first time I heard him. Those are just my opinion of course, and are probably a bit of an overgeneralization, but there is some truth to it.
    As far as Dolly Parton covers go…she covered “If” by Bread (from 1971) and “Stairway To Heaven” (also from 1971) on her Halos and Horns album in 2002. That alone shows how much more diversity there was in the mainstream music scene in the 70’s (especially the eary 70’s).
    But to answer the question, I’m not sure if I would say there are any covers from the 70’s and 80’s that would back up my opinion. Only that mainstream Country music to me as a whole sounds like it is 20 to 25 years behind the times of pop mainstream music. And right now, a lot of it sounds very 80’s to me. Let’s just hope it doesn’t sound like the pop music of today 20 years from now. Talk about horrible music (if one can actually call today’s pop music “music”). I’ll leave it at that. LOL

  16. Rick
    October 9, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I think Juli alluded to it in a previous article, and its probably not from the targeted decades here, but I really like The Derailers’ version of the Prince song “Raspberry Beret” which is an extra hidden track tacked onto the end of their “Reverb Deluxe” album. In fact the first time I heard it I didn’t even know it was a Prince song! (I’m so clueless about pop-rock music since about 1980.) It’s too bad they didn’t tackle “Little Red Corvette” as well! (lol)

    Trick Pony’s cover of “It’s a Heartache” is about the only song of their’s I’ve ever liked. Heidi’s voice works well with the song just like Bonnie Tyler’s. Did Trick Pony ever record a cover of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” or “Love Hurts”? Heidi’s voice would have suited those songs as well. Hmm…

  17. Nicolas
    October 9, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    I didn’t even know “I Drove All Night” was covered in country music, but I can’t see it being done — plus, thats one of the very few Celine songs I like

    And Britney Spears songs should stay Britney songs – I’ve heard some covers of “Toxic” and they pale in comparison to the original.

  18. Stormy
    October 9, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    No love for Sammy Kershaw’s Chevy Van? Its cheestastic!

    http://www.rhapsody.com/sammy-kershaw/politics-religion-and-her/chevy-van/lyrics.html

  19. kevin w
    October 9, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Buck Owens doing “Bridge Over Troubled Water”

  20. Steve Harvey
    October 10, 2009 at 1:42 am

    I’ve heard some covers of “Toxic” and they pale in comparison to the original.
    That’s impossible. Drunk tone-deaf karaoke singers can do a better job of that song than Britney Spears.
    It wasn’t until I head the Mark Ronson/Tiggers version I realised it was actually a decent song, marred by terrible production and vocals.

  21. Mando
    October 10, 2009 at 3:37 am

    I also think the DXC’s song Landslide was a popcover by Stevie Nicks. I liked that one also!Also like Dolly’s cover !

  22. Leeann Ward
    October 10, 2009 at 8:37 am

    “And Britney Spears songs should stay Britney songs – I’ve heard some covers of “Toxic” and they pale in comparison to the original.”

    I love how this makes Britany out like she’s an untouchable legend.:)

  23. J.R. Journey
    October 10, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    ‘Untouchable’ and ‘legend’ are two words I doubt will ever be used to describe Britney Spears or her songs. ‘Untouchable’ just makes me laugh …

  24. TenPoundHammer
    October 10, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    I loved Pinmonkey’s debut; my local stations played the heck out of “Barbed Wire and Roses” but never touched “I Drove All Night.” They also covered Sugar Ray’s “Fly” on that album, and did a great job making it into a bluegrass song.

    Also, would you believe that my other local station has played the Bonnie Tyler version of “It’s a Heartache”?

  25. Nicolas
    October 10, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    She’s going to be a legend, so sorry to burst your bubble

    She already holds several records, such as being the only artist to have her first 6 albums debut at #1 or #2 and she’s the best-selling artist of the decade

  26. Stormy
    October 10, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Which decade, because this decade ain’t going so hot.

  27. Leeann Ward
    October 10, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I’m not going to get into an argument about Britany Speares, since I feel very secure in my position, but I have been laughing about this all day.

  28. Grizzly Adam
    October 10, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Vince Gill with Alison Krauss and Union Station covering the Genesis song That’s All.

  29. Rudi
    October 11, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Britney Spears has sold a lot of albums. Big deal! A lot of really bad music has sold millions. I’ve never heard one Britney Spears song I would want to hear a second time.

  30. Mayor Jobob
    October 11, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Pam Tillis doing Bruce Hornsby’s “Mandolin Rain”

  31. Marc
    October 11, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    And no mention of any of sugarland’s 50 covers?

    I like a couple of them… :)
    *ducks*

  32. Colt
    October 12, 2009 at 10:15 am

    The Gear Daddies did a twangy version of “Little Red Corvette” that I kinda liked.

  33. Adam
    October 13, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    “Tiny Dancer” – Tim McGraw

  34. Hanford
    October 13, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Waylon singing Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s alright”

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