Playlist: Play It Again

Ever wonder why some artists feel the need to re-record their big hits? Sometimes it’s to record with a new lineup, other times it’s for legal reasons. But more often than not it feels like a cheap cash cow and is almost always a bad idea. While some bands have gotten away with re-recordings that aren’t terrible, they never live up to the original. Let’s take a listen to some of the best and worst re-recorded hit songs.

“Boys Don’t Cry” – The Cure

The Cure have a lot of notable songs in their lengthy catalog, but this is their most iconic. Taken from their debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, the song received moderate praise upon original release. Over time, the single garnered more praise and acclaim quickly becoming a Cure staple. When Robert Smith revisited the band’s singles for their 1986 compilation cassette, Staring at the Beach, Smith and co-headed back into the studio to re-record the classic. Known as “New Voice New Mix” the new version sounds very similar to the original. The biggest difference is Smith’s mature and more playful vocal take. Though it doesn’t sound bad, it still doesn’t match the charm of the original. It seems the band knows this as the new version was only used for the companion video. Otherwise, it has not been officially released on subsequent Cure collections.

“Shout at the Devil” – Motley Crue

Normally, there is no reason why a band should re-record their songs, especially when they’re considered classics. Usually, it ends up a disaster. Sadly, this is the outcome of Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil 97.” The original is a staple of heavy metal and helped launched their career. It remains one of their best songs. In 1997, the band reunited with Vince Neil, who left 1992 and released their seventh album, Generation Swine. To celebrate Neil’s return the band decided to re-record the song. And it’s…weird. While the vocals are largely unchanged, the music sounds nothing like the original. It’s hard to even pick out the tracks’ notable riff. Is this supposed to be a heavy metal version? It’s like they wanted to prove how bad and edgy they were and this is the result. Best avoid this version at all costs.

“Ace of Spades” – Motorhead

If there’s one song that represents being a badass, heavy metal, and the awesomeness of Mr. Lemmy Kilmister, it’s “Ace of Spades.” It’s not only the band’s most well-known song, it’s often listed as one of the best songs ever. And with good reason. Everything about it from the iconic riff to Lemmy’s gruff vocals makes it kick ass. The song is pretty much perfect, so why mess with it? When Rockband wanted to use the song for their game, the band re-recorded it and branded it “Ace of Spades 08.” There’s nothing bad about it; it sounds pretty close to the original. But it’s just not the same. Hearing it you know something’s off and it’s a little disappointing. At least Motorhead didn’t try to rebrand the song, unlike the Crue boys.

“Every Day is Halloween” – Ministry

Ministry’s early work is spotty at best. Before they found their abrasive, brutal industrial sound they sounded more like a faceless new wave band. It wasn’t until this song that they began finding their sound. Though the band would have bigger hits later on, this song still played an important role for both the group and fans. It’s still considered a favorite in their catalog. But perhaps Al Jourgensen thought it wasn’t heavy enough. He “fixed” this by re-recording the song in 2010. This version sounds more in tune with later Ministry, but it also sounds like a mediocre cover. The grinding guitars, fast tempo, and new vocals suck out everything that made the original great. This just sounds like another boring metal song trying too hard to be edgy.

“Melt With You” – Modern English

Though Modern English found more success in the UK they’ll forever be known as the one-hit wonders who gave us this 80s classic in the States. Constant airplay on MTV and playing over the end credits of Valley Girl helped it become a hit. It eventually reached number 7 on Billboard’s Top Tracks chart. The band re-recorded the track for their 1990 album, Pillow Lips. While you can hear some slight vocal variations, the changes are minimal. The same can’t be said for the 2010 version of the song. Recorded for the I Melt With You soundtrack, this version is harrowing. It takes all the bouncy, fun nature out of the song. Instead, it sounds stark, dark, and haunting. The 1983 version is still superior, but there’s something oddly beautiful about the 2010 rendition.

“Missing You” – John Waite

John Waite has a notable career as the singer for Bad English and The Babys, but he’s best remembered for this 80s ballad. It’s a typical sappy song about getting over someone, but not really getting over them. It proved to be a major hit and topped the charts in several countries. He’s gone on to release other successful singles, but none as big as this. In 2007, he re-recorded the track with Allison Krauss for her album A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s not terrible. It’s okay at best. Krauss doesn’t sound horrible singing and Waite sounds pretty much the same. It’s a very vanilla rendition of the song that makes you wonder why it had to happen in the first place.

“In This Paradise”- London After Midnight

This track from LAM’s debut album, Selected Scenes from the End of the World, has a Gothic, mysterious nature with the tolling bells and Sean Brennan’s vampiric vibe. There’s a dark romanticism to it that’s alluring, yet mysterious. But the album received a limited release and as a result was reissued several times in the States and Europe. For the 2003 re-release, Brennan re-recorded various songs from the album, including this track. The most notable change is the better sound quality. It no longer sounds like the track is muffled. Brennan also tightens up his vocals and the instrumentation, though the dancing guitar riff found in the original is missing here. It’s actually a decent update but is still missing the tantalizing vibe of the original.

“Everybody Have Fun Tonight” – Wang Chung

This Wang Chung hit is one of those mindless pop songs from the 80s. You know it’s bad, but like it because it has a catchy, memorable hook. Whether or not you actually like it, you’ll be singing along with it. Besides, the song has a positive message: have fun tonight. Who can’t get behind that? At least listening to it is better than watching the nauseating video. The 2010 re-recorded version doesn’t change much, but there’s something missing. It doesn’t sound as upbeat and energetic as the original. It sounds like a Wang Chung cover band is performing instead. And they try to spice up the song with soulful backup singers, but it falls flat. The whole thing sounds deflated. So if you have to listen to the song, stick with the original. Just don’t ask what “everybody wang chung tonight” means. The band doesn’t know either.

“I Remember You Two” – Skid Row

Skid Row’s third single is a cut and dry power ballad. It has sappy lyrics, soothing acoustic guitars, and the “edgy” hard guitars meant to show you it’s not a cheesy love song even though it is. The band re-recorded the song in 2003 with new lead singer Johnny Solinger as “I Remember You Two.” Re-recording hit songs with a new singer is never a good idea. No matter how decent the singer is, it will never live up to the original. Sadly, this isn’t the only problem this version has. Rather than sticking with the power ballad formula, the band “update” it to be heavier giving a lame “punk rock” sound. This along with the over the top vocals make it sound like your dad’s cover band instead of Skid Row. This is why re-recording songs is almost always a bad idea.

“I Was Made for Lovin’ You” – KISS

Sometimes when a band changes its lineup, they feel it’s time to recapture the magic of classic hits with their “amazing” new members. Skid Row already showed us why this is a bad idea, yet bands keep doing it. Look to KISS’ Kiss Klassics, an entire album of re-recorded hits featuring their 2008 lineup of Paul Stanely, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer. All of their biggest hits are re-recorded with less enthusiasm and energy as before. “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” shows you just how bad the album is. Not only does the whole thing sound unenthusiastic and boring, Stanely clearly can’t hit those high notes during the bridge. That wouldn’t be a problem if his attempt actually sounded good; it just sounds sad.

“Your Sweet 666” – HIM

Originally found on their debut album, this track was later re-recorded for their breakout LP, Razorblade Romance. Unlike many of the tracks here, the two versions are obviously different from one another. The original sounded like it came from the depths of Hell with Ville Valo’s deep vocals and the hard, distorted guitars. The later version is lighter in tone featuring more keys and fewer guitars in the mix overall. Rather than sounding heavy, this one has more of a traditional rock tone with a bit of glam mixed in. Though some fans prefer the new version, the first packs a heavier punch. With its Gothic nature, dark tones, and haunting vibe, the original stands out with its dramatic, Hellish vibe fitting in with HIM’s long-running themes of love and death. The latter version sounds like another typical rock song and isn’t as exciting as the original.

“I’m Your Man” – Wham!

Wham’s 1985 single proved to be another hit for the duo and one of their last before their split in 1986. Just like their other singles, this one is upbeat and fun, making you want to dance as soon as you hear the bouncy beat. It also has a killer hook of “baby/I’m your man” that you can’t help but sing out. It’s one of those typical fun 80s songs that puts you in a good mood. When it was time for a Wham! greatest hits album in 1996, George Michael decided to update the hit with an R&B spin. And it’s…something. The sound is completely different with elements of funk, rap, and R&B. Hearing hype men shout “who da man” at the beginning leaves you scratching your head. The whole thing sounds like a cover from the Backstreet Boys. Rather than breathing new life into the song, it’s a sad attempt at trying to be relevant.

“Paradise City” – Slash

This is another sad attempt of trying to update a classic. With Slash and Axl Rose not on speaking terms, Slash decided to release his debut solo album in 2010. The previous year, he released the single “Sahara,” which featured this GNR classic as the b-side. You can’t fault Slash for wanting to reinvent one of the band’s biggest hits – he’s part of the reason the why the song is so popular. But you would think he’d enlist a viable rock singer for vocals. Instead, he recruits Fergie and Cypress Hill. Why? is the only thing you’ll ask yourself when hearing this terrible rendition. This is one case where rap and rock don’t get along. And when was the last time Cypress Hill were relevant? Fergie’s screeching in the background just makes matters worse. It’s not worth sitting through this crap to hear Slash’s killer licks. Just stick with the original.

Which re-recorded hits did I miss? Let me know in the comments!


Playlist: B-day Nostalgia

My music taste has changed over the years. Rappers replaced boy bands and rock bands replaced rappers. There are some throwback songs I still listen to on a regular basis, but there are plenty I’ve forgotten and haven’t paid attention to since I was 12. Since it’s my birthday this month I decided to look back at songs I was obsessed with at one point. These are songs I thought were so amazing I would listen to them forever. Get ready for a wave of nostalgia!

“Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” – Will Smith

If you asked me who my favorite rapper was in the late 90s, my response would most likely be Will Smith. All because of this song. Looking back on it, the whole thing is kind of silly, but I can get why I liked it so much. It’s fun, catchy, and still makes you want to copy Smith’s dance moves (even though they weren’t that great). This single, along with the equally fun “Miami,” is what prompted me to buy the album Big Willie Style. Though I haven’t listened to it in years, I remember thinking it was hella cool. Perhaps I’ll need to revisit it some day…

“All Star” – Smash Mouth

This was my top song for about two years. It was all over the radio and Nickelodeon and I loved every minute of it. I don’t even remember that it appeared on the soundtrack for the mediocre film Mystery Men. All I cared about was that it was catchy, easy to remember, and fun to sing. I don’t think the song is terrible now, but I definitely overdid it.  It makes me nostalgic for a time when Nicktoons ruled the airways and buying the latest Beanie Baby were my only worries, but I don’t listen to it so much anymore.

“Every Morning” – Sugar Ray

Honestly, any song by Sugar Ray would work here, but I think this one was my favorite. This was one of those songs I jammed out to in my mom’s car on the way back from my uncle’s house. No matter how shitty I was feeling, Sugar Ray were there to pick me right back up. There was even a point when I wanted their album (I never got it, btw). Not only were they cool, but frontman Mark MacGrath was hot or at least I thought so at the time. I still love their songs and they still know how to put me in a good mood, but I’ve moved on to better bands.

“No Diggity” – Blackstreet

I have no idea what it was about this song that made me dance and bob my head so much. Something about the intense piano riff and the chorus of “no diggity” stuck in my head. Even now it’s still one of my favorite throwback songs from the 90s. The “Hey-yo” part was infectious and the video with the puppets was just weird. (Why were they puppets?) Of course I had no idea what the song was about at the time and now I have no idea why my mom let me listen to it so much.

“Drive” – Incubus

This was one of my first forays into rock music or at least I thought so at the time. “Drive” was the first song I ever heard by Incubus and I was addicted to it. I just loved singing the chorus as loud as Brandon Boyd did. When I got older, it was this single that convinced me Incubus was worth getting into and I don’t regret it. It’s still one of my favorite Incubus songs and I still sing the chorus as loud as I can. Also, I had a little crush on Boyd. I should’ve expected that since he was shirtless in the video.

“No Scrubs” – TLC

As I revealed in my CrazySexyCool review, TLC were my absolute favorite girl group before the Spice Girls. I loved them even more when they released this snarky, catchy song. When this song hit, all the girls in my class sang on the school playground with the faintest idea of what a scrub actually was. Another reason I loved the song so much was Left Eye’s verse. She was always my favorite in the band, so I sat and practiced her rap to impress everyone at school. It’s still a great song and I’m glad I never got rid of my Fanmail album.

“All Day” – Lisa Loeb

The adorable Lisa Loeb is most remembered for her single “Stay ( I Miss You),” but I’ll always remember her for this song straight from the Rugrats Movie Soundtrack. I can’t remember where I first heard the song, but I went crazy for it. Not only did I buy the soundtrack just for it, I even started wearing my hair in loop braids like she does in the video. I even stole a pair of my mom’s glasses because they looked like hers. I was completely enamored with her and the song. I still think she’s adorable as hell and the song has aged rather well.

“Mambo No 5” – Lou Bega

I’m not even ashamed I liked this song so much. I even recorded it off the radio just to hear it daily. I can’t really explain what it was about it aside from it’s an earworm of a song. Even now it’s still a lot of fun. I remember there being a Disney version with Mickey Mouse, which was just ridiculous and couldn’t top the Bega version. And yes, I did try to fit my name in the song somewhere and it never worked. It’s probably better that I never figured it out.

“Bring it All” – Blaque

It seems back in the 90s I was a sucker for girl groups. I even had the terrible Dream album; I don’t even want to go there. But this was another one of those groups where I rushed to get the album. They had a good number of hit songs, like “808,” but this is the one I still love. And yes, it is because it features JC Chasez AKA my favorite member of Nsync. Honestly, he’s the best part of the song, which is why it’s a shame the video doesn’t feature him singing the verse. Similar to TLC, rapper Natasha was my favorite from the band and oddly enough Left Eye was her mentor. Unfortunately, she passed away also. Kind of weird.

“Heartbreaker” – Mariah Carey

Since my mom had all her albums at the time, I was a bit of a Mariah Carey fan back in the day. I was amazed she could hit those high notes and even asked my mom “How does she do that?!” There’s no doubt about the amount of number one hits she has, but this one captivated my young heart. The video was funny, Mariah sounded great, and the song was fun to dance to. This was another one of those times I begged my mom to get me the Rainbow album just so I could listen to this on repeat. In case you were wondering, no, I never got it. And just for the record, I don’t think Ariana Grande is the next Mariah Carey.

“Ride Wit Me” – Nelly

In the early 2000s as the boy band phase disintegrated, I got more into rap and Nelly was at the forefront. I actually followed his career up until Sweat/Suit. Though I don’t listen to him anymore this will remain my favorite song of his. This is another one I can’t explain aside from I thought Nelly was cool at the time. Plus, it was fun to yell “Ay, must be the money” during long car rides. Of course since I was used to the clean version of the song, I was in for a shock when I got the unedited album. Oops.

“Party Up (Up in Here)” – DMX

Before he got in trouble repeatedly for petty crimes, DMX gave us one of the best songs of the 2000’s. The song is just so damn infectious, especially with the memorable chorus of “Y’all gon make me lose my mind/up in here/up in here.” It’s funny the song became so popular since the clean version was made up of random sound effects, like DMX barking and for some reason I loved it. Every time it came on the radio, I cranked it up slightly annoying everyone in the car. It’s this song that made DMX one of my favorite rappers at the time, even though I didn’t really like his other songs. Listening to it now, it’s still a great track and one I won’t hesitate to turn the volume up.

“If I Ever Fall in Love” – Shai

I realize I was way too young to really understand what the song was about, but when I was 11 this song blew me away. I loved the harmonies, the singing, and the fact it was acapella. At the time, I didn’t know many groups who did that and thought Shai was pretty special. I still think it sounds good as hell years later, but as someone who was into bubblegum pop at the time, I don’t understand how this song became one of my favorites.

“Candy Rain” – Soul For Real

I think I first heard this song on Nickelodeon when they played the video between shows and it was too damn catchy not to fall in love with. Sure, they had dumb dance moves, weren’t the best singers, and seemed to be going for a Jackson 5 thing, but for a small time in the 90s, it was the best thing I ever heard. Since it was released in 1994 it foreshadowed my love of Nsync and BSB that would come later in the decade. Guess I’m a sucker for five guys harmonizing.

“Jump” – Kriss Kross

No matter what decade it is, the media is always floored by kids who can rap. In comes Kriss Kross, two boys who decided wearing their pants backwards was hella fly. This is another song I’m not really sure how I got into. Maybe it was the simple command of “jump jump” I found so intoxicating. It’s easy to follow and something I knew how to do. I’m sure part of the reason I liked the song was the duo made a cameo in Michael Jackson’s “Jam” video. If Michael Jackson thought they were okay, then they were okay in my book too. Now, the song reminds me of the loss of Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly, who died in 2013. R.I.P. Kelly.