The Beatles

Playlist: Remembering Chris Cornell

Last month we lost one of the best voices in rock, Chris Cornell. The news came as a shock to fans and those who knew him best. Many are still trying to make sense of the situation and come to terms that he’s gone. He may no longer be with us, but at least we have the gift of his unforgettable music. Not only did he make wonderful music with Soundgarden and on his own, he recorded various covers throughout his career. Whether with Soundgarden or solo, Cornell gave us some of the most chilling and unforgettable covers reminding us why he was a phenomenal singer. To remember Cornell, let’s look at some of his best cover songs.

“Come Together” – Beatles cover from 

Soundgarden takes this psychedelic Beatles song and turns it into a gritty, dirty affair. They bring in the down tuned guitars, sludgy riffs, and screeching guitars, slowing things down and making everything heavy as hell. They manage to turn the song into a bonafide rocker making you want to bang your head and stick up those devil horns. If you didn’t know anything about The Beatles, you’d be convinced Soundgarden were the originators. It may be gritty, yet Cornell’s vocals keep the soulful vibe of the original.

“Whole Lotta Love” – Led Zeppelin cover from Guitar Heaven The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time

When you get one of music’s greatest guitar players along with one of rock’s greatest vocalists, you know you’re in for something good. In 2010, Carlos Santana and Chris Cornell teamed up for a rousing cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta love.” While it’s very true to the original, you can’t deny how much it just fucking rocks. Santana lights up the guitar making the iconic riff sound sweeter and sexier. Cornell easily gives Robert Plant a run for his money. He hits every note perfectly reminding you what a great singer he was. The Led Zeppelin version will always be great, but Cornell and Santana almost have them beat with their cover. Why didn’t they do a whole album together?

“Billie Jean” – live Michael Jackson cover

Lots of artists cover this Michael Jackson hit, but no one else brings you to tears with it like Chris Cornell. With only his vocals and an acoustic guitar, his rendition is absolutely haunting. Cornell manages to bring out the underlying darkness of this song that you often forget once you hear that iconic beat. He sings the song as if he’s been through this hell himself. His vocal delivery is so powerful and so intense, it would bring tears to your eyes before his untimely death. Not to mention the violent way he plays the guitar rousing a great reaction from the crowd. It’s not only a memorable performance, it shows how versatile he was as a musician.

“Girl U Want” – Devo cover from “Outshined” single

For the b-side on the “Outshined” single, Soundgarden covered this frantic Devo track. They suck all the bouncy energy and fun vibe out of it and turn it into a sludge fest. Everything is slowed down and played heavily as if the guitar’s a sopping wet with mud. Their version is heavy and somewhat dark with the haunting way Cornell delivers the lyrics. It’s a far cry from Devo’s version; if it wasn’t for the guitar riff you wouldn’t even know they were the same song. They definitely stamped the song with their gritty, raw rock sound.

“Nothing Compares 2 U” – live Sinead O’Connor cover

Cornell had a knack for making his covers sound haunting and somber. So it’s surprising that he managed to make this Prince song sound even sadder. That’s not to say it isn’t lovely. The acoustic rendition is as beautiful as the original and Cornell’s gruff vocals are perfectly suited for the song. There’s even a country vibe to it at times, but it doesn’t last long. Since the instrumentation is subdued, it gives you the chance to hear his singing, which is mesmerizing. It’s enough to give you chills, especially with his untimely passing.

“Imagine” – John Lennon cover from Songbook

The thing about Cornell’s covers is they’re straightforward and simplistic, but it’s his voice that makes them outstanding. It’s no different with this John Lennon classic. This song always had a melancholic mood to it, but when Cornell sings it, it’s enough to break your heart. Here we get the best of both worlds; he gives us a taste of his gruff, powerful vocals he’s known for, but we mostly hear his softer, gentler crooning, which is beautiful. Again, he doesn’t try to make the song his own. Rather he adds his chilling vocals for an unshakeable effect.

“Waiting for the Sun” – Doors cover from Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path

For Soundgarden’s cover of this Doors song, things start out muted and somewhat psychedelic. Cornell sounds like he’s mumbling through the lyrics. Just when you’re ready to nod off, the band kicks into high gear and lets it rip. The distorted guitars, throbbing bass, and pounding drums add a much needed dose of adrenaline to the song. It takes a drug induced classic to something that kicks ass. Whenever you hear that brief pause before everything explodes you’re left waiting in anticipation, waiting for the sweet release. When it finally comes, it’s the most satisfying moment.

“Dear Prudence” – live Beatles cover

Cornell puts his spin on yet another Beatles hit. Cornell is known for his powerful vocals, but for this cover, we get to hear a softer side. With a gentle acoustic guitar setting the mood, Cornell croons this classic never missing a beat. He sounds downright sweet when he hits those high notes at the end of the verses. His quiet, subdued delivery makes the song beautiful. It shows Cornell’s impressive range; he had the chops to make us rock out, but his croons also bring tears to your eyes.

“Cop Killer” – live Body Count cover

Did Soundgarden really cover Body Count’s controversial 1992 song? It sounds too good to be true, but they actually did during one of their Lollapalooza sets. After an impassioned speech from Cornell about exercising your power and not letting others tell you what you can’t do, the band launches into the notorious song. Everything about the performance sounds mad as hell; Matt Cameron beats away at the drum as if trying to break them, while the guitars sound like they’re screeching on their last breath. Cornell gives it his all rallying the crowd for a call to arms. During an unforgettable break, Cornell reassures us the song’s not about killing others, it’s about fighting for your rights. He then launches into a “fuck the police” chant. It’s an exciting, heart-pounding moment that riles you up and gets you ready to fight. Too bad the performance hasn’t been cleaned up and remastered for an official release.

“Hotel California” – live Eagles cover

“Hotel California” is one of those songs everyone knows is good, but no one listens to thanks to the radio playing it to death. Cornell’s acoustic cover makes the song exciting again. It’s a simple, straightforward rendition, but as always, it’s Cornell’s vocals that take it to another level. The grittiness of his vocals makes it sound like he knows what this person’s been through. He adds this harrowing vibe to the song and makes it fresh again. His version reminds you how good the song is. He can’t outdo the original, but his version comes close.

“Thank You” – Sly and the Family Stone cover from John Peel BBC Session 

Soundgarden gets funky for this cover. With a thick bass groove that sounds like it’s summoning Flea, the band lays down a heavy dose of funk mixing it with their heavy, dirty sound. The result is a stellar cover that more people should be talking about. As soon as that opening riff hits and Cornell lets out that wild scream you can’t help but nod your head with an intense feeling of “hell yes!” The band leaves their unmistakable mark on the song, but they manage to keep the soul of the original. And just when you thought the song couldn’t get any sicker, bassist Hiro Yamamoto gives us a hot solo. It’s not only Soundgarden’s best cover, it’s one of the best cover songs out there.

“I Will Always Love You” – live Whitney Houston

You wouldn’t expect a rocker like Chris Cornell to cover this Whitney Houston classic. Performed during a 2012 concert, his version is stripped back with only him and his acoustic guitar. He doesn’t try any fancy tricks with it or even try to make it his own. He just sings it straight. It’s his honest, passionate delivery that makes it so great. Even though the poor audio quality of the Youtube videos, you can hear how amazing he sounds. He holds those soaring notes with ease and his vocals are just as powerful as Houston’s. Though you would expect the cover to make you sad after his death, in a weird way it’s reassuring as if it’s a message to fans and family. His love will always be with us through the music.

Thank you for the wonderful music, Chris Cornell. You won’t be forgotten.

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Nine Cover Songs That Launched Careers

Everyone loves a good cover song and there are countless amazing ones out there that outshine the original. But the thing that makes a cover memorable is when it’s the first song that an artist does or is largely responsible for their new found success. Whether they did it out of pressure from a record company or just because they wanted to put a spin on one of their favorite songs, these are nine artists who got their big break with a cover song. I know there are a lot more I’m missing, but these are the ones that stick out most in my mind.

9. “Wicked Game”- HIM

This hit for Chris Issaks was already hot, but Finnish rock band HIM tossed in some electric guitars and picked up the pace to give it a hard rock edge. It’s not really the song that got them popular in America, but the cover is responsible for the band being discovered in their native homeland. It first appeared on their debut Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 and it went over so well they re-recorded for their second album Razorblade Romance, which was responsible for their popularity in the US. Overtime, it has become one of their well known tracks all because they thought it was a great song.

8. “Torn” – Natalie Imbruglia

This was a hot song for a while during the late 90’s from a then unknown Aussie singer Natalie Imbruglia. This 1995 Endaswap song (I haven’t heard of them either) was covered by the singer for her debut album Left of the Middle. It was a huge success with Imbruglia hitting it big in America. It was catchy, sweet, and Imbrugalia somehow made it adorable. She even received a Grammy nomination for the track. Unfortunately, this was the only hit she had in the states, but the song launched her career and allowed her to keep up her success overseas.

7. “I Fought the Law”- The Clash

Though this song has been covered numerous times from the likes of Green Day and Johnny Cash, the most notable version comes from The Clash. The band was just establishing their career when they recorded the song. It first appeared on their EP The Cost of Living in the UK. When it came time for their debut, which for some reason was their second album in the US, it was added as a track for the states. This small decision helped them cross over to US audiences and helped sealed their place in punk rock history. Aside from the classic “Should I Stay or Should I Go” it’s still one of their most notable songs.

6. “Tainted Love” – Soft Cell

This English duo would probably be forgotten if it weren’t for their cover of this 1964 Gloria Jones song. By slowing down the pace and adding in irresistible synthesizers the duo really made the song their own. It’s one of those tracks where you’re surprised to learn it’s actually a cover. Soft Cell succeeded in having one of the best and most memorable songs of the 80’s that is still well loved today. Since then it’s been covered numerous times by Marilyn Manson and The Pussycat Dolls, but Soft Cell’s version remains the best.

  1. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

To be honest I had no idea this was a cover until I started this list. This just shows how Lauper successfully made the song her own. The track was originally written and performed by Robert Hazard in 1979. Cyndi wanted to do it for her debut album and with some minor changes to the lyrics, she made the song all about girl power. It’s still one of her most recognizable songs today and is single handily responsible for launching her career in the 80’s. There have been countless covers of this track, but Cyndi does it best. Besides, no one can sound as bubbly as she does while singing “Oh, girls just want to have fun.”

  1. “I Love Rock n Roll” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

When Joan Jett decided to leave punk group The Runaways for a solo career she couldn’t have picked a better song to cover than this one. It has all the attitude and sass you expect from her. It’s like the song was made for her. it was originally performed in 1975 by Arrows before Jett made everyone forget this fact when her version was released in 1982. Even though she already had an established career with The Runaways, this song helped her launch her solo career, which is still going strong to this day.

  1. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” – Marilyn Manson

Back in 1983, this was a wonderfully, catchy, synth filled song by British duo The Eurythmics fronted by the lovely Annie Lennox. Fast forward to 1995 and suddenly the song was darker, scarier, and an absolute nightmare thanks to Marilyn Manson. Even though it comes from their remix EP Smells Like Children, their creepy take on the tune was enough to get them the recognition of MTV who put the accompanying bizarre video in rotation on the station. Thanks to this, Marilyn Manson soon became a household name and one of the most talked about figures of the 1990’s.

  1. “Love Buzz” – Nirvana

If it wasn’t for their cover of an obscure song from the 60’s, then Nirvana might not be the legendary band they are today. Back in 1988 when they were recording their debut Bleach for indie label Sub Pop, they covered this song originally done by Shocking Blue in 1969. It was then released as part of Sub Pop’s singles club even though the band wanted “Big Cheese” for the A-side. Needless to say, the song was a hit and got rock magazines buzzing, especially overseas. Thanks to this little-known track Nirvana went on to create bigger and better things.

  1. “Twist and Shout” – The Beatles

This Top Notes song is part of the reason why Beatlemania hit the US. The band covered the song for their first UK album Please Please Me. Thanks to its intense vocal performance, it is regarded as one of the best examples of British rock n roll. But it wasn’t until their 1964 Ed Sullivan performance that got the band popular overseas. Since then they are often regarded as one of the best and most important bands in music history.

Honorable Mention:

“Higher Ground” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

This wasn’t included in the list because by the time it was released the Red Hot Chili Peppers had an established career with three albums under their belt that were met with moderate success. But it wasn’t until this cover from their fourth album Mother’s Milk that they hit the big time. The psychedelic and funk filled track got the guys MTV recognition, who then constantly played the trippy video. This song allowed their next album Blood Sugar Sex Magik to reach the top of the charts and to have the long history they have today.

11 Musicians Who Inexplicably Had Their Own TV Series

Hey guys, I’m back! Did you miss me? I hope you all had a happy and safe holiday break. But now let’s get back to musical business!

Musicians never seem happy with being the best in their field, so they start testing their other talents, whether that be cooking, boxing, or writing books. But most of them shoot for acting and after all these years I think we can all agree that musicians can’t act. They’re tolerable in a small cameo, but anything longer than is just torture. Even though we know what terrible actors they make, someone keeps giving them the chance to prove us right. Whether you remember these shows or want to forget them, here are 11 artists that at one point in time had their own TV show.

  1. In The House– LL Cool J

This is one of the many fine programs that aired on the prestigious UPN network. It has the rib tickling plot of Cool J starring as an old footballer Marion who is in need of money and needs to rent out his house to a crazy cast of characters! It was about as funny as you expect for any show on UPN. From what I remember most of the jokes involved the fact that Marion is a girl’s name. Definitely not one of those shows from the 90’s that you look back upon fondly.

  1. The Beatles

It sort of makes sense why The Beatles had their own cartoon series; they were outrageously popular in the 60’s and this was a way to capitalize on their fame. But that fact doesn’t make this TV show any better. Granted, it’s not the worst one on the list and it is nice to see that the toons somewhat resemble the actual members of the band. But Scooby Doo situations, weird sing along segments, corny jokes that are mostly about Ringo, and American voice actors doing terrible British accents all plague the show.

  1. The Jackson 5ive

This is another show where it’s easy to understand why it existed. The Jackson 5 were huge during the 70’s and out of all of the shows on the list, this is the most entertaining because it’s so damn cheesy. The voice work is actually pretty good because it sounds like them, but the jokes again are lame as hell. For instance, they wanted to include Michael’s love of animals, so they gave him two pet mice named Ray and Charles. Really? That’s the best they could come up with? And since this is the 70’s sometimes the episodes got trippy and weird. The one I remember the most is when Michael gets lost in a pseudo Alice in Wonderland world. It was one of the weirdest and stupidest things I’ve ever seen.

  1. Moesha– Brandy

Moesha is one of those shows we’ve all seen at least once just because there was nothing else better on a Saturday afternoon. In case you forgot, there was a point in time where Brandy was a singer. She put that on hold in the mid-90’s to showcase her “acting” skills. I’m not going to lie, I used to like the show when I was younger mostly because the supporting cast was funny. But now when I watch it on syndication I just shake my head at how they try to tackle serious teen issues and how they shamelessly introduced the world to Ray J.

  1. Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi– Puffy AmiYumi

Most may not remember this forgettable and weird cartoon that Cartoon Network actually thought was a good idea. It’s based on the actual Japanese band Puffy AmiYumi, which no one in America had ever heard of prior to the show. Why Cartoon Network thought making a show on a band no one heard of was a good idea is beyond me. What makes it even worse is that the show is full of Japanese stereotypes and does its best to borrow from Japanese animation. In the episode I watched one of the girls actually eats pancakes with chop sticks. I will never understand how it lasted for three seasons.

  1. Method & Red– Method Man and Redman

Does anyone remember when Fox gave this rap duo their own show? Now, I gotta say, the show did have it’s share of funny moments. The guys are pretty funny, but not enough to actually sit through a 20 minute episode. The show had the unique plot line of the duo moving to the Suburbs and shaking things up with their super duper hip hop fabulous life style. Is there a single person out there who actually thought this was going to last for more than one season? I didn’t think so.

  1. Eve– Eve

This is another one of those UPN gems from the mid-2000’s starring everyone’s favorite Ruff Ryder Eve. Apparently, everyone thought her delivery of the “Who drank my apple juice” line from Barbershop was so hilarious that they gave her a show. It’s so unmemorable I can’t tell you anything about the plot aside from that there were probably a few moments when Eve is just yelling trying to capture the magic of her apple juice line from the movie. The biggest problem of the show is the classic rapper transitioning to actor scenario. For the most part rappers can’t act, so please stop giving them the chance.

  1. Kid N’ Play

Yes, that Kid N’ Play from the House Party franchise. My question is how many kids actually saw those movies to comprehend who these guys were and why they should be watching them in cartoon form? I’m not really sure what the premise of the show is, but Kid N’ Play are teens with record contracts, so you know they’re bound to get into wacky situations. They really dis make Saturday morning cartoons from anything. Hell, they had one for the fucking Rubik’s cube.

  1. Class of 3000– Andre 3000

Once again, the geniuses at Cartoon Network decided Andre 3000 was one of the most influential musicians of our time, so why not give him his own cartoon series. The only thing I ask myself while watching this show is why him? Sure, “Hey Ya” was good, but that doesn’t mean the man deserves his own TV show. In it, he plays Sunny Bridges who decides to give up his life as a superstar to teach kids at a music school. Even worse it’s filled with numerous stereotypes about Indian, Black, and Asian people. Just stop Cartoon Network. Just stop.

  1. New Kids on the Block

NKOTB were so popular that they had their own cartoon in the early 90’s. Just let that fact sink in for a minute. And yes, the cartoon is as terrible as you think it is. The thing is the show can’t decide what it wants to be. A wacky cartoon involving the guys getting into mishaps that usually end with them running away from fans, a music station just for their videos, a concert video, or a way to give kids epileptic fits. Seriously, there are random moments when the cartoon box will get small to allow a spastic border of neon lights and wildly 80’s designs that show up for no reason. Adding insult to injury the cartoons look and sound nothing like the guys. This has to be one of the lamest shows out there.

  1. Hammerman– MC Hammer

It’s not hard to understand why MC Hammer was so popular in the 90’s. Can you really resist “U Can’t Touch This” when it comes on? And I bet you still have your hammer pants in the basement. Even though MC Hammer wasn’t all that bad, it doesn’t explain why he had his own show. To make it even better it has one of the weirdest and dumbest plots ever. In case you weren’t paying attention to the awesome rap provided by Hammer himself, this guy Stanley is given magical shoes by some guy that is obviously supposed to be James Brown and somehow they give him musical powers to defeat criminals. I’m not sure if he kills them with musical notes or scares them away with his dance moves ala Michael Jackson, but either way it’s stupid. Seriously, seriously stupid.

Were any of these your favorites? Was there a show I missed? Let me know in the comments!