Music has always cast a division between staid, sober parents and their edgy offspring. Following on from Elvis and the sheer sexuality eluded from his swagger, rock and roll set the proverbial trendy cat among the dull pigeons with undertones of rebellion present throughout three-minute aural blasts. Then the 80s happened, and angsty rebellion was largely replaced with uncertain sexuality; in fact, the sheer androgyny of the era can be best summed up by the fact that Grace Jones was certainly more ‘boy’ than Boy George ever was.
Yet, there is something deeply appealing about a cover version of a female voice bringing a different light to a song once sung by a man, and the reverse is equally true. Here are five of the best, with the full playlist here: Boys in the girls’ room, girls in the boys’ room.
1. Animals – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
Nina Simone’s passionate and soulful ballad gets a more blues guitar reworking by the Animals. Eric Burdon’s voice is far less sorrowful and arguably less passionate than Simone’s, but that spaghetti western-esque guitar riff more than makes up for that.
2. Save Ferris – Come on Eileen
Whereas the synthesiser was the lynchpin for the majority of the music in the 80s, Dexy’s Midnight Runners bucked that trend with the classic Come on Eileen, rife with violins, banjos and accordion. Giving it a ska makeover, Save Ferris try to take the song out of the Midlands, with interesting results.
3. Sandie Shaw – Hand in Glove
Whereas Morrissey crooned, Sandie Shaw could belt them out. Accompanied by the other three Smiths, the former Eurovision song contest winner gives Hand in Glove a less morose, and slightly alluring feel.
4. Cake – I Will Survive
Cake take the anthem of a thousand hen-nights, remove anything vaguely disco about it, and still manage to make it sound credible. Not possible? Just listen to Gabe Nelson’s funk-heavy bass and Xan McCurdy’s impressive guitar work, you’ll soon think otherwise.
5. Futureheads – Hounds of Love
Gone are the drum machines and synth melodies that gave the original that haunting feeling, instead, a strong guitar line and clever instrumentation make Futureheads’ version of Hounds of Love sound fresh and delightfully jagged.
If you have Spotify, you can listen to the playlist here: Boys in the girls’ room, girls in the boys’ room. Think we’ve missed out a classic? Have your say below!
The Animals – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
Cat Power – Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
Cake – I Will Survive
The Futureheads – Hounds of Love
Dolly Parton – In The Ghetto
Norman Palm – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Aimee Mann – The Scientist
Rufus Wainwright – Over The Rainbow
Cher – All I Really Want To Do
Nouvelle Vague – Guns Of Brixton
Nina Simone – Just Like A Woman
Kate York – Boys Don’t Cry
Carla Bruni – Those Little Things
Sophie Zelmani – Most Of The Time
Sandie Shaw – Hand In Glove
Save Ferris – Come On Eileen
By Alexander Britton
Tags: aimee mann, animals, boys, cake, carla bruni, cat power, cher, cover songs, dexy's midnight runners, futureheads, girls, kate bush, kate york, nina simone, norman palm, nouvelle vague, rufus wainwright, sandie shaw, save ferris, sophie zelmani, spotify playlist., the smiths