Staff Picks

The Beatles Remade

   It’s been 44 years since The Beatles broke up, yet their songs still remain some of the most popular in history and have been covered by many different artists. But when you search and scan through all of those covers, only a very few groups have managed to create successful the boys from Liverpool’s hits. Recently, Miley Cyrus paired with The Flaming Lips to release a cover version of The Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” The team first performed their cover live in Manchester, England at the Billboard Music Awards.

Moby then came on board with The Flaming Lips and Cyrus to produce a studio version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” The cover was released on the new Flaming Lips album With a Little Help From My Fwends, now available on Spotify. The studio version is fairly similar to The Beatles’ original version besides a few funky additions, which give it a more modern feel. Cyrus performs most of the vocals, giving the song a slurred, trippy sound. While Cyrus sings, the background vocals repeat, “gone…gone…” until the refrain fades into an explosion of drums and electronic noise. The song is definitely bizarre, but exactly what’s expected from Cyrus, and the funky additions work beautifully with The Beatles’ psychedelic song.

   Florence and the Machine also released a cover version of “Oh! Darling.” Although Florence’s version is not widely known, it is one of the best Beatles covers out there. Florence puts her own twist on “Oh! Darling,” giving it a blues sound and incorporating dramatic vocals. Florence begins the song more quietly, but builds up each line of the song into long wailing notes that match the desperation of the lyrics: “Oh! Darling, if you leave me/ I’ll never make it alone.” Part of what makes Florence’s cover so good is that she sticks to what she knows, singing in a style similar to her other songs. Florence creates a sound that is still successful but different from The Beatles’ original version of “Oh! Darling.”

   Fiona Apple is another great female vocalist who incorporates blues and jazz into her music. Apple’s lyrics are often angst-ridden, suiting her rich voice and moody songs. Back in 1998, Apple produced a wonderful cover of The Beatles song “Across the Universe,” which was featured in the move Pleasantville. Apple’s version is much slower and quieter than the original. Unlike Florence, her voice remains even throughout the song, effortless and smooth. Apple languidly draws out every note, running the song’s lines together. Her lingering notes evoke a tone that is contemplative and even melancholic, making it stand out amongst other covers of “Across the Universe.”

   It’s easy to piss off listeners with a bad cover of a famous song. The Beatles is a band that artists have to be careful about covering since their songs are so iconic. However, groups like The Flaming Lips, Miley Cyrus, Florence and the Machine and Fiona Apple prove that it is possible to produce covers as tasteful as the originals if done correctly. 

 

Edited by Valerie Reich

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