Archive for the 'tag, you’re it!' Category

10 cover songs I prefer to the original

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Max and Coralie and I were discussing cover songs the other day and Max came up with a challenge to list 10 cover songs we prefer to the original. Below are my choices (and here are Coralie’s).

1. The Clash, Brand New Cadillac

vs. Vince Taylor and His Playboys. No question, the Clash version kicks ass.

2. Devo’s Satisfaction
(video removed by WMG who hate people who love music)

vs. Rolling Stones. Cuz I am a geek.

3. Cake, I Will Survive
(original video removed by WMG, boo hiss!)

vs. Gloria Gaynor. This was super-hard, the original is fantastic, so passionate, an anthem really but I love the Cake version.

4. Iron and Wine, Such Great Heights

I like the original by The Postal Service but I love the slowness, solemnness of the Iron and Wine version.

5. t.A.T.u., How Soon is Now

vs. The Smiths. I know, I know, this is heresy, how can I prefer the cheap pop version of a song which moved generations of pale morose people like me? But I do, I love the t.A.T.u. version, it’s both light, fun and, to my mind, there’s a plaintive ache in the voice which suit the lyrics.

6. UB40, Can’t Help Falling in Love

vs. Elvis. There’s a sort of tradition in Ska music to do covers. I love Ali Campbell’s voice and the horn section is brilliant (UB40 hon mention: I Got You Babe)

7. Save Ferris, Come On Eileen

vs. Dexy’s Midnight Runners. I love the original but the Save Ferris cover gets me really revv-ed up and like I said, I’m a ska fan – I can’t help it, it’s the horns, the beat. etc.

8. Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Higher Ground
vs. Stevie Wonder. This is the Chilli Peppers at their best, pumped up and kicking it.

9. Tricky, Black Steel,

(see the actual video but embedding disabled) vs. Public Enemy. I love the original, a classic, but Martina Topley-Bird’s voice and delivery are fantastic.

10. The song which started the discussion, Faith No More’s cover of Easy Like Sunday Morning:
(original video again removed to WMG – wow, they’re awful!)

vs Lionel Richie’s

Extra: Hallelujah seems to be the classic cover song debate and many people are absolute and unyielding in their opinion. I know there is a strong Buckley faction but my preference is between Rufus and Leonard and it’s difficult to choose between the two. Rufus’ version is one of my all time favorite songs, but Leonard’s moves me. Rufus sings like an angel, his voice is gorgeous; Leonard’s voice is rough, a bit unsteady but passionate. Rufus’ version sounds like a hymn; Leonard’s more like some fervent prayer in the dark. I feel like Leonard means what he is singing. I’m probably always going to end up preferring the love song that is on it’s knees with yearning vs. one that soars above so for me this is an example where the original still tops a really excellent cover.

Rufus’ version:

vs. Leonard Cohen’s original (excuse the graphic, the original was removed)

Addendum: There were a few songs I was on the fence about and decided I like them both, but favored the original slightly more:
Bjork’s and Death Cab For Cutie’s All is Full of Love.
The Cure’s and Tricky’s Love Cats.

I can’t decide between Kate Bush’s vs. Placebo’s version of Running up that Hill. I love the darkness of the Placebo version and the passion of Kate Bush’s version.

Honorable mentions: Arctic Monkeys cover of Shirley Bassey’s Diamonds are Forever (Alex Turner has an incredible voice); Elvis Costello’s Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood and The Cardigan’s cover of Iron Man.

Lastly, but most cheesily, just for fun, Richard Cheese’s version of Creep is a must-listen.

Update: Another honorable mention is Rachid Taha’s part Arabic cover of The Clash’s Rock the Casbah. Also, it’s almost impossible to find a better cover of any song Nina Simone did, she just rips it up and owns it (see the Be Misunderstood hon mention above), but on the way home, I remembered this Muse cover of Feeling Good – an incredibly sexy song (original version removed by WMG – again, boo hiss x 100, WMG!

Update 1/11/09

Max mentioned that the Soft Cell version of Tainted Love is better than the original and it is such a fantastic song, I just had to add it here.
(another video removed by WMG due to a copyright claim. They are teh suck).

a curious thought

Monday, September 15th, 2008

“It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.”
— Agatha Christie

I would only add that this happens too when playing an ongoing game of email signature tag with someone and getting one like the above. Other favorites include:

“Lord, beer me strength”
Jim [from The Office]

a good curse

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Recent events involving the cat’s genitalia made me think of a good curse for Harry Potter and fellow wizards and witches:


A pandemonium of parrots!

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

I learnt a couple days ago, after a visit at the New England Aquarium, that a group of jelly fish is called a smack. Amy and I got curious about other funny animal groups names. Since she is too busy at work and I’m actively vacationing, I got tagged to blog about the ones I like.

A congress of baboons
A sleuth/sloth of bears
A flock of cocks
A rainbow of butterflies
A coalition of cheetahs
A peep of chickens
A cartload of chimpanzees
A quiver of cobras
An intrusion of cockroaches
A murder of crows
A gang of (scurvy) dogs (hi gang!)
A duet of doves
A team of ducks
A swarm of eels (eek!)
A parade of elephants
An army of frogs (yay!)
A thunder of hippopotamus (uh-huh)
A tribe of humans
A mob of kangaroos (hop, hop!)
A pride of lions (that’s right!)
A mischief of mice
A buffoonery of orangutans
A pandemonium of parrots (brrrrrrak!)
A huddle of penguins
A plague of rats
A scurry of squirrels
A regatta of swans
An army of wombats

dulliciously smug

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

schol·ar n.

  1. A learned person.
  2. A specialist in a given branch of knowledge: a classical scholar.
  3. One who attends school or studies with a teacher; a student.
  4. A student who holds or has held a particular scholarship.

I’ll be that. Yeah-huh! Isn’t it awesome?!

One day I’ll start a sentence with “oh, when i was at MIT as a visiting scholar…”

I’m *so* thrilled! Not really by the fact that MIT will host me as a “Visiting Scholar”, but by the wonderful opportunity! I’ll be closer to Amy (yay!), I’ll change venue, do new stuff (although workwise I’ll do exactly the same things), freeze in the Massachussets winter, have truck food for lunch, I’ll have as many Starbucks Coffee caramel macchiato as I want (and I’ll want a *lot*), etcetera, etcetera :)

switchboard operators too have fun

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

When I was 20 I worked as a switchboard operator in a hospital during the summer vacations. One day as I was done with my shift, I stayed a while longer with the girl who was doing the next shift.

She asked if I would dare take the next call and goof around; I gladly took up the challenge!

I spoke with a fake foreign accent and pretended they were not at all at the hospital.

me: “The rehabilitation centre? no, Sir, not at all.”
them: “Ah. Oh, well, I’m sorry!”

They were about to hang up!

me: “But I’m so glad you called. I don’t have much company, you see…”

My friend was so worried she would get into trouble, that she started to giggle and gesture nervously, and that was contagious.

I became anxious to dispose of that potentially embarassing call. I don’t recall what the caller next said or how I hung up.

My friend was eager to get back to serious work, and I was not eager to find out whether the caller would redial and speak with her; I was done for the day and darted out back home.

on love (continued)

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

I have finished the excellent novel “on love” by Alain de Botton. I will read the last three chapters again in a little while. Maybe then will I get the author’s philosophical message and or life advice.

Intermittences of the heart:

[[Language flatters our indecisions with its stability. It allows us to hide under an illusory permanence and fixity while the world changes minute by minute.]]

[[However happy we may be with our partner, our love for them necessarily prevents us [unless we live in a polygamous society] from starting other romantic liaisons. But why should this constrain us if we truly loved them? Why should we feel this as a loss unless our love for them has already begun to wane? The answer perhaps lies in the uncomfortable thought that in resolving our need to love, we may not always succeed in resolving our need to long.]]

[[Romantic nostalgia descends when we are faced with those who might have been our lovers, but whome chance has decreed we will never know. The possibility of an alternative love life is a reminder that the life we are leading is only one of a myria of possible lives, and it is perhaps the impossibiliity of leading them all that plunges us into sadness.]]

[[The unknown carries with it a mirror of all our deepest, most inexpressible wishes.]]

[[Longing cannot indefinitely direct itself at those we know, for their qualities are charted and therefore lack the mystery longing demands.]]

The fear of happiness:

[[Though the pursuit of happiness was an avowed central goal, it was accompanied by an implicit belief that the realization of this Aristotelianism lay somewhere in the very distant future.]]

Romantic terrorism:

[[And so at this point, desperate to woo the partner back at any cost, the lover turns to romantic terrorism, the product of irredeemable situations, a gamut of tricks [sulking, jealousy, guilt] that attempts to force the partner to return love, by blowing up [in fits of tears, rage, or otherwise] in front of the loved one. The terroristic partner knows he or she cannot realistically hope to see his or her love reciprocated, but the futility of something is not always [in love or in politics] a sufficient argument against it. Certain things are said not because they will be heard, but because it is important to speak.]]

[[The sulker is a complicated creature, giving off messages of deep ambivalence, crying out for help and attention while at the same time rejecting it should it be offered, wanting to be understood without needing to speak.]]

[[Romantic terrorism is a demand that negates itself in the process of its resolution, it brings the terrorist up against an uncomfortable reality –that love’s death cannot be arrested.]]

on love

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

You know how some authors have the nerve to know exactly what words resonate with you? How some words are exactly those you were looking for as you feel an emotion or you want to describe your feelings? Alain de Botton is that, for me.

I’ve been reading “on love”, a novel in which he describes his romance with Chloe and analyses it step by step, catergorising each stage and wonderfully and very funnily illustrating it.

Here’s a collection of quotes that I relate to particularly:

Marxism. Unrequited love until we are loved back:

[[how can they be as wonderful as we had hoped when they had the bad taste to approve of someone like us?]]

Marxism. Reciprocated love, the battle of self-love and self-hatred:

[[There is usually a Marxist moment in most relationships [the moment when it becomes clear that love is reciprocated] and the way it is resolved depends on the balance between self-love and self-hatred. If self-hatred gains the upper hand, then the one who has received love will declare the the beloved [on some excuse or other] is not good enough for them [not good enough by virtue of association with no-goods]. But if self-love gains the upper hand, both partners may accept that seeing their love reciprocated is not proof of how low the beloved is, but of how lovable they have themselves turned out to be.]]

About falling in love:

[[Falling comes only when one knows how deep the waters are into which to plunge]]

False Notes. One must understand before being ready to love:

[[Only after much exchange […] should two people decide they are ready to love one another, a decision made on the basis of mutual understanding and confirmed rather than imagined affinity. In the mature account of love, it is only when one truly knows one’s partner that love is given a chance to grow.]]

False Notes. About the other existing in their own right:

[[ […] I became aware of a fleeting desire not to get to know certain things about her, lest they jar with the beautiful image that, almost from the moment I had first laid eyes on her, I had built up in my imagination.]]

False Notes. Between inner fantasy and outer reality:

[[ Living day to day with her was like acclimatizing myself to a foreign country and prey therefore to accasional xenophobia at departures from my own traditions and history.]]

Love or Liberalism. Trenscend the differences with the will to joke:

[[It is a sign that two people have stopped loving one another [or at least stopped wishing to make the effort that constitutes 90 percent of love] when they are no longer able to spin differences into jokes. Humor lined the walls of irritation between our ideals and the reality: Behind each joke, there was a difference that had been defused –and could therefore be passed over without the need for a pogrom.]]

Speaking love:

[[The thought was a lonely one: of the error one may find over a single word, an argument not for pedants but of desperated importance to lovers who are sick of talking throught interpreters. We could both speak of being in love, and yet this love might mean wholly different things within each of us.]]

Skepticism and Faith:

[[Doubt is easy when it is not a matter of survival: We are as skeptical as we can afford to be, and it is easiest to be skeptical about things that do not fundamentally sustain us. It is easy to doubt the existence of a table; it is hell to doubt the legitimacy of one’s love.]]

[[Even though the odds were in favor of God’s not existing, Pascale argued that our faith in God could still be amply justified because the joys of the slimmer probability so far outweighed the horrors of the larger probability. And so it should perharps be with love.]]


[[To love someone is to take a deep interest in them and hence by that concern, to bring them to a sense of what they are doing and saying.]]

[[It takes the intimacy of a lover to point out facets of character others simply do not bother with, sides that it may be difficul to confront.]]

[[It is what makes others so indispensable, that they are able to give us something we are unable to grasp alone, the elusive sense of our borders, the sense of our own character.]]

I’m sure I’ll find more as I keep reading it and thoroughly enjoy it.

I dig Phil Collins!

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

Today I cranked up the volume and had goosebumps as I played “in the air tonight” and “take me home”.

I also love “true colours” (yes the Cindi Lauper song) and I may very well buy it on iTunes.

Short story

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

When I was in Edinburgh in 1996, I remember writing a short story to enter a competition organised by the book club I was a member of. I don’t know if I sent it or not eventually, but I don’t recall winning the competition :) I found the pages last week-end. Here is the short story (I was wicked tempted to make edits as I typed it this evening!):

* * * * *
‘Daddy?… Mummy?… Daddy, Mummy…’ Todd was singing. He was sitting on the floor, leaning against the padded wall, his head rocking gently back and forth. His voice was bouncing on the walls, echoing on the mirror, every sound falling around him like a summer rain.

Doctor Ann Riley entered the observation room. Through the mirror, the nine-year-old Todd could be seen moving slowly. She entered the room smoothly, a thick file in one hand, a cup a coffee in the other. Professor Adams was at the desk, staring through the window at the child and making occasional notes on a pad. She sat on a chair next to the prominent professor, head of the mental disease facility.

‘Are you familiar with his file?’, he asked, screwing his pen and resting against the chair. She was not.
‘Todd Anderson, nine years old, was admitted at eleven thirty-seven last night. He was found under a table, singing and rocking, and his parents were lying on the floor, a few feet away, both deader than hell’, he explained in a neutral tone, almost indifferent.
‘Who did it?’
‘The police believe David Anderson killed his wife, but his death remains a complete mystery. Seems like he’s been strangled as there were bruises on his neck, but there’s no sign of any break-in.’
‘The kid could have done it?’
‘Choking Anderson required at least three times the strength of Todd, and twice his height’, he answered matter-of-factly.

She remained silent, pondering his words, absorbing the story, and watching intently the boy. He was still squatting near the bed, his arms folded around his knees. His lips were moving but his song was barely audible.

Professor Adams resumed his story-telling, explaining that Todd had not moved an inch since his arrival, and that he would not talk but sing or moan.
‘I’d like you to spend some time with him, Ann.’ he demanded.

She gathered her things, gave a last look through the mirror and left the observation room. She picked a pad and a pencil from a shelf in her office, and headed for the cell number 7.

* * *
‘Good morning, Todd. I am Doctor Riley. How do you feel?’ Her voice was comforting and Todd stopped his moaning but said nothing.
‘Do you know why you are here, Todd?’
‘My Mummy and Daddy have gone.’ he said in a very low voice, his head bent and his eyes sad.

Ann was searching for non hurting words to ask him about the tragedy, when Todd spoke.
‘Yesterday was Halloween, you know,’ he said, looking at her. ‘But I had no fancy dress because I had bad marks at school. I was not allowed to go to the party and my Mummy sent me to bed early.’
‘Which party, Todd?’
‘The Halloween party of our neighbours. I could hear them laughing and I could hear the music through the walls. When Daddy returned home, I could hear the party was not over, and Mummy was still at the neighbours’. Daddy was singing, his words blurting and he had his voice of whenever he drinks too much. I wanted to ask him to play with me because I was not tired. Suddenly he squeaked and bumped into an armchair. Then he spoke with the witch.’ Todd was staring at an invisible spot on the mirror.
‘Daddy begged a witch to leave, and not to approach him any further. The witch laughed. Daddy grabbed one of the pokers. I know because of the sound it made when it rattled against the others on the rack. Then, they fought. I buried myself in my pillow and sang loudly. It helps, when I am afraid sometimes. I also prayed for my Daddy, and for the witch to leave. I had to sing louder because of the voice. I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to obey it.’
‘Which voice, Todd?’ she asked soothingly.
‘Just the voice.’ he replied in earnest.
‘Who was talking to you, Todd?’
‘No one, just a voice in my head and around me.’

* * *
That’s it, she thought, Mr Boogeyman came out of the closet and chattered with little Todd. She decided to speak in a comforting tone.
‘And what was it demanding?’
‘The voice was not speaking our language, but I knew it wanted me to get up and go downstairs. The louder I sang, the angrier it became. Then, something filled me, the voice was invading me, entering through my eyes and ears. I covered my mouth but the stream went in somehow. It was inside me.’
‘What was inside you, Todd?’ Her tone was skeptical and rather brutal. But Todd did not notice.
‘The voice was in me and made me move. It made me get up and go downstairs, just as it wanted before.’
‘You were curious, so you went downstairs towards the living room?’
‘No! It made me go there.’ Outraged the moment before, he just fell against the wall and remained silent, rocking faster, still staring.

‘What did you see, then?’ she asked carefully. No answer. He was absorbed, deep in thoughts.
‘Todd? It’s all right, you can talk to me.’
‘I saw my Daddy. He was holding the poker high in the air. And he yelled ‘Die witch!’ and yanked it down on her head. She fell. She was my Mummy.’

* * *
Amazement assailled her and settled on her nerves like a strike of frozen lightning. His voice. Todd’s voice. For the instant it took to report the yelling of the father, Todd spoke with the voice of a man. The voice of an adult.

‘Todd, what exactly did your father say to the witch?’ Her voice was still filled with the remains of the incredible sounds the boy had just uttered.
‘Not a witch,’ the childish and feeble voice said, ‘it was my mother. But before hitting her, he screamed ‘Die witch!’‘ It was the grown-up voice again.
‘And what happened next?’ Ann was ready to hear anything from now on.
‘Daddy dropped the poker. The force inside me made me stand before him. He gazed blankly at my sight. He almost fell when a voice emanated from me ‘You killed me David. Now, it’s your turn to die’‘.
Ann was definitely not ready to hear a woman’s voice. But still Todd resumed and he sounded like a woman again.
‘You killed me again, David, but you can’t escape from me. I came back last time because Todd was too young. Now he has the age and the legacy. I am indestructible. I am in him now.’

The woman’s voice became a loud and unnerving laughter, incessant and frightening. Ann checked the tranquiliser and felt reassured. It was there, in her pocket, in case Todd became violent.

‘Your stupidity led you to your last moment, David. I am centuries old. Inhabiting all these women’s bodies, giving birth, and bouncing from a body to another made my power increase. All I need is to be carried to another woman. Get ready to die, David.’

The frightening quotation was over. Todd regained his voice.
‘I saw Daddy raising his hands slowly, looking at them in turn. He had a strange dazed look on his face. He put his hands around his neck and grasped strongly. My Daddy fell soundlessly on the floor. I ran under the table and started to sing, my eyes closed, because I was alone and my Mummy and Daddy had left without me.’

* * *
Todd was just the vulnerable child again, so little and frail, so sad and feeble. Ann could not utter a single word. After a while, Todd slowly raised a grinning face towards her. ‘You are a few months pregnant, Ann, aren’t you?’

The last thing she recalled as Doctor Ann Riley was the pleasant sensation of being invaded by a stream of invisible smoke, filled with a new strength. She was someone else when she left cell number 7, leaving behing the inert and livid body of young Todd Anderson, silent and empty from now on and forever. She had a mission to fullfil.