It seems like almost every day I come across new cover songs, which blow my mind. People debate on what the definition of a truly great cover song is; some like covers that stay true to the original, others like covers which differ greatly from the original. Whatever your preference, here are five covers of 80’s songs, which you can chill out and relax to.
Number Five: “Skulls” by Evan Dando. “Skulls” is a song by the Misfits, off of their 1982 album, Walk Among Us. The song was written by Glen Danzig. The Lemonheads (Evan Dando’s band) recorded the song as a b-side on the 1990 EP, Favorite Spanish Dishes. Since the recording, the song has become a popular staple at Dando’s live shows. While the Misfits’ version is clearly punk, with the horror element seen within the lyrics, Dando’s version is an acoustic lullaby in comparison. However, since Dando is still singing lyrics like, “hack the heads off little girls / and put em’ on my wall,” this slow cover maintains the creepy element of the original. The best part of the song is when Dando sings “I need your skulls,” as he shouts the word ‘skulls’ just like the original band did.
Number Four: “New Sensation” by Snow Patrol. “New Sensation” is a song by INXS off of their 1987 album, Kick. The track peaked at #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 while reaching #8 on the US Billboard Album Rock Tracks. The song was covered by Snow Patrol in 2009 for the compilation album, Late Night Tales, and luckily, the song was a huge deviation from the original. Using an electro-acoustic guitar as the main instrument, this cover is definitely more intimate than INXS’s version (which features a saxophone among other instruments.) While the original sounds like a typical 80s party song, Snow Patrol’s toned-down version makes it sound like a love song.
Number Three: “Take My Breath Away” by We Are Scientists. “Take My Breath Away” is a song by Berlin, off of their 1986 album, Count Three & Pray. The song is most famous for being featured on the soundtrack forTop Gun (1986.) The track was written by Tom Whitlock and Giorgio Moroder, and the song won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song. Since its release, the song has been covered by Jessica Simpson, Soda Club (featuring Hannah Alethea) and Sylvia Tosun. We Are Scientists covered the song in 2013 on their EP, Business Casual. This is by far the best cover of this song. While the original seems to be “chilled-out” already, the We Are Scientists’ version is even more dreamy and otherworldly. In particular, the steel guitar used in the song makes you feel like you’re on an island somewhere in a tropical paradise. This cover maintains the pop element of the original but adds a techno/ambient component as well. My favorite line of the song, (“if only for today / I am unafraid,”) is also more enunciated in this cover version.
Number Two: “Dance Hall Days” by Imperial Mammoth. “Dance Hall Days” is a song by Wang Chung that was first released on their 1983 album, Points on the Curve, while it was also released as a single in 1984. The song hit #16 on the US Hot 100 Chart, while peaking at #1 on the US Dance/Disco Chart. Since its release, the song has been featured in movies and TV shows, such as Pretty in Pink, Adventureland, The Middle, The Fighter and Breaking Bad. Imperial Mammoth covered the song in 2014 on Bleed101 Records; the cover was made popular after it was featured in season 10, episode 23 of Grey’s Anatomy. While the original became a popular dance track, Imperial Mammoth’s version is an acoustic, soothing, euphonious remake. In this cover, the song slows down while the lead singer whispers the lyrics, “We were so in phase / in our dance hall days / we were cool on craze.” When he sings the chorus, “dance hall days, love,” his vocals are warmhearted and tender. Essentially, Imperial Mammoth turned this dance song into a piano-laden lullaby.
Number One: “Love is a Battlefield” by Wrongchilde (featuring White Sea). “Love is a Battlefield” is a song by Pat Benatar, released on her 1983 live album, Live from Earth. It was written by Mike Chapman and Holly Knight. The song reached #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and allowed Benatar to win the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. Since its release, the song has been featured in films and TV shows like Psych, 13 Going on 30 and Small Soldiers. The song is most well-known for its accompanying music video, which features Benatar and a bunch of other girl-dancers rebelling against a pimp.
Wrongchilde featuring White Sea covered this song in 2014, off of the band’s album, Gold Blooded. Wrongchilde is a side project for synth-rocker Mat Devine (who was in the band Kill Hannah,) and White Sea is the solo project of Morgan Kibby (who was in the band M83.) While the original song introduced the first appearance of electronica in Benatar’s music, and many would classify the song as new-wave/pop, this cover version contains even more synth and is more of a slow, dark dirge. Devine and Kibby’s hushed vocals overlap perfectly, and this, along with the distorted bass and shoegaze-style drumming, give the song a borderline-sinister quality. In essence, this cover is brilliant in that it differs so much from the original (This cover was also featured on season 1, episode 6 of the TV show, Stalker.)