covers

I bless the rains down in Africa

(This is a post dedicated to sharing the good message of Toto’s “Africa.” You’ve been warned.)

It doesn’t matter what decade you were born in but if you currently have access to the Internet, a record collection, or a soft-hits radio station, you’ll know Toto’s “Africa.” It’s a great song all around and if I had any authority on music (which I won’t claim to have), I’d argue that it’s one of the best songs ever written and released. True or not, it sounds like a good argument though.

The song was released in late 1982 on Toto’s album Toto IV, which debuted earlier that same year. It hit #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1983, and got as high as #3 on UK charts the same month.

Most recently, actors and real-life couple Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell posted their own homemade music video tribute to the song, featuring footage from the couple’s trip to, yes, Africa. I already love the song and I love Kristen Bell even more so I’m a sucker for this video, obviously.

An online video of two guys performing in a pizza shop in South Jordan, Utah has also been dubbed “The Best Cover of ‘Africa’ by Toto You’ve Probably Ever Heard.” (h/t Michael Berry at KTRH)

The performers are Mike Masse and Jeff Hall, and the video was actually posted to Youtube back in August 2010, but the fact that the video is still being passed around just goes to show that Toto’s “Africa” is a timeless song.

So today’s lesson is: You’ll never regret hearing Toto’s “Africa” because it’s a great song that makes you feel good. That is all.

IMG_6230

Advertisements

First Listen: Tokyo Police Club – Ten Year Project.

I love me a good cover. I love me some Tokyo Police Club. Dear Lord, do I ever love me some nostalgia! So when you take all three of those things and mix them together, you get one very happy Stephanie. Which is exactly what’s happening with Tokyo Police Club’s Ten Songs project…. officially titled Ten Songs, Ten Days, Ten Hours, Ten Years.

Ten Songs

These four Canadian dudes, which I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing when they opened for Weezer in 2008 here in Vancouver, have decided to revisit the aughties by recording ten covers, one from each year and releasing them day-by-day. I knew they were doing the project but I hadn’t paid any attention to the start date. Anyway, they’re four songs in and so far, I am diggin’ it. Here’s what’s been released to date:

2001: Moby ft. Gwen Stefani – “Southside
2002: Jimmy Eat World – “Sweetness
2003: The Strokes – “Under Control
2004: Kelly Clarkson – “Since U Been Gone
2005: Queens of the Stone Age – “Little Sister” (Release: Aug. 28)
(Sidenote: You can follow the project by visiting their Soundcloud page where new tracks are posted each day.)

Imitation as Flattery

Covers are always a difficult thing because depending on what the song is, people interpret your intentions differently. Are you covering this song because you think it’s awesome? Are you trying to be ironic? Or are you trying to leech off someone else’s popularity? Not to mention, if you do a bad job, it’s kind of a kick to the shins for the original song and you end up turning off more fans instead of the opposite.

A Quick Review

I am pretty into the “Southside” cover. It might be because I remember when that song came out and I was super into it. The song and the music video had this strange 90s cool, very neon-everything-raver-life quality to it. Don’t ask me why that was ever popular but at one point, it was.

The music video for “Southside” featured Gwen and Moby on the set of
a flashy video shoot, complete with fur jackets, light-up signs,
platform shoes and plenty of backless raver clothing.

The Jimmy Eat World nod is pretty understandable. I’m just glad they didn’t do “The Middle.” “Sweetness” was a way better choice, for sure.” The Strokes’ cover is actually the one in the bunch that doesn’t do much for me. Strange because “Under Cover” is one of my favourite Strokes songs. Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” is a cheeky choice of song and, despite being a pop song, TPC seems to understand there’s a place in the world for pop music, whether you value it or not — it’s “popular” for a reason.

On the Topic of Covers…

Anyway, I’ll leave you off with the video for Tokyo’s “Bambi” off their album Champ. I love this video because of its lights, colours and faded, vintage quality — very cool, very fun. Another sidenote since we’re on the topic of covers, check out Stereogum’s Stroked, a compilation tribute to the Strokes’ Is This It, currently celebrating it’s ten-year anniversary. Some tracks to highlight are the Morning Benders’ “Last Night” and Heems’ “New York City Cops.” You can download the album for free over on their website.

Photo: Google Images.