Don't Play It Again, Sam: More Terrible Remakes Of Great Songs (By The Original Artists)
Rocks Off covered Eric Clapton's "Layla" and several other awful updates in January.
Sometimes an artist hits it big with one great song. Real big, real fast. Before they know it, they're the hot-button item, on the lips of the hip and influential across the world.
Of course, a sudden rise to fame is usually followed by a meteoric collapse, and if not that then a much more gradual but no less saddening decline. Just taking an example from this very list: Nobody in their right mind could say that Motley Crue was a one-hit wonder. Yet once grunge killed the hair-metal excess of the '80s, the Crue tried everything they could do recapture the heat they had in their heyday. Quite unsuccessfully, might I add.
Now, obviously they're still hugely successful and can pack a stadium full of nostalgic suburbanites, but do you even know if the Crue are still writing and recording new music? Do you care? I had to look it up, and it's kind of my job to know that shit. (Yeah, I know, Craiggers: you're eagerly awaiting Saints of Los Angeles Part 2. Yes, I'm sure the 2008 album is underrated. Just go with the premise here.)
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So what do you do when the natural cycle of rise and decline has you yearning for the days of relevance? Why, you go back to the well, of course. You dig up a big hit, hopefully your biggest, and update it for a modern age. Hey, people loved it once, why wouldn't they love it again?
Here are several reasons why they wouldn't.
6. Motley Crue, Shout At the Devil '97: "Hey, you know what would be great? If Motley Crue took 'Shout At the Devil' and redid it with electronic drums, crunchier guitars, hip-hop bass, and a quickened rap-rock tempo so that Vince Neil has to shriek all of his lyrics really fast and in such a high register that it all bleeds together in a pseudo-industrial millenium-rawk mess. That would be very relevant to my interests, as a disaffected teenager in the year 1997." -- No one.
5. Chicago, "25 or 6 to 4 (Remake)" Everyone recognizes the original, even if you never memorized its music-nerd title; it's a common staple on classic-rock radio, and also an old standby for marching bands whose instructors want the kids to think they're still cool after all these years, man.
As much crap as Chicago gets for having turned into a middling adult-contemporary act in their later years, this track really does kick ass. Horns that don't sound cheesy in a barn-burner like this are hard to pull off, but it totally works.
The remake, done minus ex-singer Peter Cetera and sung by Chicago's bassist, is a good example of pretty much everything that went wrong with Chicago -- and most other hard-rock acts in the 80's, come to think of it. It's got synths instead of horns, walls of laser-y business going on in the background that would have struck Van Halen as excessive, and a much slower tempo that bogs the whole thing down, making what was a smoking '70s road song into something that would play over the closing credits of a little-seen Philip Michael Thomas cop movie.
4. David Bowie, "John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)": In the 1970s, a phenomenon grabbed hold of the nation that transformed the face of contemporary rock and pop virtually overnight. That phenomenon was: cocaine. And in direct correlation, disco also became nightmarishly popular.
Artists trying to stay relevant, or who simply had a desire to experiment, all released at least one disco song, and unfortunately the Thin White Duke is no exception. What began as a simple, catchy British Invasion-influenced pop tune became a droning, bloated ruin of a song.
Unnecessary backup singers and saxophone solos were added until the thing grew to seven minutes in length. Once disco became irrelevant, so did this remake. And probably before that.Next Page
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