Tag Archives: non-guitar strings

Traditional Music — Because I Love Christmas — O Come All Ye Faithful

So remember in the last post when I said I hated most Christmas music? That must not be construed with me hating Christmas in general. I actually LOVE Christmas. I know there were so many negative overtones to the holiday spirit in the last post, but really… I mean come on, can’t I be a traditionalist and cynic at the same time?

I grew up in the tradition of celebrating Christ–rather than Winter–on Christmas day, so you can see from whence my negative and sordid attitude comes toward camps that glorify gift-giving and merriment solely because “it’s the holidays.”

In the spirit of the real meaning of Christmas (and I mean this in the real Christian way, not the overly-done 1960s crappy animatronic Rudolph way), I present to thee a cover of my favorite Christmas song, O Come All Ye Faithful. Don’t let me get too sappy here, but I believe this song is a truly great composition that commemorates the most basic tenets of the Christian foundation. This cover does the same, but it does so in a very modern and alternative way that I think Christmas lovers–Christian or otherwise alike–will enjoy. That is, you don’t have to be Catholic or protestant to enjoy this great piece of music.

Having grown up in the church, you’d think that I’ve heard every possible version of every Christmas song ever, but this song proves us all wrong. Pomplamoose Music (which you’ve seen here before with their cover of Mrs. Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel) takes some very creative steps with this version of a Christmas carol. They introduce the accordion and ukulele to a genre primarily dominated by piano, choir, and orchestra, and the entire song is complemented with a steady percussive beat. However, their alternative steps don’t stray too far from the original tradition. They include a totally a capella interlude that reminds me of the choirs I heard on the stereo on Christmas morning every year, complete with angelic harmonies. Enjoy here:

This song, according to wikipedia (yeah, that’s probably accurate) has unclear beginnings, but here’s one American icon singing this song:
Nat King Cole singing O Come All Ye Faithful” on YouTube.

Sufjan Stevens – They are Neighbors! They are Night Zombies! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! AHHHH!

Boils and ghouls, maladies and violent men, just in time for Halloween we have a really scarifying, bone-chilling, skin-tingling cover for you today. But all holiday puns aside, this cover of Sufjan StevensThey are Neighbors! They are Night Zombies… is actually pretty impressive. So, rather than me rambling on with bad jokes about the holidays, let’s get down to business so you can go get your candy.

This song is rather Halloween themed, being superficially about zombies and having an overall creepy, chilly feel to it. I love the bass line, and, like much of Sufjan’s other music, the non-synthesized strings mixed in with other instruments of modern rock. The drum has a good beat that gets stuck in my head every time I hear it. It’s one of my favorites from the album Illinois.

Unfortunately I’ve never been lucky enough to see Sufjan perform live, but I’ve heard it’s great, with all the actual instruments performing together as one… I imagine it to be a sort of magical orchestra. The video we have today, uploaded by youtuber ericsteffens55 comes close to what I imagine the concert to be like. Students from Eastman School of Music transcribed and then performed the album Illinois, which is, in my book, incredibly impressive. In one of the only covers of this song I could find on youtube (I absolutely refuse to recognize a capella), the students recreate with loyalty the song–everything, including violins, bass guitar, cellos, a choir… it’s all there. The ladies did especially well chanting… I always imagined this part done by zombie cheerleaders, but this is good too. All in all, it looks like it would have been awesome to be there. Check out the people dancing and rockin’ out! Watch and learn how it’s done:

Be sure to check out the other videos of these students performing Illinois on ericsteffens55‘s channel!

Here’s the original song set to a pretty interesting music video: Sufjan Stevens’ Neighbors/Night Zombies!

The Magnetic Fields – All My Little Words

Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields is undoubtedly one of the most talented and creative musicians that I know of and the Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs is at the top of my all-time favourites list.

Today’s cover of All My Little Words was actually not a video that I actively searched for, rather it was recommended to the world by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (who is also a huge Magnetic Fields fan) and I felt like it deserves the widest audience possible. YouTuber hexachordal is a teenage boy who (very creatively) decided to use his old school Game Boy as his primary instrument and the end result is absolutely magnificent.

And here is a video featuring the original: The Magnetic Fields – All My Little Words

Stars – Your Ex-Lover is Dead

Today’s band, Stars, is one of my favorites. They’ve got a diverse set of songs, and they use a set of instruments just as diverse–ranging from acoustic guitars, brass horns, pianos, keyboards, strings, synthesized sounds, etc. Much like what I said about The Postal Service, covering a song with such effects with just one or two instruments can be a challenge. However, I’ve found two covers of Your Ex-Lover Is Dead, and I think all the artists met the challenge well.

The first cover comes from a youtuber aGirlNamedG0o. This cover is amazing on so many levels. First of all, the strummed guitar provides a pleasant, full, vibrant sound. She uses an alternate tuning–instead of the standard EADGBE tuning that most of the guitar covers here use, she uses DAEAAE–that works well with the key of the song, and is ultimately what I think leads to such a rich sound. The tabs are the very beginning are a nice take on the riff of the original–plus, I love the octave drop when she repeats the riff. The second tabbed part replaces the cello in the original, and, while I prefer the cello, she works well with one instrument, and you might barely notice anything missing at all. Her voice is great, though regrettably it’s a bit difficult to hear. She’s also got some other covers, so you can check them out after watching this:

The second cover comes from two people, posted by youtuber travestees. I really appreciate that they use a violin to replace the heavy strings in the original. Again, there’s a small liberty taken with the original riff, but it’s a nice take. They sing well together, and they even sing the harmonies in the original, all held together with a steady strum on the guitar. Again, they’ve got more covers to watch, so check ’em out after this one:

What would you do if I didn’t post the original? Would you care?: Your Ex-Lover is Dead by Stars

The Cure – Just Like Heaven

Some years ago I heard an awful a capella cover of Just Like Heaven by The Cure, which just happens to be one of my favorite songs. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like a cappella, done tastefully–but this one wasn’t. I can’t put my finger on what it was, but ever since then I have been searching for a decent cover of the song.

And so I feature two drastically different interpretations today. The first one comes from youtuber KenMiddleton (on his ukulele channel), a talented musician with a number of diverse covers not only on ukulele, but also on guitar. I’m accustomed to listening to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole albums playing on my mom’s stereo (she’s always homesick), so this version makes me feel like I’m on the beach right outside my grandma’s house, listening to one of the best 80s songs ever. His stylistic rhythm adds something new, it makes me even forget that his version lacks the riff that goes so well with the song. Check out his other videos after watching this cover here:

The second comes from a girl under the name malinCobain. She also plays with the rhythm in a way that made me do a second take, but I actually like it. Her voice, which amazingly stays on pitch throughout the song despite its scratchy sound, combined with the distortion in rhythm cast the song in a kind of punk-rock style… also surprising, but something new and well-done, so I like it. Check it out here:

I hope you liked these two. Here’s the original: Just Like Heaven by The Cure

Arcade Fire – Crown of Love, Neighborhood #1

Despite being a few years old, these songs remain near and dear to my heart–perhaps only for the value of reminiscence, but, at any rate, I’m going to share a few covers of the The Arcade Fire‘s songs Crown of Love and Neighborhood #1.

This first is a very simple cover on the piano by youtuber maggitrymbill. It gets off to a slow start, but then progresses and eventually becomes a very intense composition by the end–just like the original. Plus, it’s done entirely on piano. Watch here:

It’s hard to choose a favorite between these two, but the second cover, from heypaul27 is inching closer and closer to that spot. This cover was done live with piano, cello, and voice. What I really love about this cover is the cello part. It adds a lot to the composition and also plays some parts that aren’t in the original. I only wish that they would record another version with a higher sound quality so that we could enjoy this cover to its fullest. Check it out here:

And of course, here are the originals:

Arcade FIre: Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)

Arcade Fire: Crown of Love

Peter, Bjorn, and John — Young Folks

You might already know I love to whistle (see previous post on Andrew Bird — Cataracts), so obviously Young Folks by Peter, Bjorn, and John is my indie-rock anthem. Given this fact, it might seem strange that the songs I chose to post today have NO whistling. But all of these covers are so excellent that I don’t even care if there’s no whistling–each one makes this song his or her own, and they’re so good I just can’t wait to post them.

The first one is quite short, and it doesn’t contain the whole song. It’s by a youtuber called marthinan. She’s got a great voice, but what I really like is that she plays around a little bit with the rythym–it threw me off at first, but now I can’t stop listening. Maybe if we all ask her to record the whole song, she will.

Enjoy:

This next one is very interesting. Youtuber scarymonster9 shows a lot of skill on the guitar, and I really like that he plays the chords while tabbing out the whistling part in the original. He recorded his voice on a mic and added what sounds like reverb–I think that’s a nice tribute to the original. The guitar part is also very pulsing and rythymic, so I think it makes up for the lack of drums. Here’s the video:

This last one is my absolute favorite! It’s from a youtuber named dianou92. There are so many good things to say about this–not only the does she have a great voice, but she also self-harmonizes (I think) with a French accent, AND she does the cover on the ukulele! So many creativity points. Even the ba-ba-bas in place of whistling make me smile. Watch, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

And finally, of course, here’s the original, with whistling and all: Peter, Bjorn, and John — “Young Folks” on youtube.