Saturday, October 3, 2009

Originals vs Covers - I Love Rock n Roll

Like anyone else, the more years I'm on this planet, the more songs I've stored in my head. I suppose that translates into an increased likelihood of hearing a new rendition of a song that I already know.

I know some people look down on cover versions simply because they're cover versions. I'm not one of these people. IMO, it just depends on the song and the musicians involved. Some covers are opportunistic money grabs, others seem to rework the original in a way that gives a song new life. I Love Rock n Roll is one song that shows how it can go either way (imo).

Here's a recent cover version of the song, that I just heard the other day. Yeah, ok, recent to me as this cover is about seven years old but it's not like I go out of my way to listen to Britney Spears, ffs.

I can't even listen to the whole song. To be honest to listeners, Britney Spears should have renamed the song 'I Love Bastardising Rock N Roll' cos that's what she's done. And the video, ugh! Watching a woman fellate a microphone with such forced obviousness has as much visual appeal to me as builder's bum.

Here's the version that I think people are most familiar with; Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' mid-80s version (the actual song starts about 30 seconds into the video). It's loud, thumping and basic and it's hard to listen to it without at least tapping your foot.

For the longest time I thought that Joan Jett's version was the original but it's actually a tune originally done in the mid-70s by a British band called The Arrows. Here's their very tidy and very properly enunciated version:

So, there's the original and two cover versions. Which one do you like best and why?

I think the original is pretty good but does. he. have. to. sing. ev. er. ry. syl. la. ble. like. that?

My personal preference is the Joan Jett's version. I think I was about 15 when I first heard this song and wow did I think Joan Jett was cool. She fuckin' rocked with her guitar, black hair and leathers. I loved her prowling sexuality when she sang:

Said can I take you home
where we can be alone

Always gives me goosebumps.

In fact, I think the reversal of the conventional gender roles is what makes Joan Jett's version a much better, more interesting song than The Arrow's version.

Of course, that reversal of roles doesn't work for Britney Spears cos she sluts-it-up in such a choreographed, conventional and contrived manner that she butchers that interesting effect completely.

So, over to you... which do you like best?


  1. What a shock! I thought the Jett-tune was the original because it was so convincing. Usually the trouble with covers is that they feel unconvincing but Joan really takes it to another level. She is way too cool and crazy. If I had been standing by the record machine at 17 and she would have come there I would have pooped in to my pants. So would have the Arrows guys done too even though their powertrio performance was quite credible.

  2. OMG, I love that Joan Jett and the black hearts version. Yep, I remember it well. I was around 16/17 when it hit #1. One of my all time favourites for sure.

  3. You are not the only one who loves covers and alternate versions.

  4. Joan Jett - definitely!

    That Brittney version (which I'd never heard before and have no wish to hear again) is all about the video and pouting and nothing about the song whatsoever - agghh - dreadful!

  5. The Britney version is criminal.
    Joan Jett gets my vote all the way. Not sure if I'd quite go the lengths of pooping in to my pants though.

  6. If you didn't write the song yourself, then everything you sing is a cover. Carole King wrote "Natural Woman" and gave it to Aretha, then sang it herself on Tapestry - which is the original and which is the cover? "Son Of A Preacher Man" was offered to Aretha, she turned it down, Dusty sang it and later Aretha sang it, too. It gets confusing. So the first person to sing a particular song is the original?

    Of the above, Joan Jett is the best, only because of her kick ass attitude, but the Arrows aren't bad.

  7. The Britney Spears version is just disturbing. Dearest Britney,
    It's time to wear clothes that actually fit. Your choreography is pathetic.

    Hands down my vote is Joan's Jett and Blackhearts although I like the Arrow's David Cassidy look.

  8. Thanks for your comments everybody!

    Good to know Neil... 'toilet trained' is a wonderful quality in a man. :-)

    Fair point Wolynski. I guess when I'm saying 'original' I mean the creator/writer of the song but I do understand what you're saying. I should have been clearer about that.

    This might be a recurring theme - covers and originals. I find it innerestin'...

  9. Oh, and David Cassidy! lol... I thought the same thing... and Bay City Rollers. :D

  10. i wanted to stick hot pokers in my eyes when i saw britney's version. wtf????
    joan, joan, joan all the way.
    i remember her from 'the runaways' loved her black hair and look.

    you do know she is gay right? ;-)