music history today podcastmusic history today weekly edition podcast

Music History Today the Weekly Edition 24

This is Music History Today the Weekly Edition 24. On this week’s show, we discuss what makes for a good cover song, we review Jay Z’s new album, and we make the case for putting the Runaways into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

 

 
First, the news. A fire broke out at the Tomorrowland Unite EDM festival in Barcelona, Spain last Saturday night, engulfing the entire stage. Over 22,000 attendees were evacuated. No word on injuries as of yet.
 
The nominations for this year’s MTV Video Music Awards were announced. 
For video of the year, the nominees are:
Kendrick Lamar – Humble
Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
Alessia Cara – Scars to Your Beautiful
Dj Khaled with Rihanna and Bryson Tiller – Wild Thoughts
The Weeknd – Reminder
 
Artist of the year nominees are:
Bruno Mars
Kendrick Lamar
Ed Sheeran
Ariana Grande
The Weeknd
Lorde

The awards will be broadcast on August 27 and if they’re like every other year, someone will be stupid on it.
 
In other news, Justin Bieber cancelled the rest of his world tour; either in order to get some rest after touring for almost 18 months or because of soft ticket sales, depending on who you talk to.
 
Quincy Jones was awarded $9.4 million in a court case against Michael Jackson’s estate. He claimed that the estate owned him close to $30 million in royalties since 2009 since Michael passed away. 
 
Country singer Abby Nicole was killed last Sunday in a Utility Terrain Vehicle accident. She had just finished performing at a country fair in Nebraska. The investigation of the accident is ongoing. Abby Nicole was 25.
 
 
 
The other day, I was streaming an old school r and b station when Aretha Franklin’s version of the Burt Bacherach song I say a Little Prayer came on, which made me think about Dionne Warwick’s version. To me,  Aretha’s version is far superior but that’s because as much as I like Dionne Warwick,  Aretha’s just a far better singer. 
 
This made me wonder: what exactly makes for a good cover song? We’ve all heard some bad versions of songs where you wonder why these people did the song to begin with. Think about every posthumous musical tribute on an awards show, like Lady GaGa attempting to channel David Bowie during her tribute to him on the 2016 Grammy Awards. There have also been some good cover versions of songs. For instance,  Sinead O’Connor completely owning Prince’s version of Nothing Compares to You. 
 
A good cover version is a lot like a good actor. For example, could you see anybody else playing Ironman other than Robert Downey, Jr? Probably not. He owns that role and made it his. Same with doing a cover version. You have to make it yours.
 
So what does make a good cover version? To me, you have to do a couple of things. First, you have to change the song. You have to slow down or speed up the song. Maybe throw it into the major or minor key. Maybe put in some other instruments. 
 
I’ll give you an example. Nine Inch Nail’s Hurt was mainly electric guitar with some loud chords and a screaming guitar and a screaming Trent Reznor at the end. Now, think about Johnny Cash’s version. Johnny’s only had acoustic guitar and a piano. However, Johnny’s version is arguably better, mainly because when you hear the pain in Johnny’s voice, you know he’s really feeling those lyrics. It was towards the end of his life and he was feeling his age, looking back on things. In short, you believed him. He owned the song.
 
The second thing that I think helps is if you don’t do a version of a song that everybody knows. Say you did a version of Uptown Funk right now. You’d automatically lose because people would compare yours to Bruno Mars’s version. However, say you did some other song off of Bruno’s album that hadn’t been released as a single yet. Then, you’d have the benefit of not having people knowing the original version so you could have a chance to establish the song as yours because as we know, familiarity breeds contempt. 
 
Some songs should probably never be touched so be warned if you ever try. For an example, see anybody who ever tries to do Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. Overall, try to change things up. Otherwise, it just sounds like karaoke.
 
 
 
 

This week, we’re going to make the case for putting the Runaways into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Simply put, how the hell is this group not in yet? The Runaways were one of the first all female hard rock bands in an extremely male music industry that wanted their girl groups to be dainty and in skirts. The Runaways weren’t having it. Blue jeans, leather, in your face…that’s the way these ladies played. 

 
As far as who they influenced, how about every hard rocking female band and performer out there today? Pat Benatar, the Go-Gos, the Bangles who had former Runaways bassist Micki Steele, L7, the Donnas, and the list goes on and on.
 
To get your feet wet, go with the Best of the Runaways. To deep dive into their albums, go with Queens of Noise, their self titled debut, and Waiting For the Night. Now, I know that Joan Jett is in the Hall now with her own band the Blackhearts but it’s time for her, Sandy West, Micki Steele, Lita Ford, Cherie Currie, Peggy Foster, Jackie Fox, Vicki Blue, and Laurie McAllister to finally get into the Hall together.
 
 
 
 

This week’s quick hit album review is 4:44 from Kay Z. I purposely withheld this review for a few weeks for a reason. When I first heard it, I hated it; every last bit of it. There wasn’t a single thing I liked about it. It was as weak an album as I’ve ever heard from him.

 
I didn’t want to crucify it outright so I pushed it to the side; gave it some breathing room. I read some reviews that ranged from it’s the greatest thing since slice bread to it sucks. After about a week, I gave it another go. 
 
My original opinion still holds true. The beats and production suck and are a far cry from probably his best work in recent years: Watch the Throne. In fact, I think he could have and should have used Kanye for this one, too. 
 
The only reason why people are even paying attention to this album is because people want it to be his response to his wife Beyonce’s album Lemonade. Normally, I would say that if you’re a fan of his to buy it. This one I can’t recommend to you even if you are a fan. I would skip it unless you can stream it for free.
 
 
 
 

This week, for the second week in a row, Jay Z has the number one album with 4:44, while for the 11th week in a row, Despacito by Luis Fonzi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber is number one on the singles chart. 

 
This week, there are new albums from Randy Newman, Dan Wilson, Third Day, and Mystery Skulls.