The REM Covers Project – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

With Pandora’s help, I recently discovered the band Hem (MySpace for sample songs). I quite like them, and in particular I dig their lazy cover of REM’s “South Central Rain”. That got me thinking about the REM covers I owned:

The Good

Hem – South Central Rem (MP3) – A sleepy cover that makes the tune more of a torch song. Kind of Cowboy Junkies-esque, actually.

No Doubt – It’s the End of the World… (live, MP3) – Back when Gwen Stefani didn’t have delusions of grandeur, she was in a ska band called No Doubt. This version is manic, punky and, while it features some dubious vocal work, I like its energy.

The Bad

10,000 Maniacs – Don’t Go Back to Rockville (MP3) – I like the Maniacs, but what’s with this cover? It’s extremely loyal, and I think when you cover a song, you should really make it your own (see No Doubt, above). This version’s a bit soulless.

Cry Cry Cry – Fall on Me (MP3) – From Cry, Cry, Cry, the ‘folk supergroup’ Richard Shindell, Lucy Kaplansky, and Dar Williams. This one isn’t that bad, as I like Dar Williams’s voice, but it’s unremarkable.  The next song on the album, “Cold Missouri Waters”, is way better.

Tori Amos – Losing My Religion (live, MP3) – Ms. Amos does a lot of covers. Some are great (“Rattlesnakes”), some are awful (“Heart of Gold”) and some, like this one, are mediocre. It has the typically Amos dreamy quality, but it’s a bit too shapeless compared to the original.

The Ugly

Corrs – Everybody Hurts (MP3) – The Corrs ruin every song they cover. Don’t get me started on their astonishingly awful cover of ‘Little Wing’.

Great Big Sea – It’s the End of the World… (YouTube) – These mofos are happy bastards and their cover is unacceptably chipper. They’ve, uh, made it their own, but it’s terribly wrong. Plus, the lead singer desperately needs a haircut.

Do you have any REM covers? Are they good, bad or ugly?

UPDATE: Tim sends along this Tori Amos-esque cover of “It’s the end of the world…” by Julie Moffitt. I’m not sure if I like it, but she certainly made it her own:


  1. Nee: Hmm…I think there’s plenty of irony in the original, so I’m not sure their extra, happy layer is doing much for me.

  2. I heard the Great Big Sea cover before I heard the original, so it sounds more “original” to me. Then again, I’ve never been a big fan of either REM or Great Big Sea (even though I’m a Newfie), so maybe my opinion doesn’t mean so much 🙂

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: