The good, the bad and the atrocious

Denise Wright

While I enjoy working at Sheetz, the one thing I can’t get over is the horrendous music that plays in the store. But I have to say Sheetz music really outdid itself with one simple cover song that played last weekend.

I was running register when it came on. “She’s a good girl…”

Sounds familiar, right? Tom Petty, “Free Fallin’.” Only it wasn’t Tom Petty. It was John Mayer.

“What is this?” I blurted out in the middle of a transaction.

“John Mayer,” a co-worker replied.

“I know, I know,” I said. “But why is he singing ‘Free Fallin?’ You don’t remake ‘Free Fallin,’ that’s pretty much a sin.”

By this point, the customer is looking at me like I had lost it, and his eyes are saying, “Give me my change already.”

And while I sympathized with the customer, I was also feeling for my ears.

Covers aside, I love John Mayer just as much as the next person. I think his music is a Godsend. But “Free Fallin'” was among my favorite songs as a child, so I feel the need to protect it. Please, John Mayer, do all of us a favor-stick to “Your Body is a Wonderland” and save “Free Fallin” for Mr. Petty.

Since this had such a traumatic effect on me, I feel it’s my duty to save (and please) the ears of some readers, so here’s my breakdown of some cover songs to be on the lookout for:

Fall Out Boy’s take of “Beat It”:

It’s a well-known fact that rock bands love to cover Michael Jackson songs. It’s also well-known that many of these bands don’t even come close to touching Michael. While I’m still wishing Fall Out Boy would travel back to 2004, I think its recent rendition of Michael Jackson’s classic was truly a great cover. Let’s be honest, the video was a joke, but the song was a faithful copy of the original. This cover showed that, given the right band and song selection, it is possible to make a clean cover of a hit from a music industry phenom.

Travis’ “Baby One More Time”:

(Thank you, Brittany Moffat, for providing me with this one.) Yes, I like some of Britney Spears’ music. No, Britney Spears does not have a good voice. Britney’s not a star; her producers who are responsible for the catchy songs are. So it’s refreshing to hear one of her catchier songs actually being performed by people with talent. Travis, a Scottish alternative rock band, gives the hit an acoustic spin, while frontman Fran Healy’s delicious Scottish accent flows smoothly through the lyrics.

Sheryl Crow’s version of “Sweet Child O’ Mine”:

“Sweet Child O’ Mine” is another classic best preserved, as proven by Sheryl Crow. Crow is a decent musician, but her vocals on the cover make me cringe. She gets the job done with the instruments, but it lacks the feeling of the Guns N’ Roses original. And although she was thrown a bone from Hollywood by having the cover on “Big Daddy,” I think I’ll save mine for someone more deserving.

Sometimes I wish there were a set recipe for making a good cover song; on the other hand, one of the great things about cover songs is that the artist/band can choose to stay true to the song’s roots or add more of an original spice. No matter what the ingredients, we can only hope it yields something of good taste.

Contact all editor Denise Wright at [email protected].