Cover songs are dangerous territory for bands. Taking songs that, most of the time, people love and giving them a bands revision does not always work. At best, it succeeds and you are known for a song you did not even write (Alien Ant Farm anyone?), and at worst you look like a pompous ass who thinks you can touch a classic but fail miserably (Limp Bizket's cover of Behind Blue Eyes).
Like I said, dangerous territory.
There are two ways to go about cover songs. You can either stay pretty close to the original recordings, and just throw in a bit of your bands sound, while not straying out too far. While this can work and is the safe route, a lot of times songs just come off boring. A band that did it well is House of Heroes, covering the classic "All I Want For Christmas is You" (see below video).
Then there is the path of just going crazy and not following anything near the original. While this can distance you enough from the original to get away from comparison, this can also lead to butchering of songs. A success of this method is The Devil Wears Prada's metal version of Big Tymer's rap hit Still Fly (below). If you doubted the ability to make rap into metal, listen to this. Some bad examples, well check out Brittany Spears. She has done some hideous things to some classic rock songs.
As far as Relient K goes, they stayed somewhere in the middle. The band has been known to burst out in random covers during their shows, some of which are much goofier than others. Regardless, a cover album is a good fit for the band. The best thing I can say about this album is it covers a HUGE variety of tunes. From recent hits like Justin Beiber's "Baby" to the seldom heard They Might Be Giants' "Doctor Worm". The band has all the bases covered. Are all of the songs good? It is pretty close. Most of the songs stick to the vibe of the original enough that they are all immediately recognizable. Some get more modern makeovers, like Toto's Africa, but these are welcome modifications.
The hits include: Justin Beiber's "Baby", just because you cannot listen to this song and not laugh at the fact it somehow became a hit. The words are horrible. The Wallflowers "One Headlight", Toto's 80's hit Africa, and Weezer's "Surf Wax America.
There are a few misses. They are not bad covers, just they do not stick out. Third Eye Blind's "Motorcycle Drive By"and "Crazy" by Gnarles Barkley. Neither of these songs really did anything for me and I would much rather just listen to the originals all the time.
Rating: 4/5 "It's Just Swell"
Definitely worth checking out, if not just for a few songs. There is something here for everyone though. If you played this on a road-trip with a bunch of friends, I can guarantee everyone would say "hey I know this song" at least once. Relient K has managed to make a whole covers album without butchering any songs. Impressive.....
- Girls Just Want To Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper) (2:48)
- Baby (Justin Beiber) (2:49)
- One Headlight (The Wallflowers) (4:17)
- You're The Inspiration (Chicago) (3:45)
- The Distance (Cake) (2:54)
- Crazy (Gnarls Barkley) (2:51)
- Motorcycle Driveby (Third Eye Blind) (4:14)
- Doctor Worm (They Might Be Giants) (3:00)
- Interstate Love Song (STP) (3:38)
- Here Comes My Girl (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) (4:05)
- Africa (Toto) (4:57)
- Surf Wax America (Weezer) (3:02)
- Inside Of Love (Nada Surf) (4:03)
- Everybody Wants To Rule the World (Tears for Fears) (3:55)