Friday, 15 March 2013

Nobody Does It Better? Lost In Music Competition, March Music In The #ESPspotlight

So for the final day of Creativity Week, I wanted to give you all something a little bit different. A chance happening a few days ago reminded me that I haven't had a good Battle on here since the Oh So Epic 'Valentine's Day Battle Of The Sexes' last year. 

If you're following me on Instagram or Twitter, then you will have fallen prey to my regular #nowplaying status updates, and know that there is music playing around me - constantly. So when an absolutely awful cover version of a song that I'm quite partial to came on the radio the other day, my familiar indignation at the audacity to touch something untouchable reared it's ugly head. Once the (mental) smoke cleared though, I remembered a conversation I had with my once upon a time Music Teacher Mr McCarthy, in my sprightly teen years. 

I wasn't trying to hear the Words of Wisdom, so I Let It Be...
I made the mistake of referring to the song we were about to rehearse as "better" than the original. Boy did I regret that...I got a lengthy talking to about never referring to one as 'better' than the other, without taking serious stock by comparison - and even then, celebrating the efforts of both by recognising each attempt as 'unique'. Now whilst I can look back and fully grasp the wisdom I was too naive to back then; I still think that in certain cases, "better" is the appropriate description when a cover version just isn't up to par! I'm a firm believer that you cannot improve upon perfection - so don't waste time (or my patience) trying! By contrast though, I can also think of quite a few instances where the cover "betters" the original, and that's the basis of the final Creativity topic:

I see cover versions as a big loss for someone - be it the original artist, or the one paying homage. If your cover doesn't equal the original, then you've embarrassed yourself with a feeble attempt. But is it worse when you do better the original, and show up the artist that you were trying to honour? Get comfy and don't forget to share your opinions in the comment box at the end as I give you some prime examples of a lose-lose situation in my 'Battle of The Betters'!

Round 1: 'Ain't No Sunshine' Bill Withers vs. (Little) Michael Jackson

The Ultimate example of a tribute 'bettering' the original in my humble opinion, this is the very reason the idea of a 'Battle' formed after the initial question rose in my mind. I heard about the greatness of MJ's version from my earliest, and longest serving Music Teacher (cue: I Get It From My Mama), with a bucketful of salt several years before I was practically schooled on the truth of the matter. Refusing to accept anyone, even my beloved Michael could touch Bill's classic, I was silenced as a young, unknowing one before the end of Michael's intro...


Verdict: I'm sorry Mr. Withers, you lost your girl and your song because the Cover takes the Crown...(I still bow down at your guitar, and offer endless towels for that sweat-filled, musical brow though).

Round 2: 'Love's In Need Of Love Today' Stevie Wonder vs. BLACKstreet

Remember that aforementioned telling off? Well this here is the very cause of it! I've since learned the error of my young ways - I mean this IS Mr. Steveland Morris we're talking about, after all...


Verdict: I even argued with my own Mum over this one! I was wrong to say it was "better" (see? I can admit it); but much as I adore my Stevie, I'm sorry Mother and Mr McC - I still prefer the cover!

Round 3: 'Love Don't Live Here Anymore' Rose Royce vs. Faith Evans & Mary J. Blige

This makes me sad. One of my favourite songs of all time, my favourite group of the Disco era, and two of my favourite female voices...Ever. This should be a nobrainer, right? And yet...


Verdict: This cover version should never have happened and I'd like to erase it from Time.

Round 4: 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' Gladys Knight & The Pips vs.  Marvin Gaye

Yep. I really took it there. How do you choose between two of the greatest artists of all time? Hmmm...I don't know if I can, it feels a little sacrilegious to me - take a look:


Verdict: I'm sorry Ms. Gladys, I bow down and worship at the Temple of Your Hairbrush (All Hers, Au Natrel, not more than a hot comb and burner in sight, doncha know)...but I'm afraid Marvin's pace and tone bring a whole new level of drama to reinforce the lyrics. I gotta be #TeamMarvin.

Round 5: 'Light My Fire' Jim Morrison vs. Will Young

I had no interest in the short-lived Pop Idol until I caught Will's rendition of this song. I didn't actually watch the show, but '#1 Teacher' did, and was quite smitten with him (she still has the 2002 calendar I bought her, in the original packaging...). I remember being in the room that Saturday evening when his massive breakout moment first aired and gave me chills. His performance stopped me in my tracks and from then on, I watched almost every episode until his win. BUT...The Doors are Rock History, the vocal smackdown:


Verdict: I'm going with the Young (Alive) One - no disrespect to the original, but I feel that substances involved made it a (purple) haze of confusion before it even reaches halfway. Thank you Will for your sobriety in the name of the Music. You win.

Round 6: 'Love Hangover' Diana Ross vs. Mariah Carey

If you're a regular reader, then you had to know good'n'well that it was only a matter of time before Ms. M made an appearance in this Music Month Special. It took all my power and might to hold her back this long! Now here's the thing - and hold onto something because it's gonna be a shocker. Apart from a few choice moments, I'm really not a fan of Diana Ross in her solo moments. I prefer her with the big voices of Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard making her sound good. Yeah, I said it. I shall prepare to be stoned in the street. When all is said and done though, this 1975 classic is one of those choice moments I spoke of, so what is one to do? You tell me...


Verdict: Hate to be a Heartbreaker, but Mariah's mashup of the 'Vintage' with the New, takes the diamond-encrusted crown.

Round 7: 'Impossible' Shontelle vs. James Arthur

Currently at No. 39 in the Country-wide Top40 chart, Arthur's single has racked up over 13 million YouTube views...Seriously. Now I don't want to say that this was the song that spurred the idea for this entire feature as earlier mentioned...but I will.


Verdict: Whoever suggested this should be slapped by the Pimp Hand of Music. And Shontelle's Mama.

Round 8: 'All I Could Do Was Cry' Etta James vs. BeyoncĂ©

I remember watching Bey play Ms. Etta in Cadillac Records and being pleasantly surprised. I also remember ole' Ms. Etta being less impressed and threatening to "whoop her a*s" after the President's inauguration ball, in (non) guilty amusement. Personally, I started to respect BeyoncĂ©'s level of talent way more after seeing the film - I thought she really pushed through! This was her crowning vocal moment for me...


Verdict: Push through Mrs Carter did, but there is no comparison with the original.

Round 9: 'Natural Woman' Carole King vs. Aretha Franklin vs. Mary J. Blige

Yes I know. These numbers just don't add up. But the thing is, I couldn't whittle it down to two, since the legendary Ms. Carole wrote the song with the equally legendary Ms. Aretha in mind. She herself refers to her own composition as "Aretha's Song", and says there is no comparison - not even her own version! But y'see...I love me some Carole King and her original version too! And as for Ms. Mary J? Well I had to give the great lady an opportunity to redeem herself after that earlier mistake in somebody's intoxicated judgement, when they pressed that record button...


Verdict: What are ya nuts? There's no BETTER here - these are three of the GREATS!

Round 10: 'I Will Always Love You' Dolly vs. Whitney

As with Carole King, Ms. Dolly also praised Whitney's offering as incomparable to any other - including her own. I think we all know why...


Verdict: For me personally, Ms. Whitney's version is a classic that is stamped in time. That is a fact and it's going nowhere - but is one that I still find quite difficult to listen to, now that we are intrinsically linked (she died on my bornday). I no longer want to hear anyone cover it (not that I ever did), as with the song, comes the memory of her final farewell, being carried out of the church, with every person in attendance (and Yours Truly watching on YouTube) reduced to puddles on the floor. That's what a real legacy can do to a group of strangers who have never even met one another. In the least humorous way possible - it's SO Emotional. Too much, in fact.

Encore: 'She's Out Of My Life' Michael Jackson vs. Marc Nelson vs. Mya

What we have here, are two prime examples of why you Shouldn't. Mess. With The Classics. I'm sorry, Marc Nelson, Mya, I'm a fan of you both - but you both should have left this one alone...


And here's why you don't mess with perfection...

Now trust me when I tell you that I could go on with this forever...I mean just consider my (dis)honourable mentions:

  • Gloria Gaynor vs. The Jacksons - 'Never Can Say Goodbye' of my all-time favourite songs, never mind cover versions!
  • Michael Jackson & The Jackson 5 vs. Mariah Carey - 'I'll Be There'...It literally took 3 years before I would listengradually learn to accept, then love this. Not even a joke. I don't care if you are my Divine Don Diva MC - DON'T. Touch. The Classics!
  • Harry Nilsson vs. Mariah Carey - 'Without You'...can't listen to either, I'm afraid. Despite my love of the flaxen-haired latter, overplay to the end of days means I find them both painful.
  • Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell vs. Tyrese & Coko - 'If This World Were Mine'...actually not a bad cover, B+.
  • Adina Howard vs. The Sugababes - 'Freak Like Me'...No Comment.
  • En Vogue vs. Little Mix - 'Don't Let Go (Love)'...My Mother always told me that if you don't have anything nice to say, then close your mouth and stop trapping flies, for they have homes to go to that are it's best I say no more on the subject at this point. Except that En Vogue should sue. That is all.

Someone should win something after that, don't you think? Why not you? To mark the transition from 'Creative' to 'Performance' week; I'm giving you the opportunity to not only win an #ESPspotlight Review of your musical release, but of your event also! Got a show booked? Holding an event or performing at one; let me know when and where to find you, and I'll come down, take note and tell everyone about it, right on this very here blog (London events only)!

That's not all - as with 'Creativity Week' ALL event reviews booked between today and 21st March will receive a 50% discount - provided you quote #MarchMusic at the time of ordering!

So for today's question: Encore selection 'Lady In My Life' is taken from Michael Jackson's historic, (former) bestselling album of all time - What Is It Called?

How To Enter:

1. Email your answer by 20:13 tonight, specifying which prize you would like to claim (Music or Event Review)
2. Tweet confirmation of your entry using the #MarchMusic hashtag.
3. LIKE EricaSharlette Promotions Ltd. on Facebook
That's it! As for the last competition question, I asked you: 

What album is Sade's 'The Sweetest Taboo' taken from?

The answer is: 'Promise' (1985)

Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for a cracking #ESPspotlight Interview to kick off Performance week - the Sister in this week's hotseat is one real class Act!

Read me later!
ES ;)

PS. DON'T FORGET your ABC! It's easy as:

1. email your entries for today's competition
2. Tweet confirmation of your entry using the #MarchMusic hashtag to ESP Ltd. on Twitter then,
3. LIKE ESP Ltd. on Facebook by 20:13 tonight to be in with a chance!

'Lost In Music' Competition Terms & Conditions:

  • Only one entry per person, per day.
  • Prize refers to ONE single/EP/Album/Event ONLY
  • Applicable to Events within the London Regions ONLY
  • Performance week runs from 15th-21st March
  • Entrants MUST complete all stages for entries to be eligible.
  • Answers should be submitted via email, with confirmation of entry tweets containing the #MarchMusic hashtag sent to ESP Ltd. on Twitter.
  • Entrants must LIKE the EricaSharlette Promotions Ltd. Facebook Page for entries to be considered eligible.
  • All methods of entry should contain the #MarchMusic hashtag.
  • The #MarchMusic promotional code must be applied to claim the 50% discount.
  • Entry deadline is 20:13 each day, winners will be notified via email within 24 hours.