Run For Cover is a weekly music column comparing cover songs to the original version. Prepare for a major bending of rules as we hear musicians throw around genres, tempos, style, and intent. Whether they’re picking up another’s song out of respect or boredom, the results have impressed us.
To live in New York City in the early 2000s was a privilege. The city’s rock scene was booming, and every venue was taking notice. It was the time where The Strokes, The Walkmen, and TV On The Radio were dominating, playing tiny venues before getting cult followings. Indie rock was thudding it’s way through a post-punk revival, and the hooks could be heard from every corner.
There in the thick of it all was Interpol, and they shot ahead in the race from the get-go.
Their debut album, Turn on the Bright Lights, was critically acclaimed, receiving seemingly endless praise from every major publication and blog. That fame, however, led to their demise. With every follow-up album, the pressure to top their golden debut hung heavy, and every “It’s good, but…” line wore more on them as the years passed. That said, they worked hard at crafting out several hit songs, including “Slow Hands” in 2004.
The Antics cut saw Interpol once again giving their best effort, throwing down the kind of 2000s rock that could pull off a little amp to amp action between the bass and the organ halfway through. It’s conflicting guitars dance around Paul Banks’ voice with a timeless frenzy, one that reminds many of college years. His baritone vocals bring the song to life. When the drums finally make way for the dance tempo chorus, it all comes together, proving Interpol as a staple of their time.
Nearly half a decade later, Harlem rapper Azealia Banks was finding her footing. In 2008, she was signed to XL Recordings at 17 years old, eventually dropping her debut single, the enigmatic “212“, four years later. The internet scrambled to snatch up her songs, but all they could find was the 1991 EP and her first mixtape, Fantasea. Yet with those releases alone, Banks rocketed in fame, from her quick quips to her fashionable trends. Her debut full-length, however, was nowhere to be seen.
Then Santa stopped by early with Broke With Expensive Taste in tow.
The debut album’s date got pushed back month after month, soon adding up to years. Various development deals with labels continued to dissatisfy her. The legal battles were never-ending, as were the Twitter feuds, and it seemed the record would never come. Tracks with Ariel Pink and Theophilus London wouldn’t see the light of day. But when she finally released the album independently on November 6 of this year, it managed to live up to all the hype it had curated.
Before that, Banks was working on her own inner strength and delicateness. As a bisexual rapper growing up in Harlem, she was subjected to various forms of bullying, but sharpened her tongue as revenge. During this time, she dropped a cover of Interpol’s “Slow Hands” in 2010, and switched things up altogether. The R&B cooing sees her sweetly singing every line, occasionally lowering her voice to soft whispers while puttering notes in the background. Interpol’s harsh drumming is replaced by hand claps and some electronic woodblock. Things get quiet and intimate, but the pulse is still there. She brings it off the dancefloor and into the bedroom with surprising ease.
While her cover isn’t as glaringly different from the original as it would have been as a rap song, the four-year-old number sees an impressive change from jumpy chords to a seductive coyness. The change up in genre gives a sore heart new life. She took the time to give it her own style, and the result is short, soft, and full of smooth beats that make it victim to the repeat button as all good covers do.