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.
When you think of No Doubt, you think of one of these three things: ska punk’s weird fashion, ’90s music videos, or Gwen Stefani throwing down threats. All three are appropriate connections for your subconscious to make. But what started as a reggae-infused punk rock group in 1986 (!) went on to become one of radio’s favorite afternoon-lite acts. Somehow, they did it. They made their rough edges just soft enough for anyone to fancy a listen.
No Doubt’s unusual combinations made them impossible to forget.
Over the course of 20 years, No Doubt put out six studio albums. Their self-titled debut flopped, but with each new release, they saw more fame, especially thanks to their numerous hit singles. The same band responsible for “It’s My Life” also got bragging rights about their Grammy-winning singles “Hey Baby” and “Underneath It All“. Perhaps the most unique sounding of their hits was “Don’t Speak”, the slightly salsa-flavored number that hits with enough flair and sass to sound like a Shakira coo.
The song is over ten years old, but it’s manage to rack up the hits on YouTube, coming in just shy of 100 billion views, hence signifying it’s lasting importance — or the importance of a good hook. “Don’t Speak” tracked the decline of a romantic relationship and the pain of hearing your fears come true. So when it hit the radio in 1998, it blew up. Singing along to the chorus was so easy, especially with Stefani’s cool, slick vocals telling you that you weren’t alone.
People who were on the lookout for tear-jerkers in 2004 found comfort in Atlanta, Georgia rock act Manchester Orchestra. What began as a folk solo-project for frontman Andy Hull soon made way for a blistering force of alt-rock, and both the band’s early albums and recent releases deliver for a solid, cathartic cry. Hull released his first record in high school as a result of pent-up tension. Soon his journal words were being built into gorgeous, emotional tracks for I’m Like a Virgin Losing A Child, many of which toyed with traditional song structure.
Andy Hull knows how to write sad songs, and he knows how to make them scream with pent-up pain the whole way through.
This year, Manchester Orchestra decided to drop their first all-rock album, COPE, without any quiet numbers. Fans should have guessed the band couldn’t keep from writing something soft; in the fall, they dropped a secret album out of nowhere that re-imagined all of COPE‘s songs with haunting organ and layered strings. A band of many sounds can’t keep themselves for playing around, especially when it comes to getting the feels out.
So it should come as no surprise that Manchester Orchestra are capable of whipping up a cover that morphs pop into an emotional epic telling you to get bent. In 2013, they teamed up with Thrice to drop a split of cover songs. With wax to spare, they went all out and turned No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” into a 14-minute stoner rock number echoing with bitter vengeance. To say the least, it’s intense.
Manchester Orchestra took the Song of the Year nominee and twisted every drop of pain out of the words. Frontman Andy Hull screams the words with so much pain that it sounds like he’s reciting it from memory, specifically a heartbroken midnight drive after he himself was going through a breakup. There’s the unrestrained anger, sore throat voice cracks, and impossible weight of a band who knows how to smother with sound. It leaves the listener floored, regardless of how familiar they are with Manchester Orchestra’s material. For those who are familiar, it sounds exactly as Hull, and we, imagined it: “all black everything.”