Trimmed Down

By Jake Gloth

Trimmed down versions of classic songs often add a new spice to the original. With this minimal approach, they can expose a message hidden in the lyrics or bring attention to an underlying rhythm. To celebrate the meaning, covers can add to songs, here are five amazing covers that add new purpose to the original.

In 2014 when the Arctic Monkeys were playing at Madison Square Gardens in New York City, they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to the U.S.A. with a cover of “All My Loving”. This snappy classic is turned into a sultry love song through a slow rock tempo and the soft vocals of Alex Turner.

A similar transformation occurs for the 1982 Tears for Fears song “Mad World”. This 80s ballad was reworked into a slow piano-focused composition by Mark Andrews (sung by Gary Jules) for the 2001 cult-classic Donnie Darko. This tearful rendition puts more focus on the sombre lyrics, creating a gloomy vision of the world.

A more drastic change comes from Tori Amos’ cover of Nirvana’s 1991 “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. This grunge masterpiece is trimmed down to a light piano and the calm voice of Amos. The cover exposes the melancholy nature of the original’s lyrics.

An already sorrowful melody reached new heights when Johnny Cash decided to give it a go. The 1995 song “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails was transfigured by an old and grey Johnny Cash in 2002. His cover strips the song down to an acoustic guitar and a piano. The original seems to be a story of self-harm while Cash’s version comes off as a reflection on his career and legacy.  

Another song that keeps the spirit of the original is Feist’s cover of the Bee Gees 1979 song “Love You Inside Out”. Feist’s 2004 version of the late 70s funk tune modernizes the song while keeping its essential characteristics.

By stripping these songs back, they are given new meanings that modify and amplify the original. Whether it’s replacing a grunge band with a piano or trading an electric guitar for an acoustic, these trimmed down covers truly spice up their originals.

If you enjoyed “Trimmed Down”, you may also like “The Polymath Shines Bright“.

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