Monday, July 27, 2009

Cyber Launch Party Day 12: The Ballad of Vanessa Barneveld

Welcome to Day 12 of the Ballads of Suburbia Cyber Launch Party! For all of the details on the party including guests, the daily contests and the grand prize drawing be sure to read the information at the beginning of Day 1's blog.

Today's Winner:
Each day I am announcing the winner of the contest that was posted one week earlier. Today's winner gets a signed copy of Ballads of Suburbia and some Ballads swag from me! And that winner is... Sab H from blogger! I will email you for your address shortly! Remember to enter last week's contests! Each contests lasts one week!

Now, today's guest blogger is author Vanessa Barneveld!
Vanessa Barneveld lives in Australia. When she's not busy writing YA fiction, she keeps her fingers crossed in the hope that a publishing contract will soon come her way. She's a 2009 finalist in Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Award for unpublished authors.

You should also know that Vanessa is one of my critique partners. You will find her name in a prominent spot in the Ballads acknowledgments because I really could not have gotten through revisions without her. I think she was emailing me back at 3 am sometimes right before the book was due. And she is an amazingly talented writer in her own right and will no doubt have a publishing deal soon.

Here's Vanessa's ballad:

Congratulations to Stephanie on her sophomore release, BALLADS OF SUBURBIA! (Thanks for inviting me to the party, Steph!) It’s an intense read about a bunch of kids whose stories resemble a ballad. The choruses echo mistakes they make again and again, while in the verses they try to make sense of it all.

To help celebrate the book’s launch, Steph’s asked me to talk about music. The characters in her novel put on acts of bravado but they reveal their true selves in a secret notebook, so I thought it’d be fitting to blog about cover songs.

I was at a gig recently where the band covered a song by a revered artist. This version was so far removed from the original that most people didn’t know it was a cover until the chorus kicked in. One outraged person, a diehard fan of the original, turned to me and said this bordered on blasphemy. But I thought the whole point of covering a song is not to mimic but to put a new interpretation on an old song.

Johnny Cash, whom Liam in BALLADS idolises, did a great cover of U2’s One. While I liked the original, the gravel in Cash’s voice and the sparse guitar makes the song much more compelling.

When Oasis released Wonderwall, buskers on every corner of my home town wailed it out on high rotation. Ryan Adams does a version that Noel Gallagher himself prefers over his own.

Is it a gimmick when a “serious” band covers a frothy pop song? Travis tried it on with Britney Spears’s Hit Me Baby One More Time.

Cowboy Junkies did an ethereal, hypnotic version of the Velvet Underground’s Sweet Jane. They recorded it, along with the album The Trinity Session, with a single microphone in a Toronto church.

In 1980, English band Japan hit Smokey Robinson’s I Second That Emotion with New Wave and lashings of make-up.

Siouxsie and the Banshees put some Beatles fans offside with their version of Dear Prudence, but I actually find it joyous.

And lastly, Fun Boy Three covered Our Lips Are Sealed a couple of years after the Go-Go’s recorded it. Here’s a fantastic live version:

The Model School is a brilliant Australian band that describes their sound as “Casio ‘N Western.” (Okay, I’m biased ‘cause my husband’s in the band, but they honestly are brilliant). They’ve recorded a version of Prince’s Controversy. The band kindly donated their latest EP, plus their album Alarm Clock Radiation and a T-shirt. You could win this entire Model School prize pack by telling me what you think about cover songs—are they blasphemous? A case of one-upmanship? Genuine song interpretation? Wacky novelty? What song would you cover if you were in a band?

Today's Contest:
Well, Vanessa introduced the contest fabulously. You know exactly what to do and what is up for grabs, so comment away. And you'll earn additional entries by blogging/tweeting/etc about this blog or the cyber launch party. Just note your additional entries in your comment. Winner will be chosen at random on Tuesday, August 4.

As for my answer to Vanessa's question. I think it depends on the cover. Johnny Cash definitely does a mean cover. I prefer his version of "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails and listened to it constantly while writing Ballads. I also adore both the Cowboy Junkies and Siouxsie and the Banshees covers that Vanessa reference. When it comes to bands I really adore, I'm extra picky about covers, though. Take the Cure. I've loved them since I was like 10. They are sacred. Put on 311's cover of "Love Song" and I will scream bloody murder. Total blasphemy in my opinion. But Dinosaur Jr's cover of "Just Like Heaven"? That one will probably go on the iPod for my wedding mix. I love the way the chorus is scream-sung. It's all a matter of opinion really, so comment away, I won't judge, even if you feel completely opposite about those Cure covers.

Tomorrow's Guest:

Well, tomorrow the guest will be me. I want a chance to talk about an issue that is very close to my heart in this book and I'll be giving out another copy of it and some taffy! So please come back and visit! Deliciousness!


Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Hey, Vanessa! Fun post. I, too, think it depends on the cover. If the band has evidently put a lot of work into it and it doesn't sound like a hack job, then I'm okay with it, especially if it's mixed in on an album with a lot of original material.

I have one particular song that I love both the original and the cover. It's "Wicked Game by Chris Isaak. But the Finnish band HIM did a more rocking cover that I really like to listen to -- loud. :)



Annie West said...

Hi Vanessa,

I'm looking forward too, to you receiving that call about one of your stories. You're such a terrific writer. Thanks, Stephanie for having Vanessa to visit. And congratulations on your new book!

I have a love-hate relationship with cover versions. I think some are more fun than the original but some make me want to reach for the dial and turn them off. The Fine Young Cannibals' version of 'Suspicious Minds' is terrific and The Animals' take on 'The House of the Rising Sun' seems just right even though it's not 'their' song. The ones that I really don't like (and there seem to be a few of them recently) take music from a previous song and then turn it into something completely different and much less interesting. Probably a matter of taste.

As for me doing a cover? Hm, probably better if I don't try with my voice...!


Christine Wells said...

Vanessa, I love the idea of covers tying in with the theme of Stephanie's book. How cool to have a hubby in a band. And you love their music, too! It must be a match made in Heave:)

Covers, I'm with Stephanie, I like a cover that really does something with the arrangement, not those ones that simply want to trade on the popularity of the earlier song and sing it in just the same way.

Best of luck with your new release, Stephanie!

Anna Campbell said...

Stephanie, huge congratulations on the release of Ballads of Suburbia!!!

Vanessa, what a great post. Actually I agree with you about that Johnny Cash cover. It's so emotional and hard-hitting. He's done another cover that I love - Hurt by the Nine Inch Nails. That comes with the most amazing emotional punch too. By the way, does JC only cover songs with one word in the title?

Sharon Archer said...

Hi Vanessa! I'm with the others - I can't wait to hear you've had the call for one of your stories too!

Fab blog - I've learned something new because I didn't know the term "cover". I've earmarked all those YouTube videos to watch when my new download month starts - alas I've blown the budget for this month so I'm on short rations for a few more days.

Anyway, some covers are WONDERFUL and others I can't help but think "Argh! Why why why!" For instance, I love Otis Readings "Dock of the Bay" but I've heard a cover version that I thought was just diabolical! I think any band that covers a classic like that needs to make a darned good job.

As for me doing a cover... well, if I could sing in tune that would be a fine start to covering any song at all! LOL

Thanks for having Vanessa to visit, Stephanie and good luck with your release!


Addison Fox said...


What a fun post! And I think you are so right - each artist brings something different to the song. Most of the time, after a few listens, you can begin to love the new version for its own merits as much as the first.

I also have to echo everyone else's comments - that Johnny Cash cover was just incredible. I love his music and his gravelly voice on THAT song was just pure magic!


Shooting Stars Mag said...

Nice post. I love cover songs. They're just fun and sometimes great and/or amusing...not all in one usually. LOL If you don't like it, that's okay, but sometimes covers are better than the originals to me and other times it's not, but it's not that big of a deal. It's fun. :)

mmmmm taffy!!!!


Authorness said...

Hey, Steph! Congrats on your book's release and thanks for having me here today. I'm wary of that 'Love Song' cover, so I'd better not try to dig it up.

Trish, how fab to see you here! Wow, that 'Wicked Game' cover sure is poles apart from Chris Isaak's version. LOVE Chris, btw. (Yeah, I'm on first-name terms with him. ;))

Authorness said...

Lovely Annie, hello! I've not heard you sing before but we'll have to lock in some karaoke time at the next conference...

I didn't know 'House of the Rising Sun' wasn't originally recorded by the Animals! All I know is my mother didn't want us to play that song because it reminds her of the time she was in labour with my sister. The local radio station played it over and over at the time.

~ Vanessa

Authorness said...

Hi, Christine! Congratulations on *your* new release (appropriately called WICKED LITTLE GAME, since Chris Isaak's been mentioned).

It does kind of irk me when a band covers a song but doesn't give it their own spin/interpretation.

I will be sure to tell hubby how cool he is for being in a (fabulous) band. :)

~ Vanessa

Authorness said...

Anna, I giggled over you comment about Johnny Cash doing covers with one word in the title. Do you think it was a deliberate choice? But, yes, he had a raw quality to his voice that really brought out the emotion in the lyrics. Can't fake that, can you?

~ Vanessa

Authorness said...

Hi, Sharon! Big congrats on your debut release!

You know, I've just read there's a difference between a cover and a remake. Apparently, a cover song is meant to be faithful to the original and a remake is open to wild interpretation. Which pretty much blows my blog post apart! Hmm... Anyway, whether it's a cover or a remake, you're right--it should be a pretty damn good attempt.

~ Vanessa

Authorness said...

Hi, Addison!

Such a pity we literally only had two seconds to speak in person at the conference! Glad you could stop by today.

JC's 'One' really grabs me every time. It isn't a song I can put on in the background--I have to stop what I'm doing and just listen.

~ Vanessa

Authorness said...

Hi, Lauren! Thanks for stopping by. It's fun when a band plays a not-so-obvious cover and you spend half the time trying to figure out why the song sounds so familiar.

~ Vanessa

WordVore Prod said...

Nice post, Vanessa! I totally agree with you on the Johnny Cash cover.

Authorness said...

Hi, WordVore Prod! Glad you could make it. You have excellent taste in covers!

~ Vanessa

runningforfiction said...

yeah, some bands definately should leave other bands song's alone. my idol, Amanda Palmer, covered Billie Jean by MJ the day he passed and i watched it on youtube and cried.
Cat Power covers Wonderwall, too, and it's so moving to me.
i love Wonderwall, but the original does nothing for me. i am seriously, like, touched by Ryan Adam's version.

runningforamsterdam @ hotmail . com

Bridget said...

Just posted on Win A Book. Great post!

Anonymous said...

I love listening to cover songs. It's fun to listen to different versions of a song I love. That's the first time I've heard the Ryan Adams's version of Wonderwall. I like it.

If I was in a band, I'd like to cover Ripchord by Rilo Kiley. :)

I linked this on my sidebar.

Breanna said...

This was a really great post! Vanessa definitely has a point on the whole topic of covering old songs. Well not necessarily old songs, but songs by other people/bands.

I honestly think it's awesome when someone covers a song. It doesn't always necessarily sound right. But it's great to hear the person's take on the song. And sometimes you may even fall in love with this different version of the song. I just think it's awesome when songs are covered.

My friend has a band and every so often they'll cover a song from their favorite 90's bands and I have yet to hear a bad one :)


marina said...

one of my least favorite songs to be covered is anarchy in the u.k. by the sex pistols.
see, i love the pistols. i don't care what you say, i love them and always have. and always will. but whenever people cover it they always say, if they're from here, anarchy in the u.s.a. which really bugs me because they're changing the lyrics.
even if they didn't change the lyrics though i don't think i'd like it. nothing can compare to the horribly wonderful voice of johnny rotten. haha.


throuthehaze said...

I actually love cover songs if they are done well. I think its great when the band doing the cover makes it there own and changes things up.

one cover song I absolutely LOVE is Lucretia My Reflection by Black Light Burns (originally done by Sisters of Mercy) The song is on their album Cover Your Heart which is an entire album of great cover songs.



throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Lori T said...

Very fun post!

I like cover is fun to hear the different versions and I think that it great as it introduces some great songs to another generation of listeners.