Friday, April 5, 2013

under-covers: The Cranberries / Faye Wong

Perhaps, one of the greatest guilty pleasures in my life: the perverse enjoyment I get listening to musicians covering other artist's songs. The weirder the cover, the better! It doesn't matter how awkward or horrible the quality (shitty cell phone video, I'm looking at you), I'm an absolute sucker for this stuff. Here's the latest installment of "under-covers."

The Cranberries are an Irish rock band that pretty much highjacked the American airwaves during the alt-rock boom of the early/mid 90's. They were huge and pretty much everywhere. This band wrote some of the catchiest and most haunting songs imaginable. I was a young brown kid growing up in Southern California, I had never heard anyone sing like Cranberries vocalist Dolores O'Riordan before. Such beauty and almost intimidating power in her voice, I almost didn't know what to make of it. Here is one of their biggest hits from back in 1993 and the subject of today's under-covers installment, "Dreams." 

Yep. Still potent twenty years later. I immediately conjure images of lush forests, waterfalls and for some reason, pirates. I don't know whats up with that but, the song still does the trick.

Now we move on to the challenger. I had no idea who Faye Wong was until I finally watched Wong Kar-waii's brilliant 1994 film, Chungking Express late last year. Turns out Faye Wong is one of the most famous celebrities in Asia (which puts her in the running for one of the most well known people on Earth) and not only steals the show as an actress in Kar-waii's film, but she sings too! Here is her Cantonese version of "Dreams," used in one of the best scenes from the movie.

I'll be honest, I was not prepared for that amazing cover when I first watched the film. I heard the beginning of the song and thought, oh cool they're using The Cranberries which would have been ok since Chungking Express features the extensive use of Western music (well, one song in particular)...but then I heard the words in Cantonese. The sudden language barrier made this old song feel new and even more ethereal and dream like than ever before. That and Faye Wong has a super dreamy voice (see what I did there???). I didn't even know she was the one singing until after the fact, which made me swoon for this cover version even more.

So what's the verdict? I love them both. Both versions transported me to exciting foriegn worlds upon first listen. Props to The Cranberries for writing a song that holds up in any language.


  1. I actually really like the cover man which is cool. It's helped along by the fact that I used to be a massive fan of The Cranberries and still am to an extent, love this post mate, didn't think Americans would know of the Cranberries.

  2. If you're interested in Cantonese covers you should listen to Jackie Chan sing. He's incredibly good and I never expected a voice like that from him.

  3. They did a great job with the cover, been a long time since I heard the cranberries too.

  4. It's a sweet cover, it's just too identical to for my tastes. I love that her voice can perform it, and the talent it takes to re-write a song is impressive. I still wonder how it translates, and even then, some more difference in the music would've made me happy.

    By the way, I won't make you check my blog for it, but I found a pretty cool Italian thrash/death metal band, they're called Samael's Fall. I think they're up your alley.