WHETHER you’re a big music fan or not, You probably already know that feeling, when you listen to a cover of a familiar song from the past, which have been made with such a different and original approach, that it feels like you’re listening to both familiar and completely new song at the same time. And your brain – it just has no choice but to go ka-boom in that very moment. Oh, what a wonderful feeling, isn’t it?
In this post, I’ve collected TOP seven Israeli covers of familiar songs from the past that did exactly that for me, and hopefully will do the same for you.
(To skip the wordy part you can just listen to the entire playlist here)
Acoustic Katy Perry
Ivri Lider, both alone and as part of the duo TYP, is by no-doubt one of the most prominent names in Israeli contemporary pop music. This cover of Katy Perry’s hit was originally recorded for the Israeli Galgalatz radio station, which asked him to cover it for 2008 chart toppers show. The cover became so popular that Ivri decided to record a music video for it. It might be that the melancholic tone, combined with the well-known fact(at least for the Israeli audience) about Ivri Lider’s sexual orientation – that gives this song an interesting, and maybe even more provocative meaning when he sings: “I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it”.
Oriental-Metal Pearl Jam
This Oriental cover of the legendary Pearl Jam song was made by members of the Metal band Orphaned Land, as part of a campaign to bring Pearl Jam to Israel. Though the campaign eventually didn’t carry out it’s original goal, the cover that it reproduced is simply marvelous to my taste. Orphaned Land have rightfully earned their fame in the international metal-scene. Their unique blend of metal and oriental music, as well as the mixture of Judaic, Muslim and Christian themes, has helped their music to successfully cross borders where the band members themselves still literally can’t.
Funking Rage Against the Machine
It’s been for decades that Killing In The Name Of, is on almost every Israeli alternative-rock party’s playlist. And if the Dj won’t play it, then it’s a matter of time until somebody would request this song. And every time it pays, the crowd goes crazy.
I’m pretty sure that The Apples – a Funk/Jazz ensemble from Tel-Aviv – were aware of all that when they did their extra-groovy take of that song. And the outcome that they delivered is so dope that it might just make one’s brain to melt between his ears and to start doing little breakdance.
Besides that, I have to admit that I had the pleasure of seeing them perform more than just a several times in the past seven years. And every time I’ve seen them live, the concert-hall was crowded almost to the full – which is definitely very impressive for a non-mainstream indie-label band. If you want to dig-in their original music, I’d recommend you to listen to Powder and Buzzin’ About. But that’s just me…
Psychedelic Donna Summers
This truly far-out cover of Donna Summers’ hit was made by the Garage-Rock trio “Electra”, as the B-side of their “Dawn of Summer”(see what they did there?) single. Though currently(temporarily?) inactive, their truly electric and energetic concerts were such a prominent force in the local Indie scene during the last decade that I find it hard to talk about Israeli Indie scene without mentioning them.
Fun fact: Nitzan Horesh, their ridiculously charismatic front-man, is currently performing with a new and funky outfit, that is called the Cut Out Club.
Folk-Rock David Bowie
Geva Alon is maybe the Israeli most critically acclaimed Indie singer-songwriter, and is often being compared to the legendary Neil Young. I, personally, dislike these kinds of comparisons – Geva is doubtlessly a kick-ass musician by his own right, and any attempt to compare his unique musical imprint with someone else’s is just pointless, and does no good for either of them. Nevertheless, and with all that being said, I have to admit: sorry, David Bowie, but this cover just outdid the original.
In case that you don’t know this already, the word asli means “authentic” in Arabic. In Hebrew slang, it is often used to describe anything authentically oriental.
So this truly asli version of the Radiohead’s classic is the product of collaboration between Rotem Shefey(vocals), and Leat Sabbah(Cello), two Tel-Avivi musicians that were studying together in Rimon School of Jazz & Contemporary Music in Tel-Aviv. Their project’s Kickstarter page says:
“What seemed at first a satirical cover transformed into a full-blown multi-layered middle-eastern arrangement, recorded with oud player Yaniv Taichmann, percussionist Ori Dekel. The track was recorded at Bardo Studios in Tel Aviv by Avi Ein Zur”
They successfully crowd-sourced 1,939 dollars for the production of a musical-video for the track. The result was a video-clip with more than 887,000 views on YouTube.
Was it really worth it? The responses of my friends vary between – “wow, this is so awesome!” to “what is this shit?”
Some even accused the video of being racist because of the intentional Arabic accent that Shefey imitating during the song. I think those accusations are a bit over-the-top. Specially when considering the fact that Shefey and Sabbah, as it can be easily implied by their surnames – come from families of Oriental-Jewish origin – meaning, that Arabic was the primary language that their grandparents, and maybe even parents spoke in. So the Arabic accent is not something foreign for them to laugh about, but rather something nostalgic, and familiar, and part of their family heritage.
Bonus: If you fancy this cover, you might also like Shefey’s oriental cover of The Verve’s Bitter-Sweet Symphony.
Michael Jackson in Electronic-Jazz
Even though Jonathan Dagan and the members of his electronic project J.Viewz are currently based in Brooklyn – if to judge by the frequency of their visits to the Holy Land, it is hard to say that they forgot where they came from. Most of all, it is touching to notice the special treatment they give on their tours to Jonathan’s old hometown – the city of Haifa – which gets considerably lower prices(sometimes even free-of-charge entrance) for their concerts. In this video they present their interpretation of Michael Jackson’s immortal hit.
Trivia: there’s a shocking crime that is being committed during the video… Can you spot it?