Pictures in an Empty Room: Better Than the Original

Filed under: Reviews, Special Coverage

Welcome to the first of many top five lists that will undoubtedly lead to just about everybody questioning my sanity. In this article, I challenge the belief that cover songs are never as good as the original, by hereby providing a list of five remakes that I contend prove otherwise.

Warmen - "Alone"

Everything on this Heart original song has been improved. Kimberly Goss (Sinergy) is a phenomenal metal singer, and she demonstrates her flexibility in this song. Janne Warman (Children of Bodom) has replaced the keyboards with a grand piano, and added small bits of piano decorations into the song. On top of this, a simple rhythm guitar line has been included, making the song sound more full, without being too excessive. The result is a new version of Alone that grips in the listener, and transforms an eighties power ballad into a timeless song.

Halford - "Winter Song"

If this is the last article I write for this website, and I am never heard of ever again, it is because of this entry. It turns out that just about everybody here at are huge fans of Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, and for me to suggest that somebody made an improvement on their duet is sacrilegious. Chances are, by the time you read this (assuming this article does not get deleted), my body will have been improperly disposed, and Paul will be sleeping on a dirty mat in the overcrowded Winnipeg Remand Center.

So why am I writing this? It is because Halford's cover of Winter Song is the superior version, and fans of both the original and Judas Priest should take a listen to it. The song works better when it is sung by one person, as it conveys the solitude of the vocalist. Halford's version has that cold chilly feel, whereas the original sounds heartwarming. The inclusion of the outro guitar solo adds in the change in emotion that words alone can not convey. When Winter Song is being sung by an old man, it expresses more regret than can come from a pair of women half the age of Rob Halford. All this gives Halford's cover a smoother flow, more feeling, and really asks the question, "Is love alive?"

Vinnie Moore - "April Sky"

April Sky is not so much a cover, but a brilliant merger of two of J. S. Bach's compositions. The song is a combination of Piano Concerto No. 5, and Air on a G String, done as an electric guitar instrumental piece, with an original guitar solo added in. At the time when Time Odyssey was released, the electric guitar was an instrument of excessive self-flattery amongst shredders, but this song proved to be the exception. Eschewing speed in favour of clever baroque arrangement onto the electric guitar, April Sky is evidence that the instrument is able to produce tasteful and beautiful music.

Hayley Westenra - "Prayer"

There are not a lot of differences between the original Prayer by Secret Garden, and Hayley Westenra's cover, but the changes in Westenra's version makes the song an improvement on the original. The instrumentals have been stripped down, and the horrible back-up vocals have been excluded. This essentially leaves Westenra doing more with less, which makes complete sense, considering how amazing her voice is.

Joe Cocker - "A Little Help From My Friends"

If there is one song in my little top five list that nobody can disagree with me on, it is Joe Cocker's rendition of A Little Help From My Friends. Cocker took the Beatles original, and made it into his own song. The song further solidified its place in the minds of everybody as it was parodied by John Belushi, and it was later reintroduced to a whole new generation through The Wonder Years. When I think of this song, I do not have conjure up images of Ringo Starr singing his token song per Beatles album. Instead, I think of Joe Cocker and his incomparable stage performance, where he pours his heart and soul into every concert.

Tags: Pictures in an Empty Room, Halford, Vinnie Moore, Hayley Westenra, Joe Cocker, Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, Better Than The Original, Beatles, The Wonder Years

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