Friday, November 19th, 2010

Robyn, "When Doves Cry"

What is the most challenging song to cover in the history pop music? Prince's "When Doves Cry" might get my vote.

Besides being totally iconic and associated with a singular voice and attitude like, say, "Billy Jean" or "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" or "Satisfaction" are, the song totally breaks down standard structural tropes and rearranges them in a way that seems to be a reflection of its author's most distinctive personal traits. Every little blip and tick and squealed note of "When Doves Cry" just sounds like the essence of Prince himself. Like he just sweat the song out in the midst the most personal dream he ever had. (Perhaps he ejaculated it, in that case?) [Ed. Note: DAVE! JESUS!]

So it's always seemed crazy to me that any other artist would attempt it. And extra impressive when folks have pretty well pulled it off. The Twilight Singers and Patti Smith have done commendable jobs. (It's Patti Smith week, here at the Awl!) Timbaland and Ginuwine hew a little too close to the original. And Ani Defranco, just, no. Kudos to Robyn for going for it—and sounding pretty good!

13 Comments / Post A Comment

sixlocal (#296)

That Ani Difranco cover makes me want to go out and punch people.

egad (#1,355)

No, no, no, no and oh god no.

areaderwrites (#592)

Robyn dear: pick a key, any key. Preferably the one the band is playing in.

wallsdonotfall (#6,378)

The DiFranco version sucks, obviously, but the Be Good Tanyas made a really good folky version that hangs on to the dirtiness of the original. It's not on youtube, but you can find it on Grooveshark:

KenWheaton (#401)

They can't all be winners … and this Robyn cover isn't one.

spanish bombs (#562)

Oh man, that was wack.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

You know what's good, though — Stina Nordenstam's version of Purple Rain.

Craig Brownson (#4,257)

She could just burp into a mic for three minutes and I'd still be all, "omg have you heard the new Robyn track?!?!?!?"

djfreshie (#875)

Completely agree…the Robyn cover is the worst. At least Ani Difranco isn't singing flatter than Prince (which is REALLY difficult, mind you)

That was meant as a reply @areaderwrites. Thank you comments edit!

kpants (#719)

I can't be the only one with at least a little fondness for Damien Rice's version?

Leon (#6,596)

The guitar intro to Doves is one of the best guitary moments ever. Any cover which cannot capture this (all of them) fails to even start to understand The Awesome That Is Prince.

JGP (#1,686)

I'm sad that I'm so late to this, because it merits mentioning that anything Greg Dulli (Twilight Singers) does is gold and I refuse to hear any dissent.

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