Cover bands aren’t always great. Bands doing covers? That’s a different story.
With the exception of really crusty and stubborn people, anyone can appreciate a good cover. Artists can take their favorite songs and completely reimagine them, or they can pay tribute by trying to replicate the original. Neither practice should be considered superior to the other, though shot-for-shot remakes are often pooh-poohed.
On Tuesday, pop group MisterWives released a cover of “Same Drugs,” a wonderfully delicate-yet-ambitious ballad off Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book” mixtape. The original is below, followed by the MisterWives version.
Aside from taking the song up a whole step to accommodate for a female singer, this rendition would probably fall into the category of a shot-for-shot remake, yet it isn’t. If anything, MisterWives doing a cover close to original helped to highlight the brilliance of Chance the Rapper’s process.
Structurally, both versions are the same. Aside from the aforementioned key and Mandy Lee jumping up an octave in the second verse, MisterWives doesn’t play with the song’s main elements. Even the percussive scatting that opens the piece is there, and it’s just as charming as it is in the original.
Yet they do the song like a pop song, which is what it’s dying to be (side note: this song was also dying to be sung by a woman; more on that below). MisterWives’ traditional pop approach is where it strays from the original most; that’s where Chance The Rapper should receive even more praise for his performance.
The MisterWives version sees Lee’s vocals treated with the reverb accompanies nearly every pop vocal. That reverb should be there; it isn’t on the original. Lee gives an honest, straightforward vocal performance. Chance sits behind the beat on the melody throughout.
Therein lies the song’s majesty: Chance wrote a touching pop song and, dynamically speaking, recorded it like a rap song.
Interestingly enough, the only well-known pop artist who might do such a thing (and does such a thing often) is Regina Spektor, who originally sang on the Coloring Book version before being cut.
In this respect, Spektor and Chance have long seemed to be a perfect fit for a collaboration. At the very least, they’ll be heard on the same project when “Hamilton Mixtape” comes out later this year.