While looking for something to listen to on Spotify recently, I rediscovered that Alan Cross’s amazing radio show, “The ongoing history of new music”, is available on there as a podcast. I may be one of the only people that I know that never got into the concept of podcasts, always preferring to listen to music whenever the opportunity is afforded to listen to something, whether it be in the car, at work, or just puttering around the house. However, I always loved listening to Alan Cross’s radio show back when I was younger and living in Toronto, where his show was originally broadcasted on CFNY, and I decided to give the podcast a try. I’ve now listened to and enjoyed a few episodes (of course, Cross is still as interesting and engaging as ever) and can now see myself checking it out on the regular.
I mention this because in a weird coincidence the theme on the very first podcast episode to which I listened had for its theme, one-hit wonders of the 1990s, and in the middle of the show, Cross called The La’s’ “There she goes”, ‘the perfect pop song’. I myself included this very track and ranked it number one when I did a post on my top five one-hit wonders of the 1980s* a few years ago. In that post, I also referred to it as a perfect pop song, to the ‘jangly guitars that shimmer in the sunlight’ and how ‘Lee Mavers’ vocals alternate between rough and soft’.
This balance and counterpoint and the compact song structure and length is likely why so many artists have covered it and have had success with it. Indeed, “There she goes” has been covered by The Wombats, Robbie Williams, and by an American a cappella act called The Kingsmen. Perhaps most famously, Sixpence None The Richer covered it and released it as the second single off their self-titled album in 1999, the follow up to the ubiquitous hit, “Kiss me”. Their slowed down, acoustic focused version did quite well and sure, it’s lovely enough, but in my opinion, it completely dispenses with any of the edge on the original.
The cover version that I prefer is the one by British contemporaries, The Boo Radleys, and this can be attributed to the fact that I discovered it at the same time and place as I did the original. Both versions are featured on the soundtrack for the film, “So I married an axe murderer”** and the two together are, in a sense, a de fact theme song for the film. They book-end the album, the cover opening the proceedings and the original having the final word. I used to think they were pretty much the same but on closer inspection recently, I managed to separate the intricacies.
The Boo Radleys ease off a bit on the jangle by replacing the iconic arpeggio guitar intro with horns and they unbelievably one-up the original in peppiness by increasing the tempo, adding handclaps, and vocal harmonies. In another ‘how did they do it’ facet, The Boo Radleys’ version even managed to come out thirty seconds shorter than Lee Mavers’ perfect pop song length in the original.
Is the cover better? You won’t catch me answering the affirmative here – the original is so good – but I do enjoy both.
For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.