Annoying Music: Beatles Cover Songs

You've probably already heard plenty about the reissue of The Beatles' entire catalog, as well as the release of the new Rock Band video game. So in honor of the Beatles remasters, Weekend Edition host Scott Simon spoke to Jim Nayder — host of The Annoying Music Show! on Chicago Public Radio — about even more Beatles music, but without John, Paul, George or Ringo.

Nayder says that nearly everyone, from Tom Jones to Elvis Presley, has done covers of The Beatles, to varying degrees of success. For many artists, it can be tough to record any popular song, but the bar is higher for a Beatles cover. Some try to put their own spin on it, as in Tiny Tim's Latin rendition of "Hey Jude" on the album Girl with the Brave Combo.

"Who thought doing it as a cha-cha?" Nayder says of Tiny Tim's cover.

Or take the Alan Copeland genre mash-up of "Norwegian Wood," which borrows the distinctive theme from Mission: Impossible, recorded in 1968 by The Alan Copeland Singers.

"You can laugh all you want, but 40 years ago, this won a Grammy award for 'Best Contemporary Pop Paranoid Schizophrenic Arrangement,' " Nayder jokes.

Nayder says that the best annoying music is often produced when two great forms of music are combined and it "creates music so annoying, it's actually dangerous." Nayder points to Cathy Berberian's cover of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" as an example.

"Cathy Berberian in the 1960s did operatic versions of contemporary songs, and luckily for The Annoying Music Show! she chose The Beatles," Nayder says.

"That's the beauty about the best annoying music," he adds. "It's when it's a serious attempt. For whatever reason, you know it when you hear it when it goes awry."

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