Top 10 Awesome International Song Covers

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Any artistic creation is open to interpretation. This means other artists will oftentimes take your artistic creations in new and exciting directions.  The original artists may not have had these bold re-interpretations of their songs in mind when they composed and sang them.  However, the result of these covers by people of foreign lands can only be described as awesome.

10.  The Ramones’ KKK Takes Germany Away

On  the 1981 album Pleasant Dreams, Joey Ramone sang  about losing a girlfriend to the Ku Klux Klan, in The KKK Took My Baby Away  Joey Ramone’s real name was Jeffrey Ross Hyman, making him a nice Jewish boy. The song was reportedly written in response to Johnny Ramone taunting him about possible causes for the break-up. So we have a Jewish singer, in an American punk band, singing about a kidnapping by a hate group.  On the 2005 album Todos Sodos Ramones, the German group Die Artze (The Doctors) re-recorded the song, this time titled Die Wiking-Jugend  hat mein Mädchen entführt. Wiking-Jugend means Viking Youth, which is a Neo-Nazi organization in Germany. The  German version was banned in its own country.

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The International Cover:

9.  An Italian Snoopy And The German Red Baron

In 1966,  the Tampa, Florida-based pop group The Royal Guardsman came up with a hit inspired by Peanuts comics. The song was called Snoopy Versus the Red Baron. The following year, Italian singer Giorgio Gaber recorded Snoopy Contro il Barone Rosso. This brings up the somewhat confusing issue of an Italian singing about fighting Germans in World War I, with Italy being an ally of Germany in World War II.

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8.  Lets Do The Time Warp South of The Border

Most people are familiar with the song Time Warp from the 1973 stage production The Rocky Horror Picture Show, as well as the 1975 movie of the same title.  Multiple covers of the song have been done. In 1983, Timbirichie, a group of Mexican teenagers whose parents were established in the music industry covered Time Warp as El Baile De Sapo (The Toad’s Dance).

The Original:

The International Cover:

7.   Hallelujah In A New, But Strangely Alluring, Tongue

In 1984, Leonard Cohen released a song on his album Various Positions, that may well be heard being sung 200 years from now. The song is called Hallelujah, and has been covered by such artists as Jeff Buckley, Bon Jovi, and Rufus Wainwright. The song has also become a favorite among popular singing competitions. In 2009, Israel Idol featured singer Mei Finegold, singing a haunting version in Hebrew.

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The International Cover:

6.  And All The Far East Girlies Say I’m Pretty Fly For A White Guy

On the 1998 album Americana,  The Offspring released a polarizing, occasionally grating, but omnipresent single, Pretty Fly For A White Guy. While American audiences eventually got over (and were possibly ashamed of) their obsession with the song, worldwide audiences did not let go so easily. In 2009, Mai Kadowski re-recorded the song in Japanese, for the album Voice Actresses Legendary Punk Songs Collection.  As the album title implies, Kadowski is primarily known as a voice actress in Japanese anime.

The Original:

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5.  Peter Parker Is In The Lounge

In 1967, the original Spider-Man cartoon became known for many things. One of its most endearing legacies is the theme song, which has spanned across decades.  Michael Buble, a well-regarded Canadian singer of Italian descent, recorded a jazzy Rat Pack-esque version of the Spider-Man theme song on his album Bablau. In 2004, the song was re-released as a remixed single. The Buble version went on to spend 25 weeks on the Italian singles chart.

The Original:

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4.  North Koren Accordionists Take On A-Ha

In 1985, Norwegian pop group A-Ha released the album Hunting High and Low, featuring Take On Me, which would become one of the biggest pop hits of the 1980s. Recently, Norwegian Morten Traavik took a trip to Pyonyang, and gave North Korean students a copy of the song. The teenagers learned the song in two days, and proceeded to play it on a series of accordions.  The video became am instant viral hit, with over 1.7 million hits on YouTube.

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3.  The Finnish Remake Of A Song By An African-American About Chinese Fighting

This is a story that could have only happened in the 1970’s. Carl Douglas had a certifiable single hit in 1974, with Kung-Fu Fighting. The Douglas song spent three weeks as a number one single, from September to October of 1974. The next year, Finnish pop star Frederik would emulate the same success in his homeland, recording Kung-Fu Taistelee. Yes, that is Kung-Fu Fighting…in Finnish…by one of the biggest pop stars in that country.

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2.  Sixteen Tons Left A Crushing Hit In Soviet Russia

Originally recorded by Merle Travis in 1947, and later re-recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford in 1955,  Sixteen Tons found an unlikely home in Russia. The Soviet Union was engaged in an ever-escalating Cold War with the United States during the 1950’s. This fact did not curb the Soviet enthusiasm for the coal miner’s anthem, however. To this day, there is a “Sixteen Tons Club” in Moscow. Singing Sixteen Tons, in a variety of languages before each concert, is a time-honored tradition for the club.  The Red Army choir gave a particularly stirring version of the song.

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1.  Filipino Man YouTube’s His Way To Gig As Lead Singer of Journey

If you think the current lead singer of  Journey does not look quite like the 50-year-old man he’s supposed to be, then you’re right. Since 2007, the lead singer of Journey has been Arnel Pineda. Members of Journey saw Pineda performing Faithfully with his band, The Zoo.  In what turned out to basically be the most successful karaoke session of all time, Pineda was contacted by Journey, and now tours with the band worldwide. Basically, when the band decides they cannot find anyone better than you to sing their song, you get to top a list like this one.

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The International Cover:


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8 Comments

  1. Whoops> Fact check: Italy was a member of the Allied Powers NOT the Central Powers during WWI. So Italy fought against Germeny.

  2. What about the Cranberries song “Zombie”. That had an amazing cover done on it by a Spanish Flamenco band called Los Sabraos. That really should have had a mention here.

  3. That Ärzte song is NOT banned in Germany. Some of their earlier stuff was banned for “indecency” (like that song about Claudia and her, em, *loving* relationship with her German shepherd dog), but not this one.

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