Prince: King Of Alt-Rock Covers?

A one-man 'Seven Nation Army.'

As you most certainly have heard/ read/ seen/ dreamed about/ sworn at yourself for missing/ watched on YouTube before the cease-and-desist letters landed, etc., Prince killed it at Coachella last weekend with a set that included a cover of Radiohead's "Creep."

This just a little more than a year after he rocked the 2007 Super Bowl with a half-time set that included a cover of the Foo Fighters hit, "Best of You."

Which got David and I thinking out loud: What else from the alt-rock world should Prince cover?

I voted for Soundgarden and Evan Dando.

David nominated ... Creed.

Our IM back-and-forth is inside.

JF: So what's next on the little purple polyglot's list of alt-rock covers?
DM: I think he does a fantastic job of taking these overwrought alt-rock songs and injecting them with some real emotion, so more along those lines.
JF: It's interesting to note that he apparently didn't sing the word "creep" at Coachella. He kind of turned the song on its head and gave it new meaning.
DM: Wait, it had meaning in the first place?
JF: Please explain: Radiohead!
DM: Sorry, we're not here to make fun of Radiohead
JF: Right, we're here to make fun of Dave Grohl.
DM: I don't think that even Prince could salvage "My Hero."
JF: But Dave plays better drums.
DM: Speaking of Dave on drums, I think Prince could take "Lithium" to new levels.
JF: How high?
DM: He could make that chorus -- "Yeah yeah-eee yeah!" -- go from angst to ecstasy.
JF: He might not sing "I'm so horny." But, you know, that's okay. Also, the line about being in a daze because he's found God.
DM: Yeah, he might skip the "I'm so horny" line which is still so odd to me since that was the theme of entire albums of his. But hey, different century, different Purple One.
JF: Speaking of Seattle circa 1992/94, I'd love to hear Prince tackle Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun." His guitar, his voice ... no one sings/like you/anymore!
DM: As long as we keep creepy face-melting people out of it.
JF: Yes, though if he ran his guitar through a Leslie speaker, that might make MY face melt.
DM: Staying in that region/time, Prince could probably do something good with an Alice in Chains song, maybe "Man in the Box"?
JF: That song makes me think of hockey.
DM: Tie Domi's theme song.
JF: The Glyph would change those lyrics, too, by the way. "Jesus Christ, deny your maker"? Bzzzt.

DM: What about "Champagne Supernova" or "Wonderwall"? I like the former better for Prince because it has some massive solos.
JF: That'd work. As would "Don't Look Back in Anger." So long as he didn't spike it with a sax solo. Any song in which Prince can sing about a revolution = bonus!
DM: Here's a kind of random one that I think he could do something special with -- "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star.
JF: Prince playing slide guitar? Ummm, yeah! Prince singing like Hope Sandoval? Ummm.... How about Prince NOT singing like Billy Corgan while doing the Smashing Pumpkins' "Today"? That wall of guitar could be godly.
DM: Yeah, multiple Smashing Pumpkins songs could probably work since the songs themselves are fine, it's the guy singing them and the general pomposity that bring them down. But Prince could own that.
JF: So you're saying that you'd rather see/hear three hours of Prince than three hours of Billy Corgan?
DM: We're doing a great job of disparaging some very popular bands!
JF: To be fair, Prince is pompous, too. But there's something hilarious about the way he carries it off. He just oozes cool. Whereas Billy Corgan oozes ... actually, I don't want to think about what he oozes. Sorry.
DM: Wait, Prince is pompous? The guy changed his name to a symbol and SUES HIS OWN FANS? They were both among the first to give away music for free on the Internet, though.

JF: He's "different." So here's another one: "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes. I can totally hear him rocking a sinewy funk groove on that. "Icky Thump" would be interesting, too: Prince channeling Led Zep via Jack White. But "Seven Nation Army" is such a good song -- he'd have to do that one.
DM: I have this weird vision of Prince doing a great version of "We're Going to Be Friends," but that could very well be crazy talk. That song's not exactly a hit, either.
JF: I could see Kimya Dawson covering that. Not Prince.
DM: Fair enough. What about U2? Would Prince covering U2 just be the biggest ego explosion ever?
JF: Maybe, but it could also be some serious goodness. Prince and Bono are sort of kindred spirits when it comes to writing about love and humanity.
DM: Them and Mark E. Smith.
JF: Is he related to Shelia E?
DM: Pre-God Prince could have done a funny take on "Longview," I bet.
JF: Pre-God Prince could have done a lot of funny stuff. Can you imagine him doing NIN's "Head Like a Hole"? Ohmy.
DM: What about Hole? "Doll Parts" has some decent ache in it.
JF: But we already have one Kurt Cobain song. I'll take it, though, so long as Prince doesn't put on a baby-doll dress. That look with him singing about being "the girl with the most cake" would be too much.
DM: And yet you can't say it would never happen.
JF: What about "Celebrity Skin"? It'd be like Prince doing a Pat Benatar song. (Courtney Love is a battlefield!)
DM: Man, I don't even remember that song. Is that one that Billy Corgan wrote for her?
JF: Back to the U2 idea - what song? "Sweetest Thing" could be interesting. The falsetto vocals just might make some people faint. (Hand raised.)
DM: That could work and it wouldn't be as predictable as one of the usual soaring U2 anthems.
JF: What about R.E.M.'s "The One I Love"? Knowing how Prince likes to tweak the meaning of other people's songs, he'd probably figure out a way to turn it into an actual love song. Makes me laugh that some people still it's a really sweet song. Listen to the lyrics, people. The guitar work could be ... special. Of course, you can say that about pretty much anything he plays.
DM: I like that as an R.E.M. choice, although his take on "Stand" would probably be more hilarious.
JF: Especially if he did the "dance" from the video.

DM: I think the ultimate test of Prince's might would be to make him cover Creed's "Higher."
JF: That might be the ultimate test of Prince's fans, actually.
DM: As long as he doesn't join him in a sex tape...
JF: No worries there. This is the new Prince, remember. Here's another random one. "Into My Arms" by the Lemonheads.
DM: I think that song is about needles. It's actually "Into YOUR Arms" but if it was "Into My Arms" then it would be about needles. Sorry, Evan.
JF: Into somebody's arms! I could envision Prince flat-out killing that chugging riff in the Red Hot Chili Peppers tune, "By the Way."
DM: You know me. I cannot condone any playing of any Chili Peppers song, I'm sorry. I can probably get down with some Depeche Mode, though. And that would give Prince a chance to improvise some guitar work.
JF: Or to bring Lisa Coleman back to play some synths. I'd consider "Enjoy the Silence."
DM: I guess "Personal Jesus" would be out. "Never Let Me Down Again" has always been my DM pick.
JF: Yours and Billy Corgan's. Out of left field -- and the song itself might be too slight, and too much about Isaac Brock's nervy voice -- but what about "Float On"?
DM: I think that one might be better for Dave Chappelle as Prince to do.
JF: I think you're right. Okay, one last idiotic idea from me: Coldplay's "Clocks." What would happen if Prince played those descending chords on a guitar instead of a piano? And what would happen if it was his upper-register vocals and not Chris Martin's?
DM: Y'know, I think that one would actually work. It's a good example of one of those songs that's actually pretty good but you just can't get over the annoyingness of the dude singing it.
JF: I (Heart) Prince. So maybe tomorrow, we can talk about the Prince songs that Radiohead needs to cover. Or, better yet, the Limp Bizkit songs Radiohead should do when they come to Nissan.
DM: Thom Yorke singing "Sister" could be the most disturbing 90 seconds of all time.
JF: Unless it was the Juliana Hatfield Three song about the sister.
DM: Or the Sonic Youth album in its entirety, which would probably cause Blogger and Moveable Type to implode.

By J. Freedom du Lac |  May 2, 2008; 7:48 AM ET Prince , Randomness
Previous: Questions Hanson Didn't Get to In Today's Chat | Next: The Solution to the Talking at Shows Problem


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Let me be the first to say that Prince could sing the itsy bitsy spider and I would want tickets for the front row! LOVE PRINCE!!!

Posted by: Sweetie | May 2, 2008 11:12 AM

Love me some Prince. How about him doing pop ones like Madonna's "Open Your Heart to Me" or Coldplay's "The Speed of Sound" or Avril Lavigne's "I'm With You"... yeah, boooyyy....

Posted by: Purple Willie Mays Haze | May 2, 2008 11:31 AM

Don't know if you've ever mentioned this, but Prince did a gorgeous cover of "A Case of You" on last year's Joni Mitchell tribute album. Wasn't sure that could work, but if he could pull that off, he can sing pretty much anything.

Posted by: KLeewrite | May 2, 2008 11:41 AM

It's not alt-rock, but I've always thought Prince could rock the heck out of "Fame" by David Bowie.

Posted by: Duh | May 2, 2008 11:55 AM

Marrianne by Sisters of Mercy. But only if he does the middle verse in German. Prince in German would have to be fabulous. Or at least interesting.

Then he could flow into, I don't know, Wat by Laibach.

Posted by: Under my Desk, VA | May 2, 2008 1:40 PM

How about in reverse? I swear I remember hearing "Sexy Motherf--ker" at Clinton's 2nd inaugural, out on the Mall, but I can't remember who did it. Anyone else remember that?

Posted by: MrMoonPie | May 2, 2008 3:58 PM

How about While My Guitar Gently Weeps, just so we can watch and hear him do this again?

Posted by: Grohl | May 2, 2008 5:34 PM

I am going to turn this around a bit, ever since 1987 I have dreamt(?) of R.E.M. covering "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man." If they decided to do the rock-with-melody thing again, of course.

Posted by: slick willie | May 2, 2008 11:36 PM


Posted by: ERIC | May 4, 2008 3:08 PM

How about Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl"?

"Head Like a Hole" Wow, that would be.....intriguing to hear done by Prince.

In the vein of things he would never do, "Sympathy for the Devil"

Posted by: EricS | May 5, 2008 1:10 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company