The Cure’s Lovesong might be one of the best love songs ever written. With its emotional impact, simple yet intelligent lyrics, and near genius level composition…. Love song really speaks to me, and Love Song probably speaks to most of you. I’ve felt this way about Lovesong ever since I heard it in high school. Twenty or so years ago when I heard my first cover version of Lovesong, I felt this feeling even more so.
That first cover was by an artist named Lisa Cerebrone. I can’t find this cover, and I’m not even sure she’s even making music anymore. I sent her a message on BandCamp, but have yet to receive a response. It makes me sad to not have this specific cover at my disposal. Luckily, there are so many other covers of Love Song to listen to. Let’s compare them!
Original – The Cure (1989)
We all know this one. The warm keys and the gentle guitar strumming greets us at the beginning of Lovesong. Eventually, Robert Smith’s silver tongued voice comes onto the stage, accompanied by an organ….and we feel like we’re whole again. A rush of emotion hits us as we reach the chorus. The intensity of Smith’s voice, the instrumentation – false string sections, guitars, and drums – makes us want to choke up with tears of joy. What a freaking beautiful song!
The lyrics to Lovesong are fairly simple…but the emotions are so complex. We feel safe and loved as we listen to Lovesong. We feel enamored with the song and the singer. Lovesong makes us forget our troubles, because everything will be alright. No matter what – Lovesong will always love you.
Cover Version – Tori Amos (1992)
Johnny Cash might be the King of covers, but Tori Amos is the queen of covers. Amos does, in her concerts, a twenty minute interlude called “Tori’s Piano bar” where she does a handful of covers. Amos’ cover of Lovesong is from one of those piano bar sessions in 1992. With that said, Tori’s Lovesong sounds so polished, we forget that its a live cover.
Tori’s Lovesong is simplistic in performance, like most of Tori’s covers. Just Tori’s vocals and two pianos played simultaneously and seamlessly. The dueling pianos produces an intimate feeling to this version of Lovesong. We feel the safe and secure feeling we found in the original, but in a different way. A more personal way. Considering the first line of Lovesong is “Whenever I’m alone with you,” this personal feeling adds a great deal to the song.
Tori Amos version of Lovesong minimizes and scales down the orginal… and yet feels even more welcoming.
Cover Version – Anberlin (2003)
Anberlin’s version of Lovesong gives us an opposite sound than that of Tori Amos’ cover. Anberlin goes full throttle – complete with heavy guitars. Its actually a great rock and roll tune, and maybe one of my favorite pieces recorded by Anberlin.
With that said, Anberlin does not deliver the emotional impact in the chorus we get in the original. Still, during the verses, Anberlin does tone down the wall of sound approach to just vocals, drums, and a synthesizer – which certainly gives us the feelings we desire from Lovesong. Speaking of the synthesisers, Anberlin did a great job of matching the originals synths, an obvious tribute to The Cure.
Anberlin goes full throttle, and full rock ballad with Lovesong. The results gives me chills.
Cover Version – 311 (2004)
311 starts Lovesong with a bit of a slower, ska beat. Somehow, this gives us the feeling of being at a Vegas crooner show, even though vocalist Nick Hexum sounds nothing like Sinatra and company. Maybe it’s just the slow groove – third wave ska almost always has a faster tempo. Regardless, it gives us a different kind of feeling than any other version of Lovesong thus far.
311 gives us a trippy third wave ska cover of Lovesong that…somehow…doesn’t sound like a third wave ska song.
Cover Version – Voltaire (2004)
When I first heard Voltaire did a version of Lovesong, I braced for the worst. Votaire’s songs are usually a mixture of science fiction, horror, and comedy….and almost nothing you ever want to take seriously. I’m pleased to say, however, Voltaire puts his creep factor and comedy stylings in check for his cover of Lovesong.
Voltaire keeps the tempo of the original, but replaces most of the guitars, synthesizers, and organs with a string section. While Voltaire tosses most of his stylings out with Lovesong, the string section certainly touches on his goth side….and connects us to why he did the song to begin with. After all, the Cure certainly aligns with the gothic rock genre (despite what Robert Smith says).
Voltaire shows us his unknown serious and sensitive side with his cover of Lovesong.
Cover Version – Death Cab for Cutie (2005)
A strait up tribute to the Lovesong, Death Cab for Cutie changes almost nothing of the original. Sure, Ben Gibbard sings tenor and Robert Smith sings baritone. Still, one might not be able to distinguish the two versions. Oh, there’s other subtle differences mind you. That organ part during the verses has a different tone – but the organ part is still there and a driving force on this version of Lovesong.
Gibbard also does not deliver the emotion intensity found in the originals chorus. Yet…Gibbard’s vocals delivers something else – an almost nurturing and warm-hearted sound. Then again, Gibbard’s vocals always sound nurturing and warm-hearted – that’s the strengths of his vocals and possibly why Death Cab for Cutie catches our ears to begin with. But I digress…
One last thing….despite the fact that the organ part sounds different than the original, it has a way to bring us home…we feel the orignal even if we don’t hear the original.
Death Cab for Cutie give us a lovesong to the cure, and to the song Lovesong itself.
The Brunettes (2009)
The Brunettes version of Lovesong sounds…well…a lot different than any other version thus far. This version starts out with an almost music box sound as an intro, and then dives head first into various synthesizers, keyboards, and drum machines. The verses feature vocals (both male and female) run through a few effects filters, while the instrumentation is minimalied to a drum machine and a simple chord progression on a synth. The results sound inorganic and even jaring!
The chorus features both vocalists and heavy instrumentation…though the sound balance of the two is so off we can barely hear the vocalists. We almost get the feeling that we’re in a crowded night club, and the singers are two lovers trying to talk over the loud music. Perhaps, that’s the beauty of The Brunettes’ cover of Lovesong. We have two people with such intense emotions….they have to express these emotions wherever they go. They must express their love even if the setting is hostile to verbal communication.
The Brunettes give us a lot of noise and makes Lovesong into a duet… all to express the depth of their love.
Cover Version – Adele (2011)
Adele’s version of Lovesong distinguishes itself from every other version of the song. Firstly, Adele sings Lovesong at a slower tempo. Secondly, the instrumentation consists of an acoustic guitar, drums, a string section, and at times, a squeeze box. The results give us a bossa nova sounding cover.
Of course, Adele’s vocals cannot be mistaken. Her unique, soulful voice lend themselves to Lovesong in an atypical but pleasant way. Coupled with the simplicity of the instrumentation, we get an intimate feeling to the song, similar to that of the Tori Amos version. More importantly, we feel like we’re hearing a love letter read out loud. Adele adds pauses, which paces the lyrics at a rate of someone reading in private, savoring the words of a letter and cherishing each sentence. This might contribute more intimacy to the song than the stripped down nature of Adele’s Lovesong. After all…what’s more intimate and personal than a private, for your eyes only love letter?
Adele gives us a glimpse into a personal love life with her minimalistic version of Lovesong.
Every version of Lovesong melts me…
Some versions less than other, of course. Anberlin, 311, and Voltaire don’t tend to focus on the personal nature of the song. This does not mean these three versions aren’t good by any measure. Anberlin’s version in particular is a solid rock song that I thoroughly enjoy….but Lovesong really needs to get under your skin. The Brunettes show us a different kind of intimacy. I really enjoy the feeling of a crowded room where you can barely hear your partner. At the same time, the ambient sounds do get annoying after multiple listenings.
The Tori Amos version is, simply, the most intimate version of the song I’ve ever heard, but maybe it’s’ a little too intimate. Besides….I miss the organs, synths, and guitars in the original. While the Death Cab for Cutie version features all of the sounds I like in the original, it truly is a tribute to the original, and not meant to top the original in anyway.
So, the Adele cover, and the originally Cure version of Lovesong truly shine the brightest. The Adele cover gives us the an intimate view. Though it lacks the sounds that made the original great, it uses its own sounds to make itself great. The Cure version, however…let’s be honest…there’s absolutely no topping The Cure. Robert Smith’s emotional voices…that feeling of safety, and all those synths and guitars jumbled into one perfect song. You just can’t go wrong with The Cure Version. Whatever words I say, I will always love the Cure’s original version of Lovesong.