April Showers Bring May… Covers? Sure, Why Not?

Sometimes the right thing to get the creative juices flowing is to take an existing and influential song, put one’s own spin on it, and unleash it upon an unsuspecting fanbase. Whether taking a page of a genre playbook similar to one’s own or covering a track clear out of left field, why not shake shit up here and there? Within the last few weeks, the alternative world has seen a number of its best and bleakest offer up their interpretations of some popular tracks, ranging from a Nine Inch Nails Grammy winner to a cut from the Queen of Pop.

Poppy modernizes nu metal darlings Kittie’s first salvo “Spit” from 1999 debut

The post-genre princess known simply as Poppy has paid homage to the women that have rocked before her, namely t.A.T.u (“All The Things She Said”) and Jack Off Jill (“Fear of Dying”), but the once-YouTube sensation tends to wear her musical influences on her sleeve. The title track from Kittie’s 1999 debut album was a rattling of the metal cages, as the Canadian four-piece challenged the entire concept of women in heavy music in a way that hadn’t been done since the heyday of Doro Pesch. A shame it may be that the lyrics of “Spit” are still relevant nearly a quarter of a century after its initial release, 

Poppy’s update picks up the pace and adds in more electronic elements, making what was already a mosh-ready track a mule kick to the teeth. If Kittie’s original was pissed off, Poppy’s is an exasperated, infuriated howl along the lines of “god damn it, we’re still debating this shit?!” It’s urgent, dangerous, and an improvement on an iconic song from the heart of the nu metal era, and for that Poppy should be proud.

Danny Blu & Moris Blak confirm what we all knew: Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” is, in fact, industrial

In 1989, Janet Jackson invited us all to join a nation without geographic boundaries, united by a common mission. The title track from her landmark fourth album was set to bring people together through the power of music, addressing social calamities in a concept album for which Jackson fought tooth and nail to maintain creative control over. Given the rising influence of industrial music in the late Eighties, some have quipped, albeit only semi-seriously, that Rhythm Nation 1814 is an industrial album, but leave it to two of today’s best and brightest in the game to take that and run with it.

The SHVDOW Records duo of singer Danny Blu and producer Moris Blak bring the legendary track into modern times, tweaking the lyrics ever so slightly to reflect the problem du jour (namely, “with music by our side, to break the gender lines,” whereas the original named “color lines”). The live out loud mantra and attitude of Blu, with the pounding rhythms and thought-out production and arrangement by Blak, amounts to a smash for both. May this collaboration never end, and may the Rhythm Nation never stop. 

We found Garbage hiding, and they finally uncovered their take on Siouxsie and The Banshees’ “Cities in Dust”

The godmother of goth that is Siouxsie Sioux championed the post-punk sound that populated the Seventies and Eighties, influencing innumerable alternative music acts for decades to come. The Madison, WI quartet Garbage has gone on record saying that the Banshees frontwoman was integral to their sound from moment one, and as a loving tribute, the band’s recent Record Store Day special Witness to Your Love EP included a version of “Cities in Dust.” Part electropop, part noise rock, and all driven by Shirley Manson’s smooth yet commanding voice, this cover may take a bit to grow on the more diehard Siouxsie fans, but such a careful and thought-out tribute cannot go unnoticed.

Ego Likeness mark their return with a rendition of Madonna’s “Live to Tell”

Madonna is an artist that invokes an old adage from wrestling manager extraordinaire Captain Lou Albano: often imitated, never duplicated. The Queen of Pop has a body of work and a sound all her own, making any artist’s go at reimagining one of her songs a tall task. Leave it to the seasoned Ego Likeness, breaking their yearslong silence following the reissue of their Dragonfly album and the release of their Wolves EP, to put the “power” into a power ballad. Donna Lynch’s dynamic and haunting vocals with the instrumentation and production of the multi-talented Steven Archer give this song about lies and mistrust an even darker, more ominous cloud to hang over it.

Otep’s take on Billie Eilish’s “you should see me in a crown” rules with an iron fist

The music of Otep Shamaya has always been confrontational and boundary-challenging, and her handling of covers has been no different. Be it her faithful cover of Nirvana’s “Breed” or even the transformation of Lorde’s bedroom pop smash “Royals” into an alt-metal banger that begs to be belted, the edge which Otep adds is one that is razor-sharp. On her first studio release since 2018’s Kult 45, Otep tackles Billie Eilish’s “you should see me in a crown,” one of the anchoring singles from the young singer’s debut full-length. Through death-growled choruses and gritted teeth, Otep adds plenty of bite to the track, going for aggressive where Eilish’s original approach was more understated.

Tony Hawk enlists a bevy of heavy to cover Nine Inch Nails’ “Wish”

If you had “Tony Hawk sings Nine Inch Nails” on your 2023 bingo card, no you didn’t, you fucking liar. Fairmounts frontman Mike Hawdon hosts “Mikey and His Uke” on YouTube, a music show featuring a who’s who in music creating all-star covers of rock and metal classics. For a more recent video, Mikey recruited Tony Hawk, who I’m convinced still doesn’t know how famous he really is, along with guitarist Ben Weinman (ex-Dillinger Escape Plan, Suicidal Tendencies), bassist Brad Magers (The Bronx), keyboardist Kat Lucas (ex-P!nk, stormylovechild), and drummer Ryan “Legs” Leger (ex-Norma Jean, ex-Every Time I Die), to cover a song which Hawdon himself always wanted covered on his show: Nine Inch Nails’ 1992 smash “Wish.” In the music video, Trent Reznor himself makes a brief cameo, giving an emphasis to the phrase “fist fuck” while still keeping well within YouTube terms and conditions. The cover itself is crunchier and more guitar-forward, with Hawk’s vocals staying faithful to Reznor’s original takes, albeit with a bit less inflection than the genuine article.

‘Woodland Memoirs’ To Allow Black Nail Cabaret To Craft Lusher, Fuller Dark Pop; Special Live Album Due This May

For my money, one of the best albums to come out of the godless year of 2020 was Black Nail Cabaret’s Gods Verging on Sanity. The Hungarian duo’s take on dark pop, voiced spirit-smoothly by Emese Arvai-Illes, is danceable and devilishly enjoyable. For three years now, fans have been waiting to see what comes next, and the answer is a special live album known as Woodland Memoirs

Bringing along guitarist Tamás Számvéber, saxophone player Márton Barják (ex-CsizmáSKAndúr), and drummer Péter Laskay, Emese and keyboardist Krisztian Arvai breathe new life into eleven songs from their extensive catalog. The woodland in Woodland Memoirs comes from the band’s recording of the record in the Agostyán Arboretum in Tata, Hungary. A stark departure from the band’s usual locales such as cathedrals and smoky nightclubs, this vibrant landscape only further freshens up the band’s rich sound and avant-garde tendencies.

Thus far, we’ve been granted two tastes of what is to come from the album, set to release on Dependent Records on May 26th. The first was the new version of “Sister Sister,” originally appearing as the opening track on 2016’s Dichromat. While the original cut is a bouncy synthpop number with razor-sharp leads and melodies, this new alternative version is a smoky lounge ditty with the saxophone working a sort of call and response with Emese’s vocals in the second verse. It’s slow, smooth jazz that offers a much more refined sway than the clubby sort of sway that might be invoked by the original cut. By the final lines, the harmonies between the vocals and the sax make for a sensuous and satisfying conclusion.

More recently, we’ve been treated to a new version of the sultry “Veronica,” the original song coming from the band’s 2012 debut Emerald City. Much like the first twist, this new version takes the synthpop stylings of the original and gives it a new lease on life. This time, though, the backbone is hard rock, with the guitar being the main instrumental voice while the sax adds its share of flourishes and flash to the party. All in all, the new version is a different breed of raucous, yet still as sexually charged and provocative as the original article.

For those who crave the physical, there are 500 copies of the Strictly Limited Edition, which includes the full album on CD and a 36-page hardcover book with photos taken from the performance by Dora Hrisztu-Pazonyi. Following the album’s release, the band has a handful of summer shows between Germany and Sweden. 

Woodland Memoirs will release via Dependent Records on May 26th.

In This Moment’s ‘Blood’ Serves as a Linchpin Record, Stands Up Ten Years Later

In This Moment is one of the few bands I have something of a hipster attitude towards; as in, I’ve been a fan of theirs since before they were cool. Around the time of 2010’s A Star-Crossed Wasteland, the band’s creative direction took a turn for the more theatrical. Their stage shows became sweeping productions, with backup dancers, set pieces, and enough costume changes to make Lady Gaga turn her head. In some respects, frontwoman Maria Brink became a pop diva with a metal backing band.

By the time their 2012 album Blood was released, the New York-based band hit their stride. Though a couple years off from what the title track of their 2014 album Black Widow would call “a hellpop groove,” Blood was a potent mix of alternative, gothic, and industrial metal with a healthy dose of pop sensibility and delivery. This watershed release launched Maria Brink and her conspirators into the metal stratosphere, even if a couple of tracks have been overperformed by any drag performer trying to show her darker side.

Don’t worry, we’ll get to that.

Sixteen-year-old me couldn’t cope with Maria using a hands-free mic onstage…

Setting the opener “Rise with Me” aside, I can remember hearing “Blood” for the first time, after having been such a fan of their previous effort A Star-Crossed Wasteland. This song… didn’t feel like In This Moment. It didn’t even really feel metal, even in the chorus, but rather a pop song, lyrically dealing in the hard knocks and the abuse one takes on their way to getting what they want. Guitar solos aren’t frequently employed in their music, but the bluesy, soulful lead that comes in the bridge is a highlight. 

“Adrenalize” is a full-throttle groove metal masterpiece, barreling forth with a machine gun kick drum pattern fit for any windmill headbanging needs. The verses gallop with an one-note riff that gets little licks and flourishes added as we inch towards the chorus. Riff after riff, this song is just a kickass time from moment one to moment done. 

“Whore” might be the band’s most recognizable song, especially since the inception of Tiktok. Even over the title track, it’s the most streamed song from this album, at least on Spotify. It’s a pop song wearing metal clothes, but it is a powerful anthem that reclaims a word used to degrade and deface. Are they breaking new ground, musically speaking? Not by a long shot, but when a woman is front and center of a metal band and letting the children have it, bringing a different energy along with it.

Perhaps the most straightforward metal song on the album is “You’re Gonna Listen,” featuring a ripper of a guitar solo from ex-Ozzy Osbourne axeman Jake E. Lee. It’s a punch in the face that closes the energetic first act of the record. The interlude “It Is Written” centers around music as a lover, estranged or otherwise, as a game-changer. In “Adrenalize,” it helped Maria feel like a god. Here, it does so even more, and we’re not even halfway through. 

Where there is pain, there is healing, and “Burn” is a painful song, having been written after Maria found out her partner cheated on her. The pacing slows to a crackling flame’s, taking everything with it at a deliberate pace. Heavy and visceral as it is, the composition is so simple, with the piano riff rising above the conflagration. Following is “Scarlet,” which I’m frankly surprised didn’t come out as a single, as it bridges the gap between past and present In This Moment while still being infinitely accessible. Maria is able to explore her full vocal range, from her guarded lows to her lightly-fried highs. 

“Aries” gives us a moment to let us up while preaching redemption and salvation, before “From the Ashes” gives us another nod to classic ITM. What comes next is a one-two punch of the power-pop anthem “Beast Within” and the war cry “Comanche.” The pace slows for “The Blood Legion,” which is misspelled on the back of some of the physical releases of the record, and the final interlude “11:11” reminds us it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

That statement indeed applies to the album as a whole. There’s plenty to love here, and while Blood isn’t quite my favorite In This Moment record, the roots of what would follow on subsequent releases had to start somewhere. The band sought to find that aforementioned hellpop groove, and this was the test drive for it. Clearly something worked, as the band’s style has developed more in that pop-metal vein, right up through their most recent studio LP Mother. This transitional record has a lot going for it, and serves as the movement from maiden to mother for Maria Brink and her band.

Also, as far as the band’s cover of “Closer” which appears on the special edition release… it’s not bad. As sex-positive as this record and this phase of the band is, it makes sense to cover one of the horniest songs of all time, and while it doesn’t come close to the original article, you can’t blame them for trying.

Yes, I’ve Lost My Mind: t.A.T.u’s “All The Things She Said” as a Contentious LGBTQ+ Anthem

Before I knew my own identity as a pansexual transgender woman, before I really even knew what it was to even question my own identity, I heard that voice while watching WrestleMania XIX

Yes, I’ve lost my mind

Out walked then-Women’s Champion Victoria, accompanied by ECW legend Stevie Richards, to defend her title in a Triple Threat match against Jazz, another ECW alum and bonafide badass, and Trish Stratus, one of the greatest performers in the Divas era of women’s wrestling. I recognized the melody right away, as she had a generic, legally distinct version of the song for her entrance in WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, but the real McCoy hit different for reasons aside from the obvious. While the version she used jumped from the chorus right to the synth solo, there was something different about this song. Teenage me, hormones and all but with the kind of sensitivity that comes from being raised by three mothers, couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

Then, upon learning the name of the song, I looked up the music video for “All The Things She Said,” Russian title “Ya Shosla S Uma,” by t.A.T.u.

The original music video, directed by Ivan Shapovalov.

My reaction was twofold. A muted part of me was like “woo, girls kissing, this is great!” Because what teenage boy wouldn’t think that? But there was more to the story. The song was about forbidden love, about the kind of affection that some believe should only happen behind closed doors, if at all. It’s about processing feelings and mixing them with what you’ve been raised to believe, and given that I was confirmed Lutheran in a tiny Podunk town with 1,000 residents and six churches in it, things hit a bit close to home. And again, this is before I figured out a damn thing about myself.

I’ve gone on record saying that wrestling has introduced me to so many bands, and in particular the soundtracks for the SmackDown! vs RAW games helped to shape my musical tastes into what they are today. I was at the point in my musical journey where I was past the point of hating the popular bands just because, and was branching out beyond just heavy metal. But still, this 2000s pop anthem was hitting differently.

Musically speaking, it’s a four-chord pop song. D flat, C, F, A flat. Guitars, synths, a drum machine, a simple bass line. The lyrics, as mentioned earlier, are concerned with what the others think, what am I thinking, and am I losing my mind? This is rather pedestrian in pop music today, but cast your mind back to 2002, when this song first was released. This is over a decade before Obergefell v Hodges, this is a few years before the blatant rainbow capitalism we see today. Hell, we were only just starting to see LGBTQ-themed media like The L Word and Queer as Folk, and those were on premium cable.

As far as its use in WWE goes, it was used while Victoria was a heel (villain). In an interview with Fightful, she revealed that WWE only licensed the song for a year, beginning with the Armageddon pay-per-view in December 2002. After that, and on streaming services (curse you, licensing fees), a generic soundalike is used in the song’s place. On the May 24th, 2004 edition of RAW, well into Victoria’s babyface (hero) run, she began using Hood$tars’ song “Don’t Mess With,” featuring a then-unknown Nicki Minaj laying down bars. 

Victoria entering to “All The Things She Said” on the April 19, 2004 episode of WWE Monday Night RAW. This would be one of the last times she would enter to the theme.

So is this WWE using the old trope of a villain being different, ostracized, or something that we dare not speak out loud? Granted, in the Divas era of wrestling, there was always a nudge and wink of girl on girl action for titillation’s sake, but there’s not much in Victoria’s WWE run that would suggest her playing for the other team. To her credit, Lisa Marie Varon, the woman behind Victoria, was afraid that the song would cast her persona as a lesbian, especially given how some fans tend to see the characters on TV as dialed-up representations of the people portraying them. When WWE made her visuals in her entrance Titantron video creepy and unsettling, it gave a bit more credence to the evil lesbian trope. Varon was a bodybuilder and a fitness model before turning to wrestling, a point that was used in her first storyline in WWE. 

By pointing this out, I don’t mean to demonize the WWE or its creative team, but I have to wonder if they were really paying attention to what they were setting Varon up for. Yes, it’s a great song they gave her, but there’s far more than meets the eye, especially the one coming out of her hand in said video.

The unsettling, Exorcist-like TitanTron video for Victoria, ca. 2003.

The irony here is that, the same year that WWE licensed “All The Things She Said,” they landed in hot water following a “commitment ceremony” between Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo that was admitted to be a publicity stunt. The company even got GLAAD involved to do things right by the community. But I digress.

“All The Things She Said” can’t be talked about without mentioning the controversy which befell the band. A year after the duo split with their producer and Cowell-esque figure Ivan Shapovalov, the jig was up, as it was revealed that Yulia Volkova not only had a boyfriend, but was pregnant. And twenty years later, the feelings of the Russian government towards LGBTQ+ folks are… the less said, the better. But were the girls just using the lesbian storyline for attention? After all, going back to her Fightful interview, Victoria herself didn’t want to represent a community she wasn’t a part of, and didn’t want to be accused of being a “fake lesbian,” much in the way that Yulia and cohort Lena Katina were.

In an interview with The Independent in 2008, Lena shed some light on the intent behind the song, stating:

“If boys like boys or girls like girls, so what? We’re all people – we tried to show people that there’s no need to pressurise or ostracise people because of it. The situation is still bad but it has got better.”

Yulia then throws her two cents in, adding:

“It was our teenage years. You have to try everything. It felt at the time like it was real love – it felt like there was nothing more serious… Now when you look back at it of course it’s ridiculous. We still sleep in the same bed sometimes. But it doesn’t mean we stay up all night having sex,” she says. I look the other way, trying my best not to conjure up a mental image. “We just have very close, friendly relations. Though we do still sometimes get drunk and kiss each other. But it’s just fun between friends.”

Before we go dismissing the girls as faking it till they made it – and given the lasting success and influence of the song, oh boy did they make it – sexuality is a fluid thing, and can change over time for a number of reasons. At the time the song came out, the girls were barely adults, and who knows what the influence of their native Russia had on things. I’m not trying to insist that the girls from t.A.T.u have been queer all along, as that’s their story to tell, but what I am suggesting is that their story is one that rings true for so many people, whether they end up coming out or not. In so many words, the fact that this singular pop song from a Russian duo resonates with so many people, even in the face of all the gaga and the public outcry, will forever define t.A.T.u. 

The song has seen covers from Halflives, Poppy, and Seraphine, and the more aggressive Fernando Garibay remix still makes its way to dance floors from time to time. While the singers of said song, as well as its usage throughout the last two decades, have not gone without a few bumps in the road, we can still celebrate “All The Things She Said,” as so much has changed since its premiere, save for a certain dictator in the singers’ native country. It is as central to the scene as any other song, as it highlights being on the outside looking in, and all of the struggle that comes with it. 

To quote the song, it’s about that moment when one asks, “Have I crossed the line?”

Let’s end on a high note with the aforementioned Fernando Garibay remix of the song, available on the 10th Anniversary Edition of 200 KM/H in the Wrong Lane.

Riveting Music Tells Those In Power To ‘Regulate This’ With Upcoming Cover Compilation Devoted to Girl Power

Riveting Music has offered up some excellent compilations in recent years, namely Tear Down the Walls: A Tribute to Pink Floyd. The goal of Riveting Music, much like ours here at Sounds and Shadows, is to put industrial and alternative music out to a wider audience. Their next undertaking is set to help fight back against the unfortunate overturning of Roe v. Wade, which has since endangered the reproductive rights of millions of Americans.


Regulate This: A Riveting Tribute to Girl Power is a compilation of twenty-one artists each covering a song dedicated to feminism, girl power, and standing up to the patriarchy. All proceeds from the release are going to the Global Fund for Women,  While who is covering what hasn’t been released just yet, we know that the following artists are involved: Containher, Sapphria Vee, Caligulust, Demons Need Angels, Schedule IV, Society Burning, Fractured Machines, The Blue Hour, File Transfer Protocol, Mach FoX and Illuminate Steele, Latex, Machines With Human Skin, Out Out, Flood Damage, Fatigue,  Sandi Leeper, Bellhead, Deconbrio, Alcestea, The Joy Thieves, and Eva X.


The following artists will be covered on Regulate This: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Portishead, Animotion, PJ Harvey, Bjork, Toni Basil, Garbage, Janet Jackson, Ani DiFranco, Bonnie Tyler, Pat Benatar, La Tigre, The Plasmatics, Kim Carnes, Fleetwood Mac, Laurie Anderson, Belinda Carlisle, Danielle Dax, Berlin, Dolly Parton, and The Eurythmics.

Love is a Battlefield | The Joy Thieves | Riveting Music (bandcamp.com)

The full compilation will be released on September 9th, but to tide us over, we’ve gotten a taste of what is to come. The Joy Thieves have teamed up with I Ya Toyah for a rendition of Pat Benatar’s 1983 hit “Love is a Battlefield.” It’s faithful to the original, though an increased guitar presence helps kick things into another, more powerful gear. It brings the sound forward in time from the early Eighties new wave to a mid-Nineties industrial rocker, while remaining a loving tribute to Benatar’s original work.

Check out the track below, stay tuned for the music video on Friday, August 26th, and the full Regulate This compilation on Friday, September 9th. For more information on the Global Fund for Women, check out their website here.