Girls will be boys and boys will be girls, it's a mixed-up muddled-up shook-up world
January 5, 2013 9:37 AM   Subscribe

After hearing Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter sing Steve Earle's 'Someday' live, I've been putting together a playlist of genderswitched cover songs. What are your suggestions?

I'm looking for songs where the original or best-known version was sung by a male singer and the cover by a female singer, or vice versa, and where that makes some sort of difference to the song itself. (I'm not looking for answer songs like Kitty Wells's 'It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels', or songs which play around with gender like the Magnetic Fields' stuff, much though I do like both of those; just cover songs, with or without changes to the lyrics.)

So far, I've got:
- Cake singing Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive',
- Dinah Washington singing Louis Jordan's 'Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby',
- The Czars singing Connie Francis's 'Where The Boys Are',
- Dar Williams singing Fred Eaglesmith's 'Wilder Than Her',
- The Indigo Girls singing Bob Dylan's 'Tangled Up in Blue',
- Lucinda Williams singing 'Which Will' and Dylan's 'Positively 4th Street',
- Everything But The Girl singing Bruce Springsteen's 'Tougher Than The Rest',
- Gretchen Peters singing Steve Earle's 'I Ain't Ever Satisfied',
- Linda Ronstadt singing Elvis Costello's 'Alison',
- The Raincoats singing the Kinks' 'Lola'.

What else should I add? Genre doesn't matter, and I don't mind if lyrics are changed in the cover version or not.
posted by Catseye to Media & Arts (82 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
 
Anything (and almost everything) by Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:40 AM on January 5, 2013


Dar Williams and Ani Difranco did a cover of "Comfortably Numb" together that I prefer more than the original.
posted by discopolo at 9:50 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Both the Darcy Clay and the White Stripes covers of Jolene spring to mind.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 9:50 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lyle Lovett has been performing Stand By Your Man for years.
posted by tommasz at 9:52 AM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Lemonheads' cover of Different Drum.
posted by jeudi at 9:53 AM on January 5, 2013


Previously
posted by valeries at 9:55 AM on January 5, 2013


Ack, how did I miss that on search? Thanks, valeries, and thanks others for the suggestions!
posted by Catseye at 9:56 AM on January 5, 2013


Nickle Creek covering Britney Spears' Toxic is pretty much my everything but I think they only do it live.
posted by magnetsphere at 9:57 AM on January 5, 2013


Smashing Pumpkins covering "Landslide" is beautiful.
posted by limeonaire at 9:57 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thee Headcoatees (Holly Golightly) singing the Beatles' Run for Your Life
posted by jhiggy at 10:00 AM on January 5, 2013


Oh yes, the lads love a Britney cover Mike Patton Hit Me Baby One More Time (couldn't find a better version with low battery, sorry)

Edit: now that I've heard it, it isn't even his version... but he does do one.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 10:02 AM on January 5, 2013


Valerie, Amy Winehouse.
posted by jimmereeno at 10:08 AM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Girlyman does a live cover of Son of a Preacher Man with their male vocalist singing the lead.
posted by ActionPopulated at 10:08 AM on January 5, 2013


Joan Baez's version of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

"Like my father before me, I'm a working man."
posted by megatherium at 10:14 AM on January 5, 2013


Morrissey's cover of Patti Smith's "Redondo Beach."
posted by payoto at 10:19 AM on January 5, 2013


Siouxie and the Banshees: Dear Prudence
posted by 4ster at 10:20 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Janis Joplin singing Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee"
posted by easily confused at 10:20 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Joan Jett and the Blackhearts did so many covers that they should be able to provide you with several songs.
posted by 4ster at 10:23 AM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Um, I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but in the first season of Glee, Rachel and Kurt fight over who will sing Defying Gravity, and a lot of it has to do with Kurt singing a "girl" song. The album version is both of them going back and forth, and it's awesome.
posted by radioamy at 10:24 AM on January 5, 2013


Obscure, but .. Holly Throsby covering Crowded House's "Not The Girl You Think You Are" - the entire She Will Have Her Way album might work in this context: it's Australian/NZ female singers covering songs by Tim & Neil Finn.
posted by kariebookish at 10:26 AM on January 5, 2013


Paul Kelly Rehab on Triple J Like a Version Vol. 4 is excellent
Nataly Dawn Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk
Bob Evans Not Fair
Holly Throsby Berlin Chair

for a start ...
posted by Megami at 10:26 AM on January 5, 2013


"A New England" — Billy Bragg's original, Kirsty MacColl's cover. The change in gender only requires changing a couple of words in the lyrics, but really changes the meaning of the song.
posted by Lexica at 10:31 AM on January 5, 2013


Fountains of Wayne's cover of "Hit Me Baby" is my favorite.

Patti Smith's cover of Gloria is fabulous and creepy.
posted by purenitrous at 10:34 AM on January 5, 2013


Sixpence None the Richer covering Crowded House's "Don't Dream Its Over"
posted by 4ster at 10:35 AM on January 5, 2013


Richard Thompson covering Britney Spears's "Oops, I Did It Again."
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:35 AM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


To follow up on one from the previous post referenced above, Cyndi Lauper's version of Robert Hazard's Girls Just Wanna Have Fun is actually one of these.
posted by treblemaker at 10:38 AM on January 5, 2013


Lisa Mitchell - Romeo and Juliet
Nick Cave - Little Water Song
Macromantics - Jump
Chocolate Starfish or Foo Fighters -You're So Vain
Sarah Blasko - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - This Land is Your Land


(can you tell I really like this kind of thing??)

Track Down Triple J like a version albums, and also 'She Will Have Her Way' as mentioned above.
posted by Megami at 10:38 AM on January 5, 2013


Save Ferris did a cover of Come On, Eileen, originally by Dexy's Midnight Runners.

No Doubt did a cover of It's My Life, originally by Talk Talk.
posted by dotgirl at 10:40 AM on January 5, 2013


Elbow, covering Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black."
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:40 AM on January 5, 2013


The Pogues' version of I'm a Man You Don't Meet Everyday.
posted by Duffington at 10:41 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some of the examples I have on hand, which have a singer of the other gender without any change to the lyrics:

Cam Clarke (male) sings Dusty Springfield's Son of a Preacher Man.

KT Tunstall (female) sings The Jackson Five's I Want You Back. ("Let me show you, girl, that I know wrong from right")

On Glee, two male characters (brothers) sang Somebody That I Used to Know. No gender references in the lyric, but I think changing a male-female duet into a male-male one makes a difference.

I can't find a YouTube version for you to preview, but Ella Fitzgerald did a cover of "Change Partners," originally performed by Fred Astaire. I heard it on the album Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook, and you should be able to preview a clip of the song on Amazon.

And there's an album almost entirely made up of this type of song from the 1920s and 30s, Art Deco: Can't Help Lovin' That Man, which has male singers performing songs written for female singers, back when song publishers restricted any changes to a lyric.
posted by theatro at 10:43 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cat Power - Satisfaction
Regina Spektor - Chelsea Hotel
Thea Gilmore - You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
Joan as Police Woman - Whatever You Like
Lissie - Pursuit of Happiness
Sarah Blasko - Hey Ya!
posted by eponym at 10:43 AM on January 5, 2013


It's hard to find because it's only available as a boot, but Kevin Gilbert's version ( recorded under the pseudonym The Keta-Men) of Cheryl Crow's Strong Enough is fucking amazing.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:43 AM on January 5, 2013


Oh, and Arctic Monkeys - You Know I'm No Good
posted by eponym at 10:45 AM on January 5, 2013


Bonnie Raitt covering John Hiatt's "Thing Called Love."
posted by shallowcenter at 10:55 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh hey, it is available on YouTube, and the audio's not too wrecked. Strong Enough.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:58 AM on January 5, 2013


I don't understand why this hasn't been mentioned:
Gloria Jones – Tainted Love
Soft Cell – Tainted Love
posted by Nomyte at 11:01 AM on January 5, 2013


Flaming Lips, Stardeath, and White Dwarfs covering Madonna's "Borderline"
posted by Lexica at 11:01 AM on January 5, 2013


Via Coverville, Max Vernon - I Kissed A Girl and an episode of gender-bending covers.

I searched around the Coverville forums and also found a cover of White Town's "Your Woman", sung by a woman and a female cover of Bruce Springsteen's Thunder Road.
posted by knile at 11:03 AM on January 5, 2013


Speaking of Bonnie Raitt, she turned John Prine's Angel From Montgomery back around, as he had originally sung it from a female perspective.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:03 AM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ciccione Youth (Sonic Youth side project) with Addicted to Love. They also run the switch the other way with Burning Up and Into the Groovey.
posted by N-stoff at 11:05 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


In case you want a disco cover of something as well as a different gender
Amii Stewart The Letter
posted by Megami at 11:06 AM on January 5, 2013


Last one for awhile, I promise
Placebo Running Up That Hill
posted by Megami at 11:10 AM on January 5, 2013


These are all female covers of song sung by males originally:

Sugarland and Sara Bareilles - Come On Eileen
Sugarbabes - Hey There Delilah
Stevie Nicks - Crash Into Me
Chrissie Hinde - Creep
Jenny Owen Youngs - Hot In Herre
Robin - Jack U Off
Andrew Sisters - Chattanooga Choo Choo
Anya Marina - Whatever You Like
Joan Jett - Crimson and Clover
Joan Jett - I Love Rock and Roll
Joan Jett - Do You Wanna Touch Me
Joan Jett - ACDC
Maya Rudolph & Gretchen Lieberum - Darling Nikki
Kate Nash - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You
Veruca Salt - My Sharona

Also, TV Tropes has a page on this with a lot of examples: The Cover Changes The Gender
posted by nooneyouknow at 11:21 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lucinda Williams did a cover of 'Gentle on my Mind' that may be gender-switched, as well as 'Pyramid of Tears' on the Alejandro Escovedo tribute album some years back. Emmylou Harris did a cover of 'The Boxer' about 30 years ago I think, as well lots from Gram Parsons.
posted by wolfgirl at 11:25 AM on January 5, 2013


Melissa Etheridge - Maggie May
posted by bendy at 11:26 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


KT Tunstall did a fabulous cover of Beck's "Golden Age".

Sara Watkins covered Willie Nelson's "I'm a Memory" on Sun Midnight Sun. (Live version.)
posted by hijinx at 11:26 AM on January 5, 2013


The most lackluster version of Baby It's Cold Outside by She and Him

Almost Blue by The Reputation (original by Elvis Costello)

Last Christmas by Sarge (link to mp3 blog)
posted by photovox at 11:32 AM on January 5, 2013


Speaking of the Magnetic Fields, here's Merritt and Gonson as Future Bible Heroes doing "Don't You Want Me." It's pretty great.
posted by neroli at 11:50 AM on January 5, 2013


Nina Simone doing Just Like A Woman is right up your alley, I think. Most of the lyrics are unchanged, but the last chorus changes to first-person. (Her cover of Leonard Cohen's Suzanne is also sublime, but the second-person narrative renders the gender-switch kind of irrelevant.)
posted by Banky_Edwards at 11:51 AM on January 5, 2013


Christina Aguilera did a cover of James Brown's "A Man's World" at the Grammys a few years ago that was pretty amazing.
posted by thereemix at 11:58 AM on January 5, 2013


There's a whole tribute album of women singing Greg Brown songs - I think it's one of the most beautiful albums of all time.
posted by whalebreath at 12:01 PM on January 5, 2013


Sheryl Crow performed Cat Stevens' The First Cut is the Deepest.

Cat Stevens' original goes, "...when it comes to being lucky, she's cursed/When it comes to loving me, she's worst/But when it comes to being loved, she's first..."

And Sheryl Crow's version goes, "...when it comes to being lucky, he's cursed/When it comes to loving me, he's worst..." and the chorus ends there - which bothers me a bit.
posted by illenion at 12:12 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Molly Venter sings Dan Bern's Jerusalem.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:15 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reba McIntyre did Cathy's Clown, originally by the Everly Brothers.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:32 PM on January 5, 2013


How about Kate Bush covering Elton John's "Rocket Man?"

Also The Dan Band pretty much does exclusively women's songs (and puts on one the best live shows I've seen in years BTW).
posted by WalkerWestridge at 12:39 PM on January 5, 2013


Pete Seeger sings his sister Peggy Seeger's I'm Gonna Be An Engineer.
posted by The Prawn Reproach at 12:40 PM on January 5, 2013


Shaun Cassidy's cover of Da Doo Ron Ron, originally by the Crystals. "Somebody told me that his name was Bill" becomes "Somebody told me that her name was Jill."
posted by scratch at 1:00 PM on January 5, 2013


* The most famous version of "Respect" was Aretha Franklin's, but Otis Redding recorded it first (and wrote it).
* Likewise with Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U", made famous by Sinéad O'Connor.
* Marc Almond, "Where Did Our Love Go" (original: the Supremes).
* Mountain Goats aka John Darnielle, "The Sign" (original: Ace of Base).
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 1:05 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sisters of Mercy - Jolene
Tori Amos - '97 Bonnie and Clyde - and most of the rest of the Strange Little Girls album.
posted by Bodd at 1:16 PM on January 5, 2013


Rob Halford (with or without Judas Priest) covers Joan Baez's "Diamond and Rust".
posted by 99percentfake at 1:41 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holly Cole's version of "I've Just Seen a Face" has permanently switched the genders of that song for me when I sing it to myself.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:25 PM on January 5, 2013


Robbie Fulks does covers of Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" and Cher's "Believe."
posted by whatideserve at 2:38 PM on January 5, 2013


The Beatles doing the Shirelles' "Boys." Though they did switch the lyrics a bit... "My girl says / When I kiss her lips."
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 2:51 PM on January 5, 2013


Oh, and Vanilla Fudge doing the Supremes' "You Keep me Hanging On."

Yeah, I'm old; sue me.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 2:52 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sarah Darling: "With or Without You" and "Blackbird" (although the latter has been covered by tons of people)
posted by Violet Hour at 3:12 PM on January 5, 2013


Janet Jackson's cover of Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night."
posted by nubianinthedesert at 4:00 PM on January 5, 2013


Both Linda Ronstadt and Terri Clark covered Warren Zevon's Poor, Poor Pitiful Me. Ronstadt changed the lyrics first, so I guess Clark's is a cover of a cover.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:08 PM on January 5, 2013


Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, covering Leonard Cohen's "Sisters of Mercy."
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:44 PM on January 5, 2013


You must hear Greg Laswell sing "Your Ghost", "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", and "This Woman's Work"
posted by wannabecounselor at 5:07 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's not forget The Captain and Tennille covering the Miracles "Shop Around", so much better than Smokey.
posted by PaulBGoode at 7:54 PM on January 5, 2013


In addition to Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Cyndi's debut album also has When You Were Mine (a Prince cover) with a gender reversal that changes up the meaning somewhat.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 8:12 PM on January 5, 2013


Speaking of Captain and Tennille, they also covered Love Will Keep Us Together which was originally a guy singing to a woman.
posted by nooneyouknow at 6:04 AM on January 6, 2013


The Indigo Girls covering Dire Straits' Romeo & Juliet

The Baseballs do some of this, but usually chance the lyrics.

I've heard at least one male-voiced version of I Kissed A Girl... not sure if it was Woodhands but they've done this.
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:02 AM on January 6, 2013


I've heard at least one male-voiced version of I Kissed A Girl.

I know Paul McDermott did a fantastic version, with the added 'twist' that there is constant questioning about his sexuality which added an extra dimension to the song.
posted by Megami at 9:56 AM on January 6, 2013


I love Quietdrive's Time after Time, although admittedly that is a pretty difficult song to fuck up.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 11:34 AM on January 6, 2013


Tori Amos - '97 Bonnie and Clyde - and most of the rest of the Strange Little Girls album.

Actually, the whole Strange Little Girls album is covers of intensely 'masculine' songs that were originally sung by men - that is its central concept.

The excellent Crowded House tribute album She Will Have Her Way is a whole bunch of Neil and Tim Finn songs covered by female artists.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:14 PM on January 6, 2013


Maxwell doing This Woman's Work in high falsetto soul style might work too.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:33 PM on January 6, 2013


Sam Phillips (a woman) did a fine version of The Beatles' "I wanna be your man."
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 8:16 PM on January 6, 2013


Wow, these are fantastic. Thanks, everyone!
posted by Catseye at 5:17 AM on January 7, 2013


Natalie Maines did a great cover of "Mother" by Pink Floyd.
posted by jimmereeno at 2:58 PM on January 31, 2013


In addition to Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Cyndi's debut album also has When You Were Mine (a Prince cover) with a gender reversal that changes up the meaning somewhat.
Oh, there's also Ani DiFranco and Maceo Parker covering this and, keeping the female lyrics, Tegan and Sara.
posted by knile at 3:17 AM on February 1, 2013


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