I have always been fascinated by "When You Come Back To Me," the World Party track that appeared on the soundtrack of "Reality Bites." Though we have an entire record of hilarious parodies, thanks to Neil Innes and Eric Idle as The Rutles, as well as the not-so-well-received, but I love it anyhow collection of Beatles parodies known as "Deface The Music," from Todd Rundgren and Utopia, there is something about Karl Wallinger's sideways rewrite of Bowie's "Young Americans" that impresses more than the others. It's not funny, though it is very clever. And it's just a great song.
Beatles parodies are a dime a dozen. As brilliant as The Rutles is, there have Beatles soundalikes since the week in February of 1964, when the Fabs first hit the USA. A good portion of the power pop genre is based on Beatles harmonies and carefully placed minor 7th chords. The same could be said about The Beach Boys. Their harmonies so distinct, that when utilized, it can turn a song that sounds nothing like The Beach Boys, like R.E.M." "At My Most Beautiful," into "their Beach Boys tune."
As a drummer, who can strum a few clunky chords on a guitar and fake my way around a piano for a few hours, writing a tune of any kind is an amazing accomplishment. I can't do it. I have, but I would never have the audacity to play anything in front of anyone. So maybe taking an existing song and giving it new life as your own, while still keeping it recognizable as the original source isn't as difficult to all of you songwriters out there. But to me, Karl Wallinger's spin on the Bowie track seems brilliant in a different way, than say rewriting "Penny Lane" as "Doubleback Alley."
There's a Rundgren tune below, from the aforementioned "Deface The Music."
Can you think of other songs, single tracks and not whole records, that twist and turn an already existing song, that were NOT written for comedic effect?