How much Life is there on Mars?

I’ve been slowly re-watching a couple of TV series of late, if only to escape the endless electioneering and Mastercheffage around at the moment. Can’t be having with either of them, really. One particular pleasure has been rediscovering Life On Mars, and of course its theme tune. Which leads me to listening to a lot of David Bowie.
Bowie’s performed Life On Mars quite a bit over the years, so it’s no huge surprise that there’s a few versions of his online. What surprised me in a recent search were the cover versions…
First of all, just in case you weren’t familiar with the source material, here’s Bowie performing it live about five years ago:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIFmNRDuM3Y[/youtube]
Then a pretty nice live version courtesy of the Eurythmics
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pnv6Z_tIE0w[/youtube]
I can’t really fault Rick Wakeman’s performance of the song, although I’m not entirely keen on the subtle changes he makes to the lyrics.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1HVF7BE75I[/youtube]
There we dip into strange territory, with this Swedish take on the song. With added Cello.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQVV0n-cCjY[/youtube]
Keeping things Swedish, Frida (yes, that Frida) has a Swedish language version that I find strangely compelling
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcUlw15KkYY[/youtube]
And if it’s alternate language versions you’re after, why not Seu Jorge’s?
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOdUClEiNGE[/youtube]
Keeping things strange — but not a version I particularly like — are the Dresden Dolls
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK_sCryar70[/youtube]
But we’re barely getting warmed up! ┬áKeeping with “versions I don’t particularly care for” are Vamps
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovvp7d7Ss9s[/youtube]
There’s just something not quite there with Michelle Branch’s version, either
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LrHqBA8k6k[/youtube]
And it’s rather explicitly clear what’s wrong with L’Aura’s version. At least it is to me.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gA9nnrOoW94[/youtube]
Anggun’s version gets things back on track, quality-wise
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXtAMGwUqgM[/youtube]
It’s tough to judge the 28 available seconds of Sandi Thom’s version accurately…
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8OPS-sw1p8[/youtube]
How about a cover version that’s also a duet? A rather strange duet, although I’m guessing it’s an English-As-A-Second-Language version..
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFyGxxnEuaQ[/youtube]
They just keep on coming. I’ve barely scratched the surface of folks just singing the song to a Webcam, and that could go on for DAYS.
Instead, finish with an interesting pairing. Firstly, an all-Ukelele version. Seriously — listen to this one, as it’s got some interesting things to say…
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW0ACEOEq6w[/youtube]
And then my personal choice for “worst cover version to date” would have to go to Barbra Streisand. It’s just… too overblown. Too overproduced. Too showtunes-central. Way too Babs, really.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rtL73TSHxM[/youtube]

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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