Take Cover! Trentemøller Vs. Chris Isaak

When is a cover song better than the original? Only you can decide. This week Trentemøller takes on Chris Isaak’s “Blue Hotel.” MAGNET’s Ryan Burleson pulls the pin. Take cover!

Chris Isaak’s eponymous second album was released in 1987, four years before his career would really take off with the popularization of “Wicked Game,” from 1989’s Heart Shaped World. Nonetheless, “Blue Hotel,” which is “easily the killer track on [Chris Isaak],” according to AllMusic‘s Ned Raggett, makes it clear that the songwriter was well on his way to cementing his iconic, brooding surf-pop sound long before he became so universally adored. One need not listen further than the song’s haunting opening refrain to know exactly what I mean. The combination of Isaak’s Orbison-esque baritone against James Calvin Wilsey’s woozy, six-string tremolo is by itself potent enough to alter the mood of even the most chipper listener.

Of course, when we use the word “haunting” to describe Isaak’s music, the name David Lynch invariably arises. And rightly so: Lynch was hot on Isaak from very early on, having used an instrumental version of “Wicked Game” in his 1990 film Wild At Heart, in addition to casting him two years later in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. That woozy tremolo sound would be mimicked relentlessly throughout Twin Peaks the TV series, as well. Even so, though the aesthetics of Lynch and Isaak are irrevocably intertwined, we should be careful to honor the latter on standalone terms. Rarely has a songwriter in the last 50 years channeled a quiet and lonely sorrow so convincingly.

For his part, Denmark’s Anders Trentemøller does a fine job of modernizing “Blue Hotel” in a way that feels quite different—the cover is less open and surf-y than it is industrial and urban—while delivering the same dark and wistful results. The remake is part of Trentemøller’s recent contribution to the Late Night Tales series, which has also featured compilations by Air and the Flaming Lips (among others) since its inception in 2001.

The Cover:

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The Original:

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8 Comments

  1. BILL VALIUM
    Posted June 10, 2011 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    chris isaak of course….i can’t understand this comparison.
    get a life homos a remix can be better from original?
    if wasn’t the original how can be the diff version
    57% votes for trent…..GET OFFFFFFFF

  2. Wobbles
    Posted June 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    sorry Anders your cool, but the original is too good.

  3. Bobbles
    Posted June 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Cool that Blue Hotel is being covered. But really? You 152 Trentemoller voters need a reality check! Isaak cannot be beaten at his own game!!

  4. t. drew hardin
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Wobbles and Bobbles took the words out of my mouth. Anders Trentemoller reminds me a lot of Brian Oldfield and is, in fact, doing Oldfield one better. I am getting blown away by Trentemoller’s ideas and want more of them. This song, however, is not indicative of what Trentemoller is all about. the song is too flat, lacking the creative spontaneity that is Trentemoller’s trademark. He could, however, beat Izaak at his own game if the formula was adhered to. Alas, such is not the case.

  5. payam
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I Love Anders Trentemoller . Im From Tehran . Trentemoller Is The One ! Only Andres . Andres Is Popular . IM FROM IRANNNNNNNN.

  6. payam
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    who is issak ? im sorry . not pop in my country .

  7. Lucy Honeychurch
    Posted July 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Sounds more like he is trying to be Leonard Cohen.

  8. Johannes Rude Jensen
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I’m a die hard Trentemøller fan and even I have to admit to Chris Isac. If anybody out there doubts the genious of Trentemøller you should defiantly check out his debut album or even some of his earlier stuff, which is absolutely brilliant!