The Original vs. The Cover – “It’s My Life”

For this episode of ‘The Original vs. The Cover”, we are discussing the song “It’s My Life” by the band Talk Talk and the cover by No Doubt.  Both were big hits for the respective bands with Talk Talk’s version going to #31 on the Billboard Charts while the No Doubt version went as high as #10 and garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal…they didn’t win.

“It’s My Life” came about due to Mark Hollis’ wanting to assert his independence from his record label and because he didn’t want to be swayed by the popular public opinion.  He wanted to do things his own way.  The song was his manifesto that it is his life and he will do what he wants to know, not what anyone tells him to do.  The song performed well enough in the states that it actually earned him enough freedom to do things his way going forward.  And I don’t remember them doing much else in the States after this.  How’d that work out for you Mark???

No Doubt was on a slight break as Gwen was recording here debut solo album, but they wanted to get some material out so they thought of putting out a greatest hits album.  They wanted to a new song on it, but didn’t want to take time to write a new song.  So they narrowed the prospects of 100’s of songs down to “It’s My Life” and the INXS song “Don’t Change”…we see which one won out or we wouldn’t be discussing this song right now would we.  Let’ get to the music.

TALK TALK

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Talk Talk’s song “It’s My Life” is a heavy synthesizer song as that is what type of music they played.  They were part of the New Wave of music that was going on in the early 80’s along with band’s like Duran Duran and other two name bands.  It is not a real happy, upbeat song.  It has a slow groove driven by a bass riff and electronic drum beats bathed in synth sounds including some synth horns. It is not meant to be a pure dance song as it is expressing a person’s independence.  It has a serious feel to the song, a warmth.

Mark Hollis doesn’t sing with gusto or scream out the lyrics, he sings with a darkness to his vocals.  His delivery is a little monotone at times and a little dreary, an almost dreamlike state as he spews his thoughts and feelings out about how this is his life and don’t you forget it.  It is an interesting delivery which evokes power and I think quite effective.

NO DOUBT

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No Doubt doesn’t change too much on the song.  The song still is a lot of electronic synths with just a more updated sound for the 21st Century.  It seems to be a little more uptempo.  The high pitched blips and beeps of the original are not here, but there is more cool electronic bass riff on occasion and the drum beats are so simple and yet just what the song needs.  They keep the darker feel to the song and it still has that serious vibe that they have something important to say.

Gwen’s vocal delivery is quite different, mainly as she is a woman, but she sings with a little more gusto, especially on the chorus.  She has an almost whiny, slight nasally sound to her vocals.  The is ‘no doubt’ that Gwen has the chops to turn the song in to a song that feels like it is No Doubt while being so true and honest to the original.

THE VERDICT

This was a tough choice as I’m really not a fan of either song.  I don’t own any Talk Talk album and as far as No Doubt, once I heard “Hellagood” and “Hey Baby”, there was nothing from them that would be remotely as good.  But since I picked this song to discuss, I will pick a best song of the two. I am going to go with Mark Hollis’ version with his band Talk Talk.  The reason is the song meant something to them.  It was a manifesto.  They wanted to do things their way and not be force fed instructions from a label.  No Doubt already had that so the heart wasn’t there.  So Talk Talk and the Original win out this go round.

I am really interested in hearing what everyone else thinks of these two songs.  Let me know which version you like the best and why.  Feel free to leave a comment and talk about the song and tell me how right or wrong I am on this one.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

“It’s My Life”

Funny how I find myself in love with you
If I could buy my reasoning I’d pay to lose
One half won’t do
I’ve asked myself, how much do you
Commit yourself

It’s my life
Don’t you forget
It’s my life
It never ends (it never ends)

Funny how I blind myself, I never knew
If I was sometimes played upon, afraid to lose
I’d tell myself, what good do you do
Convince myself

It’s my life
Don’t you forget
It’s my life
It never ends (it never ends)

I’ve asked myself, how much do you
Commit yourself?

It’s my life
Don’t you forget
Caught in the crowd
It never ends

It’s my life
Don’t you forget
Caught in the crowd
It never ends

It’s my life
Don’t you forget
Caught in the crowd
It never ends
 
Written by Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Greene

34 thoughts on “The Original vs. The Cover – “It’s My Life”

  1. I will take the No Doubt version. The drums, bass and synth suck on the first version. Gwen’s voice is enticing, where Mark’s voice is annoying, especially in the first minute of the song. The chorus is better, but I almost switched it off before it got to the chorus.
    Also, whatever that bird screeching sound is on the original is very grating.
    As you mention this song meant something to Talk Talk but not to No Doubt. I disagree after watching the video. At least I feel it meant something to Gwen. It looks like if you take it from a womans perspective, especially in a male dominated music industry that it is her life, and she doesn’t need a man to tell her how to live it. I think it is personal for her, and came though in her delivery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had the opposite reaction on No Doubts. I just didn’t find it believable. I always felt it was an unnecessary cover for them. That is what I like about doing these is everyone’s thoughts on all of our differences cause no one is wrong.

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  2. I prefer Talk Talk’s version hands down. I really liked this song a lot when it came out, as I was a big fan of much of the new wave music that was popular in the 80s. I love the synths and sound of his vocals.

    While I liked many of No Doubt’s songs well enough, I’ve never really cared for Gwen Stefani’s voice. Like you say, it’s nasally and whiny, which becomes annoying to me after a while. Musically, their version sounds similar to Talk Talk’s, and I always wondered why they even recorded this song.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I couldn’t make it through 4 minutes of either version. But I was expecting “It’s My Life” by The Animals. Despite AM-radio recording quality, I like that 1965 song over these. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I hear ya. I have a few albums that are straight covers (Rage) that I really dig but the one offs are usually good (or not) surprises. All those early British bands did nothing but covers at the beginning. Turned a lot of people onto the originals.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That is okay. I will forgive you! Now if this was Facebook, I would call you names for disagreeing with me and defriend you, but here…liking different things is what makes the world go round and makes for fun discussion. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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