A friend posted about a polka version of Come On Eileen yesterday on Facebook, and suddenly it reminded me of my personal favorite version (the ska cover by Save Ferris.) And so of course I had to look it up on YouTube, which led me to poke around to see what other covers of the song were done. A different friend does a yearly Christmas carol bracket challenge, where she posts about 30-40 different versions of the same carol. They’re paired up one by one, and people vote to determine which is the best version. She’s done it for years, and I always am entertained to see the sheer variety of versions out there.
And that made me wonder. “Just how many different versions of Come On Eileen are out there?” We’re talking significantly different. People who aren’t just playing the song like a cover, but who really added their own flavor to it. Thankfully, the internet was invented so I could answer this sort of question quickly and easily. And because I personally found it fascinating, I’m here today to share those results with you. I don’t think I’ll set up a whole bracket or anything (because that’s seriously a huge endeavor), but I’d like to do a poll to see which version you like the most. One vote per person. Vote on here, Twitter, or Facebook, but only vote once.
Before we begin, a warning. There are sooooooo many versions of Come On Eileen out there. Seriously. The farther I went, the more versions popped up. This is the tip of the iceberg, folks. It makes me wonder how many covers there are of other quintessential 80s songs out there, but I’m afraid to go looking. For today’s post, we’re just looking at this one, and just the ones I found that stood out to me the most.
First off, of course, we have the original. Recorded in 1982 by the Dexys Midnight Runners, it was all over the 80s. It sets the stage for everything that comes after, and I still think it’s one of the best versions out there. How can you go wrong with the original?
The cover song I’d already heard and preferred heading into this deep dive was the one by Save Ferris:
But then I came across this one by Ala’SKA, and it really impressed me as well:
And I’d be remiss to omit the version that started me down this rabbit hole. Polkadelphia’s polka arrangement:
But what if you don’t like 80s music? What if you’re in the mood for something a little more . . . heavy? There’s this version by The Venetia Fair:
BluePearl made a rock version:
Texas decided to take that edge off and add more of . . . something else:
There are also more independent efforts out there, brought to us by the wonders of YouTube. How about this broken down synth/guitar version? I really like the groove it gets into.
Then again, what do a synthesizer and a guitar have when they’re up against two guitars, a snare drum, and . . . an accordion? Schank has this almost unseen version from what appears to be a sports bar in Bonn.
There are also version that jettison instruments completely. Here’s a standard a capella group approach by Streetcorner Symphony:
Then again, maybe you liked that version, but thought what it really needed was skateboards? No problem. The X-Factor has your back.
We can do the reverse, of course. Ditch the singing and focus on just an instrument. Like, say, a guitar:
The only problem is . . . I’ve got a fever. And the only prescription, is more mandolin. (Seriously. Way more.)
Or was it more brass?
No. It was definitely more cellos. (Included for Daniela’s listening pleasure.)
Speaking of banjos, this version was one that actually really impressed me.
This one deserves a mention, because who can’t get behind a sports arena organ?
The more I searched–the deeper I dove–the more convinced I became that there’s pretty much a Come On Eileen version done in any style you could imagine. How about . . . harp?
Then there’s this one, that . . . I have a hard time putting into words. Slow down the song, take out most of the instruments, and add a lot more breathiness:
What about people who are huge Minecraft fans? Isn’t there a place for them in all this Eileen madness? Of course there is!
How about Atari, instead?
Then again, I know there are some people out there who listened to Mambo No. 5 and decided they wanted more Lou Bega. He heard their call:
What about fans of Sugarland and Sara Bareilles? Yup. They’ve covered it too:
But perhaps you heard the original, and you thought it was way too edgy. You wanted to make it something . . . more appropriate. I have a hard time describing what Michael English did to the song . . .
Don’t you love the violin at the beginning of the original? Doesn’t it give you serious Irish music vibes? Well, what if we swapped it with a penny whistle and translated the song into Irish Gaelic? Wish granted!
Or maybe you don’t care for music that much, but what you really like is England soccer? The band 4-4-2 adapted the song into an anthem for England in the European Championships in 2004. It generally follows the original, but has completely new words.
There are other straight up spoofs out there. I mean, what do you do when you realize COVID-19 matches up exactly with “Come On, Eileen”?
But that can’t be the only spoof, can it? Of course not. There are more spoofs out there (so many more). Even the Count gets in on the action:
I’m going to spare you from the rest of them. Instead, let’s bring this full circle. The original band (now named just Dexys) was still performing and touring through the mid-2010’s at least. (They released their fifth album then, even.) And here they are in 2012 performing live.
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