Fever: Variations on a Theme

So, in all the Peggy Lee-related hubbub around her hometown of Jamestown, N.D., I learned that she actually wrote two verses of “Fever,” which she never received any royalties from.

I love that song, and it’s really stood the test of time, too–everybody who’s anybody seems to have done a cover version of it at one point or another. Here’s a bit of a sampler, for all you fellow Fever-lovers.

Keep in mind: I haven’t seen any of these videos, I just listened to part of each one.

1. Peggy Lee. Not the original version, just the definitive one! A classic for a good reason.

2. Elvis Presley. He’s the King for a reason. It doesn’t take a lot of liberties with the material, but if you didn’t think a man could be sultry, you were wrong.

3. Madonna. A disco version of Fever, featuring Madonna wearing weirdly hypnotic pants.

4. Beyonce. A pretty faithful version, with some additions, including some harmonies and some more lyrics. Hey, Lee added lyrics too, nothin’ wrong with that!

5. Link Wray. A punk cover of Fever. It’s a very different, but fun, take on the song, done by one of the guitar greats. (A cuss-word is shown in the video.)

6. La Lupe. A bouncy salsa beat and an incredibly thick Cuban(?) accent, with some lyrics in Spanish. It works, surprisingly, although it takes a turn for the weird partway through.

7. Michael Buble. Smooth! Another one in the grand tradition of men being sultry.

8. Superpitcher. With an electronic flavor, this version by a German producer still retains the sultry feel of the Peggy Lee “Fever.” It reminds me a little bit of “Tainted Love.”

9. Ella Fitzgerald. Sorry, boys, the girls can outsultry you.

10. Little Willie John. The original “Fever,” which doesn’t have Peggy Lee’s verses, but does include the snapping and harmonizing.

11. The Doors. Yes, really! This isn’t just “Fever,” though, it’s a mashup of “Fever” and “Summertime,” so it’s pretty hot. (Ahahah. Sorry.)

And a few more Fevers for the road!

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