Last year, Dave Grohl and producer Greg Kurstin, who has been the Foo Fighters’ go-to producer since 2017’s Concrete and Gold, teamed up to bring the world ‘The Hanukkah Sessions’, eight nights of covers highlighting some of the best Jewish musicians in the world of rock, pop, rap, and any genre the two feel like covering.
The original ‘Hanukkah Sessions’ were mostly born out of the isolation of the Covid-19 pandemic. Seeing as how the world hasn’t really changed all that much since last year’s festivities, Grohl and Kurstin are back to once again drop the dreidels and rock the candelabras. Secure your menorahs, it’s time to rock!
So far we’ve gotten the duo’s takes on Lisa Loeb’s ’90s classic ‘Stay’ and The Ramones’ punk ur-text ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ (Tommy and Joey were Jewish. Johnny and Dee Dee were most assuredly not). For night three, another legendary Jewish figure in pop culture is getting the rocked-out treatment: Barry Pincus, AKA Barry Manilow.
Perhaps ‘Copacabana’ isn’t the most obvious choice for Grohl’s signature brand of hard-edged punk-infused arena rock, but the man has delighted going with stranger picks to confound his core audience these days. There’s the faithful cover of ‘Stay’, but also last year’s out of the blue choice of Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’, which is probably as close as we’ll ever get to seeing Dave Grohl rap.
The pair’s take on ‘Copacabana’ finds Grohl in his prom tuxedo best awkwardly barking along to the sweet dulcet tones of Manilow’s lounge-ready original. Grohl’s gruff voice is so bizarrely out of place in the cover, but it actually serves the tragic arc of the tune’s lyrics better than Manilow’s smooth-as-silk tenor. I honestly had no idea how sad the song’s story was until Grohl’s voice began barking out the words. Kurstin gives some sweet vocoder backing vocals while layering in synths like they’re going out of style, elevating the track to kitschy nirvana (no pun intended).
This style might seem completely alien to Grohl and Kurstin, but the pair did a dry run for this singular kind of ’70s cheese with the Foo Fighters Bee Gee’s cover EP Hail Satin, which they released as the Dee Gees. The differences between the arrangements on Hail Satin and this take on ‘Copacabana’ are nil, so obviously it comes out super disco-tastic, with plenty of agogo bells to seal the deal.
Check out Grohl and Kurstin’s cover of ‘Copacabana’ down below.