Follow all our Best of 2015 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.
Everywhere but here, the world of cover and tribute albums tends to be a sleepy one. Most years our “Best Cover Albums” list is composed of records that either flew totally under the radar or, at best, earned a few news posts on music blogs. There’s the “all star” tribute albums that make a brief mark before being largely forgotten. And there’s the big-name artists whose cover albums get seen as a side project before their next “real” albums. That’s just the lot you sign up for when you release an album of cover songs most years.
But most years don’t have Ryan Adams.
It’s hard to remember the last time a covers album made such an impact on popular culture, but the convergence of Ryan Adams and Taylor Swift created a big bang the likes of which our little world rarely sees. What would usually seem a cross-genre goof – the sort indie musicians do all the time – earned Adams’ one of his highest chart positions ever and eight of his ten most-played songs on Spotify. It’s too early to tell if this will garner more attention to future cover albums or if this was a meeting of titans that won’t be seen again, but for us it was a nice moment of broader attention to something we’ve been writing about for years (incidentally, feel free to catch up on the best cover albums of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014).
But though you might not have known it due to the Ryan-and-Taylor gravitational field, there were a lot of other cover albums released this year. And though the artists making them may not have played Stephen Colbert or hit the Billboard Top 10, they were equally deserving. So below we spotlight the best of them in our annual Best Cover Albums countdown.
And yes, Ryan is on it.
– Ray Padgett, Editor-in-Chief
Start the countdown on the next page…