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Jun 192017
 
efya cover

Though Dolly Parton originally wrote and recorded “I Will Always Love You” as a country song, Whitney Houston’s R&B-blast cover has become the gold standard (there’s a chapter about it in my new book about covers). It’s become a staple of American Idol contestants and overly ambitious karaoke singers. The bigger, the belt-ier, the better. No one can top Whitney, but everyone seems to try.

In a refreshing change, Efya takes the song in an entirely different direction. A star in her native Ghana, she actually also got her start in a televised talent show, but you wouldn’t know it from the subtlety and taste she shows here. Accompanied by only a keyboard and African “talking drum,” she strips the song way back in a new live recording for Okayafrica. By tweaking the melody and rhythm, she transform the song into something dark and mournful. When she finally does open up at the end, the vocal power feels totally earned. Continue reading »

Mar 052012
 

It’s very, very likely that no one will ever sing “I Will Always Love You” as well as the late Whitney Houston did, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try. Good thing hard rocker Chris Cornell decided to take a chance on the track because, if he hadn’t, the world would have never been able to witness such an unexpected surprise of a cover. Continue reading »

Feb 152012
 

There are few love songs as universally known as Whitney Houston‘s version of “I Will Always Love You.” The song usually attracts those with a heavy heart due to lost love, and with the recent loss of a legend, it hangs even heavier this year. Girls frontman Christopher Owens paid tribute to the late great by performing a solo version of the iconic song. Continue reading »

May 062011
 

Even though nobody will ever be able to top Whitney Houston’s breathtaking 1992 version of Dolly Parton’s classic “I Will Always Love You”, which deserves recognition as one of the best covers of all time, minimalist Brooklyn duo Howth do a commendable job with their own interpretation of the song. Their organ drone, xylophone tinkering and pair of acoustic guitars weave a delicate and emotional frame for the painfully sad lyrics, especially the ones everybody doesn’t immediately recognize. Continue reading »

Jun 262018
 

In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.

lena hall cover songs

Broadway star Lena Hall (Kinky Boots, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) has been releasing an ambitious series of EPs this year. Every month, she covers a handful of tracks by a favorite artist. In what she’s dubbed the Obsessed series, she’s already tackled Elton John, Peter Gabriel, and The Cranberries. June’s installment say her bringing her Broadway belt to five Radiohead songs; here’s a highlight:

Jack White is next month’s featured artist, and I’m quite excited for that one. As the covers Hall selected for us demonstrate, she’s something of a White Stripes superfan. She’ll hopefully preview one or two of her upcoming Stripes covers at her New York concert tomorrow night, “Six Months of Obsessions: From Radiohead to Hedwig” at Public Arts (tickets here).

Check out Hall’s cover-song picks below. Sure hope Dolly Parton and Soundgarden are on her Obsessed docket… Continue reading »

May 022018
 

In Pick Five, great artists tell us about five cover songs that matter to them.

geographer cover songs

We first came across Geographer in 2011 with his great cover of New Order’s “Age of Consent.” Seven years later, he’s blossomed into a killer electropop producer, singer, and songwriter. His new EP Alone Time finds him pushing his pop instincts to their limit, on five insanely catchy dance jams that would work equally well in a club or on headphones. Here’s a sample, new single “Read My Mind”:

Geographer main man Mike Deni told PopMatters “Musically, [the EP] represents an obsession with pop music that went to its furthest reaches and boomeranged back again into making not just lyrics, but sounds, that matter.” On the five covers he picked out for us, though, he dug beyond that pop music obsession into his songwriter roots, picking classic performances by the likes of Jeff Buckley and Harry Nilsson (though fans of his poppier side needn’t worry; by the end he gets to a “karaoke classic”). Continue reading »