We first rounded up a batch of “Call Me Maybe”s back in the spring, and – surprise surprise – there have been one or two more since (shoutout Obama). We’ve whittled down the best recent additions, the ones worth overcoming your aural exhaustion from summer’s leading earworm to give these a go.
For the past few months pop radio have been dominated by a handful of previously unknown acts who have used super-catchy breakout singles to displace superstars like Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida at the top of the charts. With their own massive single “We Are Young” sitting at number four on the Billboard chart, New York Indie-Pop outfit and punctuation mavericks fun. played an off-the-cuff cover of the ubiquitous “Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen‘s current number two single, on Giel Beelen’s radio show in Amsterdam. All it needed was a Gotye guest appearance to make this the perfect storm of Top 40 earworms.
Best (So Far) finds the finest first-round covers of the latest pop hits.
To American fans of pop music, Carly Rae Jepsen may seem to have come out of nowhere with her hit “Call Me Maybe.” For Canadian listeners, however, Jepsen has been on the pop radar since placing third on the fifth season of Canadian Idol, and she’s been releasing music there since 2008. It was “Call Me Maybe,” though, that launched her to international stardom.
In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.
I remember when interviewers used to ask him, despite the breadth of his legacy, how he fit into traditional categories that included European classical forms, bebop, Dixieland, gospel, Latin rhythms, and the blues—all genres of music he drew upon in his compositions and then transcended. He would look up and sigh: “Can’t you just call it Mingus music?” —Sue Mingus
Today is the day Charles Mingus Jr. would be turning 98 years old. Only two years left to prepare for the centennial! It should be epic: the mark he left on 20th century music was profound and lasting. He leaves behind this monumental legacy even though his life was cut short—he died at age 56 after a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Let’s celebrate Mingus with a look back at his musical legacy through some wildly different covers of his material. We’ll include several from the past couple of years, and one from an artist born well after Mingus had passed, proving that his spirit is still with us to this day.
Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.
We join a girl at a desperate point in her relationship with her ex(?)-boyfriend: “Set me free, why don’t cha babe? / Get out my life, why don’t cha babe?” She’s had enough and she’s pulling no punches on the subject of staying apart: “You don’t care a thing about me / You’re just usin’ me.” She’s doubtful, too, as to whether the two of them should have any contact at all: “How can we still be friends / When seein’ you only breaks my heart again? / And there ain’t nothin’ I can do about it.”
As signature tunes go, there aren’t many that deliver such a direct, stark, convincing demand for personal liberation as the Supremes’ huge 1966 hit, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” The songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland had originated a string of girl-group masterworks for Motown, including “Locking Up My Heart” (The Marvelettes), “(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave” (Martha and the Vandellas), and “Where Did Our Love Go” (The Supremes), by the time they came to write this one. With it, they unveiled a striking sense of realism. Adhering to a formulaic first-person narrative of a female protagonist having to deal with a no-good liar/cheat, they made a point of injecting the song with colloquial language and true-to-life expression, including a brief spoken-word section during the bridge. Lamont Dozier himself explained that they wanted to “make it believable, add some everyday talk, like the girl was really going through this predicament.”
Lead-singer Diana Ross sells the song with her typically cool and sassy vocal, which suggests a girl taking back control of her life as she faces up to the fact that her ex is, basically, a selfish asshole. She’s helped by the especially potent backing vocals of Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard (the latter of whom has a line all to herself!), as well as the reliably tight musicianship of the Funk Brothers, centering on Eddie Willis’ arresting Morse-code-style guitar part. She’s helped, also, by it being a simply massive tune that damns the torpedoes and goes full speed ahead. Little wonder that it was the Supremes’ eighth #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.
Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).
Today’s question: What’s your favorite cover song of the 2010s?