It’s been one year since the death of Tom Petty, and the world is still decidedly more empty without his presence. But as is true with all beloved music makers, Petty continues to influence generations after him with his perfect melodies. The latest in a long and reverent string of covers comes from The Lumineers, with their version of Petty’s “Walls.”
The saga began last year when an adoring fan implored Weezer to cover Toto, blowing up the internet when Weezer covered “Africa” – and had their biggest hit in years. In response to Weezer, Toto have returned the favor and covered…”Hash Pipe”??? “We figured since we were smoking hash since before they were born, that’s the one we should do,” explains Steve Lukather introducing their version of one of Weezer’s most divisive singles.
As season two of the incredible HBO series Westworld wraps this Sunday, we’re taking a look back at the cover songs that have played an important role in setting the tone for this new and frightening world. Ramin Djawadi is the genius behind the scores for both seasons, relying heavily on unlikely covers of pop hits with lyrics that (subconsciously, given that the covers are instrumental) mirror the goings-on in the park.
Here are our five favorite Westworld covers:
What a time we live in. It’s a time when a 14 year old fan can influence a major band with a simple hashtag. #weezercoverafrica began in December, with a young girl’s plea to her favorite band. Why Toto? Why “Africa”? Who knows? (She’s 14…I don’t think she even knows). But she chose the right combo to go semi-viral, enough to get the band’s attention
So then…Weezer covered Toto! She did it! Almost… In a hilarious twist, they covered “Rosanna” instead of “Africa.” Not entirely a surprise coming from the notoriously tongue-in-cheek band, not afraid of a little trolling themselves (see: “Can’t Stop Partying feat. Lil Wayne”).
So, how was it? Certainly nothing mind blowing, but all in all a solid cover of a less-remembered Toto hit. The instrumentation stays true to the original, although the drums are a bit messy. All of the fills and solos are treated similarly which is a wise choice as they are integral to the song as a whole. What sets the entire cover apart is Rivers Cuomo. It’s his distinctive, edgy, punky vocals that distinguish this version from the original and give it a far more current appeal.
This past weekend’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony featured great performances by Bon Jovi, The Cars, and The Moody Blues. Equally worthy were the phenomenal covers highlighting both musical greats taken from us too soon – Tom Petty and Chris Cornell – and tributes to the two artists inducted posthumously, Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe (inducted as an “Early Influence”).
We rank the three best covers below. That’s judging from the circulation YouTube footage at least; Lauryn Hill’s Nina Simone tribute may come off better when the HBO version airs next month, but the current videos are hard to watch.
Franz Ferdinand recently took time out from their packed tour to record a cover of Angel Olsen’s “Shut Up Kiss Me” for SiriusXM. Franz’s version is faithful to the absolutely flawless original. The emotional vocals, slight fuzz in the recording, and simple, driving accompaniment is present in both versions and gives the effect of listening to an old ’60s ballad on the jukebox.