Sara Stoudt

Sara is a statistician, but during her free time she is crafting the perfect playlist for any occasion. Her dad trained her well in the art of music appreciation (for which her live music trivia team is thankful for), and she is definitely judging you by your karaoke song choice. Follow her on Twitter or check out her website.

Nov 082019
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

at last cover

Released in 1960, “At Last” was Etta James’s second hit single from and the title track of her debut album. It crossed over from the R&B charts to the Billboard Hot 100 and went on to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

From commercials to the first dance at President Barack Obama’s first inaugural balll. (covered by none other than Beyoncé), the song permeates our culture. According to IMDb, James’s “At Last” appeared in 64 television show episodes or movies. From classics like Rain Man to unexpected venues like Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never documentary, the song has celebrated victory in love (finally!). However, James was almost twenty years too late to claim this song as her own.

Continue reading »

Nov 012019
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

nirvana mtv unplugged covers

Nirvana has sold more than 75 million records, joining the ranks of Aretha Franklin, The Police, Journey, and Tupac Shakur among others, despite having their career tragically cut short by the death of Kurt Cobain after they’d released only three albums. The band is credited with increasing grunge music’s recognition beyond the Pacific Northwest, introducing the genre to the masses.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s live album, MTV Unplugged in New York. The performance was recorded on November 18, 1993,  aired on MTV on December 16, 1993, and released as an album almost a year later, the first Nirvana release since Kurt Cobain’s death in April. The performance was filmed in one take and differed from the style of many of the previous MTV Unplugged sessions. The band chose to build their Unplugged setlist using mostly lesser known songs, including six covers out of fourteen songs, passing over their biggest hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

This album has a variety of accolades, including a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, a number one debut on the Billboard 200, a 5x platinum certification, and the top spot on New Musical Express‘s 50 Greatest Live Albums list.

To celebrate the historic day, we’ve compiled covers spanning a variety of artists who reimagine each track.

Continue reading »

Oct 312019
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

Nightmare Revisited

Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? Regardless of which team you are on, the soundtrack of the movie is still a good way to get in the spooky spirit. The premise of the movie originated from a poem written by Tim Burton in 1982. Jack, the Pumpkin King, rules over Halloween Town, home to a variety of monsters. When he discovers Christmas Town, he wants to shake things up and try out the novel holiday in Halloween Town. Hijinks abound and go awry, with plenty of opportunities to sing along.

In 1990, Walt Disney Studios took the project on as a full-length movie. However, the stop-motion, animated movie was released in 1993 under the Touchstone Pictures moniker because Walt Disney doubted its kid-friendliness. The movie defied expectations and became popular, receiving positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. The music itself also received accolades. Danny Elfman, the singing voice of Jack, wrote the songs and score of the original movie. The soundtrack won the Saturn Award for Best Music, awarded by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.

Upon the 15th anniversary of the movie, a cover album of the original soundtrack, Nightmare Revisited, was released in 2008. Studded with covers from a variety of alternative rock, punk, and (some may say) emo acts, the cover album reached the US Billboard 200. Listen to a few covers spanning the story line and then check the track list to see if your favorite angsty band of the aughts features.

Continue reading »

Oct 212019
 

Ruston Kelly's Dirt Emo Vol. II was drawn to review Ruston Kelly’s Dirt Emo Vol. 1 by Kelly’s bold move of putting a T-Swift cover on an “emo” cover album. The choice of “All Too Well” was oddly prescient, given Taylor Swift’s recent Tiny Desk performance. To be fair, I dare you to find something more emo than these lines: “Hey, you call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest.” The choice seems less strange once you learn that Kelly is no stranger to country music. He is based in Nashville and has helped pen country songs, including Tim McGraw’s “Nashville Without You.”

Digging into Kelly’s emo cover album, I found that the teaser Taylor song was actually not one of the standouts. Instead, the strength of the album comes from the songs where he specifically taps into his country roots in more unexpected ways. Two songs made me move beyond reminiscing about the originals and allowed me to hear the songs from a new perspective.

Continue reading »

Oct 142019
 

Jenn Champion's The Blue Albumjenn champion the blue albumJenn Champion has gone through many musical identities, performing solo under the names Jenn Ghetto and S, and playing in a band called Carissa’s Wierd. Now she takes on another musical identity–a Weezer cover artist. Her cover album of Weezer’s first album, often dubbed “The Blue Album,” is available through Turntable Kitchen, a vinyl record club. 

Weezer’s debut album got a lot of buzz, coming out a month after the death of Kurt Cobain when the future of rock seemed poised for a change. Rolling Stone named it one of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and Pitchfork gave the original album a 10/10. So, no pressure, Champion. 

If you’ve ever been a bit put off by Rivers Cuomo’s personality, this is the reinterpretation for you. The overall vibe of this cover album is the self-conscious lyrics of old-school Weezer paired with the musical style of Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob album. Champion’s ambitious project completely pays off; this album is excellent. 

Continue reading »

Oct 112019
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

saturday night fever covers

Saturday Night Fever was released in 1977, joining the ranks of great movies that feature dance as a plot line such as the ballerina fairytale The Red Shoes, or the string of Fred Astaire movies with Ginger Rogers (Top Hat, Swing Time, Shall We Dance, and more) and without (Easter Parade, with a post-Oz Judy Garland). This genre also has plenty of popular descendants like Dirty Dancing, Footloose, Save the Last Dance, and Step Up. SNF is both a worthy successor to the older films and a proud forebear of those that followed in its dance steps.

Starring John Travolta before he had really made his mark (post-Kotter, pre-Grease), the story is as old as time: boy wants to escape his mundane job and dramatic family life through dance and pursue the woman of his dreams, who of course is bad for him, along the way. Plus, there is an obligatory Brooklyn v. Staten Island rivalry thrown in for good measure.

The Bee Gees had fallen into a funk, and not the good kind, in the early 1970s. With help from disco and falsetto, the band had found a new groove. Being a major part of the SNF soundtrack – they composed and/or performed eight of its 17 songs – helped breathe new life into their career. The soundtrack contributed three of their six consecutive number-one singles to the Bee Gees streak, at the time tying the Beatles’ record for the most in the United States.

The soundtrack helped the Bee Gees win five Grammys, and the Bee Gees were able to keep up the momentum from this success until the end of the disco era. By the end of the ’70s, disco fever had burned itself out.

Although some of the themes and dialogue from the movie don’t hold up, the songs remain essential for those times when you want to put on your boogie shoes.
Continue reading »