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.

Apr 072020
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

Pharrell

We got to hear new takes on songs that Pharrell Williams contributed background vocals to, featured in, or starred in yesterday, but now it is time to go behind the scenes.

The power producer duo of The Neptunes have tallied many awards from Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards for Best Producer of the Year in 2004 to Best Producer of the Decade in 2009 and twenty-four top 10 hits between the late ’90s and the ’00s. They have also been nominated for the upcoming 2020 spot in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

As consumers of their hits, we often don’t know who is behind the sound. I’m the first to admit that I had no idea any of these songs involved Pharrell Williams before I started looking into Williams’ production credits, and for every song featured on this list, there are many more equally popular hits that we don’t touch on. How many songs that conjure up a memory for you would not be the same without the talented Neptunes?

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Apr 062020
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with covers of his or her songs. Let someone else do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Pharrell

Yesterday, as he was serenaded with a “Happy Birthday” song, Pharrell Williams turned 47 and clapped along, feeling like a room without a roof (or so I imagine).

Williams wears many hats (both literally and figuratively); he’s a songwriter, a record producer, a singer, a rapper, and even a fashion designer. His longest-running collaboration is with Chad Hugo, whom he met in middle school. The two were even childhood friends with Timbaland. (That will become relevant in other posts coming to Cover Me later this week.) Hugo and Williams formed the production team The Neptunes in 1994 and are still working together today. The duo were signed after a high-school talent show: the American dream! Continue reading »

Mar 132020
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

Brass Against

Protest music is back, spread the word!

The bio for Brass Against on Spotify tells it all: “In this politically challenging era, it’s time to stand up against the machine. We want the music we perform to sound inspiring and resonate with people’s emotions, encouraging them to act.” Their style is a mix of big band and sick bars. The band does have their own original music, but they are known for their covers, like those of the band they paid homage to in their own name, Rage Against the Machine.

Brad Hammonds, leader of the Brass Against group, was inspired to return to protest music as Donald Trump started amassing power. He told Louder, “I know when I listen to political inspired bands I get really energised, especially Rage.” Same, Brad. Same.

And as alluded to, Rage Against the Machine is no stranger to protest music (or covers, for that matter). The band members have been vocal about their anti-authoritarianism and have used their platform to advocate for their beliefs. They have held protest concerts at both the Democratic National Convention (in 2000) and the Republican National Convention (in 2008), which led to both violence and police action. Rage Against the Machine is back to raging, reuniting for a world tour nine years after they have last played together and twenty years since their last full tour. Proceeds from the tour will go to charities, including those that advocate for immigrant rights.

I encourage you to work through Brass Against’s full three albums when you need a little fuel for your hate fire, but we’ll go through some highlights here.

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Mar 112020
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

The Holophonics

I am converted; ska punk is rad. You might think this is a wacky genre that could only be found in the depths of Every Noise at Once, but the genre has roots in the ’70s UK rock scene and has made its way into mainstream music with bands like No Doubt (think “Spiderwebs”). Ska punk is apparently on the verge of a revival this year, with The Interrupters opening the joint tour of Green Day, Weezer, and Fall Out Boy this summer.

The Holophonics are a sextet from Texas who both make original ska punk music and bring spa punk flair to covers. Since the band formed in 2018, they have released a whopping 14 cover albums, cleverly labeled “maskarades,” including one just released at the end of February, amongst their original work. I did a deep dive into their expansive discography and now will gladly take you on a sonic tour. You are going to hear a lot of opinionated horns and a lot of assertive vocals, and it is going to be glorious.

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Feb 212020
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

Much has been written about the rise and fall of the Dixie Chicks. They were riding high with hit after hit in the late ’90s and very early ’00s, but after one on-stage comment in 2003, everything changed. We almost take for granted how music and politics intertwine now without rocking the boat too much. When Taylor Swift took a stance on a Senate race in her home state, President Trump remarked: “Let’s say that I like Taylor’s music about 25% less now, OK?” and life went on. But twenty-ish years ago, when Natalie Maines said they were ashamed that then President George W. Bush was from Texas, the backlash was swift and severe.

However, it looks like the Dixie Chicks are finally ready for a comeback. After a European tour in 2016, a collaboration with Beyoncé in the same year, and a song with Taylor Swift on her latest album, the Dixie Chicks are focusing on their own new album, due this year. The album is being produced by Jack Antonoff of Bleachers, whose list of writing and producing credits include Taylor Swift’s album Lover, Lorde’s Melodrama, and St. Vincent’s Masseduction. I’m ready for some “Don’t Take the Money” energy on this album, and with a title like Gaslighter (teased here), I’m hoping for an explosive, patriarchy smashing, good time. #sorrynotsorry to all of the Earls out there.

I’m all for covers of the Dixie Chicks, but we’ll save that for another post (ok, here is one to tide you over). For now, let’s take a listen to the Dixie Chicks’ interpretation of classics from country and soul standards to modern hits.

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Feb 142020
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with covers of his or her songs. Let someone else do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Rob Thomas

It’s a special day beyond being the day to eat chocolate and celebrate how lovable you are. Today we celebrate Rob Thomas’s 48th birthday. And what a year it will be. We’re still bopping along to Thomas’s fourth solo album, released last year, but 2020 is blessing us with a Matchbox Twenty tour.

Matchbox Twenty released three albums (including one with some controversial cover art) before Thomas went solo, spurred by his involvement in Santana’s “Smooth.” Thomas helped write the song, but the part was supposed to be sung by George Michael. However, Santana liked what Thomas did with it in the demo, so he brought Thomas on board. Thomas then interwove his solo career with a Matchbox Twenty comeback. Beyond helping with “Smooth,” Thomas was also a songwriter for big names such as Willie Nelson, Travis Tritt, and Mick Jagger. Jagger returned the favor, co-writing Mathcbox Twenty’s top-30 hit “Disease.”

Whether you are a ride-or-die Matchbox Twenty fan, through the name change from Matchbox 20 to Matchbox Twenty in 2000, or an appreciator of Thomas’s solo endeavors, these covers will help you celebrate Thomas in all of his glory. It just so happens that these covers are all a bit on the lonely/heartbroken side of the love spectrum, all the better if you’re in a less festive mood this Valentine’s Day and want to commiserate.

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