Nov 122019
 

‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

REM Covers

Last week, R.E.M. released a 25th anniversary expanded reissue of their 1994 album Monster. Unlike many of their albums, Monster was not an obvious candidate for a splashy box set. Practically every new review has noted that Monster was, as Salon succinctly put it, “a notorious staple of dollar bins everywhere.” But, as tends to happen with such reissues, the celebrated albums get celebrated again and the less-loved albums get a critical reappraisal. Sure enough, everyone loves Monster all of a sudden.

So perhaps an avalanche of Monster covers is forthcoming – because there certainly aren’t many now. Despite that being the ostensible news peg for this list, no songs from that album appear on it. But, in a band with as rich a discography as R.E.M.’s, there was a lot of competition. Sure, the obvious hits get covered as much as you think, but many artists delve deeper. The song at the very top of the list, for instance, originally appeared on 1998’s Up, an album that might have an even worse reputation than Monster.

Luckily we don’t need to wait four more years for the reappraisal of that, or of any of the other songs on our list. These 25 covers reappraise R.E.M. deep cuts you didn’t know and reimagine the hits you’ve heard a million times.

The list starts on Page 2.

Nov 012019
 

Check out the best covers of past months here.

best cover songs october 2019
Angie McMahon – Knowing Me, Knowing You (ABBA cover)

It comes too late for our Best ABBA Covers countdown, but Angie McMahon’s low-simmer version of “Knowing Me, Knowing You” would make a worthy addition. Though it comes coated in a layer of rock grit, the band’s vocal harmonies stand up to the Swedes. And just wait for Angie McMahon’s cover-closing holler. Continue reading »

Oct 172019
 
northwest passage covers

Stan Rogers’ folk song “Northwest Passage” has been called the unofficial Canadian national anthem – and by a Canadian Prime Minister, no less. Two incredibly different covers that have come out recently add more evidence to that claim, and show that the song may be crossing the country’s southern border just as it crosses genre lines. 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 »

Oct 082019
 
dragonforce my heart will go on

Celine Dion’s Oscar-winning ballad from Titanic has been reinterpreted by headbangers near and far – pretty much wherever there are long-haired dudes with guitars. A quick Google search on “Heavy Metal Covers My Heart Will Go On” yields many results. The latest to give the track the metal treatment is DragonForce, who included it as the closing track on the new album Extreme Power Metal. Continue reading »

Oct 072019
 

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.

500 miles proclaimers covers

If all you know about Craig and Charlie Reid, collectively known as the Proclaimers, is that they’re Scottish twin brothers who sang that “dada-da-da” song from Benny and Joon, you’re missing out on a substantial, fairly diverse, discography. They regularly play to large crowds in Europe, their music has been featured on at least five other movie soundtracks, and their songs have inspired a jukebox musical that was itself made into a film. While full-on commercial success has been a tad elusive here in the US, their best-known tune here, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” has garnered quite a bit of of love, manifested in over forty cover versions known to man (or at least to SecondHandSongs).

I’m all for artists taking a cover and making it their own, but in selecting covers for this article, I chose versions that were true to the energy and exuberance of the original. Versions that recast this song as a ballad or a torch song just didn’t do it for me. Of the versions I selected…
Continue reading »