Sep 172020
 
anne-marie watermelon sugar

Just when you thought you heard this summer’s number-one hit “Watermelon Sugar” enough, British pop singer Anne-Marie spices up the song with a BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge cover. Harry Styles‘ original is a euphoric symphony of sounds, and Anne-Marie pairs it down. A cellist is a beautiful addition and the light shaker sound adds a nice flair. The cover holds on to the feeling of summer while even while the calendar slips into September. Continue reading »

Sep 112020
 
Kenton Chen

Even all these years later, “Like a Virgin” remains one of Madonna’s most iconic songs. The lead-off single from the album of the same name, her second, it was her biggest hit to date and sold more copies than any of her songs until “Like a Prayer.” Everyone is familiar with the instantly recognizable synthesized bass line and the chorus that producer Nile Rodgers didn’t think was catchy enough.

Scary Pockets are a funk band who perform covers on YouTube with guest vocalists. For this version they enlisted Kenton Chen, of the a cappella TV competition The Sing Off and Postmodern Jukebox fame.

The band dispenses entirely with the famous bassline, replacing it with a funky bassline that skips a beat. Chen mostly sticks to the original melody in the verses. But the chorus is even less conventional, with both the band and Chen deviating from the original song.

About two minutes in there’s a breakdown and the song turns into an extended funk jam, with the van vamping on the groove and Chen improvising through the song’s famous hook as the song slowly fades out.

This version of “Virgin” is remarkably different. It may take a bit to get into, because of how distinct it is, but the song shortly reveals itself as a pretty great cover.

Sep 092020
 
miley cyrus

Miley Cyrus covered Billie Eilish’s “My Future” kicking off BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge Month starting this September. The Live Lounge is closed because of the pandemic. So Cyrus created a set full of tiny glowing candles and a backing band. The band all following social distancing precautions and covering their faces with masks. The overall spacious warm stage area and red-carpet recall images of old-time starlets in jazz lounges.

Cyrus’s captivating performance includes her belting out the lyrics from the start, while Eilish sounds like she is holding back something in the first verse. There is a grittiness to the way Cyrus sings. This turns the song from a slow cool, crisp, beautiful ballad, into something reminiscent of a lively pop-tune. The overall feeling is a faster and brighter song.

The original, as well as the cover, begin with only a piano accompaniment. Halfway through, drums, guitar, and the rest of the band jump in changing the direction of the song. The piano in the beginning of the cover is already bright sounding. It blends smoothly when the rest of the instrumental voices kick in, after a stark dramatic pause between the sections.

Overall, the performance is a lot of fun and Cyrus clearly got into the show. She finishes with a flourish after the last line “see you in a couple of years,” adding a spoken line “but probably not” and sticking her tongue out, making the last line a whole lot less ambiguous.

See covers of Miley Cyrus here and more covers of Billie Eilish here.

Sep 082020
 
IDLES reptilia

Rather than rocking out at the canceled 2020 Reading and Leeds festival this past weekend, IDLES found a different way to perform, doing three live sets from London’s Abbey Road Studios uploaded to spniismusicposts’ YouTube. They played several new songs from their upcoming album Ultra Mono, as well a few covers, including The Strokes’ “Reptilia.”
Continue reading »

Sep 022020
 
Future Teens

“All Star” is both Smash Mouth’s most famous and most notorious song, featured in not one but two feature films (Mystery Men and Shrek) and subject of endless memes. The song’s restlessness positivity – despite the somewhat downbeat lyrics of the verses – has proved easy to mock, as has lead singer Steve Harwell’s distinct and unconventional voice. Still, it was a massive hit when it came out and it has become a radio staple in the subsequent decades.

Future teens are an indie pop band from Boston with a penchant for covers, releasing a covers album in 2018. Their vibe is a lot more mopey than Smash Mouth; they describe themselves as “bummer pop.” And they have covered the most unlikely of songs: “All Star.”

Their cover opens with co-lead singer Daniel Radin almost a cappella, with only the occasional tinkling of a piano. As the song builds, there is a distinct Counting Crows vibe, with the vocal melody altered to fit the vibe. Amy Hoffman, the other lead singer, takes over for the second verse, giving the song more of an emo/’00s indie pop vibe. Instead of the (in)famous whistle break, the band jam, which solidifies the ’00s indie rock sound. For the third verse most of the instrumentation breaks away, only to come back to build slowly to a brief climax complete with emo screaming before the final chorus’s grand finale.

The result ends up something like an indie or emo power ballad. It, needless to say, a complete re-imagining of the song. Listen below.

Sep 012020
 
Yonder Mountain String Band

Elvis Presley hadn’t had a #1 hit in the US in 7 years when he topped the charts with “Suspicious Minds.” Though his comeback was already in full swing thanks to a TV special and “In the Ghetto,” “Suspicious Minds” was really the affirmation that he was back. Of course, Elvis Presley didn’t write “Suspicious Minds” nor did he record the original version. Songwriter Mark James recorded the original the year before. but the song died because nobody knew him and his label didn’t have the money to promote it. James’ version is remarkably similar to Elvis’, but it’s the Elvis version that everyone has heard, and the one every cover references. Continue reading »