Clairo has been busy. Although the 22-year-old viral pop star has not released any official music since her 2019 album Immunity, she has been uploading covers and demos to Soundcloud. Her newest is a version of The Strokes’ “I’ll Try Anything Once” with Jake Passmore of the London-based indie band SCORS.
Tennis, the husband and wife duo of Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore, pay tribute to Karen Carpenter with a cover of the Carpenters’ ode to shacking up with itinerant musicians, “Superstar.” The pair reworked “Superstar” as a slow-moving synthesizer-driven track. Moore’s vocals are mixed with a heavy amount of echo, giving it the feel of a ‘70s disco ballad, like a lost deep cut from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
“Covering the Hits” looks at covers of a randomly-selected #1 hit from the past sixty-odd years.
Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff wrote “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” while scoring The Breakfast Club. They sent it to Simple Minds, a favorite group of theirs. Simple Minds turned it down, preferring to do songs they themselves had written. Bryan Ferry turned it down. Billy Idol turned it down. Eurythmics turned it down. Cy Curnin of the Fixx turned it down. The record company suggested Corey Hart; Forsey turned them down. Chrissie Hynde loved it, but was pregnant and didn’t want to do the accompanying video, so she badgered her husband to try it. Her husband was Jim Kerr, of (wait for it) Simple Minds.
Once the band came around, they followed Forsey & Schiff’s demo pretty closely, with Kerr throwing in the “Hey, hey, hey, hey” and a few “la la la”s toward the end. After its release, while grateful for the doors it opened, the band sometimes sounded like they wished they’d stuck to their guns and kept turning it down. “(The lyrics) sound pretty inane to me,” Kerr later said. “Sometimes I play it and I just puke.”
It seems like the only people who ever loved the song were the target audience. They took the song to number one and permanently lodged it in the collective conscious of the class of ’85. When Simple Minds performed it at Live Aid (at Bob Geldof’s insistence), the Philadelphia crowd went crazy, and the band realized what they had on their hands was more than just another hit. Thirty-five years later, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” can bring the era back like few other songs.
Such a song becomes an easy target for artists wanting to cover it. In Spin‘s definitive oral history of the song, Forsey says, “For me, the song only goes one way, and what we did when we did it was the way.” That’s as may be, but that didn’t stop many others from taking it their way. As Schiff says in the same article, “The song has really gone off on its own and has become that thing for other people, and that comes across when somebody else does it. You know, walking by bars in New Orleans, at a karaoke bar and it’s there. It’s sort of fun where it can pop up.”
Seven of them pop up below. Enjoy!
Bill Callahan and Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s Will Oldham have been covering songs together for years, dating back to a 1994 EP where, as Smog (Callahan) and Palace Music (Oldham), they tackled Leonard Cohen’s “Tonight Will Be Fine.” Now they’re continuing the collaboration on a pair of new covers – not officially announced as the start of a covers album or anything, but one wonders…
Melbourne-based pop artist Elizabeth – just Elizabeth – has released a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” as a bonus track on the upcoming deluxe edition of her debut album The Wonderful World of Nature, whose sunny pop melodies overcast with heartbreak prompted comparisons to Lana Del Rey. Released almost a year after her debut, this cover continues to solidify Elizabeth as a promising Australian singer-songwriter.
Is there a “Most Controversial Eminem Track” award? If there is, the winner might be “Kim”, the rapper’s second song about killing his then-wife. He has claimed it’s a prequel to “’97 Bonnie and Clyde,” his first song about killing his then-wife.
Lingua Ignota is the project of musician Kristin Hayter, which fuses classical, metal, industrial, noise and prog influences, among other things, into something fairly hard to pin down. Domestic violence is a major theme of Hayter’s music as she is a survivor of abusive relationships. Her new cover of “Kim” was originally intended to be part of an all-covers album highlighting misogyny in the music industry, but that project appears to be on hold, so she released it herself.