Jul 312019
 

Check out the best covers of past months here.

best new cover songs july
Anais Mitchell & The Staves – Strong Enough (Sheryl Crow cover)

For a few years now, long-running French video company La Blogothèque has been filming a series they call “One to One” at Bon Iver’s various European festivals. They blindfold one audience member and bring them into a private room for a concert for one. Bon Iver did one, and Damien Rice’s is a must-watch. Personally, that experience sounds more awkward than enjoyable – especially with all the cameras in your face – so I’d rather just watch someone else’s personal concert on video. This one is a gem, feature The Staves with Anais Mitchell delivering a gorgeously-harmonized Sheryl Crow cover. Continue reading »

Jul 162019
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

Pat Boone

Reasons abound for maligning Pat Boone’s career in popular music. The catalyst for his career was a string of covers of R&B tunes by black artists for whom the legacy of segregation never afforded the same amount of wealth. White artists made substantially more than their counterpart artists of color. Major record labels had larger distribution chains, promotional budgets, and stronger connections to radio and television networks to advantage their artists. By contrast, black musicians on “race records” benefited from none of these privileges. While artists like Little Richard, Big Joe Turner, and Fats Domino have enjoyed staying power and wide acclaim for being architects of rock music, in the early decades of that genre, white covers were commercially more successful. Added to this was the exploitative nature of covers on larger labels that made more money than the originals while paying out no royalties to the black originators. Boone was unapologetic that his career benefited from this exploitation.

It is also noteworthy that Boone’s performance and lyricism of some of rock’s first generation of are a case study in the sanitized tastes of the burgeoning white middle class in the 1950s. His smooth vocal delivery was reminiscent of crooners rather than the raspy, full-throated yowl of Little Richard. And the lyrical changes on “Tutti Frutti” were a nod to teenage infatuation stripped of any of the sexuality in Little Richard’s original.

Despite Boone representing the residuals of white privilege while Jim Crow reigned supreme, there is a note of appreciation to be made for Boone and contemporaries Elvis Presley and Bill Haley in helping to extend the reach of rock music to new audiences at a critical juncture in that genre’s history.
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Jan 082016
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

acdc-back-in-black

AC/DC was writing their first album after Bon Scott’s passing, and they wanted to remember him – not by mourning his death, but by celebrating his life. It was a tricky line to walk, but they made it look easy with “Back in Black,” the title cut from their landmark album. They may have dressed in dark clothes, but they wouldn’t bow their heads – not when there were mammoth riffs to rip through, or piledriving lyrics for new vocalist Brian Johnson to stomp about howling. The band paid their respects and got back to business in one fell swoop, creating a hard-rock anthem (or two) in the process.

The story goes that a journalist once griped about how AC/DC had made ten albums and they all sounded the same, and that Angus Young responded, “He’s a liar. We’ve made eleven albums and they all sound the same.” Here are five covers of “Back in Black”; rest assured that none of them sound the same.

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Nov 072011
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” is a three-and-a-half minute clarion call about the joy of sex. No “take my heart” sentiments, no “our love’s gonna last” – just one loud, raunchy, glorious celebration of a one-night stand, bypassing the brain and going directly to the gut (and points lower). There’s something primal about it – the simple beat, the easy to remember words, the sheer volume of the performances – that gives the listener a feeling both of power and control over that power. Little wonder that the song is de rigueur for pole dancers: it empowers both the men and the women; its instant familiarity makes hearing the opening notes like welcoming back an old friend; and by God, it’s fun. Continue reading »

Sep 152011
 

Clearance Alert is a joint series with Limelight, “the simplest way to clear any cover song.” It spotlights new cover songs licensed through the company. Find out more at Limelight.

The inaugural post in our new series with our Limelight partners digs up a gem from a few months back. It’s Hawaii singer/songwriter Will Shine, who threw a left-field cover on his new album Here, There, and Everywhere in Between. Amidst the folk-rock wistfulness, one boisterous acoustafunk jam seems oddly familiar. After a minute or so, you realize, yes, it is indeed a horn-fueled AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” swaggering with a whole new attitude very different from the original’s. We’re talking horn solos, a backup chorus, and jammy acoustic rhythms. Continue reading »

Jun 032011
 

AC/DC as a smooth, sultry, Erykah Badu-inspired soul song? Believe it. Bon Scott already sings the lyrics at double-time, really rapping more than singing, so a transformation to R&B isn’t that outrageous. And Phil Rudd’s monstrous drumming could easily translate into the kick drum-clap of a soul stomp. Continue reading »