Odds are you’ve heard Kari Kimmel’s music, whether you realized it or not. The composer has penned songs and scores that have, by her own count, appeared in more than 650 different movies, T.V. shows, video games, trailers and commercials. In addition to her work behind the scenes, Kimmel has released a number of solo albums and EPs. For her latest effort, Kimmel recorded a cover of Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer,” which appeared in both the trailer and final episode of Cobra Kai season two.
Two things strike me as I scan through our list this year. This first is that many of the highest-ranking covers are tributes to recently-deceased icons. No surprise there, I suppose. But none actually pay tribute to artists that died in 2018. They honor those we’ve been honoring for two or three years now – your Pettys, your Princes, your Bowies. Hundreds of covers of each of these legends appeared in the first days after their deaths, but many of the best posthumous covers took longer to emerge.
Good covers take time. That principle – the cover-song equivalent of the slow food movement, perhaps – holds true throughout the list. Sure, a few here appear to have arisen from sudden moments of brilliance, flash-arranged for some concert or radio promo session. But many more reveal months or even years of painstaking work to nail every element. Making someone else’s song one’s own isn’t easy. These 50 covers took the time to get it right.
– Ray Padgett, Editor-in-Chief
Start the countdown on the next page…
Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols is generally regarded as one of the greatest rock albums of all time. In one fell 38-minute swoop, The Sex Pistols (more or less) burst on the scene, birthed punk rock, and bit the dust soon after. That last fall marked the 40th anniversary of its release is nearly as jarring as its opening track.
Like the band itself, pretty much everything leading up to and following the album’s release was controversial. From manager/impresario Malcolm McLaren’s publicity stunts – he famously arranged for the band to perform “God Save The Queen” on a boat on the Thames near Parliament during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee (ending in his arrest) – to hardcore dealings with music labels, to “moving target” album release dates. Of the band members – Paul Cook/Steve Jones/Johnny Rotten/Glen Matlock/Sid Vicious – determining exactly who was responsible for each track is even subject to debate. [Matlock, a founding member ousted and replaced by Vicious prior to the album’s release, is listed as co-writer on 10 of the 12 tracks. Although inarguably critical, his actual influence relative to the other band members has been challenged by Jones.]
But as writer Steve Huey pointed out in his review on AllMusic:
…underneath the shock tactics and theatrical negativity were social critiques carefully designed for maximum impact. Never Mind the Bollocks perfectly articulated the frustration, rage, and dissatisfaction of the British working class with the establishment, a spirit quick to translate itself to strictly rock & roll terms.
The album debuted at number #1 in the UK in 1977. At the time, it didn’t sell nearly as well in in US – taking 10 years to reach gold status – but its impact and ultimate legacy on both sides of the Atlantic was undeniable. In a wide-ranging Yahoo Music/Backspin interview from early last year, guitarist Steve Jones called it “the main album for kids to have if you were part of the new revolution.” And further, “We only did one album and that one album has kept the whole ball rolling ever since… but maybe if we had done another album, it would have sucked.”
Today kicks off a short series celebrating Bollocks. The seminal work has been covered extensively, so let’s march right in…
They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
Oh, the dark deeds that must occur on the birthday of the spiky-hair-crowned prince of punk. How does one fete a man whose very name conjures smoking images of filth, fetidness and psychopathy — Decorate a cake with rancid raspberries spilled over the Union Jack? Present a champagne flute of fermenting trash juice to pour on DVD copies of the Queen’s Christmas address?
Quickies rounds up new can’t-miss covers. Download ‘em below.
• French songwriter Émilie Simon hasn’t released an album in two years, but she just premiered a new cover over at FILTER. It strips Bronski Beat’s 1984 hit “Smalltown Boy” down to piano and, more importantly, Simon’s incredibly rich vocals.
MP3: Émilie Simon – Smalltown Boy (Bronski Beat cover)