It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Bent Knee here at Cover Me. Their covers somehow manage to simultaneously be both nuanced and almost overwhelmingly powerful, and to work with their source material instead of feeling like they’re working on it. While their covers don’t come around as often as we’d like, they’re an absolute treat every time they do.
Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.
Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).
Today’s question: Which artist/band does the best covers? That’s a lot to bite off, no doubt about it, but many mouths make less chewing, and the many mouths at Cover Me are very good at raising their voices. As always, our answers are not the only answers; feel free to leave yours in the comments section…
Though one might associate “You Are My Sunshine” with a cheery delivery, it’s not altogether uncommon to find darker takes on it. After all, the lyrics (anywhere beyond the chorus) are more full of despair than the song’s titular sunshine. There are plenty of artists that will bring out the minor chords or less upbeat vocals than one might expect, but it’s a song that too few ultimately take to its fullest potential. At its lightest, it’s a piece saturated with melancholy; at its darkest and heaviest, at its most transformative, you’ll find Bent Knee.
When we came across Bent Knee’s cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” in May, a few things were clear immediately. The first was the sheer power and intensity of Courtney Swain’s voice; the second was that the band doesn’t treat their source material as source material per se. They don’t look at the night sky and set out to paint it with detail and precision and accuracy; they look at the sky and give us Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” It nods at the original, but becomes something else entirely.
There’s no shortage of covers of Radiohead’s classic, “Creep.” Oftentimes they’re one thing or another, focusing on some element of the original without the rest. There’s that guitar, rocking and grungy, juxtaposed against Thom Yorke’s steady vocals. Some bands take on the distortion, others the softer side. Both approaches typically do a fair job of capturing some of the song’s creepiness (pun intended).