Jan 112016
 
mac miller

Let me state, for the record, that I am a Billy Joel fanatic.  I have seen “The Piano Man” in concert more times than I have fingers to count.  I have purchased every song that he has ever recorded – including his stuff with The Echoes and The Hassles. Heck, I almost named my first daughter “Alexa”, because that’s Joel’s daughter’s name (my wife put a stop to that however).

Needless to say, I am very protective and picky when it comes to Joel covers.  So when I heard that some hip-hop artist from Pittsburgh – Mac Miller – covered my second favorite Joel song, “Vienna”, I immediately assumed I would hate it. And I was right.

But then I listened to it again.  And again.  And again. Continue reading »

May 092014
 

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!

As of today, Billy Joel is eligible for Social Security. So, now that his money woes are assuredly a thing of the past, let’s get to celebrating his 65th birthday in the accomplished style he really and truly deserves.
Continue reading »

Nov 092011
 

Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.

In “The First Time,” McKinley High prepares to open their production of West Side Story, but stars Rachel (Lea Michele) and Blaine (Darren Criss) find themselves full of indecision after musical director Artie (Kevin McHale) suggests they need sexual experience to properly portray their roles.

West Side Story‘s over, and I’m not sure how much there’s left to say about McKinley High’s (really professional-looking) production of the classic musical. I’m really surprised this plot sustained itself over five episodes (with its songs making it into three of the last four), but it seems that for now we’ve seen the last of the West Side. Is that a good thing? Continue reading »

Jun 212011
 

Download This scours the web’s dark corners for cool cover freebies. View past installments.

Billy Joel spent much of the ’80s looking to court music lovers with albums that sounded either retro (An Innocent Man) or ultra-pop (The Bridge, which features a collaboration with Cyndi Lauper). For one glorious record, though, Joel broke from his “piano man” mold. He got angry. He got punk. Continue reading »

Mar 252011
 

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!


Born in 1947, the man christened Reginald Kenneth Dwight has left a stunning mark on popular culture in the last four decades. Over 30 albums, two animated films, two Broadway plays and a host of crazy costumes later, Elton John‘s still standing. Unlike many musicians his age, John’s work output has not slowed, nor has his popularity. Just last year he released a Grammy-nominated album with American singer-songwriter Leon Russell, and he’ll soon embark on a worldwide greatest hits tour. John and his domestic partner David Furnish also recently welcomed a child into their household via surrogate. That lucky little tyke gets to count Lady Gaga as one of his godmothers. Continue reading »

Nov 102010
 

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.

The recent release of Easy Wonderful has given Guster fans reason to fall in love with them all over again. As their album title insinuates, they have an agreeable sound that resonates with you and has aged well over the past (almost) 20 years. If the Beach Boys went to college in the 90's, added some bongos, and stayed out of the sun, Guster is what they would sound like.

Featured on soundtracks like Life as a House and Wedding Crashers, their songs can pull at the heartstrings as you croon along with them. On the other hand, they are better known for their laid-back, wisecracking personalities that beam from the stage and infect their fans. During their years of touring, they have taken on many cover songs with both their sensitive and playful dispositions (but mostly the latter). Typically at the end of a show, Guster will rile up the crowd with a number from Madonna, Talking Heads, or whoever sings the “Cheers” theme song (Portnoy) and get everyone involved.  Most of the time, it's just an excuse to get drummer Brian Rosenworcel out in front showing off his questionable vocals, calling in the crowd for backup.  It's just like being at a karaoke bar. Continue reading »

Oct 062010
 

Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.

Why do a feature on Glee?

Well, for one, it’s an insanely popular show. Second, and more importantly, Glee is pop culture’s number one source for cover music right now. It’s kind of sneaky about that fact; few people, if any, talk about the music of Glee as cover tunes, but that’s precisely what they are. Often the show’s performances don’t do much in the way of altering the original song as covers typically do, but sometimes they can surprise us. Regardless, I think it’s interesting to look at those performances: why the show chooses a particular song, how the arrangement differs (if at all), etc.

So it is that each Wednesday I’ll be doing a rundown of every track Glee covered that week, delving a little into the history of the original track and talking about how the Glee version relates. I suspect a lot of people who watch the show are introduced to a few new songs every episode (even a music nerd like me had never heard “Papa Can You Hear Me?” prior to last night — a crime, I know), but I also think that people really into music but not big Glee fans might enjoy seeing some fresh performances and reinterpretations of favorite songs. In short, I think this feature has something for everyone, and I hope you agree! Continue reading »

Feb 012010
 

The first post of the month always features covers of every track on a famous album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!


Despite the fact that he had already released songs like “Piano Man,” “New York State of Mind” and “The Entertainer,” it took Billy Joel until his fifth album to hit the big time. After The Stranger hit in 1977 though, weddings were never the same again.

The Pale Pacific – Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)
One of the all-time great rock stutters gets an appropriately full-volume delivery by some Seattle indie vets. [Buy]

Lowtide – The Stranger
Lowtide’s MySpace page describes them as “the musical equivalent of a computer virus,” which is pretty accurate. They didn’t seem to bother learning the real words here, so it’s viral in every sense of the word: unexpected, annoying, and infectious. [Buy]

Alex D’Castro – Just the Way You Are
Billy Joel is as sick of this dreck as you are. “I feel hypocritical [playing this song],” he told the New York Times a few years ago. “I divorced the woman I wrote it for.” Perhaps he should revert to the less schmaltzy version he sang for Oscar the Grouch in the ‘70s. Or perhaps he should check out with swinging salsa version. [Buy]

Titta and Trombetta – Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
Any Billy Joel cover that doesn’t employ a lick of piano deserves props, particularly if it’s substituted with a double-acoustic guitar jam. [Buy]

Ingrid Graudins – Vienna
Billy Joel has listed “Vienna” as one of his two personal favorites (the other being “Summer, Highland Falls”). It’s certainly among his most personal, detailing the time while on a trip to see his estranged Austria-dwelling father he saw a 90-year old woman sweeping the street and realized how much America abandons the elderly. “I thought ‘This is a terrific idea – that old people are useful -and that means I don’t have to worry so much about getting old because I can still have a use in this world in my old age,’” he said years later. “I thought ‘Vienna waits for you…’” [Buy]

After the Fall – Only the Good Die Young
Insert joke about Billy Joel being old here… [Buy]

The Diamond Family Archive – She’s Always a Woman
A song that puts the “z” in “cheeze,” “She’s Always a Woman” gets a surprisingly sensitive treatment from these banjo-and-mandolin folkies. And listening to that voice, you’ll want to be the woman he’s singing about. [Buy]

Kool T – Get It Right the First Time
Last November one website sponsored a Billy Joel beat-making contest where would-be DJs could only use sounds from the original tapes of this and “Stiletto.” Most are exactly as terrible as you might expect, but Kool T took a few hooks from “Get It Right” and created something almost unrecognizable. It’s technically a remix I suppose, but you find me a decent cover of this song and we’ll talk. [Buy]

The Manhattans – Everybody Has a Dream
The Stranger ends with this quiet gospel-tinged number, but these Philly soul sensations blew it wide open in a 1978 single that went to #65 on the R&B charts. [Buy]