Over our time tracking cover songs (13 years this month!), we’ve written about hundreds of new tribute albums, across reviews, news stories, and, when they’re good enough, our best-of-the-year lists. We also have looked back on plenty of great tribute albums from the past in our Cover Classics series. But we’ve never pulled it all together – until now.
Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
Jack Antonoff gives us serious writer/producer/performer triple threat vibes (a la Timbaland and Pharrell). He’s been in a variety of musical acts himself, including Steel Train, fun., and Bleachers, and been involved behind the scenes in the creation of others’ award winning albums. Just to give you a sense for all of the pies he has his fingers in, Antonoff:
- co-wrote and co-produced some songs on Taylor Swift’s 1989, Reputation, and Lover,
- co-wrote and co-produced Lorde’s Melodrama album,
- co-produced Lana del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell! album,
- co-wrote and co-produced the soundtrack for Love, Simon,
- co-wrote Sara Bareilles’s song “Brave,”
- co-produced Saint Vincent’s Masseduction,
- co-wrote and co-produced songs on The Dixie Chicks’ upcoming album, and
- co-wrote and co-produced tracks on Carly Rae Jepsen’s Dedicated (including the B-Side version).
We see some of these collaborations either forming out of or being foreshadowed by ties within this cover album.
The “Terrible Thrills” tradition started with Terrible Thrills, Vol. 1, an all female cover album of Steel Train’s eponymous album. Terrible Thrills, Vol. 2 was a follow-up project that again featured all female covers, this time of Bleachers’ first album, Strange Desire. Afterwards, although it does not include covers of the entire album, Terrible Thrills, Vol. 3 followed, containing female covers of four songs from Bleachers’ second album, Gone Now, as well as demos and new versions of songs from the album. (I was bummed to not have a female cover of “Don’t Take the Money.”) This cover album was only sold on vinyl, but you can listen to it here.
Every single one of these covers is great, so I had a hard time choosing just a handful to write about. But here goes…
AURORA – Across the Universe (The Beatles cover)
The first of a couple Beatles covers this month, AURORA’s “Across the Universe” doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it just removes a few spokes. The Norwegian singer-songwriter strips everything away but keys and a bunch of voices (there’s a guitarist too, though barely audible). It’s all the song needs.
If you have taken the time to listen to CHVRCHES album The Bones of What You Believe or the band’s contribution to the upcoming Hunger Games soundtrack, you know that the Scottish band excels in the realm of synth pop. For VH1’s You Oughta Know concert, front woman Lauren Mayberry teamed up with Bleachers to cover the timeless Fleetwood Mac single, “Go Your Own Way,” proving that at the very core, pop is her strength.