Dec 152017
 

Follow all our Best of 2017 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

best covers 2017

Year-end lists are a time to look back. That’s something we’ve been doing a lot of this year.

See, we turned ten years old in 2017 – practically ancient in internet-blog terms – so we’ve indulged in what we feel is well-earned nostalgia. At the beginning of the year, each of our writers picked the ten most important covers in their life (see them here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). We even listed the ten most important covers in Cover Me‘s life, from the song that inspired the site to our very first Best of the Year winner.

Then, to cap things off, in October we commissioned a 25-track tribute to the cover song itself – which you can still download for free. We love the covers everyone contributed so much, incidentally, that we didn’t consider them for this list. It’d be like picking favorite children – if you had 25 of ’em.

Oh, and have I mentioned I wrote a book? … What’s that you say? I mentioned that constantly? Well, I’m quite proud of it. It’s called Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time and it makes a great Christmas gift and – ok, ok, I’ll stop. You can find plenty more about it elsewhere.

Suffice to say, there’s been a lot of looking back this year. And we hope you’ll indulge us this one last glance rearward before we leap into 2018. Because if it’s been a hell of a year for us, it’s certainly also been a hell of a year for the cover song in general. Some of this year’s list ranks among the best covers we’ve ever heard, period. So dig in, and thanks for your support this past decade.

– Ray Padgett
Editor-in-Chief

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Sep 272017
 
bob seger busload of faith

Bob Seger has written any number of classic rock standards, but in recent years he’s turned increasingly towards covers. He promoted his last album, 2014’s Ride Out, with a cover of Wilco and Billy Bragg’s “California Stars”. The previous one launched with a version of Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train.” Now he’s just announced a follow-up, I Knew You When, with a cover of a relative Lou Reed deep cut, 1989’s “Busload of Faith.”

Where Reed’s original was a gritty punk-poetry diatribe, Seger blows it up into a white-man soul anthem. A horn section, backing chorus, and furious guitar solo brings a huge Seger sound that evokes one of his 1970s records. Well, with one difference: He changes Reed’s lyric “you can’t depend on the churches” into a timely “you can’t depend on the president.” Continue reading »

Dec 192013
 

I’m not sure there were more great cover songs this year than any other. But there were more good ones.

What I mean by that is, the average quality of the covers we come across in the time we’ve been around has risen, rather dramatically. Whether they’re iTunes homepage singles or some guy emailing us his Bandcamp, more cover songs in 2013 avoid the old pitfalls than ever before. They don’t sound like they were recorded in a cereal box, substitute ear-bleeding volume for actual creativity, or – the worst cover sin of all – try to carbon-copying the original. With the ease of production and distribution available now, artists seemed to record covers only when they felt they had something to add, and do a halfway decent job committing those ideas to 1s and 0s. Continue reading »

May 062011
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

Counting Crows have a tough gig. They are lumped in with mainstream music, earning them disdain from the hipster crowd, yet they haven’t had a Billboard hit since 2004. Lots of folks like them (they have 200,000 more “likes” on Facebook than our last In the Spotlight artist, LCD Soundsystem) but it seems hard to find many people listing the Crows as one of their all-time favorites – or at least admitting to it. Continue reading »