“Right Down the Line” is one of those radio hits from the ’70s that if someone hummed a few bars you would recognize it instantly, but might not know the artist or song title. It was Scottish singer songwriter Gerry Rafferty’s second single from the 1978 album City to City, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary charts. Since his death a little more than a year ago there has been a renewed interest in his music.
When people look back in 2011 in music a decade from now, one name will come to mind: Adele. In our little world of cover songs, she dominated. Everyone covered Adele this year. It’s not just that we saw more covers of “Rolling in the Deep” than any other song; they beat out second place (probably “Pumped Up Kicks”) by like a factor of five! We generally try to look for larger cover trends in these annual wrap-ups, but it’s hard to remember anything else from this year except the year-long onslaught of Adele covers hitting our mailbox.
There’s only one “Rolling in the Deep” cover in this year’s list though. The rest are all over the place. Some of the artists listed built their covers with lush soundscapes, thick beats, and intricate string work. Others just took guitars or pianos and bowled us over with the emotion in their voices. There may not be much of an overarching “Year in Covers” narrative, but that means there’s a cover or two for everyone. From feel-good takes on rap songs to kill-yourself versions of pop songs, this year’s list features flips, flops, and genre switcheroos of all sorts. A good cover should be informed by the source material but stand on its own, and we’ll be unrolling the 50 finest examples of songs doing just that all week. Start with #50-41 on the next page and check back daily as we count down to the best cover of 2011.
Following a bout with laryngitis that led to several weeks of canceled shows, Adele returned to the stage last night at London’s iTunes Festival. The same event that brought Linkin Park covering “Rolling in the Deep” found Adele debuting a cover of her own: Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”