Follow all our Best of 2014 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.
A few months ago, I read an interesting interview with an artist named Nouela. You probably haven’t heard of her, but you may have heard her music. She’s become a specialist in a weird but growing niche: covers recorded for movie and television trailers. Whether doing a piano “Sound of Silence” to promote a new HBO show or a brooding “Black Hole Sun” to promote Liam Neeson punching people, she’s found a quickly-growing way of getting her covers out there.
It struck me as part of a growing trend we’ve seen. More and more great covers seem to come from unexpected places. Sure, you’ve got still your standby sources, your b-sides, tribute albums, and radio shows. But new avenues for covers have increasingly crept in. This year saw a Sam Smith cover that is only available to hear under Grey’s Anatomy dialog (thankfully he’s recorded a few live versions too) and a whole covers album recorded to plug a Canadian TV show. Brands have fully embraced covers too, most recently My Morning Jacket’s “This Land Is Your Land” recorded for North Face ads, or Charli XCX and Bleachers trading covers for Kia.
We don’t care where they originated when we make our year-end lists, though, and we would up with some of everything. In our top five alone, we’ve got a live radio session, a deluxe-edition bonus track, and a cover hiding in plain sight on one of the most acclaimed country records of the year. You have to keep an eye on more places than ever to spot the best covers these days. Wherever they come from, we’re glad to have ’em.
Click on over to page two to begin our countdown, and thanks for reading.
– Ray Padgett, Editor in Chief
(Illustration by Sarah Parkinson)
Norwegian DJ Todd Terje has worked his magic yet again on Robert Palmer‘s track “Johnny and Mary,” with a little help from the legendary Bryan Ferry. While Terje has been active in the electronic scene since 1999, he released his debut album It’s Album Time just this month. Ferry lends his signature vocals and piano playing to the track. Terje’s interpretation is slowed-down and laid-back, allowing the lyrical emotion to shine. Continue reading »
Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
It must have been a real drag to be young and watch the whole love and peace era go down the drain. JFK, dead. MLK, dead. Paul McCartney, dead. The music of the turn-on-tune-in-drop-out generation had become so absorbed with its own self-importance that the weight was too much to carry, especially with the early ’70s promising no bright future “comin’ up around the bend.” Bryan Ferry‘s These Foolish Things, one of two all-covers albums released in October 1973 (David Bowie‘s Pin-Ups was the other), served as a healthy reminder that these hippie anthems and cultural touchstones are, after all, pop songs. Continue reading »
Though Bob Dylan moved away from his role as a ‘protest singer’ long ago — we saw Another Side by his fourth album — his name will forever be associated with social activism. The international human rights organization Amnesty International rose out of the same turbulent era as Dylan, forming in 1961, the year Dylan recorded his first album. Fitting, then, that in celebration of their 50th birthday, Amnesty would call on artists to contribute their Dylan covers to the massive four disc set Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International. Continue reading »
Last week, we finally heard Trent Reznor and Karen O.’s “Immigrant Song” cover from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack. Well, that 39-song set includes one other cover and it’s available to stream now. Reznor and Atticus Ross cover Bryan Ferry’s “Is Your Love Strong Enough” in the guise of How to Destroy Angels, their band with Reznor’s wife Mariqueen Maandig. Continue reading »
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!
Bryan Ferry, it’s safe to say, loves covers. Between his solo career and his decades with Roxy Music, he’s covered everyone from The Beach Boys to Van Morrison, The Beatles to The Velvet Underground, Kris Kristofferson to Leadbelly to absurd amounts of Bob Dylan. It could even be argued that Talking Heads’ version of “Take Me To the River” is most directly a cover of Ferry’s take on the song. That’s another story for another time, though – now, it’s time to celebrate Ferry’s 66th with all the decade-spanning splendor the Internet has to offer. Whether Bill Murray’s legendary karaoke performance of Roxy Music’s “More Than This” from Lost in Translation qualifies as a cover or not, it certainly served as something of a guiding star by which this post could find its way. Continue reading »
Dylan Covers A-Z presents covers of every single Bob Dylan song. View the full series here.
We began our celebrations yesterday, but today, in fact, is the big day. On May 24th, 1941, Bob Dylan was born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota. Twenty-one years later he released his first album and ever since…well, you know.
We continue our week-long series presenting covers of every single Dylan song with “Father of Night,” one of several Dylan songs that Manfred Mann rescued from obscurity. From there we hit songs by Jeff Buckley, The White Stripes, George Harrison, and, oh, about 54 more. Hours of music, and we’re not even halfway done! Continue reading »