We already counted down the 50 Best Cover Songs of 2018 but, inevitably, many of our staff’s personal favorites get left off. So, before we begin scouting for what might become the best cover of 2019, we share the best of the rest, an unranked hodgepodge of worthy covers that only just missed our year-end countdown.
Two things strike me as I scan through our list this year. This first is that many of the highest-ranking covers are tributes to recently-deceased icons. No surprise there, I suppose. But none actually pay tribute to artists that died in 2018. They honor those we’ve been honoring for two or three years now – your Pettys, your Princes, your Bowies. Hundreds of covers of each of these legends appeared in the first days after their deaths, but many of the best posthumous covers took longer to emerge.
Good covers take time. That principle – the cover-song equivalent of the slow food movement, perhaps – holds true throughout the list. Sure, a few here appear to have arisen from sudden moments of brilliance, flash-arranged for some concert or radio promo session. But many more reveal months or even years of painstaking work to nail every element. Making someone else’s song one’s own isn’t easy. These 50 covers took the time to get it right.
– Ray Padgett, Editor-in-Chief
Start the countdown on the next page…
Pretty sure that Pearl Jam loves their occupation. Show after show goes on for three high-energy hours of hits and deep-cut surprises. How can they amp up their performance even more? By playing in a venue that holds special meaning for the band’s MVP: Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Eddie Vedder’s happy place.
For the tour stop of The Home X Away Shows, fans were treated to a cover of “Rebel Rebel,” the first time Pearl Jam performed the David Bowie song live. The timing of this new cover rollout was seemingly related to a walk-off grand slam by David Bote of the Chicago Cubs that happened earlier in the week. You following this? David Bote hits a grand slam, then Pearl Jam covers David Bowie.
In her monthly EP series of “stripped-down, vocal-intensive” covers called OBSESSED, the Tony-winning and Grammy-nominated Lena Hall tackles a different artist every month. With August comes David Bowie, and she kicked things off with “Rebel Rebel.” When we interviewed her in June, she named Nirvana’s “The Man Who Sold the World” one of her favorite covers ever, and with five new Bowie covers coming this month she aims to live up to that high bar.
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!
A band that’s been in business for more than two decades can be expected to change their sound a few times. With Of Montreal, though, it’s about more than sounding different. It’s about seeing the world a whole new way. Kevin Barnes founded the band, and over the years has led a score of other musicians. Together, they’ve explored worlds of folk and psychedelia, theatrical and celestial, amusement and misery. They’ve done so with such purpose that it’s become a part of what draws their fans.
‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.
Mick Jagger turns 75 today, three decades past his famous 1975 benchmark: “I’d rather be dead than sing ‘Satisfaction’ when I’m 45.” Mick’s still singing “Satisfaction” today – and so are a lot of other people. So what better way to celebrate his birthday than with a countdown of the best covers of Rolling Stones songs of all time?
It’s not that we haven’t posted plenty before. They’re actually our fifth most-posted band, after Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, and Neil Young (a little surprised about that one, but as of this post, Neil’s only ahead by one). We’ve shared our favorite covers of “Ruby Tuesday,” “Honky Tonk Woman,” “Wild Horses,” “Paint It Black,” and “Back Street Girl.” We’ve posted covers of every track on Sticky Fingers, Beggars Banquet, and – in case those weren’t long enough – Exile on Main St. And it’s not just covers of the band we adore either; the Stones’ recent album of blues covers ascended to the very short list of albums we’ve awarded five stars.
But we’ve never pulled it all in one place until today. Just as we did for Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Beyoncé, and Talking Heads, we’re counting down the best covers of Rolling Stones songs ever. The length beats Floyd’s forty-song record; we’ve got fifty Stones covers, from A (Albert King) to Z (Zydeco, Buckwheat). The Stones have been covered in all eras, all genres, and by all sorts of people. By the time you read this, the next all-time-great Stones cover might well have landed.
You can’t always get what you want, as the man once said – but if you click on, you just might get what you need.