The Strokes’ Is This It songs have been covered to death, so musicians are digging deeper. We heard a killer Angles cover in April from Billie Eilish (more on her in a minute), and now singer-songwriter Andrew Combs takes on this Room on Fire track. His own music leans Nashville Americana, but from the crazy horns here, sounds like he’s been spending time in New Orleans.Continue reading »
Bluegrass is a genre big on covers, with any fiddler worth his strings able to whip out old mountain songs, folk traditionals, and anything Bill Monroe or John Hartford ever wrote. On their upcoming album Cover Story, though, Charlottesville bluegrass quintet Love Canon take on more novel source material: pop hits of the 1980s. In fact, they gravitated towards the least acoustic sounds around, pickin’ through electronic dance songs by the likes of Mr. Mister, Peter Gabriel, and the song we’re premiering below: Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence.” And we thought last year’s bluegrass Radiohead cover was inventive!Continue reading »
In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.
I first discovered VÉRITÉ via her insanely catchy pop 2014 song “Weekend.” It was only her second single, and yet I was already late to the party. The first single – “Strange Enough” – reached number one on Hype Machine and landed her as Twitter’s “#1 Most Viral Twitter Artist” of that week. And this was all before anyone knew her real name!Continue reading »
Last year I did a roundup of the Best Cover Songs of 1996. It was a fun project to retroactively compile one of our year-end lists for a year before Cover Me was born. I wanted to do it again this year, but continuing the twentieth-anniversary theme with 1997 seemed a little boring. Turns out 1997 also featured a bunch of Afghan Whigs covers.
So to mix it up, I decided to go a decade further back and look at 1987. Needless to say, the landscape looked very different for covers. For one, far more of that year’s biggest hits were covers than we saw for 1996. The year had #1 cover hits in Heart’s “Alone,” the Bangles’ “Hazy Shade of Winter,” Los Lobos’ “La Bamba,” Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” Club Nouveau’s “Lean on Me,” and Kim Wilde’s “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” Plus ubiquitous hits that didn’t quite top the charts, but remain staples of the songs-you-didn’t-know-were-covers lists, Buster Poindexter’s “Hot Hot Hot” and George Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set On You.”Continue reading »
Carla Bruni, the former model, actress, and first lady of France, has released a beautiful rendition of Depeche Mode’s oft-covered “Enjoy the Silence” as the first single off her upcoming English-language covers album, French Touch (out in October).
The song remains one of the legendary British band’s most recognized and beloved contributions to the beautiful soundscape they have created in the four decades they have been active. There have been tons of covers of “Enjoy The Silence” since its release in 1990, but Bruni’s version is sure to be independently admired, as she has treated this piece like an original, stripping it down to a very intimate level. Continue reading »
Follow all our Best of 2015 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.
I didn’t realize it until I began laying out our post, but this year’s Best Cover Songs list shares quite a few artists with last year’s. And some that showed up here the year before that. Jack White’s on his fourth appearance. And Jason Isbell and Hot Chip not only both reappear from last year, but have moved up in the rankings.
Though we’re always on the lookout for the new (and to be sure, there are plenty of first-timers here too), the number of repeat honorees illustrates how covering a song is a skill just like any other. The relative few artists who have mastered it can probably deliver worthy covers again and again.
How a great cover happens is something I’ve been thinking a lot about this year as I’ve been writing a series of articles diving deep into the creation of iconic cover songs through history (I posted two of them online, and the rest are being turned into a book). In every case the artist had just the right amount of reverence for the original song: honoring its intention without simply aping it. It’s a fine line, and one even otherwise able musicians can’t always walk. Plenty of iconic people don’t make good cover artists (I’d nominate U2 as an example: some revelatory covers of the band, but not a lot by them). Given the skill involved, perhaps it’s no surprise that someone who can do a good cover once can do it again.
So, to longtime readers, you will see some familiar names below. But you’ll also see a lot of new names, and they’re names you should remember. If the past is any guide, you may well see them again next year, and the year after that.
Click on over to page two to begin our countdown, and thanks for reading.