Jan 312019
 
best cover songs january
Beck – Tarantula (Colourbox cover)

Few expected the movie Roma to be as big a hit as it was (it’s tied for the most Oscar nominations). Even Sony must not have, as they’re just getting around to releasing a soundtrack two months after release – and as Music Inspired By The Film Roma, i.e. must that doesn’t actually appear in the film. But Beck’s beautiful cover of 4AD group Colourbox arrives better late than never. Accompanied by an orchestra and Leslie Feist on backing vocals, he’s never sounded more like Peter Gabriel. Continue reading »

Jan 182019
 
hozier say my name

Hozier just announced his first album in four years. To coincide with the news, he performed a highly unexpected cover for Spotify: Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.” Needless to say, if you’ve ever heard a note of Hozier’s music, it sounds nothing like the original.

The sound actually recalls another artist he recently covered, Van Morrison. Hozier brings a heap of soul and passion to this slowgroove, complete with organ, horns, and backing singers (they’re about the only hint left at the original). It’s a radical reimagining of a silly song, and brings about as much profundity as one can to lyrics about runnin’ game and actin’ shady. We’d love to hear him tackle on of Beyoncé’s more serious songs next time. In the mean time, listen to it below, and his aforementioned Van Morrison cover too. Continue reading »

Jun 292018
 

‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

beyonce covers

We all know the reason everyone’s talking about Beyoncé this month: It’s the fifteenth anniversary of her debut solo album Dangerously in Love!

Okay, maybe that’s not the only Beyoncé news setting the internet aflutter these days – but it is the reason we initially decided to do this list. So it was extra nice of her to drop a surprise album with her husband, what’s-his-name, to give us something else to tie this into. In tribute, we’re writing this entire post from the Louvre.

There aren’t any Everything Is Love songs covered here, but we can’t imagine the first great “Apeshit” cover is far off. And every other facet of her career is represented, from the Destiny’s Child radio hits to her early solo pop jams to the more recent political tracks from Lemonade and beyond. Appropriately enough, the artists doing the covering represent an equally wide spectrum. I challenge you to find another list on the internet containing both serpentwithfeet and Reba McEntire.

So let’s start the countdown (heh) of the best B covers ever. All hail the Queen! Continue reading »

Jan 272017
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

Tom_Rosenthal

London’s Tom Rosenthal writes songs with titles like “Toby Carr’s Difficult Relationship With Tuna” and “Watching You Watching YouTube in the Dark.” His piano playing is less playing than painting, capturing various shades and hues with his arrangements. Here at Cover Me, we’re glad to do our part in turning his designation as “Britain’s Best Unknown Songwriter” into a thing of the past. We just choose to do it by featuring his work on other people’s songwriting.
Continue reading »

Dec 162016
 

Follow all our Best of 2016 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

best cover songs

2016 in music will be most remembered for one thing: death. It seemed like an unprecedented list of major musical figures left us this year: David Bowie, Prince, Merle Haggard, Leonard Cohen. The list, sadly, goes on and on.

Prominent passings affect many aspects of the music world, but the impact is particularly clear in the world of cover songs: When an artist dies, a lot of people cover his or her songs. The world was hardly hurting for Prince covers before April 21, but afterwards, to paraphrase the man himself, we went crazy. Bruce Springsteen alone became a one-man tribute machine, covering Bowie, Prince, The Eagles’ Glenn Frey, and Suicide’s Alan Vega after they died (it’s a shame his tour ended before Cohen passed because he’d do a great “Everybody Knows”). Our list this year features a number of these tribute covers – though both the Cohen covers listed were actually released before his death, proving there’s no need to wait to honor one of the greats.

Our list also features fantastic final covers by the recently departed, brilliant song-interpreters like Sharon Jones and Allen Toussaint. The fact that they died may add extra meaning to these new songs, but they’d make the list regardless. Whether they performed wonderful covers or wrote wonderful songs for others to cover, we miss these artists because they were great. They don’t need any “death bump.”

The year wasn’t all dire though. Our list features many covers by and of artists who are alive in every sense of the word. Kendrick Lamar and Drake represent the new world of hip-hop, Kacey Musgraves and Sturgill Simpson in country, Animal Collective and Joyce Manor in indie rock, and in too many other genres to name. Jason Isbell currently holds a streak here, making his third consecutive appearance this year.

We also have plenty of artists whose names I won’t highlight here, because you probably won’t have heard of them…yet. We’re not in the business of predicting fame – the music industry is far too fickle for that – but some of our past best-cover winners have gone on to big things this year, like Chance the Rapper (2014 winner) and The Weeknd (2012 winner). Hell, Sturgill (#3 in 2014) just got an Album of the Year Grammy nomination!

Those early covers may have helped kick off such success. A revelatory cover song can help a musician attract early attention. When I interviewed Mark Mothersbaugh recently, he said no one understood what Devo was doing until they covered “Satisfaction.” A familiar song done Devo-style finally made the connection for people. “Whip It” and other original hits would not be far behind.

Maybe some of this year’s under-the-radar names will go on to Weeknd-level superstardom. But even if they don’t, all these covers, by household names and Garageband geeks alike, deserve recognition. We’ll miss all the great musicians who left us this year, but it’s gratifying to see so many promising younger artists coming in to fill their shoes.

– Ray Padgett, Editor in Chief
(Illustration by Sarah Parkinson)

PS. Last year in this space, I mentioned I’m writing a book about cover songs. Well, Cover Me (the book, that is) is finished and will be out next year! In addition to the aforementioned Mothersbaugh, I interviewed Roger Daltrey about “Summertime Blues,” David Byrne about “Take Me to the River,” and many more. Follow our Facebook for updates on preorder, etc. Now, on to the countdown…

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Jul 132015
 
They-Might-Be-Giants-Press-Photo-770x470

The A.V. Club’s Undercover series has been producing great covers for many years now with the same premise: a list of songs chosen by the staff and fans, slowly whittled down by the bands coming in to cover them. It has resulted in incredible combinations (GWAR’s version of “Carry on My Wayward Son” being the most startling) and plenty of entertainment. One of the most creative renditions of a tough cover, Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping,” came from the stalwart experimental rockers They Might Be Giants. The Johns (singers Linnell and Flansburgh) returned to the A.V. Club recently to cover Destiny’s Child‘s “Bills, Bills, Bills.” Continue reading »