Mar 262020
 
ari lennox walk on by

After “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Walk On By” is Dionne Warwick’s biggest hit of the ’60s and it’s one of her most iconic songs. The song, written for her by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, is also one of her most covered, with countless versions including hits by Isaac Hayes, Sybil and many others. There are so many covers, it’s hard to imagine a new take on the song. Continue reading »

Mar 252020
 

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

aretha franklin cover songs

August 16 has long been a day of infamy in the history of American popular music. It started in 1977 when Elvis Presley, the King of Rock n’ Roll, passed away. Forty-one years later, another member of rock royalty also died: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Though she was older and her death less of a shock to the cultural landscape, I still remember the exact moment when I heard the news. I was with my family driving home from Sesame Place in Pennsylvania listening to the Beatles channel on SiriusXM. The DJ interrupted to tell us the sad news and in Franklin’s honor played her version of “Let It Be.” Continue reading »

Sep 172019
 
cover songs 1969

This marks the fourth year I’ve done a big anniversary countdown (after 1996, 1987, and 1978). It also proved to be the most challenging. There were a lot of covers released in 1969. In fact, according to covers-and-samples database WhoSampled, there were more than in any of the other years we’ve done. Their database lists 3,110 covers, which is surely still a small fraction.

The reason for the cover song’s proliferation seems clear to me after going through them all: Popular bands released a lot more music back then. Aretha Franklin released two albums in 1969. So did The Byrds, Elvis Presley, Joe Cocker, Johnny Cash, Johnny Winter, and Nina Simone. Creedence Clearwater Revival and Merle Haggard released three albums apiece. James Brown topped them all with four. To get that kind of output, artists would pad their albums with covers. Every 1969 album by every artist I just mentioned includes at least one cover. Many include several. A few are all covers. It adds up.

Impressively, many of those covers reinterpreted songs that had come out within the previous year. This entire list could easily have been “Hey Jude” covers. “Wichita Lineman” and “Light My Fire” came up constantly too (the latter song slightly older, but it had hit the charts again in 1968). Even songs from 1968’s soundtrack to Hair got covered endlessly in 1969.

Even beyond “Hey Jude,” Beatles covers dominated the year. I’m not going to go back through the entire 3,110 covers and count, but if you told me Beatles covers made up a full half of those, I wouldn’t be shocked. Add Bob Dylan covers to that side of the scale and it’s probably true. Beatles songs got covered in every conceivable genre for every conceivable audience. Jazz and swing and folk and proto-metal Beatles covers everywhere the eye can see. Plenty of people cover the Beatles these days, sure, but trust me: It’s nothing like it was in 1969.

So wheedling all those down to the top 50 proved incredibly difficult. But it means this is maybe the top-to-bottom strongest set thus far, and it killed me to leave some off (that’s why our Patreon supporters will get a set of 69 bonus tracks – so join now).

One note: I left off Woodstock performances. For one, we counted down the 50 best covers performed there last month. But more importantly, most people did not actually hear those covers until the movie and soundtrack came out in 1970. Jimi Hendrix performed his iconic Star-Spangled Banner – pretty much everyone’s top cover of the weekend – to a nearly empty field. Most of the audience had left before he punched in at 9 AM that Monday morning. That said, several of the classic covers performed at Woodstock were released as singles or on albums the same year – including Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from My Friends” – and those studio versions make this list.

Now, let the sunshine in with the 50 best covers of 1969.

The countdown begins on page 2…

May 312018
 
best cover songs may

The usual disclaimer: Our monthly “Best Cover Songs” aren’t ranked, and the “Honorable Mentions” aren’t necessarily worse than the others.

Update: Hear me discuss this list, along with our Best Pink Floyd Covers ranking, on SiriusXM Volume:
https://soundcloud.com/siriusxmentertainment/ray-padgett-of-covermesongscom-favorite-covers-in-may-covers-of-pink-floyd

Angus and Julia Stone – Passionfruit (Drake cover)


Three prominent indie artists covered Drake’s “Passionfruit” this month: Franz Ferdinand, Cornelius, and, the best of the bunch, Angus and Julia Stone. Covering a rap song is easier, I suppose, when there’s no actual rapping. Few political or racial minefields in the lyrics for artists to navigate help too (for a counterexample: this month’s worst cover). For Triple J’s great series “Like a Version,” Angus and Julia Stone brought their beautiful harmonies to a smooth soul bed. It floats like Gram and Emmylou singing a Marvin Gaye song. Continue reading »

Aug 272017
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Today we conclude our look at six decades of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me,” the timeless Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic. Click here to read about the ’60s, here for the ’70s, here for the ’80s, here for the ’90s, and here for the ’00s. Then keep reading for the big finish…

Part VI: The ’10s

Two and a half years shy of the end, we’re about to surpass the total number of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me” covers produced in any decade, including the ‘60s! Like MTV before it, YouTube is helping to drive this output. To be clear, we’re also not considering every bad amateur effort out there. There’s some carryover of the jazz-influenced versions from the ’00s, but the real story up to now is the sophistication and maturity that’s developed. In general, it’s as if the song, to no one’s surprise, is aging like an exceptional cabernet. So far this decade…

Continue reading »

Aug 222017
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Today (8/22) marks the 53rd anniversary of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me” making its first appearance on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. First recorded in 1963 as an unreleased demo sung by 22-year-old Dionne Warwick, a soon-to-be Bacharach protégé, it’s been covered well over 150 times since, with at least a half dozen of those achieving varying degrees of Billboard chart success. It continues to be a goldmine for its authors, Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It’s not just popular to record, either – add in commercial uses of the song, from TV ads to Xena: Warrior Princess to Mad Men, and you’ll see another huge revenue stream from a song that’s become totally ingrained in modern day popular culture.

With so many versions released over such a long period of time, we found it impossible to narrow the entire list of covers down to only three standouts. So we’ve listened to every version we could find, and in a Cover Me first, we’ll give you the bottom line by decade, starting today with the Sixties. We’ll even throw in some honorable and noteworthy mentions too!
Continue reading »