Aug 162018
 

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

madonna covers

Today is Madonna’s birthday, when the Material Girl herself turns – well, one isn’t supposed to talk of such things, so let’s just say it’s a nice round number. Round enough for us to devote this month’s Best Covers countdown to her many hits and, in a few cases, underexposed deep cuts.

A very few cases, to be honest. More than anyone we’ve done these lists about before, Madonna remains best known as a singles artist (even Beyoncé now gets thought of as an album artist). As a result, it’s the singles a cover artist tends to focus on – f’rinstance, the song “Like a Prayer” has been covered more than every other track on the album Like a Prayer combined. The repeated dipping into the same dozen or so songs sets the bar pretty high. You can’t just tweak a tune here and adjust it there. To stand out amidst the million other “La Isla Bonita” covers, an artist needs to attempt something radical.

Many have taken up the challenge. Not one cover on our list would you confuse with Madonna’s version for a second. These artists translate her dance-pop smashes into garage-punk, gypsy-jazz, reggae-soul, and a few genres that no amount of hyphenates will do justice (just wait ’til you reach that Sonic Youth side project).

So get into the groove below. And, if you have any favorite covers we missed, express yourself in the comments! Continue reading »

Jul 312017
 
dont stop believing covers

When people argue over the Worst Song of All Time, inevitably someone will mention Journey’s (in)famous “Don’t Stop Believin’.” If Starship had never built that city on rock and roll, it would probably take the crown.

Frankly, I like other Journey songs, but “Don’t Stop Believin'” deserves most of the hate it gets. Its ubiquity on class rock radio, bad karaoke stages, and every college a cappella group that ever donned bow ties has made in insufferable (thank the Glee cover inexplicably going to #4 on the charts for the last one). Even The Sopranos couldn’t give it a coolness bump. It is not only Journey’s biggest song by a mile, it’s one of the most well-known songs of the 1980s, period.

The funny thing is that when it came out, not only was it not Journey’s biggest hit, it wasn’t even the biggest hit on that same album. “Open Arms” off Escape went to #2. “Who’s Crying Now” went to #4. “Don’t Stop Believin’,” meanwhile, barely scraped its way into the top ten.

Escape turns 36 this week, which might occasion a Full Album if anyone ever covered any of the other songs off it. But they don’t. They only cover “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Continue reading »

Jul 072014
 

Mark Oliver Everett, sometimes known simply as E, always pulls off great covers. And he often does it best when he slows the song down wringing every last bit of emotion from the source material. Recently, the Eels frontman performed a version of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ in Amsterdam, in tribute to Steve Perry, the ex-frontman of Journey. This tribute to Perry seemed in response to the ex-Journey man partially coming out of his self-imposed retirement to perform with the Eels at recent gigs in the US. Continue reading »

Jun 072014
 

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!

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate this thing called life.

Electric word, life. It means a mighty long time but in this case, we’re talking about 56 years and one man – Prince Rogers Nelson. You probably know him as Prince, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, an unpronounceable symbol, The Purple One, Joey Coco or (in certain circles) That Skinny Motherfucker with the High Voice.
Continue reading »

Apr 302013
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

1961’s Blue Hawaii marked the start of Elvis Presley’s long and painful slide down the dull razor blade of mediocrity. The movie has little plot, bland acting, and inane dialogue that sounds more suited to the romantic Anakin Skywalker (“You wanna know something – on you, wet is my favorite color”). Meanwhile, its soundtrack featured emetic material like “Rock-A-Hula Baby” and “Ito Eats.” But we’re ready to forgive all the minute we hear “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Sure, it took a few takes to get it right (give this outtake a listen if you’re in a spot where you won’t get in trouble), but you can’t deny Presley’s performance here, and it would be flat out wrong to try.
Continue reading »

Mar 102011
 

This March, we pit 64 Beatles covers against each other in what we call Moptop Madness.

Yesterday’s winners: Dirt Poor Robins, “Eleanor Rigby” and Mark Heard, “I’m Looking Through You”

Four strong contenders today. Alison Krauss sets her bluegrassy “I Will” against Neil Cowley Trio’s jazzed-out “Revolution 9” (yes, that “Revolution 9”). Then, an indie-alt battle between eels’ “I’m a Loser” and the Breeders’ “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.”

Listen to each pairing below, then vote for your favorite. For added sway, try to convince others to vote your way in the comments. Voting closes in 24 hours. Continue reading »