The Foo Fighters are no strangers to the strategic placement and eclectic choices of cover songs sprinkled throughout their setlists when they are on the road. And on their current 2018 world tour, they are certainly delivering the cover song goods. With Weezer along as the opening act for the down under leg, at a recent Melbourne show Dave Grohl called frontman Rivers Cuomo to the stage a for rousing rendition of the Kiss anthem “Detroit Rock City.” It was captured on a not-too-bad quality fan video.
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.
– Ray Padgett, Editor in Chief
(Illustration by Sarah Parkinson)
Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.
Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).
Today’s question, from Cover Me editor-in-chief Ray Padgett: What’s your favorite cover song of 2015 so far?
Dave Grohl broke his leg last week and had to cancel a bunch of shows. Given the spate of recent great Foo Fighters covers though, maybe he should have just turned those dates into tribute concerts. Tessa Rose Jackson’s amazing version of the “The Pretender” might work for a quieter midpoint, but a tribute show should definitely kick off with Los Angeles R&B singer Gallant performing his storming new cover of “Learn to Fly.”
Few musicians would have the artistic audacity to imagine Foo Fighters‘ aggressive guitar-chugging “The Pretender” as a folksy banjo-driven track, but dutch multi-instrumentalist Tessa Rose Jackson isn’t one to shy away from a challenge, effortlessly taking on the American rock group favorite and transforming it into a light and playful homage.
Holy Shits! I’ll hope you’ll pardon my French y’all, for this was just the name the Foo Fighters recently gave themselves when returning to the stage after a recent gig in Delaware. For their encore performance they thought they would do something different and perform as a bar band (and introduced themselves under the aforementioned name) bashing out some rock classics.