We already counted down the 50 Best Cover Songs of 2018 but, inevitably, many of our staff’s personal favorites get left off. So, before we begin scouting for what might become the best cover of 2019, we share the best of the rest, an unranked hodgepodge of worthy covers that only just missed our year-end countdown.
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)
Just two weeks into their Fall 2012 tour, Jersey indie punkers Screaming Females have had to cancel the rest of the dates. The word from their publicist:
“Since falling ill with mononucleosis in May, Marissa Paternoster has been experiencing severe chronic pains that have rendered it very difficult for Screaming Females to tour. To ensure that Marissa has adequate time to heal so that Screaming Females can continue, it brings us great sadness to announce that all scheduled dates after October 10th will be cancelled.”
It’s a good week for quasi-reunions. Two days ago, Everything But the Girl got back together for an xx cover. Now we hear Garbage, the alt-rock giants who lay dormant for four years, return with a cover of their own. It’s U2’s “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses,” from the same tribute album that gave us Damien Rice’s “One” and Jack White’s “Love Is Blindness.”
This Week on Bandcamp rounds up our favorite covers to hit the site in the past seven days.
Today’s Bandcamp feature (our 20th) takes an unexpected theme: girl power! Four of the five songs at least come from female artists or lady-fronted bands. They range from icons embodying the spirit of rock in a female frame (Beth Gibbons of Portishead) to groups who embody something less than the feminist ideal (the appropriately-named Sugababes). And then there’s a song originally by Big Star, who represent none of these things, but just couldn’t be skipped.