Apr 242013

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

Today marks the debut of a new feature at Cover Me, called 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).

For our first Cover Me Q&A question, we thought we’d pick one both basic and complex, too easy and too hard, that anyone who regularly visits this site has more than likely contemplated: What’s your favorite cover song? Here are our answers; we welcome yours in the comments section below… Continue reading »

Jul 122011

Regular readers know that every Tuesday brings another installment in the A.V. Club’s terrific Undercover series. Bands show up in their round room and cover a song from a list. A simple premise that produces terrific results.

Today, though, the preeminent pop culture website is doing something different. In lieu of their normal routine, they recorded seven covers in various Chicago locations of songs having to do with summer. They’ll be posting these “Summer Breeze” covers all day and, as a result, we’ll be updating this post all day. Check back here or follow us on Twitter to see when more get added. Continue reading »

Jan 112011

Limelight just announced the most-recorded cover songs of 2010. And the winner is…well, don’t hold your breath.

We’ll preface this by noting the word recorded. Our friends at Limelight help artists gain permission from and pay royalties to copyright holders. If you want to make money off a cover of “I Gotta Feeling,” you’d better talk to them. This means, though, that this list may not match up with a “Most-Covered Songs of 2010” list (which would be impossible to compile anyway). Because while YouTube stars and MySpace wannabes swarmed popular songs like “Bad Romance” and “Teenage Dream,” most of these were live takes or Internet freebies. Such off-the-cuff releases don’t count here, which buffers the list against the trendy buzz covers we hold so dear. Continue reading »

Aug 172010

Brian Wilson first heard “Rhapsody in Blue” at age two. In his telling, he thought it was “the most beautiful thing in the world” and asked his mom to play it over and over again.

Fast-forward 66 years. Fast-forward through “Surfin’ USA,” “I Get Around,” and Pet Sounds. Fast-forward through decades of seclusion and a twenty-first century comeback (fueled by 2004’s long-awaited Smile). A lot has changed over the decades. Wilson’s love of “Rhapsody in Blue” hasn’t.

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin builds on that early appreciation with an unabashedly loving tribute to a giant of American song. A few years ago George Gershwin’s estate approached Wilson with an irresistible offer: complete some of Gershwin’s unfinished melodies. Wilson whittled 114 snippets down to just two, to which he added lyrics and arrangements. In “The Like in I Love You,” muted trumpet gently introduces in a rich orchestral production that sounds as carefree as any of the early Beach Boys hits. “Nothing But Love” hits a little harder, crunchy guitar (a rarely-seen instrument on this album) ushering in a herky-jerky pep rally. Continue reading »

One Year!

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Oct 212008

It’s a big week here at Cover Me: our one-year birthday. Not only that, but today is yours truly’s birthday (though I’m older than one). So though it’s been a rough week for cover bloggers, with bowhowdy getting his files taken down and Fong getting a cease-and-desist letter, let’s celebrate these two birthdays with some tunes. I was going to do a theme on birthdays or celebrations, but thought, this is a special week that deserves special treatment. So for the first time ever, I’m saying to hell with a theme. I’m going to post what I want. Many of these are among my favorite covers ever; others are just some I’m into right now. Enjoy all of ‘em, and here’s to another good year of music!

Billy Stewart – Summertime (Gershwin Brothers)
If you held a gun to my head (please don’t) and made me choose my favorite cover ever, I’d probably mutter something about this one. The song’s an old classic, a beautiful song, but one I often find rather dreary. As people drone on and on, you wonder if they enjoy the summertime so much, why do they sound so depressed? Not the case with Stewart, who bebops his way through shrieks, scat vocals, and false endings to blast the sound of summer right into your eardrums. And this version has Bob Dylan introing the song too – bonus! [Buy]

Jamelia – Numb (Linkin Park)
I originally discovered this tune on the sadly-defunct Copy, Right, the blog that pioneered the cover tune before any other. This song was huge for a while, and then quickly forgotten as a relic of our angsty middle school years. Jamelia breathes a second life in it, keeping the energy but bringing out a tune buried deep in the faux-anger of the original. [Buy]

We Are Scientists – Sie Hat Was Vermisst (Bela B.)
Love them though I do, in many way We Are Scientists is a predictable brand, jaunty rock with pop hooks in the vein of Franz Ferdinand. On their cover choices, however, they take elaborate risks, having improbably successes with everything from Boyz II Men to Sigur Rós. The most risky must be this, an obscure song by a solo album of the popular German punk group Die Ärzte. How these scientists even discovered this tune is a mystery itself, but you don’t need to understand the words to hear the dark tension. [Buy]

Jars of Clay – All My Tears (Julie Miller)
Now here’s something a little more uplifting, a gospel tune by these Christian rockers that, if you believe this stuff, might bring tears itself. [Buy]

R.E.M. – First We Take Manhattan (Leonard Cohen)
My favorite Leonard Cohen song, I posted Kid Harpoon’s riotous cover in this blog’s infancy (this post, though the link’s dead), but this one is a slow-builder, taking six minutes to pound away at your resistance. It sounds so much like an R.E.M. song I’m wondering if Cohen plagiarized. [Buy]

Patti Smith – Gloria (Van Morrison)
Smith adds enough of her own words that it’s practically an original, but her version’s true heart still lies in its punk take on Van the Man. Hers is a sneer for the ages, a sound of its time and above it that sound fresh and vibrant today. [Buy]

Elliott Murphy – Blind Willie McTell (Bob Dylan)
Live covers are a risky business. When an artist goes to the effort to record a cover on an album, it usually shows that they have something new to bring to it. In a live show, however, people can play whatever the hell they want. Of Montreal’s much-talked about take on “Smells Like Teen Spirit” must have been a blast for everyone there, but for those of us that missed it, it just sounds like another boring cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Exceptions like this make live covers worth seeking out yet. One of my favorite Dylan covers ever, this acoustic duet features fabulous fretwork that perfectly matches Murphy and his unnamed companion’s crescendoing voices. [Buy]

Sharif – Disturbia (Rihanna)
Sure, saying this is one of my favorite covers of all time may be a bit of a stretch, but like many I haven’t been able to get this tune out of my head for weeks. I posted a cover of it last week. Here’s another. [Buy]

Everything But The Girl – Downtown Train (Tom Waits)
Rod Stewart’s version makes you vomit. This one may make you weep. [Buy]

Bruce Springsteen – Detroit Medley (Mitch Ryder, et al.)
Let’s bring in the new year of blogging on a hard-rocking note. Springsteen is unmatched at 50’s covers, and this live favorite never fails to get me dancing. Good golly, miss Molly! [Buy]


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Jul 112008

-This post’s a few days late cause I realized I accidentally posted it at my other blog Monday. Whoops!-

As the weather’s heating up, it seemed about time for a seasonal post.

Billy Stewart – Summertime (George Gershwin)
Stewart’s version of this classic – wikipedia says there are more than 2,600 known covers – is always in the running as one of my favorite covers ever. If you haven’t heard it yet, this version trumps other excellent renditions by everyone from Janis Joplin to Angelique Kidjo. And even if you had, check out this mp3 – it features introductory notes from Bob Dylan!

TEA – Summer in the City (The Lovin’ Spoonful)
A lost treasure from the psychedelic era, this ’75 single adds some funk guitar to horn swagger that keeps the original’s attitude but updates the sound (though by doing so, it ironically sounds even more dated).

Bruce Springsteen – Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran)
Bruce and the E Street Band just played this one for the first time in 27 years. It used to be a concert staple though, so here’s an older version, from Cleveland ’78.

Wakey! Wakey! – California Girls (The Beach Boys)
No band has encapsulated summer more than Brian Wilson and co. Wakey’s little toy piano version plunks along almost enough to compensate for the missing harmonies.

The Ramones – Surf City (Jan & Dean)
Off their covers album Acid Eaters, this shows the late-period Ramones having a bit of fun, punking out this Beach Boys-wannabe classic with tongues firmly in cheek.

Dartmouth Aires – The Boys of Summer (Don Henley)
A Capella. You either love it or hate.

Steve Wynn Quintet – Summer Wine (Nancy Sinatra / Lee Hazelwood)
I can’t claim to be familiar with the original, but this haunting cover combines some Johnny Cash outlaw bounce with Emmylou Harris sass.

PYT – Summer of ’69 (Bryan Adams)
When I hear the original, I think about the 80’s more than the 60’s, and all the obnoxiousness of the overblown rawk sound. Stripping it back to some indie-electro is an interesting touch that, whether you think it works or not, makes you hear the song anew.

Little Richard – Dancing in the Street (Martha Reeve and the Vandellas)
It sounds like a regular studio jam session, with Richard shouting out instructions to the musicians and screeching over his backing singers. Almost as fun as that Jagger/Bowie 80’s-tastic video.

Ray Pasnen – Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet)
I hate this song with a burning passion, and finding a cover without some ear-bleeding-inducing steel drums was damn near impossible. This one is interesting though, an acoustic guitar version where he sings it to the tune of Hendrix’s “Little Wing.”