Follow all our Best of 2014 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.
A few months ago, I read an interesting interview with an artist named Nouela. You probably haven’t heard of her, but you may have heard her music. She’s become a specialist in a weird but growing niche: covers recorded for movie and television trailers. Whether doing a piano “Sound of Silence” to promote a new HBO show or a brooding “Black Hole Sun” to promote Liam Neeson punching people, she’s found a quickly-growing way of getting her covers out there.
It struck me as part of a growing trend we’ve seen. More and more great covers seem to come from unexpected places. Sure, you’ve got still your standby sources, your b-sides, tribute albums, and radio shows. But new avenues for covers have increasingly crept in. This year saw a Sam Smith cover that is only available to hear under Grey’s Anatomy dialog (thankfully he’s recorded a few live versions too) and a whole covers album recorded to plug a Canadian TV show. Brands have fully embraced covers too, most recently My Morning Jacket’s “This Land Is Your Land” recorded for North Face ads, or Charli XCX and Bleachers trading covers for Kia.
We don’t care where they originated when we make our year-end lists, though, and we would up with some of everything. In our top five alone, we’ve got a live radio session, a deluxe-edition bonus track, and a cover hiding in plain sight on one of the most acclaimed country records of the year. You have to keep an eye on more places than ever to spot the best covers these days. Wherever they come from, we’re glad to have ‘em.
Click on over to page two to begin our countdown, and thanks for reading.
- Ray Padgett, Editor in Chief
(Illustration by Sarah Parkinson)
On his new 7″ single “Would You Fight For My Love?”, Jack White covers an obscure artist called Hello=Fire. In the ‘Seven Degrees of Jack White’ game though, they’re only a few steps away. Hello=Fire is a project from White’s bandmate in the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather, Dean Fertita. They released one album in 2009, and the closing song “Parallel” was co-written with another Raconteurs bandmate: Brendan Benson. Continue reading »
The Swedish sister duo may be a lot of things, but afraid to approach a song from a different angle is definitely not one of them. Continue reading »
Adele dominated the cover song landscape in 2011, but Two-Aught-Twelve saw no similar galvanizing figure. Yes Lana Del Rey got covered a lot, but Leonard Cohen and Arcade Fire also seemed to garner an unexpected landslide of great covers (and speaking of landslides, so did Fleetwood Mac). “Call Me Maybe” was a huge hit that didn’t lead to much in the way of classic covers, and few seem to have even bothered attempting the Korean raps on “Gangnam Style.”
Which means that cover songs in 2012 were more diverse, ambitious, and left-field than ever before. A given YouTube search or Hype Machine browse would be as likely to turn up forgotten hits or underappreciated songwriters as it would the latest Top 40 smash. Find a sampling of all the diversity in Cover Me’s official Best Cover Songs of 2012 countdown. Start with #40-31 on the next page, and check back daily as we’ll be adding more til we hit #1.
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!
Paul David Hewson was born in Dublin on this day in 1960. It was in his teens, however, that he was given the moniker that would become an immediately recognizable name the world over, the name by which he would be known as for both his musical fame and his international influence – Bono. (The shades would come later.) Bono is many things, but it is important not to forget that, along with being a philanthropist and entrepreneur, he is (as U2 frontman) a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and 22-time Grammy winner. Continue reading »
Jack White’s most recent record is a solo album titled Blunderbuss, released earlier this week. It’s been met with mostly positive reviews, some of which mention the New York Times‘ profile of White as a way to interpret Blunderbluss, some of which go beyond the standard structure of a review and venture more into an informal essay on how he is the most important rock star of our time, and/or some of the reviews touch upon the music here and there. The album is apparently filled with darker experiences like frustration, disappointment, disenchantment, and emptiness, all still set to White’s gritty blues sound. Within all of that is a cover of Little Willie John’s “I’m Shakin.” Continue reading »
Third Man Records’ latest installment in their Blues Series features legendary Welsh crooner Tom Jones. The blue-eyed soul singer adds his unmistakable voice to Jack White’s rifftastic guitar work on a cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Evil”. White lends his signature production style to the 1954 Chicago blues standard written by Willie Dixon, who also played bass on the original recording. Recently Jace Everett recorded a version of the song, which was used as the featured track for the third season finale of the HBO series True Blood. Continue reading »
When people look back in 2011 in music a decade from now, one name will come to mind: Adele. In our little world of cover songs, she dominated. Everyone covered Adele this year. It’s not just that we saw more covers of “Rolling in the Deep” than any other song; they beat out second place (probably “Pumped Up Kicks”) by like a factor of five! We generally try to look for larger cover trends in these annual wrap-ups, but it’s hard to remember anything else from this year except the year-long onslaught of Adele covers hitting our mailbox.
There’s only one “Rolling in the Deep” cover in this year’s list though. The rest are all over the place. Some of the artists listed built their covers with lush soundscapes, thick beats, and intricate string work. Others just took guitars or pianos and bowled us over with the emotion in their voices. There may not be much of an overarching “Year in Covers” narrative, but that means there’s a cover or two for everyone. From feel-good takes on rap songs to kill-yourself versions of pop songs, this year’s list features flips, flops, and genre switcheroos of all sorts. A good cover should be informed by the source material but stand on its own, and we’ll be unrolling the 50 finest examples of songs doing just that all week. Start with #50-41 on the next page and check back daily as we count down to the best cover of 2011.