May 312019
 

Check out the best covers of past months here.

best cover songs may
AURORA – Across the Universe (The Beatles cover)

The first of a couple Beatles covers this month, AURORA’s “Across the Universe” doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it just removes a few spokes. The Norwegian singer-songwriter strips everything away but keys and a bunch of voices (there’s a guitarist too, though barely audible). It’s all the song needs. Continue reading »

May 232019
 
joan as police woman covers prince

On her terrific 2009 covers album Cover (forgettable title, memorable NSFW artwork), Joan As Police Woman covered everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Britney Spears. And those were just the first two tracks. The disparate source material worked together wonderfully in Joan Wasser’s quirky indie-pop style, and we’ve been anxious for a sequel. We’re still waiting, but on her new best-of-plus-outtakes collection Joanthology, she includes a few Cover highlights (T.I.’s “Whatever You Like,” Sonic Youth’s “Sacred Trickster,” Public Enemy’s “She Watch Channel Zero”) and adds one new cover, of Prince’s “Kiss.” Continue reading »

May 292018
 
bob dylan 1963 town hall tribute

Last Friday, I posted a few videos from last week’s Town Hall tribute to Bob Dylan’s 1963 concert at the same venue. I included Bill Murray, Steve Buscemi, Geoff Muldaur, Emily Haines, and Bob Neuwirth’s performances, and promised I’d add more videos as they landed. Well, they never landed. But we’ve got the next-best thing: a bootleg audio recording of the full concert. It includes beautiful covers of songs Bob performed at that 1963 concert by the Milk Carton Kids, Laurie Anderson, Mark Kozelek, and many more. And we’ll get to them…but first we have to talk about the dog in the room. Continue reading »

May 132011
 

Ben Sollee, Kentucky-born songwriter and exceptionally funky cellist, has certainly been busy lately. Along with releasing his fantastic new album Inclusions this week, he found time to sit down with The Voice Project to record a cover of Joan as Police Woman’s “Real Life.” For those not familiar with The Voice Project, they’re a charity effort that has employed artists ranging from less-known Brooklyn fixtures to Peter Gabriel to make short chains of artists covering each other’s songs with the goal of attracting donations to help women in war-torn Uganda. Not only is it a great cause, but they’ve recorded some amazing and unlikely covers. Continue reading »

Jan 032011
 

Whistling may be all the rage in indie music these days (see: Andrew Bird), but you know what’s due for a comeback? Humming. Okay, I’m not sure humming was ever popular even by the same low standards we’re using for whistling, but this cover makes the case. After all, what other wordless vocalization both indicates that you feel “very well” and shows your “feelings of emptiness”? Thanks, nonsensical Wikipedia entry!

In the latest Voice Project video, the men of Joan As Police Woman hum through a reimagined version of Broken Social Scene’s “Lover’s Spit.” After a little a cappella work by the whole group, Joan Wasser takes charge, proving strikingly talented at belting it out while playing the violin. The rest of the band adds drumming to their humming. Though they lay back, she projects a symphony’s worth of power in her vocals (and violin solo). Continue reading »

Nov 232010
 

Seeing the name Britney Spears appear anywhere in relation to cover songs should strike fear into your heart. The infamous pop music icon has a storied history of disastrous covers, made all the more notorious by the popularity and elitist appeal of the classics she has mangled. Any listing of all-time worst cover songs is all but certain to include either her 2000 mauling of “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” (which even this Spears apologist admits is truly dreadful) or the 2002 reincarnation of “I Love Rock N Roll” that got one bewildered journalist noting that “Joan Jett would be rolling in her grave if she were dead.”

Fortunately, it appears that the pop superstar may have grown wise to the ire her cover songs inspire and withdrew from a game she clearly hadn’t the skills to play. Meanwhile, Britney effect has continued to pervade the world of cover songs on the flip side of the coin: not as one who covers but rather as one who is covered – arguably a weightier assessment of artistic importance than a knack for musical reinterpretation of another’s work. Some of the covers out there of Britney Spears tunes are excellent – and even most of the rest turn out more interesting than your average remake. Continue reading »