Dec 162011

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.

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Richard Thompson’s solo debut, Henry the Human Fly, began with a song that contained the line, “Don’t expect the words to ring too sweetly on the ear.” This would become his songwriting credo, as he penned lyrics that were incisive, emotive, and not the least bit sentimental, bringing them home with an equally biting guitar. His wife Linda sang with a powerful clarity, her voice full of aching, mischief, mourning, celebration, or whatever else the song might call for. She’s fully entitled to her equal billing. On their debut release as a couple, 1974’s I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight, Richard and Linda Thompson report what they’ve encountered on a very British Desolation Row, in a musical language that could have been written half a millennium ago or the day after tomorrow. Continue reading »

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