Dec 172018
 
best cover songs of 2018

Two things strike me as I scan through our list this year. This first is that many of the highest-ranking covers are tributes to recently-deceased icons. No surprise there, I suppose. But none actually pay tribute to artists that died in 2018. They honor those we’ve been honoring for two or three years now – your Pettys, your Princes, your Bowies. Hundreds of covers of each of these legends appeared in the first days after their deaths, but many of the best posthumous covers took longer to emerge.

Good covers take time. That principle – the cover-song equivalent of the slow food movement, perhaps – holds true throughout the list. Sure, a few here appear to have arisen from sudden moments of brilliance, flash-arranged for some concert or radio promo session. But many more reveal months or even years of painstaking work to nail every element. Making someone else’s song one’s own isn’t easy. These 50 covers took the time to get it right.

– Ray Padgett, Editor-in-Chief

Start the countdown on the next page…

NEXT PAGE →

Nov 192018
 
wil gold digger

Kanye West’s 2005 hit “Gold Digger” has origins that pass right through the heart of 20th century popular music. The story begins in 1954, when a black gospel group called The Southern Tones recorded a song called “It Must Be Jesus.” Its lyrics served as a warning to all sinners that Jesus is “Goin’ around” and “Takin’ names.” The song might have been lost to history, had it not been for a young R&B singer named Ray Charles who reworked it as “I Got A Woman.” The song would become one of Charles’ signature tracks and serve as an inspiration to Elvis and the Beatles, who both covered it.

Continue reading »

Oct 012018
 
best cover songs september
Al Green – Before the Next Teardrop Falls (Freddy Fender cover)


Sorry, Beyoncé; the biggest surprise release of the year might be Al Green’s sudden return after a decade away. Well, not totally away; he still conducts weekly services at his Memphis church and, when I attended, was liberally sprinkling quotes from “Love and Happiness” and “Take Me to the River” into his sermons. Best of all: This Freddy Fender cover sounds like Al hasn’t lost a step. It’s apparently a one-off, but hopefully recording it will whet his appetite to do more. Continue reading »

Mar 012018
 
charlotte gainsbourg runaway

Long before the world ever heard of Kanye West, the Gainsbourg family once gave a masterclass on the art of using controversy as a means of self-promotion. In 1985, experimental French pop legend Serge Gainsbourg and his then-13-year-old daughter Charlotte released a song called “Lemon Incest” about, well, you get the idea. The ensuing scandal helped the song climb to number two on the French pop charts. Charlotte has gone on to become an accomplished actress and singer in her own right (in 2011 Cover Me highlighted her great version of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like A Woman.”)

Gainsbourg recently performed a cover of Kanye West’s “Runaway” on the French television program Taratata. The tune originally appeared on West’s 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Cover Me also wrote a feature about five different covers of the song). For her take, Gainsbourg shortens the track from nine minutes to three. She drops several verses, including one describing digital photography of male genitalia and another containing a feline synonym for the female anatomy. You get the idea. Continue reading »

Feb 282018
 
best cover songs february

Today we continue the tradition we started way back one month ago. Since we’re still new at this, I’ll reiterate that our picks are unranked and semi-impulsive. Even the un-blurbed “Honorable Mentions” at the bottom aren’t necessarily worse than the rest; in many cases, we’ve just already written about them at length and have little else to say.

Okay, disclaimers behind us, let’s dive in. Continue reading »

Apr 132016
 
f1ae82e3-7f8f-4093-beac-e38b63dd87a1-640x427

For the first time since 808s and Heartbreaks, a new Kanye West album has been met with decidedly mixed reviews, from the ecstatic to the underwhelmed. Maybe in a few years it, like 808s will be hailed as a pioneering work that changed music. But, failing that, at least it inspired this amazing new cover – a Life of Pablo song done in the spaced-out style of 808s. Continue reading »