We first encountered French pop superstar Christine and the Queens when she covered Kanye West’s “Heartless” with an unlikely twist: mixing in bits of 1973 French hit “Les Paradis Perdus.” Knowing that, it should be no surprise that the newly short-haired Christine doesn’t play her Rihanna cover for the BBC straight. Instead, throughout her powerful rendition of Rihanna’s “Kiss It Better,” she sprinkles in lines from Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.”
Arctic Monkeys – Lipstick Vogue (Elvis Costello cover)
Arctic Monkeys got a lot of attention covering the Strokes last week (especially because on his new album, Alex Turner sings: “I just want to be one of the Strokes”). But I preferred their wonderfully sleazy “Lipstick Vogue” cover, played in honor of Costello as he recovered from cancer surgery. Turner’s a product of his influences; in addition to the Strokes and Elvis, he appears to have his Nick Cave snake slither down cold.
First Aid Kit’s own records have gotten progressively poppier in recent years, but their cover choices still stick with their winning formula: beautiful harmonies, an acoustic guitar, maybe a little subtle percussion – and did we mention the harmonies? We last heard them covering 20 different Leonard Cohen songs in a stunning tribute concert (oh, they did Lorde too for good measure), and now they’re back to tackle Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.”
Disclaimer: Our monthly “Best Cover Songs” aren’t ranked, and the “Honorable Mentions” aren’t necessarily worse than the others (they’re just the ones we had the least to say about).
Angelique Kidjo – Born Under Punches (Talking Heads cover)
Goddammit, Angelique. We spent weeks compiling our Best Talking Heads Covers post, and only days after we finish, you announce a full Remain in Light tribute album. Judging from this first single, it’s going to be pretty amazing too.
Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.
On the 25-track David Bowie tribute album Howard Stern’s show released this week, many of the names were familiar: Billy Corgan, Dawes, Peter Frampton, etc. One that didn’t ring a bell was Jade Bird. But her version of Bowie’s Hunky Dory deep cut “Quicksand” was a surprising highlight. I wondered how I was so late to discover her.
Turns out, I wasn’t. Despite running in such heady company, Jade Bird (her real name) has only released one EP so far. But things are moving fast for her, and by the time she releases her debut record, she might not be so under the radar any longer.
She was just nominated for the BBC Sound of 2018 which, if you’re not in the UK, might not mean much. But it’s as good a measure as any of who might blow up in the next year. Winners in the past decade include the then-little-known Sam Smith, HAIM, and, oh, Adele. Hell, the losers include The Weeknd, King Krule, and Savages (and that was just in one year!).