The Fontaines are a brother-sister duo – Charlotte and Hank – who live in LA and are inspired by Lesley Gore and Peggy Lee, so it’s not surprising they’d be Lana Del Rey fans as well. And on their new cover of “Young and Beautiful”, which we’re happy to premiere below, they do the former Ms. Lizzie Grant justice.
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)
Cover Me is in no way stranger to the plethora of Lana Del Rey covers that have spawned throughout the years – indeed, the American singer-songwriter hasn’t failed in attracting several artists to take on her songs, ranging from the likes of performers such as Miley Cyrus and John Mayer to bands such as Bombay Bicycle Club and Kasabian.
Lana Del Rey has made her fair share of enemies while promoting her latest effort, Ultraviolence. She has said things like feminism “isn’t an interesting concept,” and she wishes she was “dead already,” turning off the likes of Francis Bean and simultaneously winning the hearts of angst-ridden teens.
I’m not sure there were more great cover songs this year than any other. But there were more good ones.
What I mean by that is, the average quality of the covers we come across in the time we’ve been around has risen, rather dramatically. Whether they’re iTunes homepage singles or some guy emailing us his Bandcamp, more cover songs in 2013 avoid the old pitfalls than ever before. They don’t sound like they were recorded in a cereal box, substitute ear-bleeding volume for actual creativity, or – the worst cover sin of all – try to carbon-copying the original. With the ease of production and distribution available now, artists seemed to record covers only when they felt they had something to add, and do a halfway decent job committing those ideas to 1s and 0s.
These days, it seems that you can’t have a discussion of Miley Cyrus without getting into her public persona – the twerking, the outfits, the drug references, Liam Hemsworth, and so on and so forth. If there’s any discussion of artistry, it’s from the perspective of performance art, of people wondering whether her antics are just a part of the brand she’s trying to sell. But the fact of the matter is that she’s mastered a degree of artistry beyond that, and the attention surrounding her persona only serves to add a layer of depth to any sincere performance she might give.
It’s hard to believe, startling even, that we haven’t posted a Lana Del Rey related cover in almost six months. After the release of the Great Gatsby, however, it is safe to say that more Del Rey covers will be pouring in soon. First up after this lull? Deadbeat Darling with a live acoustic rendition of the ever-popular “Video Games.”
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.