Mar 282019
 

‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

best radiohead cover songs

All week we’ve been running features on every artist inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s unusually strong 2019 class. But the biggest tribute goes to the band least excited about the honor. And that’s maybe as it should be.

Their unenthusiastic reaction – as I write this, it’s not even clear if any of them will show up – reminds me of when Bob Dylan first played Obama’s White House. Bob didn’t come to his own rehearsal, or to the customary photo op with the president. He turned up at the last minute, played his songs, shook the President’s hand, and immediately left the building. And as Obama told Rolling Stone: “That’s how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don’t want him to be all cheesin’ and grinnin’ with you. You want him to be a little skeptical about the whole enterprise.” Continue reading »

Mar 262019
 

“Covering the Hits” looks at covers of a randomly-selected #1 hit from the past sixty years.

love will never do covers

We continue our week-long series of features on every 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee with one of the biggest pop singers of the past thirty years: Janet Jackson. She’s sold over 100 million records, has an entire Wikipedia page devoted to everyone she’s inspired, and – most importantly for this series – had ten #1 hits. So, to tweak the usual “Covering the Hits” formula a bit, I limited the randomizer to one of those ten. And it picked “Love Will Never Do (Without You),” the Rhythm Nation 1814 standout that turns 30 this year.

Despite being a smash at the time and a hit with an enduring legacy (Pitchfork named it the 27th best song of the 1980s just a couple years ago), “Love Will Never Do” has been covered less than you might think. Once you eliminate the million sound-alike covers and karaoke instruments, Spotify only boasts a handful of covers, and YouTube not many more. But we dug deep, to bring you the best covers out there. Continue reading »

Mar 262016
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

steven tyler

Steven Tyler has had one of the most remarkable careers in rock ‘n’ roll history. With his band Aerosmith, he was big in the ’70s and huge in the ’90s, and his hard-earned sobriety allowed him to enjoy the second peak even more. His willingness to change with the times, moving from hard rock to rapping with Run-D.M.C. to pop-tinged rock to power ballads, kept the band relevant for multiple generations. He and the band haven’t forgotten the small towns, either – they’ve appeared on Aurora, IL cable access TV with Wayne & Garth, and they’ve enjoyed a Flaming Moe in Springfield.

He’s shown some skill apart from Aerosmith as well. Tyler has performed guest vocals with Alice Cooper and Carlos Santana. He famously judged on American Idol for two years, putting his flamboyant and playfully filthy personality on display. Now he has a solo country album in the works, proving that even a now-68-year-old dog can learn new tricks.

Continue reading »

Nov 282012
 

There are cynics in this world who might revise the old adage to read, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, do cover songs.” However, it’s a near-certainty that those cynics have never heard classic cover collections like Cat Power’s Covers Record, the Rolling Stones Rolling Stones EP, or Robert Plant and Allison Krauss’s Raising Sand. Now the time has come for believers and nonbelievers alike to welcome another member to the cover pantheon: Macy Gray’s new take on Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book, an ambitious, full-album undertaking Gray dives into with breathtaking zeal – and what stunning results she brings to the surface. Continue reading »