Last summer, Amanda Palmer released her version of Nirvana’s “Polly” as part of SPIN’s Newermind compilation. She now offers a video for her stark banjo-driven take, focusing on the dark story behind the lyrics.
Quickies rounds up new can’t-miss covers. Download ‘em below.
• In honor of the new year, Canadian dream-poppers Memoryhouse covered the Zombies’ inspiration anthem “This Will Be Our Year.” The duo posted, “I hope this song helps motivate you to lose 5 pounds, stop smoking, and watch less reality T.V. (or is that just me?)”
MP3: Memoryhouse – This Will Be Our Year (The Zombies cover)
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.
When we think back to this year, we might remember 2011 as the year that the whole concept of the “cover album” became more fluid, and not always for the better. Thanks to the increased prominence of sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud, a cover album could be conceived, recorded, and shared in the space of a weekend. This didn’t necessarily lead to better cover albums, but it certainly led to more of them. They came in all formats – digital, CD, vinyl, and even cassette-only – and from all directions – labels, blogs, and even some magazines.
Which, we like to think, makes this list that much more helpful. In a year where the biggest single-artist cover album we got came from William Shatner, it proved a particular challenge to dig through the many obscure artists and assorted tributes and extract the gems. Gems there certainly were though, be they from newcomers making an impression with their favorite songs or old-timers honoring groups that influenced them decades ago. It may have taken a bit more work to find them, but the end result is as strong a selection as we’ve seen.
Continue to page 2 to read the list…
The new Muppets movie – aptly titled The Muppets – opens in a few weeks. If you can’t wait to get your next fix of Kermit and the gang, though, you can get a preview now. A cover preview, that is. It’s the Muppets Barbershop Quartet performing Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and it’s everything you hoped and dreamed it would be.
The Nirvana tributes keep coming. We’ve already heard the iconic Nevermind album honored by SPIN, an all-star concert, the city of Miami, and – oh yeah – us. Now there’s another Nevermind tribute, from the same tribute label that delivered Paint It Black and Subterranean Homesick Blues. It’s called Come As You Are: A 20th Anniversary Tribute To Nirvana’s Nevermind and you can hear three of the best tracks below.
This Week on Bandcamp rounds up our favorite covers to hit the site in the past seven days.
A clear theme emerged in this week’s set: electronics. Not straight dubstep, 8-bit, or dance music though, but electronics blended with other genres. Electronic folk, electronic grunge, and electronic Latin soul all come into play in these covers. Plus, since we took last week off for CMJ, its an embarrassment of riches that gives us some bonus tunes at the bottom.
James Morrison has been doing the rounds promoting his new album, The Awakening (not to be confused with the Kate Chopin novel), and has made a habit of covering Amy Winehouse‘s “Love Is A Losing Game.” Like many others, Morrison felt compelled to pay his respects to a talented woman who did not have the time to live up to all of her potential. Most recently, he did this with On Track with Club Seat UK.