Jan 252017
 
protest cover songs

Well, it has been quite a week in politics. President Trump got sworn in Friday, then on Saturday hundreds of thousands of protesters marched across the country. We don’t need to go into the many (many) controversies and debates the first few days of the Trump administration have already brought us. You know them, and that’s not really our beat anyway.

What is our beat is cover songs, and a whole lot of politically-minded covers came out in the past week. Some are explicitly covers of songs with political lyrics, like Neko Case, kd lang, and Laura Veirs covering Patti Smith’s “People Have the Power” and OK Go covering Morrissey’s “Interesting Drug” (opening lines: “There are some bad people on the rise / They’re saving their own skins by ruining other people’s lives”).

Other covers are only political in the sense that they were released to raise money for groups like the American Civil Liberties Union or Planned Parenthood. Barsuk Records put out a covers comp featuring Nada Surf, David Bazan, Mates of State, The Long Winters (wonderfully titled Sad!). Members of the Philadelphia punk scene came together for a 35-song set of covers by the likes of Laura Stevenson and Jeff Rosenstock, which range from the covers of political artists like Against Me! and Bikini Kill to a cover of the Beatles’ “I’m Only Sleeping,” which would be difficult to find a political take on. Continue reading »

Apr 182016
 
radiochaser-selena-gomez-hands-to-myself-demix-cover-2016

Ghostly vocals and dreamy acoustic guitar strums melt together to form raw and emotional covers – such is the style of mysterious New York musician Radiochaser, who drew us effortlessly in with his chilling covers of Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Selena Gomez earlier this year. Continue reading »

Feb 122016
 
2015Weaves_26_RK_230615.hero

Take my word for it – this track will make you dance. Shortly before going bankrupt and shutting down, streaming service RDIO put the Toronto foursome up to the challenge of covering a contemporary pop tune, to which the pscyh-rock group responded to by taking on the massively successful boy band One Direction. This is that cover, and it is one of the liveliest covers we’ve heard all week. Continue reading »

Dec 172015
 

Follow all our Best of 2015 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

CoverMeBestSongs2015

I didn’t realize it until I began laying out our post, but this year’s Best Cover Songs list shares quite a few artists with last year’s. And some that showed up here the year before that. Jack White’s on his fourth appearance. And Jason Isbell and Hot Chip not only both reappear from last year, but have moved up in the rankings.

Though we’re always on the lookout for the new (and to be sure, there are plenty of first-timers here too), the number of repeat honorees illustrates how covering a song is a skill just like any other. The relative few artists who have mastered it can probably deliver worthy covers again and again.

How a great cover happens is something I’ve been thinking a lot about this year as I’ve been writing a series of articles diving deep into the creation of iconic cover songs through history (I posted two of them online, and the rest are being turned into a book). In every case the artist had just the right amount of reverence for the original song: honoring its intention without simply aping it. It’s a fine line, and one even otherwise able musicians can’t always walk. Plenty of iconic people don’t make good cover artists (I’d nominate U2 as an example: some revelatory covers of the band, but not a lot by them). Given the skill involved, perhaps it’s no surprise that someone who can do a good cover once can do it again.

So, to longtime readers, you will see some familiar names below. But you’ll also see a lot of new names, and they’re names you should remember. If the past is any guide, you may well see them again next year, and the year after that.

Click on over to page two to begin our countdown, and thanks for reading.

– Ray Padgett, Editor in Chief
(Illustration by Sarah Parkinson)

NEXT PAGE →

Oct 072015
 

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

Today’s question, from Cover Me staffer Raphael Camara: What’s a cover song you like by an artist you dislike?
Continue reading »

Apr 232015
 

When I was 13-years-old, I bought Madonna’s Like a Virgin.  Up to that point, I listened almost exclusively to classic rock and ’80s hair bands, so this was quite different than what I was used to.  My older brothers mocked me for listening to “that pop crap”.  I promised myself then and there that I would never make fun of anyone’s musical tastes, no matter what.

I have to admit, I almost fell back on that promise when I became a father to pre-teen and teenage girls.  For example, I have a 13-year-old daughter who loves One Direction.  (Harry Styles – which I always thought sounded like a hair salon – is her favorite.)  Now, I have listened to more 1D songs than I care to admit on a public forum.  And while they are not necessarily on my list of Top 30 bands, I can honestly say that they are definitely not the worst band out there. Continue reading »