In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
My mother raised me on Dylan. In my house when I was a kid, there was the holy trinity — which was Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan, with Bob sitting center. — Glen Hansard
Neutral Milk Hotel. Townes Van Zandt. Britney Spears. Yes, Britney Spears. Glen Hansard has been covering other people’s songs for 30 years, from the street corner to the stage. His music career started early, stemming from a deal with his headmaster when he was 13: he could leave school and follow his musical heart; if it didn’t work out in a year, he would be welcomed back with open arms. So off he busked. Continue reading »
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
There’s a feel to the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” that can be hard to pinpoint. There’s the Caribbean element to it, the literal storytelling of swimming in the ocean with sea creatures, but there’s no island feel to go with the lyrics; there’s the tricks, the spinning, the looming possibility of one’s empty head collapsing, and yet none of the nauseous dread that these images evoke. Instead, fittingly, the feel is one of distance – everything is there, all those lyrics and thoughts laid out, and yet they’re not what the song is about. It’s about a theme, a feeling, an environment, a difficult-to-pinpoint quality that brings the listener in. It’s a song that’s easy to cover and yet incredibly difficult to cover well, a song where a good cover is measured in its ability to capture something intangible.
Some artists, however, manage to capture it (or something close to it), and leave us not just enjoying a song but wondering the very question posed in the title. Continue reading »
Back Track looks back at an old cover that deserves a new spotlight.
The Pixies released their last studio album, Trompe le Monde, in 1991. With an album cover of eyeballs, and several songs exploring the world of sci-fi, it seems an unlikely place to hear a Jesus and Mary Chain song, but nestled within the tracks is an explosive cover of “Head On.” Continue reading »
Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
Over the years, tribute albums have been given a bad name. Nowadays they frequently consist of either inferior bands covering the works of superior bands in the hopes of getting noticed and having talent hopefully rub off on them, or of well-known bands dragooned into making product that’s sure to shift units, radio-friendly and otherwise. There’s also an excess of narcissism and/or irony on too many of these albums, where the inherent message isn’t “Look at this song” but “How funny/awesome is it that I’m doing this song, when it’s so obviously a song I should never do because I play in a different genre!” Continue reading »
For many fans of Pixies, it is Black Francis’ vocals that make the alternative group’s music so powerful. Tackling anything by the alternative powerhouse can be daunting. Jason Drake, who goes under the moniker Cassettes Won’t Listen, takes the challenge and manages to make the raw emotion of the original his own. Continue reading »
In 1988, American alternative rock band Pixies released one of their most widely known tracks, “Where Is My Mind?” Coincidentally, that same year, Sunday Girl – née Jade Williams – was born in the UK. Now that she’s all grown up and growing in popularity as a budding pop artist (she toured with Ellie Goulding back in 2010), she’s been releasing a steady flow of new music lately, including her own rendition of one of Pixies’ biggest hits. Continue reading »
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.
The phrase “cover music video” is something of a misnomer. The fact that these songs were originally performed by other artists has, in all cases but one, nothing to do with the video. We might more accurately call this list “Best Music Videos for Songs That Just So Happen to Be Covers.” Still, the cover angle gives us a chance to look at some brilliant music videos that mostly flew somewhat under the radar. Continue reading »