If the only “Kiss” cover you know is that Tom Jones one, get ready for something new, pussycat. On her upcoming album Don’t Call Me Angel (out October 12), Washington state singer-songwriter Hilary Scott turns the Prince classic into a smoky blues ballad. She starts out sounding like the Mississippi Delta before the song gradually builds into a blast of Bonnie Raitt soul. It’s unlike any “Kiss” cover we’ve ever heard, and one of the best Prince homages to come out since his passing.
In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.
Last month, we got cover picks from Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill, a man with as much claim as anyone to founding the genre awkwardly labeled “post-punk.” And today we hear from one of the most prominent younger post-punk acolytes today: Wax Idols.
On their great new album Happy Ending, though, founder Hether Fortune broadens her sonic template beyond post-punk’s familiar tropes. On a dark yet melodic song suite, she and her bandmates bring in new wave, goth-rock, and even hints of straight-up pop music. For a taste, watch the VHS-ed out graveyard video for “Mausoleum”:
At the end of every year, we work for weeks curating our annual Best of the Year list (here’s last year’s). We’re monitoring what comes out all year though, so this month I thought: why wait? Here’s a more impulsive and spontaneous list, some songs we’ve written about already and others we didn’t get to. Just some great covers that stood out as the month comes to a close.
Longtime Prince fan and admirer Meshell Ndegeocello recently released a cover of the 1986 film soundtrack Parade, “Sometimes it Snows in April” from her upcoming covers album, Ventriloquism. This was the final song on Parade, which was the soundtrack to Prince’s directorial debut Under the Cherry Moon.
After Prince’s death in April 2016, “Sometimes It Shows in April” was said to have become Prince’s eulogy in some ways. Ndegeocello’s heartfelt rendition feels natural and native; like she’s sung the lyrics hundreds of times, and is conjuring up the soul of Prince through the opening hazy bass and guitar.
Given the rampant overproduction that plagues most contemporary rap, it’s refreshing to see an artist step outside the safety confines of drum tracks and dampeners and play with an actual band. During a recent trip Down Under, Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott (aka Joey Bada$$) did just that. He performed a pair of tracks on Australian radio station Triple J’s covers show Like A Version. With a full band of Australian musicians, he performed his hit song “Temptation” as well as a reinterpretation of Prince’s 1984 classic “When Doves Cry” rechristened “When Thugs Cry.”
Follow all our Best of 2017 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.
Year-end lists are a time to look back. That’s something we’ve been doing a lot of this year.
See, we turned ten years old in 2017 – practically ancient in internet-blog terms – so we’ve indulged in what we feel is well-earned nostalgia. At the beginning of the year, each of our writers picked the ten most important covers in their life (see them here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). We even listed the ten most important covers in Cover Me‘s life, from the song that inspired the site to our very first Best of the Year winner.
Then, to cap things off, in October we commissioned a 25-track tribute to the cover song itself – which you can still download for free. We love the covers everyone contributed so much, incidentally, that we didn’t consider them for this list. It’d be like picking favorite children – if you had 25 of ’em.
Oh, and have I mentioned I wrote a book? … What’s that you say? I mentioned that constantly? Well, I’m quite proud of it. It’s called Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time and it makes a great Christmas gift and – ok, ok, I’ll stop. You can find plenty more about it elsewhere.
Suffice to say, there’s been a lot of looking back this year. And we hope you’ll indulge us this one last glance rearward before we leap into 2018. Because if it’s been a hell of a year for us, it’s certainly also been a hell of a year for the cover song in general. Some of this year’s list ranks among the best covers we’ve ever heard, period. So dig in, and thanks for your support this past decade.
– Ray Padgett