The members of New York’s PS22 Chorus are arguably some of the most famous fifth graders in the world. They’ve racked up 42 million views and counting on Youtube, where they post their covers of artists from Matisyahu to Kylie Minogue. Last week they shared the stage with Sinead O’Connor at Manhattan’s Highline Ballroom, opening her show with their take on Gotye‘s much-covered “Somebody That I Used to Know.”
Staten Island, New York children’s chorus PS22 Chorus has done it again. After covering artists like MGMT (when they, appropriately enough, covered the band’s hit “Kids”) and Phoenix (with their gorgeous, down tempo cover of “Lisztomania”), the fifth-graders continue amping up their indie cred with a cover of Toronto “It” band Austra‘s “Energy”.
America’s obsession with choirs covering popular hits has been growing with intensity over the last several years. Just look at the television sensation Glee, the Academy Award/Hollywood darlings of PS22 Chorus, and even those crappy group song nights on American Idol. However, last year audiences were introduced to a different kind of choir in a haunting trailer for the movie, The Social Network. Sung by an all-female Belgian group, the Scala and Kolacny Brothers’ ethereal cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” played over the montage. Their unique take on this oft-covered tune became an overnight sensation.
The United States may just be catching on, but the Scala choir has been creating chilling cover songs since 1996. With five studio albums under their belts in Europe, Scala is finally reaching across the pond. In addition to their North American tour that begins next month, the group finally released their album in the U.S. Boasting thirteen tracks from their previous overseas albums, Scala and Kolacny Brothers is a great introduction to some of their best material.
By now you’ve probably seen the video of Anne Hathaway and some Hollywood-types inviting Staten Island’s PS22 Chorus to the Oscars. That video acts as a sure sign, if one was needed, that this mass of fifth graders has “made it.” They’ll be performing the 1939 Judy Garland classic “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, which airs on February 27.
Those loveable scamps from PS22 are at it again! This time the hippest kiddie choir in the world (sorry, Glee) delivers a song about themselves—kind of—with an ultra-enthusiastic cover of MGMT‘s 2007 hit “Kids.” Choir director Gregg Breinberg takes on double duty as child-wrangler and keyboardist, but the biggest instrumental props must go to drummer Marquis for rocking that hi-hat.
Technically speaking, this rendition of “Kids” isn’t the most precise cover ever (though the choir certainly shows more gusto than Rivers Cuomo did), but when you consider the ages of the performers and the heart they inject into the songs—plus how gosh-darn cute it is—it’s tough to be too critical. Check it out below and let us know what you think!
An exciting day for Cover Me today, as we unveil our spiffy new logo (which you saw above). All the contest entries were great, but that cover-tastic design above comes from winner Gabrielle C. She describes her approach:
I knew what I wanted to do pretty much as soon as I saw the contest announcement. I’m not very versed in popular music, so I emailed to ask for some well-known covers in order to round out the original three I had. For the artists I wasn’t familiar with, I listened to some of their songs in order to get a sense of what kind of design would be appropriate (picking fonts was actually one of the most time-consuming components of the whole project). Everything save for the wood texture was created using Photoshop, including the records themselves.
As part of her prize she got to choose a post’s theme, coming up with the great idea of choral covers. Even excluding “Ave Maria” and Handel’s Messiah, there’s a lot to choose from, famous choirs the world over reaching across genres to tackle a pop tune.
The Red Army Choir – Down Under (Men at Work)
This was the song Gabriella suggested to get the idea going, and it’s top-notch. All the joy of choral covers with the oddball charm of nonstop accordion. They do a cover of “Sex Bomb” that’ll knock you out. Maybe I’ll tweet it sometime. [Buy]
Scala and Kolacny Brothers – Bittersweet Symphony (The Verve)
This Belgian choir has a full disc of pop hits that will knock you out. This Verve hit somehow sounds perfect for the over-the-top pomp when dozens of women blast out every line. [Buy]
Traces Gospel Choir – Walk Don’t Walk (Prince)
The Artist Currently Known as Prince is a devout Jehovah’s Witness, so a gospel cover seems more than appropriate. I have to imagine Prince borrowed the title from the instrumental classic “Walk Don’t Run” (amazing cover here), but this one sounds more Van Morrison than Ventures. [Buy]
Vienna Boys Choir – Message In a Bottle (The Police)
These prim and proper rascals are so well-trained they can’t bring themselves to copy Sting’s vocal inflections. Hearing “sea” instead of “sea-oh” might throw you off at first, but the accents more than compensate. This one’s off Goes Pop, an album of all pop covers. [Buy]
Hell Blues Choir – Swordfishtrombones (Tom Waits)
These guys have put two albums out, one of Tom Waits covers, the other tackling Ray Charles. You can imagine how their takes on “Downtown Train” and “Jersey Girl” sound, but this twisted tune is a brave choice indeed. They make this lesser-known gem swing along without losing its carnival macabre. [Buy]
VoiceWorks – Grace Kelly (Mika)
Indie-pop favorite Mika’s got a new album coming out this fall, so what better time to remember his phenomenal debut? Believe it or not, Australian television hosted an American Idol-style contest called Battle of the Choirs. This Queensland Youth Choir busted this out in the quarter finals. What did they sing the previous round? “Down Under”! [Buy]
Young@Heart Chorus – Fix You (Coldplay)
These septuagenarian singers got a lot of notice recently the with Young@Heart documentary, but this comes from a live album released before then. This one sounds like later-period Johnny Cash. The prequel to “Hurt,” perhaps. [Buy]
Perpetuum Jazzile – Africa (Toto)
Most of the world couldn’t locate Slovenia on a map (can you?), but over nine million have watched this choir on YouTube, making them the country’s greatest national export. The video to this is worth watching to see how they create the rain sounds. [Buy]
PS22 Chorus – Eye of the Tiger (Survivor)
These adorable elementary schoolers have become YouTube sensations with their covers of pop tunes (hear more). Thankfully they haven’t yet reached the age where enthusiasm is uncool, earning them an appearance on the recent Passion Pit album. [Buy]
Capital Children’s Choir – Chinese (Lily Allen)
Gentlemen, get ready to melt. These kids take one of Lily’s few songs not about partying or sex and add a heartbreaking vulnerability you’d never get from someone older. [Buy]