Dec 172015

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


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)


Nov 062015
Bond Week

This is Part Two of our countdown of the 24 best Bond theme covers (for the 24 movies). Read the introduction and download the first set of 12 covers at Part One here.
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Apr 222015

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: What’s a favorite country & western cover of a non-country & western song?
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Mar 092015

Few songs capture the absolute essence of melancholy quite like Radiohead‘s “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” – a track easily hailed as the Oxfordshire five-piece’s darkest work, frontman Thom Yorke once having described it as “the dark tunnel without the light at the end.”

Considering Kathyrn Joseph’s own musical inclinations, the appeal isn’t hard to spot: the Scottish musician revels in all things gloomy, favouring fragile and intimate piano phrases coupled with her timid, Tori Amos-esque vocals.

In her incredibly intimate performance, Joseph relies on the raw emotion wrought from instrumentation soaked in minor arpeggios, gently pounding drums and her desperate falsetto cries. The piano quietly weeps – as do we –  while Thom Yorkes heart-wrenching lyrics sweep over us, resulting in a delicate and raw emotional overhaul. “Scotland’s best-kept secret” no more – with this precious gem of a cover and her own work, Kathryn Joseph is sure to attract the international eye.

BBC Introducing, a program intent on supporting under the radar musicians, featured the Scot in her live debut on the Vic Galloway show. Watch the powerful performance down below.

Listen to Kathryn Joseph here.