Oct 012018
 
best cover songs september
Al Green – Before the Next Teardrop Falls (Freddy Fender cover)


Sorry, Beyoncé; the biggest surprise release of the year might be Al Green’s sudden return after a decade away. Well, not totally away; he still conducts weekly services at his Memphis church and, when I attended, was liberally sprinkling quotes from “Love and Happiness” and “Take Me to the River” into his sermons. Best of all: This Freddy Fender cover sounds like Al hasn’t lost a step. It’s apparently a one-off, but hopefully recording it will whet his appetite to do more. Continue reading »

Aug 162018
 

‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

madonna covers

Today is Madonna’s birthday, when the Material Girl herself turns – well, one isn’t supposed to talk of such things, so let’s just say it’s a nice round number. Round enough for us to devote this month’s Best Covers countdown to her many hits and, in a few cases, underexposed deep cuts.

A very few cases, to be honest. More than anyone we’ve done these lists about before, Madonna remains best known as a singles artist (even Beyoncé now gets thought of as an album artist). As a result, it’s the singles a cover artist tends to focus on – f’rinstance, the song “Like a Prayer” has been covered more than every other track on the album Like a Prayer combined. The repeated dipping into the same dozen or so songs sets the bar pretty high. You can’t just tweak a tune here and adjust it there. To stand out amidst the million other “La Isla Bonita” covers, an artist needs to attempt something radical.

Many have taken up the challenge. Not one cover on our list would you confuse with Madonna’s version for a second. These artists translate her dance-pop smashes into garage-punk, gypsy-jazz, reggae-soul, and a few genres that no amount of hyphenates will do justice (just wait ’til you reach that Sonic Youth side project).

So get into the groove below. And, if you have any favorite covers we missed, express yourself in the comments! Continue reading »

Feb 102017
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Long after the image of Britney Spears as a spy disguised as the world’s randiest stewardess – excuse me: flight attendant – has faded from millennial memories, the song “Toxic” will remain just as powerful as it was on first release. Still the sole Grammy winner of Britney’s career (Best Dance Recording of 2004), “Toxic” found music critics in the unusual position of falling all over themselves praising one of her songs. Some dealt with that conundrum by saying it could have been just as irresistible in another singer’s hands. In fact, it very nearly was – it was offered to Kylie Minogue first, but she turned it down. Still, the fact is, Britney delivered the goods here in every respect, and it’s little wonder that she’s since said it’s her favorite of her songs.
Continue reading »

Aug 162010
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates artists’ special days with other people singing their songs. After all, why should they have to do the work? It’s their birthday!

Madonna turns 52 today. She’s in great shape for her age. Amazingly great shape. Disturbingly great shape. You don’t want to pick a fight with those biceps. Yeesh.

Man-muscles aside, the woman’s packed her five decades pretty full. The second best-selling female artists in the U.S. (after Barbra Streisand), she’s had 36 top-ten singles and collectively her albums have gone platinum 300 times over. Madonna’s influence spreads far beyond sales figures though. Not since Elvis first shook his hips has an artist’s sexuality caused more hand-wringing about the decline of civilized society. Even today, she’s still pushing buttons with crucifix besmirching and lesbian be-smooching. Your grandpa may not know the lyrics to a single Madonna song, but chances are he has an opinion about her.

To honor the hit machine/provocateur, we’ve collected five of our favorite Madonna covers. The Dynamics stretch out “Music” to an eight minute soul rave while Picturehouse moans his way through an acoustic “Papa Don’t Preach.” Meanwhile, the Chapin Sisters bring their three-part harmonies to “Borderline,” the Enemy gives us a cabaret piano “Hung Up,” and the Meat Purveyors bounce through a bluegrass medley, mandolin solo and all. Great stuff for a great artist. Happy birthday, Madge! Continue reading »