When last we heard from Alyson Greenfield, she was using her glockenspiel to record one of the best covers EPs of 2011. Now she’s finally back with a new cover, and while there’s no glockenspiel, there is a plethora of other unlikely instruments: omnichord, casiotone, and chord organ. She’s also left behind the hip-hop sources on that first EP, instead taking on the Cranberries deep cut “Dreaming My Dreams” (not to be confused with the ‘berries similarly-titled megahit “Dreams”). The swirling textures of her oddball keyboard arsenal bring an appropriately dreamy backing to the lilting melody.
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)
There’s not a whole lot of information out there about the artist who goes by Missio. A “Who Is Missio” manifesto on his website does little to answer that question, revealing only that he lives in a 1974 airstream trailer, has an unpleasant history in the music business, and recorded 52 songs already for this new project. What little else I could glean is that his real name is Matthew Brue, he lives in Austin, and he says he aims for “songwriting inspired by minimalistic purism.”
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
Adele first became known to most (Americans, anyway) after her fiery hit, “Rolling in the Deep” started blowing up airwaves following its release in the States. But while this loud and passionate track simmers with triumphant strength over an ended relationship (and perhaps a tiny bit of anger), “Someone Like You,” is almost the complete opposite.
Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.
In “Rumours,” Coach Shue’s disgusted with all the mudslinging and infighting going on in his glee club, so he decides to make them learn about a pro rock group that learned to put aside their differences and create a masterpiece. That group, of course, is Fleetwood Mac, and the masterpiece the 1977 album Rumours.
Oh yeah, this is why I watch Glee.