aeseaes – Realiti (Grimes cover)
Bandits on the Run – Back to Black (Amy Winehouse cover)
One of the more surprising cover projects released in 2018 was Juliana Hatfield’s gloriously sprawling Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton John. As tribute albums go, it was a complete love fest, honoring its subject’s perfect pop radio confections with enormous reverence and heart. It also seemed to come out of nowhere. For all the inveterate melodicism Juliana has displayed over her 30-plus-year career, you’d have been hard pressed to make any connection between her extraordinarily personal, lo-fi, dirty guitar anthems and Olivia’s light-as-air pop.
As it turns out, she is not finished paying homage to the music that’s inspired her, and she’s about to unleash yet another surprise. November sees the release of her second in what now is officially a series of tribute albums, Juliana Hatfield Sings The Police.
“When We Were Young,” Adele’s second single off 25, peaked at #14 on the pop charts. Amazing by most artists’ standards, but middling by hers (particularly following “Hello” topping every chart in existence). But as with so many of her songs before it, it’s lived on well past its chart run through endless covers. The latest, and maybe greatest, comes from Sweden’s The Tallest Man on Earth.
He performed it on the Swedish game show På Spåre, backed by local pop group Augustifamiljen. It’s a bigger and more lavish production than most of Kristian Matsson’s covers, which tend more towards fingerpicked folk tunes. But he sells it perfectly, finding a middle ground between his singer-songwriter sensibilities and Adele’s bigger soul belting.
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.
Sting was drunk, staggering around his hotel room in Munich, singing “Walking ’round the room.” The following morning, a more sober Sting remembered what he’d done and developed that alcohol-induced ditty into a full song. “But ‘Walking Round the Room’ was a stupid title,” he said later, “so I thought of something even more stupid.” That’s how “Walking on the Moon” got its start, and over a third of a century later it’s still going strong.
Alt-rock heavyweights The Afghan Whigs, who released their first studio album in 16 years this April, have never shied away from covering a song. Finding a mildly sinister way to do it is nothing new either. But The Police‘s 1981 smash hit “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” with its reggae-tinged, new-wave pick-me-up appeal, seems at first to be an unlikely candidate for a Whigs cover.
The name Nadia Ali may not sound familiar to you, but the electronic singer has been a huge part of the EDM dance scene since the early 2000s. Starting as the lead singer of iiO, Ali has made her mark on the club scene and continues to do so with a blossoming solo career that will far extend the reach of clubgoers. Need proof? Check out this cover of The Police‘s “Roxanne.”