Swedish singer/guitarist Kristian Mattsson, better known as The Tallest Man on Earth, has made a name for himself worldwide with his unique brand of jagged-edged acoustic folk. After leaving his Swedish rock band to be a folksinger, Mattsson gained a following with his powerful hoarse voice and intricate acoustic guitar work, before mostly switching to hollow-body electric guitars on his last few tours. This shift away from an acoustic sounds seems to be developing even more now, as earlier this week he appeared on Swedish game show På Spåret with a full band to cover the classic rock hit “Dancing In The Moonlight” by Irish rockers Thin Lizzy.
When people look back in 2011 in music a decade from now, one name will come to mind: Adele. In our little world of cover songs, she dominated. Everyone covered Adele this year. It’s not just that we saw more covers of “Rolling in the Deep” than any other song; they beat out second place (probably “Pumped Up Kicks”) by like a factor of five! We generally try to look for larger cover trends in these annual wrap-ups, but it’s hard to remember anything else from this year except the year-long onslaught of Adele covers hitting our mailbox.
There’s only one “Rolling in the Deep” cover in this year’s list though. The rest are all over the place. Some of the artists listed built their covers with lush soundscapes, thick beats, and intricate string work. Others just took guitars or pianos and bowled us over with the emotion in their voices. There may not be much of an overarching “Year in Covers” narrative, but that means there’s a cover or two for everyone. From feel-good takes on rap songs to kill-yourself versions of pop songs, this year’s list features flips, flops, and genre switcheroos of all sorts. A good cover should be informed by the source material but stand on its own, and we’ll be unrolling the 50 finest examples of songs doing just that all week. Start with #50-41 on the next page and check back daily as we count down to the best cover of 2011.
Last night had a full slate of special TV covers. We’ve already seen the Flaming Lips warp the Beatles on MTV and Amanda Palmer and friends do their take on Rocky Horror on Ferguson. Not to be outdone, Conan offered its own special cover: Reggie Watts doing Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town.”
If you follow new music releases, you probably know that the Foo Fighters‘ latest record, Wasting Light, greeted the world this past Tuesday. If you really follow new music releases, you might also know that the Foos put out a second, far more exclusive record last week — Medium Rare, a 13-track collection of covers spanning their career. This was part of the promotional juggernaut known as Record Store Day, an annual happening designed to drive fans into local record stores (if they happen to have one around!).
Quickies rounds up new can’t-miss covers. Download ‘em below.
• Despite having only released two albums since 1992, Sade returns with a new greatest hits set. The Ultimate Collection features hits like “Smooth Operator” and “Soldier of Love” alongside new tracks. One is this predictably smooth R&B cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Still in Love with You.”
Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.
Hailing from Chicago, IL, the Smashing Pumpkins helped blaze a trail for the wave of apathy that infected most ’90s alternative rock. They also gave hip kids from the Midwest the first nationally-recognizable band they could take pride in since Cheap Trick. Formed in 1988, the Pumpkins enjoyed over a decade of fame and influence until noted in-fighting brought about their dissolution at the turn of the millennium. After numerous side-projects and member-shuffling, the Pumpkins have once again taken to the stage under the leadership of Billy Corgan, perhaps one of rock music’s true auteurs.
The Pumpkins have celebrated their diverse influences via cover songs throughout their career. A quick scan of their recorded catalog reveals studio takes of tracks originally by acts like the Cars, Van Halen, Alice Cooper, the Cure and Missing Persons. Their live shows are similarly peppered with covers that one might not expect to hear from these iconic slackers. Some of these do seem like a natural fit though: it’s not too hard to draw a line to the Pumpkins from Neil Young, Depeche Mode or Pink Floyd, for instance.