What do an Italian tenor, a coffee company, and a rock band of 20-something New Yorkers have in common? When it comes to music, a lot, it turns out.
I’m not sure there were more great cover songs this year than any other. But there were more good ones.
What I mean by that is, the average quality of the covers we come across in the time we’ve been around has risen, rather dramatically. Whether they’re iTunes homepage singles or some guy emailing us his Bandcamp, more cover songs in 2013 avoid the old pitfalls than ever before. They don’t sound like they were recorded in a cereal box, substitute ear-bleeding volume for actual creativity, or – the worst cover sin of all – try to carbon-copying the original. With the ease of production and distribution available now, artists seemed to record covers only when they felt they had something to add, and do a halfway decent job committing those ideas to 1s and 0s.
There’s a certain quality to some pop songs that gives them this feel of being something else entirely. You can hear it in the sound, a sound bestowed with measured calm and enormous passion that gives the sense of the song being sung a million times before. You can hear it in the lyrics, veering toward the biblical but never going all the way there and always feeling like a product of their time rather than like something plucked from bygone centuries.
Vampire Weekend‘s first single off Vampires of the Modern City, “Diane Young,” is a high-octane, blast-it-with-your-windows-rolled-down sort of song. While visiting Radio One Live Lounge, Scottish band Biffy Clyro still had some fun with the original upbeat tune but still managed to mellow it out in this acoustic cover.
Although Robin Thicke‘s summer anthem “Blurred Lines” has caused some controversy with its racy video and less-than-consensual lyrics, it is still on constant rotation and is championed as a “feel good” sort of tune. Vampire Weekend took this to a new extreme with their goofy rendition of the song over on BBC 1 Radio Live Lounge.
As the weather starts to turn toward the springtime that’s theoretically upon us, it’s difficult not to find oneself in the mood for Vampire Weekend‘s infectious warm-weather indie-pop. What’s more, with a May 7 release date, the coming of spring parallels the budding anticipation for the band’s third album, Modern Vampires of the City.