We already counted down the 50 Best Cover Songs of 2018 but, inevitably, many of our staff’s personal favorites get left off. So, before we begin scouting for what might become the best cover of 2019, we share the best of the rest, an unranked hodgepodge of worthy covers that only just missed our year-end countdown.
The saga began last year when an adoring fan implored Weezer to cover Toto, blowing up the internet when Weezer covered “Africa” – and had their biggest hit in years. In response to Weezer, Toto have returned the favor and covered…”Hash Pipe”??? “We figured since we were smoking hash since before they were born, that’s the one we should do,” explains Steve Lukather introducing their version of one of Weezer’s most divisive singles.
What a time we live in. It’s a time when a 14 year old fan can influence a major band with a simple hashtag. #weezercoverafrica began in December, with a young girl’s plea to her favorite band. Why Toto? Why “Africa”? Who knows? (She’s 14…I don’t think she even knows). But she chose the right combo to go semi-viral, enough to get the band’s attention
So then…Weezer covered Toto! She did it! Almost… In a hilarious twist, they covered “Rosanna” instead of “Africa.” Not entirely a surprise coming from the notoriously tongue-in-cheek band, not afraid of a little trolling themselves (see: “Can’t Stop Partying feat. Lil Wayne”).
So, how was it? Certainly nothing mind blowing, but all in all a solid cover of a less-remembered Toto hit. The instrumentation stays true to the original, although the drums are a bit messy. All of the fills and solos are treated similarly which is a wise choice as they are integral to the song as a whole. What sets the entire cover apart is Rivers Cuomo. It’s his distinctive, edgy, punky vocals that distinguish this version from the original and give it a far more current appeal.
The Foo Fighters are no strangers to the strategic placement and eclectic choices of cover songs sprinkled throughout their setlists when they are on the road. And on their current 2018 world tour, they are certainly delivering the cover song goods. With Weezer along as the opening act for the down under leg, at a recent Melbourne show Dave Grohl called frontman Rivers Cuomo to the stage a for rousing rendition of the Kiss anthem “Detroit Rock City.” It was captured on a not-too-bad quality fan video.
Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
Earlier this week, we posted Wavves’ cover of the Weezer deep cut “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly,” and I went looking for our full-album tribute to Pinkerton to link to. Turns out I was misremembering and we hadn’t done one (we did do the their blue debut album many years ago). So today, for Pinkerton’s 20th birthday, we right that wrong.
At this point, the story of Pinkerton is almost as famous as the music on it. After a huge college radio hit with their debut, Rivers Cuomo and co. followed it up with this “difficult” second album. It’s more personal, confessional, weird, and divisive. Cuomo was so hurt by the album’s initial rejection by fans and critics that, to some interpretations, he turned to attempting radio-friendly crowd-pleasers and, as a result, has never made another masterpiece (though if you stopped following Weezer in their “featuring Lil Wayne” era, know that their two most recent LPs are a major return to form).
If you were a certain type of kid in the ’90s, instead of baseball cards or postage stamps you might have collected Weezer b-sides. The Blue Album and Pinkerton were already canonized as classics, and if you really wanted to seem cool (in your presumably uncool circles), you’d tell your friends that the b-sides were better. “Jamie,” “Mykel and Carli”, “Teenage Victory Song, and – my personal favorite – “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams” circulated first on homemade cassettes, and then on Napster. Nowadays you can find any of them in seconds on YouTube, but at the time each song took some digging to find and was cherished.