Oct 162019
 

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.

Electric Light Orchestra

The 1977 hit “Mr. Blue Sky” was ELO’s fourth movement in the “Concerto for a Rainy Day” on its 1978 double album Out of the Blue. It enjoyed a #6 position in the UK, a #8 position in the Dutch charts, and peaked at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song is the most upbeat of the “Concerto.” That’s a fitting and welcome change in a suite that is about the gloom of a soggy day. It’s often been seen as a “Beatlesesque” pop song, with flashes of musical hall revelry. That is an apt description, given that Jeff Lynne was determined at the outset of ELO to bridge pop songs a lá The Beatles with more high-cultured orchestral arrangements.

If we are to look at the numerous covers that Second Hand Songs has compiled, most artists tap into the upbeat nature of the tune. Even Weezer couldn’t resist, featuring the song on their Teal album. Some covers border on bubblegum. Other have it stuck to the bottom of their shoe.

But today I write this review of covers while the sky is overcast, and the humidity is thick. And now that it is autumn, I wondered if there were any covers that cut against the grain and featured a more somber or dark take on “Mr. Blue Sky.” And indeed there are. So, here is my list of the Good, the Better, and the Best.

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Oct 142019
 

Jenn Champion's The Blue Albumjenn champion the blue albumJenn Champion has gone through many musical identities, performing solo under the names Jenn Ghetto and S, and playing in a band called Carissa’s Wierd. Now she takes on another musical identity–a Weezer cover artist. Her cover album of Weezer’s first album, often dubbed “The Blue Album,” is available through Turntable Kitchen, a vinyl record club. 

Weezer’s debut album got a lot of buzz, coming out a month after the death of Kurt Cobain when the future of rock seemed poised for a change. Rolling Stone named it one of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and Pitchfork gave the original album a 10/10. So, no pressure, Champion. 

If you’ve ever been a bit put off by Rivers Cuomo’s personality, this is the reinterpretation for you. The overall vibe of this cover album is the self-conscious lyrics of old-school Weezer paired with the musical style of Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob album. Champion’s ambitious project completely pays off; this album is excellent. 

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Oct 022019
 

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

Today’s question, courtesy of Cover Me staffer Jordan Becker: What was the best/worst experience you have had seeing a “tribute” band?
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Sep 302019
 

Check out the best covers of past months here.

best cover songs september
Anderson .Paak – Old Town Road (Lil Nas X cover)

Given how thoroughly “Old Town Road” dominated the summer – the longest-reigning Billboard #1 in history, for those under-a-rock-dwellers among you – it seems shocking that it took until now for the first truly great cover to emerge. Less shocking: that it came from rapper/singer/drummer extraordinaire Anderson .Paak. Back in May, he performed a more straightforward version with Lil Nas X himself, but for BBC’s Live Lounge he and his band The Free Nationals reinvented it into a soul groove with shades of D’Angelo. Continue reading »

Apr 302019
 
best cover songs of april
Beyoncé – Before I Let Go (Maze cover)

Last week, Beyoncé surprised-dropped her live album Homecoming. It accompanied the Netflix film of the same name, which immortalized her lionized 2018 Coachella performance. The biggest surprise of all was the bonus track: a cover of Maze’s 1981 “Before I Let Go.” The original song wasn’t a huge hit when it first came out, but has grown to be referred to sometimes as the “black national anthem.” Beyoncé brings it right up to the present with a big production including marching band, new rap verse, and a sample of New Orleans bounce artist DJ Jubilee. Continue reading »

Apr 112019
 
steady holiday cover weezer

If ever there was a time to cover Weezer, now seems like one of the best since 1994 when they released their eponymous debut (aka the “Blue Album”). In January, Weezer capped off a wacky, Toto-filled 2018 with their Teal Album of cover songs. They’re certainly in the zeitgeist right now, so it seems like an excellent time to quickly slap together a tribute to one of their radio-saturating hits. Steady Holiday, however, went with a deeper cut. Continue reading »