Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
Let It Be was the soundtrack of a band falling apart. That was never the plan, of course – the Beatles conceived the album as a back-to-basics effort, in which they would rediscover the joys of playing together without overdubs, only to find themselves bored, angry, and miserable, each one trapped with three bandmates who couldn’t understand what he was going through. They were unhappy with the results and shelved them, but a known goldmine won’t stay untampered, and Phil Spector was brought in to make something of the mess. Upon its release, the highest praise any Beatle gave it came from John, and his quote – “When I heard it, I didn’t puke” – scarcely counts as a ringing endorsement.
They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
Christine McVie is the Mona Lisa of ’70s rock music. She always seemed one cool remove away from the maelstrom of Fleetwood Mac, but there was a lot going on behind that sardonic gaze, and she let it out in her songs, where she specialized in first-person accounts of romances that could be right even when they felt so wrong – and, of course, vice versa. She turns 69 today, and we’re celebrating with five covers that give a whole different meaning to the phrase “one cool remove away.”
In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
When Lyle Lovett first arrived, the country music scene was proud to call the tall Texan one of their own. As his career developed, though, the top-twenty hits dried up, and the establishment took a wary step back. Lovett’s songs may have had a southern feel, but they were also infused with folk, jazz, blues, and big band (make that “large band”), and there was nothing formulaic about his lyrics, which never met a cliche they couldn’t leave sprawling in the dirt.
It’s a tried but true statement that there are certain artists who create solid gold from everything they touch. It is undeniable that this is the case with country legend Willie Nelson, as we’ve seen from his six-decade-plus career and, most recently, his unexpected take on Coldplay’s “The Scientist” for a Chipotle ad.
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.
There’s an unlikely newcomer to a cover-song game: Chipotle. The burrito chain kicked off a campaign supporting America’s family farmers in August with (who else) Willie Nelson covering Coldplay’s “The Scientist.” Now there’s a follow-up video, featuring Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs covering Nelson’s version of “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”
When you’ve been doing something for six decades, you tend to get pretty good at it. Willie Nelson has been singing for 60 years (and writing songs for longer than that), and his voice is indelibly stamped onto the map of American music. When you hear Willie sing, you know it’s Willie. Which makes Nelson covers an interesting beast, because unlike many artists, he doesn’t have to change very much to make a song his own. Today he released a cover of Coldplay’s 2001 hit, “The Scientist.” It’s for the soundtrack of a short film about sustainable farming, called Back to the Start, that was commissioned by Chipotle Mexican Grill (you may see it play before the start of your movie in the theater this weekend). With just a few tweaks, Nelson has created a stunning new song.