In 2020, Miley Cyrus has spent lockdown reinventing herself, unleashing new old-school rockstar personal on her recent performances on MTV Unplugged and the Save our Stages Festival on Youtube. She covered a whopping seven songs over both performances – five in Unplugged and two in the SOS performance, her choices signaling her current touchstones.
Released in 1971, Creedance Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” is one of their defining songs, summing up the sound of the band in a melodic yet gritty track. Singaporean singer Linying’s cover of the track adds a beautiful element of softness, translating the bitter and harsh tone of the lyrics into one of tranquility and sadness.
Miley Cyrus’ latest image reinvention has taken the tough, spunky ’80s frontwoman (think Pat Benatar) and thrust it into the 21st Century. So it’s very appropriate that she’s covered several turn-of-the-’80s songs for recent TV appearances.
I do enjoy when covers elevate a song out of it’s original environment and strengthens the power of the song itself. Indeed, this is what the Dresden Dolls (made up of Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione) have achieved with their cover of “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday,” originally from The Muppet Movie.
Currently residing in New Zealand, Palmer said in a tweet “this song’s about being homesick for something you don’t understand.” The cover doesn’t change much from the original – the slow ballad structure and sense of yearning is retained, but Palmer’s piano sounds more poignant and powerful considering the context in which it is now being sung. This is what good covers should do – take songs from one context, and make them perfectly describe another.
Separated by distance and by quarantine, the Dresden Dolls were meant to be collaborating for an album this year, but managed to record this cover and put it on Bandcamp to raise money for the Boston Resiliency Fund.
The Clash are arguably one of the pioneers of punk rock, laying down the formation for the next 50 years of punk and its derivatives. In honor of what would have been Clash lead signer Joe Strummer’s birthday last week, New Jersey-based alternative rock band Lost in Society have released the EP Casbah Club. The EP contains covers of three Clash songs: “Police on my Back”, “Rock the Casbah” and “Death or Glory.”
In the current climate, it was to be expected that protest and anti-government songs would find their way back into rotation. But this cover of U2‘s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by Deon Jones has extra special significance.
At a protest in Los Angeles, Jones was shot at by police, with a rubber bullet lodging underneath his eye, missing it by inches. In response, Jones got together with pianist Jon Batiste to cover U2’s most political track “Sunday Bloody Sunday” from their 1982 album War.