Lady Gaga just announced another standards album with Tony Bennett. When their first album together came out in 2014, a lot of people were surprised at a pop star entering her “American songbook” era so early. Well, not to be outdone, Billie Eilish appears to be testing the standards waters before even turning 20. For her recent BBC Live Lounge appearance, a venue where artists usually cover contemporary hits, Eilish looked way back to the 1930s for a version of “I’m in the Mood for Love.”
Back in April, Amber Mark launched a covers series cleverly called Covered-19 with a terrific cover of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box.” Well, it started as a covers series; she soon expanded Covered-19 into releasing all sorts of material. Covers did return in June with a version of Eddie Kendricks of the Temptations’ “My People.” And now, she wraps up the Covered-19 with a third and final cover. And the source material couldn’t be much more different than Nirvana and Kendricks. It’s Sisqo’s ubiquitous-in-1999 hit “Thong Song.”
The mysterious new singer Orville Peck refuses to tell anyone his real name or show his face. He is never seen without a cowboy hat and black-leather Lone Ranger mask covered in fringe, a look that’s old-school country mixed with a hint of S&M. Like Lil Nas X, he identifies as a gay man and is rewriting the rules of country music. So, to celebrate Pride, he picked the perfect song to cover for his entry in the Spotify Singles series: Bronski Beat’s eternal gay anthem “Smalltown Boy.”
During their 1970s heyday, the family band Five Stairsteps were dubbed “The First Family of Soul.” These days, though, they’re best remembered for a single song: the uplifting slow-burn “O-o-h Child.” It’s become something of a standard over the years, covered by everyone from Nina Simone to Hall & Oates.
The latest make things easier/brighter is Lisa Loeb. Like the Stairsteps, she’s had multiple hits, but one stands above all else: 1994’s “Stay (I Missed You).” Her cover of “O-o-h Child,” off her new off her new kids covers album Lullaby Girl, keeps the basic Five Stairsteps format but slows it down a bit, replacing the big group vocals with a tender ballad croon.
“I’m not the first person ever to cover ‘O-O-H Child,’ but it is one of my favorites from the ’70s and I was really excited to approach it within the context of my Lullaby Girl album with my creative collaborator and producer/arranger Larry Goldings,” Loeb told Billboard, who premiered the video. “I feel that the video really looks like this song recording: it’s real, it’s intimate and it’s calming, but it has a good hint of the real energy behind it, like the original recording that inspired it.”
Check out more from Lisa Loeb on her website.
If someone told you to sing “This Land Is Your Land,” how much could you do off the top of your head? Redwood forest, check. Ribbon of highway probably too. But do you know this verse?
Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing —
That side was made for you and me.
That rarely-sung verse, from Woody Guthrie’s original lyrics, helped inspire Anthony D’Amato’s shimmering new cover (which features background vocals from Josh Ritter). Though written in 1940, that line about walls dividing people holds increasing resonance today. And it’s a subject D’Amato cares a lot about; his last album included the Trump-inspired original “If You’re Gonna Build A Wall” and both tracks appear on new charity EP Won’t You Be My Neighbor.
At the first show of their recent three-night run in NYC, The Decemberists brought out singer Olivia Chaney for a mysterious song they didn’t really explain. Featuring Chaney leading on harpsichord and vocals, it was weird and proggy in a similar way to the Decemberists’ own album Hazards of Love. Now, a few weeks later, we know what the performance was teasing: an upcoming Decemberists/Chaney covers album under the band name Offa Rex.