Sara Stoudt

Sara is a statistician, but during her free time she is crafting the perfect playlist for any occasion. Her dad trained her well in the art of music appreciation (for which her live music trivia team is thankful for), and she is definitely judging you by your karaoke song choice. Follow her on Twitter or check out her website.

Nov 012022
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song. In this post we present one cover for each of Eminem’s five diamond singles.

eminem covers

In Adam Bradley’s Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop he provides some background on why covers by and of rappers are so hard to come by:

“The likely explanation for the dearth of covers in rap is that rap’s audience and rappers themselves wish to propagate the belief– and sometimes the illusion– that a rapper is delivering his or her own words, that we are hearing directly from the mind behind the voice. This is a fundamental tenet of rap authenticity, partly the product of acculturated belief and partly the product of the fact that rapping, as a means of vocalization that’s close to speech, carries with it the same presumption as speech: that speakers speak for themselves.”

Despite this, we have talked about Eminem on this blog before, from banjo to mashup cover, from an old-school T-Swift interpretation to a take on the controversial “Kim”, and many more. Perhaps this is because he inspires others to speak period, if not for themselves per se. In this same book that interprets rap lyrics as literature, Bradley gives some context about what makes Eminem’s approach to rap so novel:

“It’s easy to spot rap’s true lyrical innovators because not only will they likely be rapping about different things from everyone else, they’ll be using different words to do it. Eminem, for instance, had to conceive a bunch of new rhyming words to describe the experiences of a working-class white kid from a trailer park in Detroit who rises to superstardom. Who else would think to rhyme “public housing systems” with “victim of Munchausen syndrome”?

Rappers have slowly made their way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (if rappers are poets, why not also be rockers). Jay-Z’s turn came last year, and The Notorious B.I.G.’s turn came the year before. This year Eminem takes his place among legends. This time around we try to find covers that haven’t previously been showcased on this blog, and in honor of Eminem’s induction, we find covers of each of his five diamond-level singles.

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Oct 282022
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

Rascal Flatts

When Rascal Flatts announced its plan to part ways after a farewell tour, it was the end of an era. An era when I awaited each spring album drop to bring me the next soundtrack to my summer. An era when my car actually had a CD drive, and it was only a question of which Rascal Flatts album was playing during each sunny drive (but let’s be real, it was probably Feels Like Today). An era when I was the girl in the front row singing (well, not quite front) and when my dad provided the wheels to bring me to the Still Feels Good concert (thanks, Dad!). The times of cellphones in the air and the crowds out there; no worries of germs in sight. I was jealous of my brother, who had tickets to the farewell tour, but then felt no relief when the tour was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. Out, not with an encore, but with silence – the complete opposite of the feeling you might have felt listening to Rascal Flatts team up with Journey to sing “Don’t Stop Believing”.

Even with all of my experience fan-girling over Rascal Flatts (and being someone pretty invested in the world of cover songs), I did not know that two of the band’s mega-hits were covers in a long line of covers before them. How could I not know that every time “Bless the Broken Road” was played at a wedding, I was hearing a reimagining of the song, and that every time I belted out “What Hurts the Most” in times of angst that those were not the original words of Jay, Joe, and Gary?

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Feb 182022
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Hey Ya covers

Outkast has been hugely influential in the rap genre, and the duo has been innovating since their first album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik was released in 1994. Big Boi and André 3000  began to crossover to pop with songs like “Ms. Jackson,” but the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below album quickly became the duo’s biggest commercial success. In this double album, Speakerboxxx represented Big Boi’s vision while The Love Below represented André 3000’s. The first two singles promoted one song of each: “The Way You Move” (which definitely deserves its own Cover Me post at some point) and “Hey Ya!”. Both became instant dance-floor classics.

“Hey Ya!” really has it all. A call-and-response, a coined dance move, and references to Beyoncé and Lucy Liu. Is it a happy song? Is it a sad song? Do we really care? The song topped FiveThirtyEight’s data-driven ultimate wedding playlist, and this checks out. I have personally been the one shaking it like a Polaroid picture on the wedding reception dance floor and wow, do I want to be doing that again. With the backlog of weddings postponed because of the pandemic, will 2022 finally see the resurgence of this essential rite of passage for a newly married couple? Time will tell. Until then let’s hear some others reimagine “Hey Ya!”

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Oct 292021
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

The Go Go's "Beauty and the Beat"

The Go-Go’s are the first LA punk group to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You might be saying “Huh? Aren’t the Go-Go’s pretty mainstream pop?” Sure, but they weren’t always. The recent documentary about the Go-Go’s uncovers the band’s punk roots. The band members themselves have talked about their early days, finding their groove in the LA punk rock scene, and emphasizing the role women played in that scene. To experience a little bit of that early sound, there is a collection of early recordings and demos here.

The Go-Go’s eventual transition towards pop came with some bumps, including initial resistance to the production on Beauty and the Beat as well as a change in the bass lineup from Margot Olavarria to Kathy Valentine, at least in part due to pressure to leave some of the most hardcore punkiness behind. The bass spot turned over often in the history of the Go-Go’s (for any Harry Potter/Go-Go’s cross over fans, the bass spot in the band is like the Hogwarts Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher position).

During the band’s first break-up, Valentine took Jane Wiedlin’s spot as rhythm guitarist and Paula Jean Brown became the band’s bassist. When the band reunited, Valentine went back to bass, but then later during tours in the 2010s, Abby Travis had to tap in when Valentine was injured. In 2013, Valentine left the group and sued the band. Despite this tension, Valentine returned in 2016. Otherwise the band make-up has stayed pretty stable aside from the change of drummer from Ellisa Bello to Gina Schock, who also happened to sue the group at one point, early on in the band’s career. Some of the lore about Bello and Olavarria can be found here.

The Go-Go’s have inspired many women musicians to be fearless and unapologetic about their sound. They have been cited as influences for riot grrrls and Spice Girls alike; they were girl-power even before the term “girl-power” was coined and popularized. Their debut album, Beauty and the Beat, was the first album written, sung, and played entirely by women to hit #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Actually, that hasn’t happened ever again. Girl power indeed! 

To celebrate their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Beauty and the Beat‘s undefeated status, we aim to find punk-esque covers of this full album.

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Oct 262021
 
99 Problems covers

Jay-Z  announced the first rappers to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, during the induction ceremony. Now he comes full circle, being inducted himself this year. However, Jay-Z’s induction is not without controversy. Even though other rappers have been inducted since 2007, like Run-DMC, N.W.A, Tupac Shakur, and the Notorious B.I.G. last year, there are some who still question whether rap artists “belong” in the hall of fame dedicated to “rock and roll.” Others think the hall of fame should just get a rebranding.

Something I hope we can all agree on is the fact that “99 Problems” is one of Jay-Z’s masterpieces, managing to be both flippant with a hook and serious while recounting his experiences of driving while black. The song has stuck around long after its debut in 2004. Jay-Z has updated the lyrics in two election cycles to be political: in 2009, he had 99 problems but a Bush wasn’t one and in 2012 a Mitt wasn’t one. He has used the song to cross over into other fan bases, jamming to this song with Phish and Pearl Jam.

The song has inspired covers and mashups that genre-bend, and here we’ll find other covers in the same spirit of those innovative covers.

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Jul 232021
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

The Middle covers

You’re world weary. One too many people have hurt you, let you down, robbed you of your earnestness (it’s an important trait, after all). But then, as if to snap you out of your downward spiral…. Hey! Don’t write yourself off yet. “The Middle” is a collection of affirmations that everyone needs to hear at some point in their life. Do I sometimes worry that I’ll dim the song’s magic by overplaying it? Yes, but hey, when you need it, you need it.

If you can believe it, Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American, renamed Jimmy Eat World after the September 11th attacks made the album title a little too real, turns twenty this month. For every hater of the album, there is a love letter written in defense. After all… It’s only in your head, you feel left out or looked down on.

Yes, you can jump right to track three, but I recommend the following self-care routine: start at the beginning, rock out your angst to the title track (head banging optional) and then get in the introspective mood with “A Praise Chorus” (cover-esque in its borrowing of other songs’ lines to make up the chorus) before hearing the blood-pressure reducing opening lines of “The Middle.” After that, continue on for more balms to the soul. (For example, just ask any 2003 NHL video game player and they’ll likely reminisce how “Sweetness” provided the perfect soundtrack to their virtual victories.)

For twenty years, “The Middle” has been by our side, coaching us through life’s ups and downs. We’ve blasted it through our headphones when drowning out the world’s nonsense. We’ve belted it out in front of strangers at a karaoke bar. And we’ve crossed our fingers every time we spot a cover artist with a track called “The Middle,” hoping for this gem and not the Maren Morris song by the same name. (Maybe that last one is just me.) And no offense to Morris, but I just want my anthem of the downtrodden please! I can guarantee the covers that follow are of just that.

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