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Jun 212024
 

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

The Kinks covers

If The Kinks had stopped after their first year, they’d still be legends. “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night,” two of the all-time-great sixties rock singles, were both released in 1964. That’s more classics in one year than most bands have in decades (and their year gets even better if you slide in January 1965’s “Tired of Waiting for You,” recorded before “All Day Etc”).

But if The Kinks had stopped after their first year, this list certainly wouldn’t run 50 covers deep. Because, of course, they didn’t stop. They kept releasing hits, including Top 10s in both the ’70s (“Lola,” “Apeman”) and ’80s (“Come Dancing”). Maybe even more importantly, they kept creating, kept innovating, kept pushing forward, not settling into retreading their early garage-rock sound. That wide breadth gets reflected in the Kinks songs that artists covered. The big hits, of course, are well represented. But so are plenty of album cuts and singles that “flopped” at the time but were rediscovered years later.

Ray Davies turns 80 today. So today, we celebrate his birthday—and his ability to withstand decades of interviews about whether he and brother Dave will ever reunite—with our countdown of the 50 Best Kinks Covers Ever.

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May 312024
 

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

Sisters of Mercy

As regular readers know, here at Cover Me we put together a Best Covers Ever list every month for a celebrated artist. We’ve recently done the Pet Shop Boys and Sheryl Crow. And before them we did the biggie – The Beatles – and before them, Bob Dylan! But every now and again, there’s a particular genre that’s crying out for the Best Covers Ever treatment – and this month it’s the Dark Genre. It’s goth!

So why now, you ask? Are goth covers really a thing? And why don’t Alien Sex Fiend or Fields of the Nephilim have their own Best Covers Ever features?

Fair questions, all. First off, goth music is everywhere right now. It may have emerged out of the UK post-punk scene and enjoyed its most innovative period from 1980 to 1982, but it’s now the reason we have Whitby Goth Weekends in April and November (well, that and Count Dracula), World Goth Day on May 22, and goth nights down the Hatchet Inn in Bristol most nights, particularly Thursday. It’s also why we have heaps of goth books on the market right now, from John Robb’s The Art of Darkness to Lol Tolhurst’s Goth: A History and Cathi Unsworth’s Season of the Witch, all trying to explain goth’s lasting influence as a musical subculture: the fixation with death, the dark theatricality, the Victorian melodrama, the leather, the thick black eyeliner, the fishnet tights, the deviance, the sex, the deviant sex, and, of course, spiders. Continue reading »

Apr 262024
 

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

pet shop boys covers

No one does a cover like the Pet Shop Boys. Their “I Started a Joke” ranked high on our Bee Gees list. Their “Always On My Mind” ranked number-one on our Best Covers of 1987 list. When we eventually do a U2 covers list, I imagine “Where the Streets Have No Name” will be a contender for the top slot there too.

But today we’re not talking about covers by the Pet Shop Boys. We’re talking about covers of the Pet Shop Boys. Because, for as many songs as Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant have covered, they’ve been covered even more.

Which makes sense. As experimental and innovative as the pair are sonically, they also write incredibly solid pop tunes. Songs that don’t require their clever electronic production or droll delivery to be great. Songs that can work as acoustic ballads or hip-hop ragers or black-metal explosions—examples of all of which are below. The big songs get covered a ton (“It’s a Sin” and “West End Girls” are the heaviest hitters), but the album cuts get reimagined some too. They drop their latest album Nonetheless today. We wouldn’t be surprised if cuts off that start getting covered soon too.

So we’ll leave you to your own devices to explore our list below. We promise you wouldn’t be bored.

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Mar 292024
 

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

best sheryl crow covers

Sheryl Crow is having a real moment. After years of being (unfairly) dismissed as music for moms in minivans, her cool credentials have been ratcheted up in recent years through praise by younger singers who grew up hearing her songs. Just last week, Olivia Rodrigo invited Crow onstage to sing “If It Makes You Happy.” Covers have flown in from Phoebe Bridgers, HAIM, Soccer Mommy, and any number of other hip young female singers. And—oh yeah—she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last fall.

For the Rock Hall induction, we did a feature on Crow, but devoted our big Best Covers Ever: Rock Hall Edition list to Kate Bush. But Crow’s got a new album out today, so we wanted to dedicate one to her now. A few of the covering artists we feature below are her contemporaries (and one is several generations older), but a large portion of the list comes from Millennials and Gen Z singers. That’s where the Sheryl energy is coming from these days, and they’ve given us a ton more great Crow-vers (sorry) than existed even a few years ago.

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Feb 232024
 

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

beatles covers

Sixty years ago this month, The Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show. You don’t need us to tell you what a momentous occasion this was; entire books have been written on the subject. Suffice to say we’re using the anniversary as our excuse to finally devote a Best Covers Ever to perhaps the biggest band of them all. We’ve done Dylan. We’ve done the Stones. We’ve done Dolly and Springsteen and Prince. But there was one last giant remaining.

Though it’s difficult to measure this precisely, The Beatles are the most-covered artist of all time according to the two biggest covers databases on the internet (SecondHandSongs, WhoSampled). And that certainly feels right. “Yesterday” is often cited as the most-covered song of all time, though that needs qualifiers (a ton of Christmas standards would beat it). But, again, it feels right. The Beatles were ubiquitous in their day, and they’ve been ubiquitous ever since. They just had a chart-topping single last month, the A.I.-assisted “Now and Then,” which was duly covered widely. If “Carnival of Light” ever surfaces, no doubt a carnival of covers will soon follow. Continue reading »

Dec 152023
 

Follow all our Best of 2023 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

I like to think that badass lady in the artwork up there (done by our own Hope Silverman!) embodies the spirit of this year’s list. Not that they’re all CBGB-style punk songs—though there are a couple—but in her devil-may-care attitude. “Who says I shouldn’t do a hardcore cover of the Cranberries? A post-punk cover of Nick Drake? A hip-hop cover of The Highwaymen? Screw that!”

As with most good covers, the 50 covers we pulled out among the thousands we listened to bring a healthy blend of reverence and irreverence. Reverence because the artists love the source material. Irreverence because they’re not afraid to warp it, bend it, mold it in their own image. A few of the songs below are fairly obscure, but most you probably already know. Just not like this.

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