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 »

Nov 032023
 

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

kate bush covers

In June of 2022, Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” was used to soundtrack the Netflix series Stranger Things. Upon exposure to the 37-year-old tune, a shockingly huge portion of the world’s teenage population, who seemingly hadn’t known of Bush’s existence prior to this, went absolutely, uncontrollably berserk. Their sudden, overwhelmingly intense lust for “RUTH” (let’s just call it) propelled the song to the top of the pop charts the whole world over and led to the track being streamed over a billion times (and counting). A billion! And just like that, Kate Bush, one of pop’s most popular cult artists, became a global phenomenon.

This was a mixed blessing for the hardcore Kate Bush fanbase. On the one hand, they were happy for their girl Kate (who herself was thrilled that teenagers were hyperventilating over “Running Up That Hill”). But at the same time, as evidenced by multitudes of posts on social media, they also felt a sense of proprietary “ownership” over the Bush legacy and didn’t care for this flaky, flighty fandom and how it came to be.

The “old fan vs new fan”/ “we were here first” argument is silly and petty…but with Kate Bush, it was also oddly understandable. Part of what made her special was that some people didn’t get it, that regular folk found her songs a little too eccentric and “out there” and thought her voice was weird. Those previously existing Kate fans didn’t quite know how to take this newfound popularity. Because to them, Kate Bush was not merely one song; she was a magnificently mad, beautiful, all-consuming pop religion. Trip-hop hero and unabashed Kate fan, Tricky, alluded to this feeling in an interview with MOJO magazine back in 2003:

“Some of the greatest singers in the world…you can spot their influences. But Kate Bush has no mother or father. I’d be an average musician, like everyone else if it wasn’t for her. I don’t believe in God, but if I did, her music would be my bible. Her music sounds religious to me. She should be treasured more than The Beatles”.

Kate Bush made adventurous, beautiful, funny, weird, and heartbreaking music that sounded like no one else’s, all while delivering a hard kick to the nuts of musical convention. She celebrated her most personal, idiosyncratic obsessions and shared them proudly and loudly with everyone. From shockingly illicit kisses to sensuous snowmen. From rain-making machines to being lost at sea. From washing machines to Joan of Arc. She didn’t chase airplay, she just followed her cast of muses wherever they led and surrounded their stories with a staggering sense of melody.

We have arrived at a point where a pretty fine “30 Best RUTH Covers Ever” feature could be assembled. The story of its unlikely, incredible ascent has become a truly iconic, modern-day pop tale and will be recounted for years to come. And as cynical as it seems, it’s clear that the “RUTH” phenomenon was a deciding factor when it came to Kate Bush’s induction this weekend into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But Kate Bush the artist was not born in June of 2022. Her career has spanned six decades during which she’s released ten studio albums that house multitudes of wondrous tunes. (By the way, if you wanna read a completely deranged breakdown of Kate’s LPs, I wrote one here.)

Within our list of “The Best Kate Covers Ever” you will not only discover several head-turning, heart-squeezing “Running Up That Hill” covers (of course), but a plethora of equally fabulous deep cuts, b-sides, and cult classics. “It’s in the trees! It’s coming!”

—Hope Silverman

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Oct 272023
 

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

Velvet Underground and Nico

On October 27, 2013, ten years ago today, Lou Reed died. I happened to be in New York City at the time, and his passing was a lead story on the 11 o’clock news. It was as though a part of the city itself had died. Which, inescapably, it had. Reed embodied NYC, from its seedy back rooms to its secret heart, in a way few other people, let alone musicians, ever did.

While Reed’s solo career is highly and deservingly accoladed, it still got overshadowed by the Velvet Underground. Reed’s first band featured Welsh musician John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Maureen Tucker, with Nico singing on the first album and Doug Yule replacing Cale in 1968. The band’s four studio albums started ripples that turned into tsunamis; they went from secret-handshake status to Hall of Fame giants, their influence right up there with the Beatles.

We’re honoring Lou and Company with this collection of covers. Some covers couldn’t hold a candle to the original (you’ll find no “Heroin” here), but many of the originals were receptive to another artist’s distinctive stamp. Whether you prefer the first or what followed, you’ll hear the sound of immortality as it opens yet another path of discovery.

–Patrick Robbins, Features Editor

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