Jul 082021
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

If It Makes You Happy

What makes a group “super” is a little relative. Who can really say what past musical experience is “enough” to make a new collaboration level up to the term? Take local music scenes for example. Hometown heroes might bounce between bands, creating the opportunity for what I’ll call local supergroups. Maybe they aren’t super to everyone, but they are super to their neighbors and loyal fans.

Let’s hear more under the radar supergroups who are united by Sheryl Crow’s 1996 hit, “If It Makes You Happy,” of all things. It was a self-care mantra for the world-weary before “self-care” was a common phrase that became a double-edged sword. “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.”

Which cover comes out on top?

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Apr 052021
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Le Freak Chic

“All that pressure got you down / Has your head been spinning all around?” How did Chic know?! “Le Freak” was the band’s first number one hit, and it became a best seller for Chic’s label. Since its release in 1978, the song’s significance has been solidified. In 2018 the Library of Congress preserved the track in the National Recording Registry. However, Chic is still waiting on the elusive Rock and Roll Hall of Fame spot; they’ve been nominated over ten times!

Prominent Chic member Nile Rodgers went on to play a key role in the music careers of many others. He wrote big hits for Sister Sledge (“We are Family” and “He’s the Greatest Dancer”) and Diana Ross (“I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down”), and he produced albums for David Bowie (Let’s Dance) and Madonna (Like a Virgin). More recently, he co-wrote and played guitar on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” and you may have heard him on Keith Urban’s latest album. Chic as a whole even released a new album in 2018 featuring artists like Lady Gaga and Elton John.

But for now, let’s see who helps us throwback to the early days of Chic with covers of “Le Freak.”
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Mar 262021
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba

“Screaming Infidelities” has two birthdays – one in March 2000, for its presence on Dashboard Confessional’s debut album The Swiss Army Romance, and one in March 2001, as the lead single off of Dashboard Confessional’s second album, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most. This song is usually thought of as Dashboard Confessional’s big break. “Stolen” was still just a twinkle in Chris Carrabba’s eye at this point.

Whichever way you look at it, the song is celebrating an important milestone this month, either turning the big 2-0 or finally being able to legally drink a beer while hearing the saddest songs (“and sit alone and wonder,” of course). The song struck a nerve twenty-ish years ago, and I’m willing to bet it still strikes a nerve today, not so much “taking its wear.” Others try to reach that same level of feeling in their versions. Of these…

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Mar 152021
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

A sentence that begins “If you like ‘How Soon is Now’ then you will also like…” is a sentence that will not end well. It sets itself up for failure because the song has no real counterpart, no next of kin—not within the Smiths’ catalog, and not within any music collection anywhere. The song’s uniqueness gives cover artists an uphill climb. Maybe this explains why the world is not exactly swamped with “How Soon is Now” renditions that are worth repeating. But we did find a few exceptions, and we will now look at three of them. Or we will soon.
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Dec 112020
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Rosie and the Originals’ “Angel Baby” is not as widely known as it should be, considering the musical legends who’ve stepped up to cover it: Roky Erickson, Linda Ronstadt, John Lennon. These artists were drawn to the raw emotion of this seemingly most simple of doo-wop songs, as well as its hypnotic quality, and its juvenile, rock ‘n’ roll spirit. They were drawn, in other words, to its peculiar mix of ’50s-style ingredients that made for one of the most exciting, unpredictable, and, yes, eerie tracks to emerge from that post-Buddy, pre-Beatles period of ’59 to ’62.

At least 13 other artists have attempted to reinterpret “Angel Baby” since it entered the US Billboard Hot 100 on December 12, 1960. David Lynch also, no doubt, took notice, as did the creators of creepy 2018 Netflix drama Dirty John, who exploited the track for an unsettling montage (in series 1: episode 3) of Eric Bana as a seductive confidence trickster. Certainly the way the sweet innocence of the song is embedded in a badly recorded and slightly off-kilter sound helps account for both its eeriness and its otherworldliness. But how did the song come by such an atmosphere, and what was its initial appeal?
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Nov 092020
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

tom petty metal covers

While going back through the hundreds of new covers I’ve amassed in preparation for our upcoming Best Covers of 2020 list, I noticed a micro-trend: Heavy metal covers of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Trend” were big this year. So let’s rank three of ’em.

The Don’t Sleep cover is good.

The Two Minutes to Late Night cover is better.

The Inter Arma cover is best. Continue reading »