Over our time tracking cover songs (13 years this month!), we’ve written about hundreds of new tribute albums, across reviews, news stories, and, when they’re good enough, our best-of-the-year lists. We also have looked back on plenty of great tribute albums from the past in our Cover Classics series. But we’ve never pulled it all together – until now.
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
Andy Warhol’s vision of the perfect rock band, The Velvet Underground wrote the book on cool. With Nico, their aloof European vocalist, and the dark lyrics of Lou Reed, they were fixtures in Warhol’s Factory scene. When Warhol suggested that Reed should write a song about fellow Factory scenestress Edie Sedgwick, youthquaker, socialite, and all-around trouble with a capital T, Reed asked what kind of song. Warhol said, “Oh, don’t you think she’s a femme fatale, Lou?” Of such conversations are deathless works of art made.
Michael Jackson covers are a dime a dozen. In the past few months, we’ve already had a cello cover of “Smooth Criminal” (and what could really beat a cello cover by two dueling cellists), a funky cover of “Human Nature” by Bad Rabbits, and an equally amazing country/folk cover of “Billie Jean” by rising duo The Civil Wars. But the world didn’t know what it was missing until California R&B singer Aloe Blacc released his live video cover of “Billie Jean” with a full string section. He manages to channel and capture the spirit of the late great King of Pop and make one of the best and most interesting (and soulful) MJ covers so far this year.