For Australian radio station Triple J’s long running Like a Version segment, New Zealand singer-songwriter Benee provided a version of Ariana Grande’s hit “God is a Woman.” Some of Benee’s previous solo tracks have been upbeat and poppy affairs, so it was a brilliant choice to slow down this track into a more soulful sound.
‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.
When Bruce Springsteen invited Billy Joel to play with him at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 40th anniversary concert, he described their meeting as the “Bridge and Tunnel Summit.” This crossover surprised no one; the two artists are similar in many ways, riding careers that exploded from modest singer-songwriter origins playing dive bars to filling stadiums across the world. But one of the ways their trajectories have diverged: The Tunnel side of that equation (that’s Bruce from New Jersey) is about 100 times cooler than the Bridge side (Billy from Long Island). As a result, Springsteen songs have been covered far more often than Joel tunes, despite both having quite a few household-name hits under their belt.
Or maybe they’ve just been covered differently. When we did our Springsteen list, we had an abundance of genre-spanning covers to choose from, the hippest artists around finding meaning in Bruce’s work from every conceivable direction. Doing this month’s Joel list, we had an abundance too – of lounge piano. So much lounge piano.
Joel’s songs deserve better treatment than they often get. So we had to dig deep for this list, sifting through the schlock. There’s a little jazzy piano sprinkled in here and there, sure, but there’s also hardcore punk, ’90s R&B, spectral folk, robot electronica, south-of-the-border disco, and more. Turns out there are plenty of revelatory Billy Joel covers out there; they’re just lurking a little below the surface.
The list begins on Page 2.
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
Crowded House, harking from the land down under, formed in the mid-80s. Their first album, self-titled, took a little bit of time to catch on, but its fourth single, “Don’t Dream It’s Over” became a hit internationally. The band, with a changing line-up, has been making music off and on ever since. Neil Finn has even taken on quite a side project, joining Fleetwood Mac after Lindsey Buckingham’s departure.
The band, in its current form, was supposed to tour in 2020, but the pandemic required a postponement. However, there is a silver lining to the lockdown; a new Crowded House album is being promised this year. Until then, we can revisit this song that started it all. Cover Me’s own Jordan Becker talks about the original tune, and we’ve discussed a cover in the past, but the more covers, the merrier. Here’s five more!
Amanda Shires – That’s All (Genesis cover)
Our first song kicks off what will be a theme here. A lot of these came out at the very top of the year (or the very end of 2020) to kick a garbage year to the curb and hope for something better. Shires said: “’That’s All’ is a song that I have played a lot on tour. The song defines 2020 for me. It’s a true Covid anthem and I dare you to not dance to my version when you hear it!”
If you are currently binge-watching the Netflix show Bridgerton, yes, that was an orchestral cover of Ariana Grande’s “Thank u, next” you heard. The soundtrack to Bridgerton,a Shonda Rhimes 1800s period piece filled with wealth, lust, and betrayal, is overseen by composer and musician Kris Bowers. Bowers worked with Alexandra Patsavas, who is responsible for the six pop covers scattered through the series. Patsavas told Parade “the choices and their respective placements are each very deliberate, and that the Grande and Swift covers specifically ‘were able to tell the musical story and amplify a female perspective.”
Norwegian indie-pop musician Sondre Lerche has a tradition. At the end of every December, he drops of a cover of one of his favorite pop songs of the preceding year. He’s done Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” He’s done Beyoncé’s “Countdown.” He’s done Ariana Grande’s “Into You.” Last year, he bent the rules for the project’s tenth anniversary by covering three older Britney Spears songs.
This year he returns to – and expands – the tradition, tackling the requisite pop banger (Lady Gaga’s Grande collaboration “Rain on Me”) along with a second new song that’s decidedly not pop at all: Bob Dylan’s “I Contain Multitudes,” which he calls “the greatest Bob Dylan song I’ve ever heard” and has become the go-to song to cover from Dylan’s new album.