Any month with a new cover by Beyoncé is a big month. Admittedly, her piano-crooning “Moon River” like so many others have piano-crooned “Moon River” – and for a Tiffany’s ad no less – is slightly underwhelming. But we’ll take what we can get, and, even if the approach is hardly novel, Beyoncé’s got the pipes to deliver.Continue reading »
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.
Marika Hackman kicks off Covers with a rendition of Radiohead‘s “You Never Wash Up After Yourself,” a pretty clear indication that the album is born from the ennui of lockdown. We hear flies buzzing, and a slow intake of breath, before Hackman languidly sings over a sparse synth soundscape:
I must get out once in a while
Everything is starting to die
The dust settles, the worms dig
The spiders crawl over the bed.
With her multi-tracked harmonies, Hackman brings an intimate, desolate beauty to this short and simple song of hopelessness. And she makes you wonder where the hell she is headed. Continue reading »
In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
Yesterday we heard covers of songs where Timbaland is front and center. Today we learn which of our favorite tunes were co-written and molded by Timbaland’s signature production style. Again, there are too many hits to enumerate all of the songs he was involved in here, but feel free to explore further and trace Timbaland’s fingerprint through songs from the ’90s to the present.
Timbaland has been recognized for his behind the scenes work including three years’ worth of Songwriter of the Year awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, a Producer of the Year award from the BET Hip Hop Awards, and nominations for two of the five spots for Album of the Year in 2004.
We’ll see that Timbaland was extremely influential in launching new artists onto the music scene and helping pre-established artists change course in their musical style. Tomorrow we’ll see how Pharrell Williams and Timbaland worked together to create the ultimate re-branding…