2020 marks a number of twenty-year anniversaries in music, but perhaps nothing as much as the extremely turn-of-the-millenium phenomenon of the boy band. At the start of the year, NSYNC set a first-week sales record with No Strings Attached. At the end of it, Backstreet Boys set their own sales record with Black & Blue. No one before or since sold CDs like boy bands sold CDs. Even the year’s other huge artists seemed defined in reaction to boy bands; Eminem dissed boy bands in seemingly half of his songs, while Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst was constantly starting feuds with them. It was that kind of year.
Because boy bands had their detractors. Boy oh boy, did they have their detractors. I was a 13-year old in 2000, and I remember the arguments dominating middle school hallways. But whether you were a fanatic or a skeptic, it’s hard to argue that, stripped of the love-it-or-hate-it presentation, the songs were rock solid (melodically, if not always lyrically). I imagine every one of us has gotten some of these stuck in our head – even if we didn’t want them there.
So rather than picking just one artist, we decided to pay tribute to the entire genre. We didn’t limit it to songs from the year 2000, but we did limit it to the phenomenon that 2000 represents. Though you can make a fair argument that The Beatles and Jackson 5 were boy bands, including groups like that would render this list pretty meaningless. Every artist here fits a pretty strict definition of a boy band, even if they came just before the genre’s cultural peak (New Edition) or after it (One Direction).
So everybody, rock your body with the 25 best boy band covers ever.
If you grew up in the 90s you’ll remember Hanson as the blonde brothers topping the charts and winning the hearts of young women all over the world, and they sure aren’t ready to call it quits anytime soon. The boys stopped by the Fifi and Jules radio show in Australia last week to play some of their hits, (old and new), and they surprised listeners with an awesome Taylor Swift cover. The guys did an acoustic cover of Swift’s mega-hit “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together” that reminds us all why they stole our hearts so many years ago.Continue reading »
Posted by Adele Hazan at 5:00 pmComments Off on In the Spotlight: Boy Bands
Call me old fashioned, but I am still a sucker for Joey Fatone, Brian Latrell, and the other Lachey Brother from their boy band glory days. The success of their songs didn’t come from legendary lyricism or face-melting guitar solos, but from their pop-perfect voices and sweet dance moves. Their boyish good looks didn’t hurt either. So join me in some late-’90s nostalgic looking with covers of all those dirty-pop hits. Though a biased fan, I will attempt to objectively scrutinize these covers and determine whether they’d be teen-idol approved.Continue reading »
Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.
By all rights Hanson should be in the Where-Are-They-Now file, but they never entirely vanished. A couple weeks back their latest album debuted at #30 which, while nowhere near their previous levels, still means a whole lot of people paid real money for a Hanson album in 2010. Real money that could have been spent for so many other causes. Here are some better uses of $15: Donate it to the Glenn Beck 2012 fund. Buy some gas to throw into the ocean. Shred it to line your cat’s litter box. What else?
“MMMBop” is widely (and rightly) considered a joke now, but at the time it was not only wildly popular, but critically acclaimed. It’s true. Rolling Stone, Spin, and VH1 called it one of the best songs of 1997. The Village Voice’s annual Pazz and Jop critic poll called it the best song of 1997. Wow. Continue reading »
The first post of the month always features a look at songs covering every track on a famous album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
There was never really any question which album Pitchfork would pick as its #1 of the 2000s. However, a predictable conclusion to their countdown shouldn’t distract from the merits of the winner, Radiohead’s Kid A. As the follow-up to their massively successful OK Computer, Kid A’s glitchy electro beats and spacey reverb washes elicited mixed reaction at best. Suffice to say, fans and critics have come around in the ensuing nine years, these ten artists in particular.<
Sonos – Everything In Its Right Place
I’m sure a cappella Radiohead has been tried many, many times. I’m sure it has failed just about every one of them. This is the rare exception. If Thom Yorke produced a cappella himself, it would probably sound like this. [Buy]
John Mayer – Kid A
The guy responsible for “Your Body Is a Wonderland” taking on the man who gave us “Karma Police”? Surely a disaster waiting to happen. The fact that it isn’t furthers my theory that Mayer may actually be a talented musician hiding it well. [Buy]
paradigm – The National Anthem
The Louisville four-piece did an almost exclusively Radiohead covers set in ’06, all instrumental, all ass-kicking. This one comes out of a lengthier medley with the Beatles’ “Come Together” (hence the abrupt ending). Click the link to get the whole show: [Buy]
Eliza Lumley – How to Disappear Completely
Many Radiohead fans claim this as their favorite song. It’s one of my least favorites. Eliza’s quiet piano lament may make me reconsider though. [Buy]
Vitamin String Quartet – Treefingers
I’ll be honest here: I tried hard to find a cover of this not churned out by the ubiquitous string quartet. I failed. This anonymous group has literally hundreds of tribute albums out (here’s a partial list), so their street cred in the cover community is below even Richard Cheese’s. Still, the original here is instrumental, so their approach works. They cover the whole album. [Buy]
Hanson – Optimistic
Going from the Vitamin String Quartet to Hanson? If this is my last blog post, it’s because I was chased off the internet. I won’t push my luck by saying the “MMMBop” boys do a good job here. But I’m not saying they don’t either… [Buy]
Sa-Ra – In Limbo
Techno, dance, crunk. Sa-Ra combines just about every genre Radiohead isn’t and inexcusably makes it work. [Buy]
We Versus the Shark – Idioteque
The slow grind of We separates this from the many folksy covers out there, giving it a hefty call-and-response churn that ably substitutes for the schizo drum pattern of the original. [Buy]
Flash Hawk Parlor Ensemble – Amnesiac / Morning Bell
Technically this pairing is off the Amnesiac album, but the “Morning Bell” portion first appeared on Kid A. This twee-folk ditty from the Decemberists’ Chris Funk may make you forget that either album exists. [Buy]
Christopher O’Riley – Motion Picture Soundtrack
It seems fitting to close out with O’Riley, the solo piano cover artist extraordinaire. He’s got two discs of Radiohead covers out, both worth getting. [Buy]
Words are overrated. From Little Richard to Rihanna, sometimes a song can say more with random sounds than any coherent content. So to celebrate the inanity of catchy hooks that don’t mean a thing
Queen – Tutti Frutti (Little Richard) Rocking out one of the most famous phrases in rock and roll, Freddie Mercury “wop bop a lu bop, a wop bam boom”s his ass off with some crowd participation. And – big shock – Brian May is very good at guitar. [Buy]
Phish – Mmmbop (Hanson) It says Hanson above, but Phish makes it clear that this is actually a James Brown cover. Listen up and hear what I mean. [Buy]
Los Chicros – Changes (David Bowie) Much like “My Generation,” “Changes” wouldn’t be half as good without the “ch-ch-ch” stutter. [Buy]
The Vox Collective – Disturbia (Rihanna) A modern classic for sure, and a song made for down-tempo acoustic covers (I already have three). Bum bum be dum… [Buy]
Chris Dunnett – Blue (Da Ba Dee Da Ba Di) (Eiffel 65) Euro-dance music on flamenco guitar…now why didn’t I think of that? [Buy]
Elliott Smith – Jealous Guy (John Lennon) Someone find me a song with a better whistling part. Come on, I dare you. The best part about this is how the Cambridge audience whistles along. [Buy]
Marmalade – Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (The Beatles) In 1969 this song was the first by a Scottish band to top the UK charts. Such a big hit, so quickly forgotten. [Buy]
Matt Weddle – Hey Ya (Outkast) Yeah, I guess “hey” is technically a word, but what the hell does “hey ya” mean? A lot, apparently, in Weddle’s beautifully fragile acoustic take. [Buy]
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss – Trampled Rose (Tom Waits) Tom had a nice low moan on the original, but Krauss brings a whole new eeriness to the tune by jumping like eight octaves without breaking a sweat. [Buy]
The Big Wu – Werewolves of London (Warren Zevon) A perfect lead-in to my inevitable Halloween post here. This Minnesota jam band rocks Zevon’s biggest hit for seven minutes, with plenty of “ah-oooooo” excitement. [Buy]