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.
It’s a strange circumstance: What has been awful for humanity at large has been pretty good for the world of cover songs. Even we would say that’s a terrible trade-off!
Nevertheless, we’ve been grateful that so many musicians have taken to Facebook, Instagram, etc to share their music and, in many cases, cover favorite songs that are helping get them through. So, for the fourth time and certainly not the last, we’re rounding up some of the best we’ve seen recently and encouraging you to add your own below.
One note: There are some obvious names you won’t see here. John Prine. Bill Withers. Adam Schlesinger. Kenny Rogers. So many wonderful covers are emerging to pay tribute to artists no longer with them that we’ll be rounding them up separately. We did the first set for Prine here.
Earlier this year we featured five of the best covers, so far, of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”. Of course the first video that went uber-viral and helped ignite interest in this year-old song was the five-on-one guitar cover by Walk Off the Earth. Since then hundreds of covers, parodies and remixes of this hit have flooded the YouTubes. You are in luck, as I have spent far too much time listening to the already overexposed song to pull out a few covers that either rival or surpass the original. In no particular order, here are ten more versions for your enjoyment.
1) Karmin– a Cover Me regular from YouTube that has gone on to appear on Saturday Night Live. Watch Amy and Nick do their pop thing on SiriusXM Hits.
2) Kelly Clarkson – The original American Idol performs live at Jones Beach, NY on August 21, 2012.
3) Netherlands Radio Choir – The 74 person ensemble does the song to raise funds to help save the choir.
5) Rita Ora – The UK singer, songwriter and actress drops an R&B take on Radio 1’s Live Lounge
6) Cast of Glee – “They did such a faithful arrangement of the instruments but the vocals were that pop ‘Glee’ style, ultra dry, sounded pretty tuned and the rock has no real sense, like it’s playing to you from a cardboard box,” Gotye told the Sunday Mail of Darren Criss and Matt Bomer’s rendition of his song.
7) Noah featuring Christina Grimmie – The incredibly talented, deep voiced Noah Guthrie keeps the YouTube cover hits coming.
8) Old School Computer Remix – With an HP Scanjet 3C as the vocals. An Amiga 600 as Bass on left audio output and Guitar on right audio output. Harddrives as the drums and cymbal and a PIC16F84A microcontroller, this digital ditty is pretty amazing.
9) “The Star Wars That I Used To Know” – A Parody with new music and original lyrics. It’s a story of heartbreak to which Star Wars fans everywhere can relate. A shot at the movie remakes, new CGi effects and George Lucas. Easily the best video.
10) Two Kids in a Car – I know this isn’t a cover, but these two six year old friends who love this song are serious stars in the making. How can you not love this?
Check out more from Gotye on his website.
Though they’ve never really dropped off the map completely, Jim Henson’s lovable Muppets seem to be enjoying something of a cultural resurgence lately. A lot of that probably has to do with the upcoming Jason Segel/Amy Adams film simply called The Muppets, as well as the fact that many people who enjoyed the characters as kids are now coming to the age where it’s acceptable, even desirable, to embrace their childhood loves again.
You can add The Green Album to the list of cultural artifacts presaging the return of these creatures to full-on popularity. The record’s aimed exactly at the people described above, who in the years between their childhood and now have cultivated “cool” tastes, of which the Muppets have become a part. One look at the pedigree of bands and artists contributing to this compilation can’t help but impress — Weezer, My Morning Jacket, Andrew Bird and the rest all stand in the upper echelons of their respective fields, and it’s rare that any kind of tribute album could cull such noteworthy acts together.