Sufjan Stevens’ track “Romulus,” off of his 2003 album Greetings from Michigan the Great Lake State, sparkles with its vulnerable meditations on parenting. Stevens whispers confessions about a strained relationship between child and mother, one filled with shame, guilt, and confusion, yet also gratitude. Japanese Breakfast’s cover of the song for SiriusXMU Sessions puts this vulnerability on display.
Amy Helm – Twilight (The Band cover)
Ashley O [Miley Cyrus] – Right Where I Belong (Nine Inch Nails cover)
The second-most-bonkers cover of the month (just wait ’til we get to “Spicy”) comes from – who else – Miley Cyrus. On a new episode of Black Mirror, she covers/parodies angsty Nine Inch Nails songs as the most insipid of pop jams. Trent Reznor, for one, says he is very much on board (given the lyric changes, these covers required his legal approval). Miley’s songs in character as Ashley O are outrageous and borderline offensive, which is kind of the point. “On a Roll” (FKA “Head Like a Hole”) has gotten most of the attention, but “Right Where I Belong” is more listenable. Marginally.
At the end of every year, we work for weeks curating our annual Best of the Year list (here’s last year’s). We’re monitoring what comes out all year though, so this month I thought: why wait? Here’s a more impulsive and spontaneous list, some songs we’ve written about already and others we didn’t get to. Just some great covers that stood out as the month comes to a close.
In 2016, indie singer Michelle Zauner, who performs under the moniker Japanese Breakfast, opened for fellow Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski. “Being half-Asian and going on the Mitski tour, that was like, a big deal,” Zauner told Rolling Stone. She said fans would come up and thank them. “They feel like they see part of themselves in us in a way that they haven’t been able to before.”
Mitski should be no stranger to readers of Cover Me; her work has landed on our Top 50 lists in both 2015 and 2017. Japanese Breakfast recently took a page from Mitski’s playbook and expanded her electro-pop repertoire by releasing a cover of “California Dreamin’” on the SiriusXMU indie-rock radio channel.