Dec 182020
 

Follow all our Best of 2020 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

Typically, the world of cover songs does not change that much year-to-year. You can point to big shifts across decades, sure, but the difference between cover songs in 2018 and 2019, broadly speaking? Negligible. But 2020 was – in this as in everything else – very different.

As concerts ground to a sudden halt, musicians turned to live-from-quarantine home performances, first on their social media, then, once some kind of business model got built up, on various paid platforms. And cover songs were a big part of that. Some musicians did themed covers nights, like Ben Gibbard on YouTube early on or Lucinda Williams’ more produced Lu’s Jukebox series more recently. Others just felt the freedom in such an intimate environment to try things out, spontaneously covering influences, inspirations, or even songs they only half knew. We collected dozens of those early home covers in our Quarantine Covers series, and still only hit a small fraction.

Musicians eventually settled in, and productions got a little more elaborate than the staring-at-your-iPhone-camera look. Witness the heavy metal comedy series Two Minutes to Late Night, which transitioned from a long-running live show in New York City to a series of YouTube covers with dozens of metal-scene ringers covering songs from their couches, corpse paint and all. Witness Miley Cyrus’s endless series of killer cover locales, from a fire pit to an empty Whisky a Go Go. Or witness long-running radio covers series like BBC’s Live Lounge or Triple J’s Like a Version – often the source of a song or two on these lists. First they had musicians tape special covers from home, then, in the BBC’s case, they moved to a giant warehouse studio for suitable social distancing. (Triple J’s pretty much back to post-coronavirus business as usual – sure, Australia, rub it in.)

There’s one other major way covers reflected 2020, and it’s almost too painful to think about, so I’ll just list their names. John Prine. Adam Schlesinger. Hal Willner. Charley Pride. So many musicians taken by this virus, many reflected in some of these covers (Pride’s death happened after our list was finalized, but tributes are already rolling in). In a year filled with tragedies, covers offered one place for musicians and fans to find solace.

Many of the songs on our year-end list reflect this terrible year in one way or another. But you know what? Many don’t. Because covers can also offer a fun respite from all the stress. Doom metal Doobie Brothers? Post Malone on mandolin? A viral TikTok hit by a guy who calls himself Ritt Momney? Those have nothing to do with anything! But they’re what we live for.

– Ray Padgett, Editor-in-Chief

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Jul 022012
 

One of the hottest bands in the bluegrass and jamband scene, Greensky Bluegrass never seem to stop touring. As evidenced by their three appearances at last week’s  Telluride Bluegrass Festival, the band is working hard in support of their latest release, Handguns. Continue reading »

Apr 062012
 

If you know of the Australian new wave rock band Men at Work, then you most likely know of their song “Down Under,” too. Released in 1982 as the second single off of the band’s debut album Business as Usual, “Down Under” won the five Aussies success in the States, reaching number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in early 1983. While the unique original’s laid-back feel and flute flourishes are hard to beat, the UK’s Barricades Rise manage to do the song justice with their updated cover of the track.

Continue reading »

Nov 172010
 

We last heard from Marc with a C with his acoustic rendition of Weird Al’s “Good Enough for Now.” That song came off Marc’s Share the Covers, Bitch! (Part Two) his pay-what-you-want cover disc (get it here). That album only dropped this past January, but next month he returns with Part Three! It finds him covering everything from the ubiquitous “Bed Intruder Song” to “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” (both available here). Now Cover Me premieres another track from the disc. Marc sent us a lengthy introduction that explains the song’s genesis. Continue reading »

Choral Covers

 Posted by at 3:46 am  1 Response »
Sep 172009
 

An exciting day for Cover Me today, as we unveil our spiffy new logo (which you saw above). All the contest entries were great, but that cover-tastic design above comes from winner Gabrielle C. She describes her approach:

I knew what I wanted to do pretty much as soon as I saw the contest announcement. I’m not very versed in popular music, so I emailed to ask for some well-known covers in order to round out the original three I had. For the artists I wasn’t familiar with, I listened to some of their songs in order to get a sense of what kind of design would be appropriate (picking fonts was actually one of the most time-consuming components of the whole project). Everything save for the wood texture was created using Photoshop, including the records themselves.

As part of her prize she got to choose a post’s theme, coming up with the great idea of choral covers. Even excluding “Ave Maria” and Handel’s Messiah, there’s a lot to choose from, famous choirs the world over reaching across genres to tackle a pop tune.


The Red Army Choir – Down Under (Men at Work)
This was the song Gabriella suggested to get the idea going, and it’s top-notch. All the joy of choral covers with the oddball charm of nonstop accordion. They do a cover of “Sex Bomb” that’ll knock you out. Maybe I’ll tweet it sometime. [Buy]

Scala and Kolacny Brothers – Bittersweet Symphony (The Verve)
This Belgian choir has a full disc of pop hits that will knock you out. This Verve hit somehow sounds perfect for the over-the-top pomp when dozens of women blast out every line. [Buy]

Traces Gospel Choir – Walk Don’t Walk (Prince)
The Artist Currently Known as Prince is a devout Jehovah’s Witness, so a gospel cover seems more than appropriate. I have to imagine Prince borrowed the title from the instrumental classic “Walk Don’t Run” (amazing cover here), but this one sounds more Van Morrison than Ventures. [Buy]

Vienna Boys Choir – Message In a Bottle (The Police)
These prim and proper rascals are so well-trained they can’t bring themselves to copy Sting’s vocal inflections. Hearing “sea” instead of “sea-oh” might throw you off at first, but the accents more than compensate. This one’s off Goes Pop, an album of all pop covers. [Buy]

Hell Blues Choir – Swordfishtrombones (Tom Waits)
These guys have put two albums out, one of Tom Waits covers, the other tackling Ray Charles. You can imagine how their takes on “Downtown Train” and “Jersey Girl” sound, but this twisted tune is a brave choice indeed. They make this lesser-known gem swing along without losing its carnival macabre. [Buy]

VoiceWorks – Grace Kelly (Mika)
Indie-pop favorite Mika’s got a new album coming out this fall, so what better time to remember his phenomenal debut? Believe it or not, Australian television hosted an American Idol-style contest called Battle of the Choirs. This Queensland Youth Choir busted this out in the quarter finals. What did they sing the previous round? “Down Under”! [Buy]

Young@Heart Chorus – Fix You (Coldplay)
These septuagenarian singers got a lot of notice recently the with Young@Heart documentary, but this comes from a live album released before then. This one sounds like later-period Johnny Cash. The prequel to “Hurt,” perhaps. [Buy]

Perpetuum Jazzile – Africa (Toto)
Most of the world couldn’t locate Slovenia on a map (can you?), but over nine million have watched this choir on YouTube, making them the country’s greatest national export. The video to this is worth watching to see how they create the rain sounds. [Buy]

PS22 Chorus – Eye of the Tiger (Survivor)
These adorable elementary schoolers have become YouTube sensations with their covers of pop tunes (hear more). Thankfully they haven’t yet reached the age where enthusiasm is uncool, earning them an appearance on the recent Passion Pit album. [Buy]

Capital Children’s Choir – Chinese (Lily Allen)
Gentlemen, get ready to melt. These kids take one of Lily’s few songs not about partying or sex and add a heartbreaking vulnerability you’d never get from someone older. [Buy]