Apr 012021
 

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

best queen covers

There is no Queen without Freddie Mercury. On a fundamental level, we all agree that is true. But, if you want to be literal about it, there is Queen without Freddie Mercury. Thirty years after Freddie’s death, the show must go on, and so the band still exists. Adam Lambert now sings Freddie’s parts on tour, just as Paul Rodgers did before him. The Bohemian Rhapsody movie included some new vocal recordings – not by star Rami Malek, but by Canadian singer Marc Martel. And then of course there are the many singers who fronted Queen at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, broadcast to an audience of up to one billion people. (If you haven’t watched George Michael singing “Somebody to Love” or Annie Lennox joining David Bowie for “Under Pressure,” go do that now, then come back.)

Suffice to say, millions if not billions of people have heard Queen songs sung by singers other than Freddie Mercury. But none of those we just mentioned are covers, strictly speaking, since they feature most or all of the band’s three surviving members. Bassist John Deacon has since departed – and his joining Queen fifty years ago this month, solidifying the lineup, marks the anniversary we’re pegging this post to – but guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor have kept the Queen name alive. No doubt, when touring becomes a thing again, Queen will be back on the road once again.

The forty actual covers on our list do not feature any members of Queen. As such, they’re free to roam much further afield than Adam Lambert or George Michael, turning the band’s hits and the occasional deep cut into genres from polka to punk, a cappella to acoustic instrumental. Queen dabbled in so many different genres during their time – I mean, “Bohemian Rhapsody” alone! – I think they’d appreciate how malleable their songs can be. Even when they’re not the ones performing their songs, Queen will rock you.

Or, in one case, polka you.

The list begins on Page 2.

Mar 192021
 

A,A. WilliamsThe deliberately slow solo piano version of a peppy pop song is a covers cliché, especially with online covers. But in the right hands it can still have power. We’ve profiled A.A. Williams’ forays in this style throughout the pandemic. Now she’s collected all of these covers on an album, Songs from Isolation; a very appropriate title given the mood of the songs and her sole presence on the recordings.

Most of the songs here are indeed solo piano renditions of rock songs, at a slower tempo, and most of the songs are quite famous. So the album does at least flirt with the internet cliché. But both Williams’ performances and the context she recorded them in give weight to these versions in a way that some random YouTube piano cover usually doesn’t.
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Feb 162021
 
miley super bowl covers

Last week Miley Cyrus continued her epic run of recent covers during her pre-game performance at this year’s Super Bowl. Along with a cover of “Heart of Glass” by Blondie (which we previously covered here), Miley also performed a modified version of “Mickey” by Toni Basil, “Head Like A Hole” by Nine Inch Nails and “Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill. Her versions of “I Hate Myself for Loving You” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and “White Wedding” by Billy Idol, featured special appearances by their original singers, to the delight of the crowd. Continue reading »

Feb 012021
 
cover songs january 2021
Amanda Shires – That’s All (Genesis cover)

Our first song kicks off what will be a theme here. A lot of these came out at the very top of the year (or the very end of 2020) to kick a garbage year to the curb and hope for something better. Shires said: “’That’s All’ is a song that I have played a lot on tour. The song defines 2020 for me. It’s a true Covid anthem and I dare you to not dance to my version when you hear it!” Continue reading »

Nov 062020
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Nine Inch Nails, originally formed in Cleveland, Ohio, gets a chance to return to their start with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. The third time was the charm; they were nominated in 2014 and 2015 as well.

The band is still active despite many hiatuses throughout their career. For example, did you know that Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” samples a Nine Inch Nails song from one of their instrumental Ghosts albums (the latest, Ghosts V, released this year)? Longstanding band members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have even been involved in writing movie scores for films and television shows such as The Social Network, Gone Girl, and Watchmen.

But back in 1994, their second album The Downward Spiral, a concept album tracing a man’s deteriorating life, brought the band into the mainstream and gave them commercial success. Although one of the singles off this album, “Closer,” is arguably their most popular hit, another of the album’s tracks, “Hurt,” has stood the test of time. It’s been covered most notably by Johnny Cash, but it’s also featured in movies, television shows, and even in sports montages and tributes.

To celebrate Nine Inch Nails’s induction, we revisit “Hurt” with five good covers and one good twist–all of them are by female artists.
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May 292020
 
head like a hole cover

This past December, a few friends headed up to Pepperbox Studios in rural central Vermont to record a few songs and exercise some creative instincts. A few songs were considered, one of which was this classic Nine Inch Nails track “Head Like a Hole.” Marshall Morgan laid down the riff and producer Kristina Stykos, owner of Pepperbox, filled out the recording.

Stykos had never heard the original song, so her arrangement likely has a lot do with the drastic change in sound. The three singers, activist Kira Elliot, and friends Lindsay Hopkins, a performance artist, and Carrie Drapac, then recorded their vocal parts. They called their one-off group Venus and the Moon. Continue reading »