Sep 142021
Okay Kaya

“Nightswimming” was the fifth single from R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People. Uncharacteristic for both the album and the band as a whole, it’s just bassist Michael Mills on piano and Michael Stipe singing, backed by an orchestra. Stipe’s lyric is one of his simplest and most overt – unless you read what he says the song is really about, and then maybe it isn’t. Regardless of the lyric, the song is about as simple and straight-forward as REM ever got.

Okay Kaya is a Norwegian-American singer-songwriter whose appeared on Cover Me a few times in the last year. On her new cover of “Nightswimming,” recorded for Jagjaguwar’s upcoming Join the Ritual, Kaya completely abandons the piano melody. And she also dramatically alters the vocal melody. Instead, there’s Kaya’s multi-tracked voice and an ever-increasing assortment of keyboards and other gently distorted musical sounds. The aesthetic is very bedroom, as opposed to the orchestral vibe of the original. The vibe has changed, and it feels as though Kaya is telling a different story than Stipe was in the original. But there’s still the sense that you are hearing a very personal story, intended only for you.

Dec 132019
best cover songs of 2019

In 2019, Cover Me wrote about more new covers than in any year in our 12-year history. I know; I checked the numbers. Our News team wrote amazing stand-alone stories on sometimes tight deadlines, adding context and research beyond “here’s a new cover” quickie. Plus, we rounded the best of the best into monthly 30+ lists, and added even more for supporters of our new Patreon. Even our Features team, who ostensibly couldn’t care less whether a cover came out last month or last century, seemed to be constantly finding new things to slip into their deep dives.

The point here is not to toot our own horn… well, that’s not entirely the point. What I want to do is emphasize just how high the bar to appear on this list has been set. Calling these covers great almost does them a disservice. There were way more than 50 great covers in 2019. In fact, we’ve already got 150 more bonus tracks lined up for Patreon supporters (which, I know I mention it a lot, but it’s how we keep this site afloat, so please consider supporting us if you like what we do). Honestly, we could throw all of the above in the trash and still come up with a pretty impressive batch of 2019 covers. But these 50 below – these are the cream of the crop, the belles of the ball, the toppermost of the poppermost.

You won’t agree. I guarantee it. As you go through this list, there will be at least one cover you hate. Maybe more than one. And if you followed cover news yourself this year, you’ll probably be outraged when a personal favorite placed too low, or didn’t make it at all. Great! That’s the beauty of these lists: It’s all opinion. Extremely educated opinions in our cases – I can pretty much guarantee that we collectively listened to more 2019 covers than any other site out there – but opinions nevertheless. So dive in and discover something new. Then help us discover something new by adding your own favorites in the comments.

– Ray Padgett, Editor-in-Chief


Apr 302019
best cover songs of april
Beyoncé – Before I Let Go (Maze cover)

Last week, Beyoncé surprised-dropped her live album Homecoming. It accompanied the Netflix film of the same name, which immortalized her lionized 2018 Coachella performance. The biggest surprise of all was the bonus track: a cover of Maze’s 1981 “Before I Let Go.” The original song wasn’t a huge hit when it first came out, but has grown to be referred to sometimes as the “black national anthem.” Beyoncé brings it right up to the present with a big production including marching band, new rap verse, and a sample of New Orleans bounce artist DJ Jubilee. Continue reading »