Having seen him deliver a knockout cover of Kanye West’s “All of the Lights” back in May, we already knew Fall Out Boy Patrick Stump could do hip-hop. That song had a catchy Rihanna hook though, giving pop-minded rockers an easy in. Not so Big Boi’s “Shutterbugg,” Stump’s latest rap cover, which presents a bigger challenge.
Had he lived, tomorrow would have been Buddy Holly’s 75th birthday, and today marks the release date of the second full-length Buddy Holly tribute of the past ten weeks. Due to the proximity of the release dates, the two collections are destined to be linked together and compared. On the surface, similarities abound: both Rave On Buddy Holly (review here) and Listen To Me: Buddy Holly feature big name stars and a bevy of classic rockers. Rave On boasts Paul McCartney, Nick Lowe, Patti Smith and Lou Reed while Listen To Me offers Stevie Nicks, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne and Ringo Starr. The differences lie in the roster of contemporary contributors. Where Rave On is stocked with indie cred, Listen To Me relies on a list of chart-topping pop stars.
Less innovative than its slightly older cousin, Listen To Me: Buddy Holly has a few oddities that tend to tarnish an otherwise pretty solid compilation. First on the list of disappointments is Linda Ronstadt’s 1976 Hasten Down The Wind version of “That’ll Be The Day.” Really? Does a 35 year-old song get a pass on an otherwise “new” collection simply because the legendary Peter Asher produced both projects? Did they think we wouldn’t notice?
Who would have guessed 2011 would be the year of Buddy Holly? We’ve already seen one all-star tribute album and now we’re gearing up for a second. Despite its godawful cover, Listen to Me: Buddy Holly boasts an intriguing roster. The artists lean a little older than the Rave On Buddy Holly set, but Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump proves an exception to that rule. He also delivers our first listen to an album cut.
Festivals often entice artists to perform covers. What better way to convert the uninitiated than by drawing them in with a song they know and then (ideally) hooking them by transforming it into your sound? This past weekend’s Lollapalooza, though, seemed to offer even more cover performances than usual. Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune even christened Saturday “#80snight” to keep track of all the ‘80s covers performed.
They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
There are a lot of ways to describe Kanye West: hitmaker, innovator, rapper, producer, fashion designer, philanthropist, controversy-starter, and (some would argue) egomaniac. This week Kanye turns 34, so we’re simply saying “Happy Birthday!” with five covers of his biggest hits. No matter what you think of his often inflammatory behavior, there’s no denying his musical talent. Considering the number of hits and amount of attention Kanye has had since releasing The College Dropout in 2004, it’s no surprise that a diverse and high-profile group of artists have covered his tracks. West is known for his diverse catalog of collaborators, and his admirers are just as widespread, from an emo forefather to a movie star turned musician.
There’s something to be said for versatility in an artist. Just like how there are so many actors-turned-directors, it seems we’re more often seeing artists-turned-producers/co-writers/etc. It makes sense. Aside from the sheer megalomania of fame, most artists want to have their fingers in as many ventures as possible simply because they know they’re good at what they do. The best of these know that they’re good at more than just what they made their names on in the first place.