’80s pop star Rick Astley was a surprise guest at indie pop band Blossoms’ recent live show in Camden Town, London. Together, they covered some of Manchester rockers The Smiths‘ most well known tracks, “This Charming Man” and Panic.”
Two things strike me as I scan through our list this year. This first is that many of the highest-ranking covers are tributes to recently-deceased icons. No surprise there, I suppose. But none actually pay tribute to artists that died in 2018. They honor those we’ve been honoring for two or three years now – your Pettys, your Princes, your Bowies. Hundreds of covers of each of these legends appeared in the first days after their deaths, but many of the best posthumous covers took longer to emerge.
Good covers take time. That principle – the cover-song equivalent of the slow food movement, perhaps – holds true throughout the list. Sure, a few here appear to have arisen from sudden moments of brilliance, flash-arranged for some concert or radio promo session. But many more reveal months or even years of painstaking work to nail every element. Making someone else’s song one’s own isn’t easy. These 50 covers took the time to get it right.
– Ray Padgett, Editor-in-Chief
Start the countdown on the next page…
Andrew Combs – Reptila (The Strokes cover)
The Strokes’ Is This It songs have been covered to death, so musicians are digging deeper. We heard a killer Angles cover in April from Billie Eilish (more on her in a minute), and now singer-songwriter Andrew Combs takes on this Room on Fire track. His own music leans Nashville Americana, but from the crazy horns here, sounds like he’s been spending time in New Orleans.
Fair warning: the video below will play the song “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
I need to mention that up front. Ever since the advent of Rick-rolling (doesn’t that meme seem like a century ago?), people typically hear Rick Astley’s 1987 hit accidentally, the result of a prank. But this new cover you should listen to on purpose.
It’s by young Los Angeles pop singer Bronze Avery, who channels The Weeknd and James Blake on his early singles. And he says he was inspired to cover “Never Gonna Give You Up” not in spite of the meme, but because of it.
Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.
Now, there’s nothing inherently difficult about getting through 32 songs in eight minutes. Try this: “Hey Jude, please please please roll over the rainbow and turn on the 4th red brick in the wall. Rattle and roll a muzzle of cheeseburger puppets to Alice’s house of the rising sonic exploder and sedate my shame and fortune to the blue suede siren. Small and humble homies gonna cut your hair down to the crossroads, but only the funk soul dandy compares 2 losing my rock lobster. No ‘G’ thang, no cry.”
There’s, that’s 32 songs and it took about twenty seconds [side challenge: how many can you identify?]. Getting through 32 songs and making it sound good though…well, that’s something else entirely. Fredrik Larsson aka. Freddegredde pulls it off in a speedy YouTube medley, nodding at viral videos alongside the rock and pop. View the video below, then peruse the full list of songs below the clip.