Nov 062020
 

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

depeche mode covers

Way back in January, we polled our Patreon supporters to see which 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee they wanted to see get the “Best Covers Ever” treatment. Depeche Mode won, so we started planning our schedule to get it ready in advance of the big induction ceremony on March 24.

Then…you know.

Tomorrow, many months later, the Rock Hall is finally hosting some sort of ceremony – remotely, of course – and we’ve been honoring each artist all week with covers features: Whitney Houston, Notorious B.I.G., The Doobie Brothers, T. Rex, and Nine Inch Nails. Now, many months after we expected to post it, the grand finale: The 25 Best Depeche Mode Covers Ever. 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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Nov 052020
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

Marc Bolan T.Rex

Armed with a seemingly bottomless well of self-belief, in possession of both off-the-charts charisma and head-turning beauty, Marc Bolan was a pop star like no other. He was the very definition of “transcendent,” which is to say the combination of his lovably ludicrous lyrics and infectiously crunchy Chuck Berry riffs appealed not only to screaming teenage girls but to the cool outsider kids as well. By 1976 he was being openly acknowledged as an inspiration to many of the early prognosticators of punk, including The Damned and Siouxsie. He loved the association and latterly referred to himself as “the Godfather of Punk if you like.” He would no doubt have accepted his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a humility befitting his persona (perhaps mentioning all of the above and then asking why it took them so long) and fully embraced the praise to be rightfully heaped upon him, all of which is ridiculously fun to imagine.

He is yet another artist whom despite inspiring a mountainous number of covers has been somewhat underserved. Alas, for every beauteous version of “Cosmic Dancer,” there are dozens of not-so-great takes of “Children of the Revolution.” To throw additional salt in the wound, there are loads of exquisitely fun and fine deep cuts that have yet to be tackled with the same eagerness as the hits (classic ballad “Broken-Hearted Blues” still hasn’t enjoyed a seminal reading, nor has the eternally groovy “The Wizard“). Thankfully, 2020 saw a superb effort to begin righting the ship, courtesy of the legendary Hal Willner, who organized the star studded tribute album AngelHeaded Hipster: The Songs of Marc Bolan and T.Rex (read our review here). It features all the hits, yes, but shines the brightest when it gets into the deep stuff (check out BØRNS’ version of 1976’s “Dawn Storm,” it’s gorgeous).  Here’s hoping the album serves as a clarion call for future excavation of the solid gold deep cuts within the Bolan and T.Rex catalog (there are a ton!).

In honor of Marc’s HOF induction, we’re going to offer up a few of the straight up craziest, sexiest and coolest amongst the thousands of existing covers out there. Get it on…
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Nov 042020
 

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

What a Fool Believes covers

Artists are eligible for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after their first release. For the Doobie Brothers, who formed in 1970, it took nearly twice as long. Perhaps that’s because they have had twice as many members as most of the other inductees.

The band became hit makers in the early ‘70s: playing a hybrid of hard rock, country-rock, and blues, mixed with well-manicured harmonies. The Doobies’ sound took a 180-degree turn in 1975 when a young soul singer named Michael McDonald was tapped to fill in for the band’s ailing frontman Tom Johnston. Eventually, Johnston left, and McDonald pushed the band into blue-eyed soul territory.

In 1978, the collective recorded and released its eighth studio album Minute by Minute. With its synth-driven pop sounds, the album was a distinct departure from their earlier music. Before it hit the shelves, the band was certain they had a flop. As McDonald recalled in an episode of VH1’s Behind the Music: “I remember playing that album for a friend of mine and said, ‘Well, what do you think’? And he goes, ‘It’s a piece of shit. It sucks.’ And I remember thinking, ‘I think he’s right.’”

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Nov 032020
 

“Covering the Hits” looks at covers of a randomly-selected #1 hit from the past sixty-odd years.

mo money mo problems covers

The three most prominent “Mo Money Mo Problems” covers aren’t really covers at all. But they’re at least cover-adjacent, so we’ll start there.
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Nov 022020
 

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

I Wanna Dance With Somebody covers

Whitney Houston was a force; her accolades are legion. The people at Guinness World Records named her the most awarded female artist of all time. Her 415 awards (as of 2010) include 6 Grammys and 22 American Music Awards. Of her 30 Billboard Music Awards, she won 11 in one year, breaking a record. Each of her 7 solo albums and 2 soundtrack albums have been certified gold or above.

Houston also has won awards for her involvement in films, including most famously in The Bodyguard with her stunning (cover) performance of “I Will Always Love You.” NPR calls the song the “‘Old Town Road’ of its day.” The Bodyguard soundtrack remains, (as far as I can track down,) the best-selling soundtrack of all time, and the movie’s portrayal of an interracial relationship was impactful at the time.

Houston was not free of personal struggles, including drug use and her tumultuous relationship with Bobby Brown. But today, her impact lies beyond even her music and acting. Houston was a major supporter of Nelson Mandela and performed in benefit concerts during his imprisonment. She then became the first big-name musician to visit South Africa post-apartheid under Mandela. Proceeds from her broadcast of the concerts there were donated to South African charities.

It was only a matter of time before yet another award appeared on Houston’s already long list. This year we celebrate her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It should be noted that Houston is the only female to be inducted this year, joining the fewer than 8% of the other hall of famers who are women.

Although we celebrate Houston’s accomplishment, we take a look at five more somber covers of her Grammy-winning hit “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

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