Post Malone’s making waves across the pop-country spectrum this week, covering and getting covered by two country-music icons. Most recently, Sheryl Crow released a cover of his 2019 hit “Circles.” It’s far from the first country take on the song – Billy Strings’ version landed on our Best Covers of 2020 list – but this one sounds like it could actually be a country music radio hit circa 1994. Crow says it has a “fun summer vibe,” adding on Twitter, “I’m such a fan of Post Malone’s songwriting.”
Aimee Mann – Brooklyn (Steely Dan cover)
If you missed the whole brouhaha when Steely Dan dropped Aimee Mann as their opening act, it’s too long to recap here. To skip to the end, Mann tweeted, “All is forgiven if Donald [Fagan] just tells me what Brooklyn is about.” And he did! So, at a recent show at City Winery, she covered it. All does indeed appear to be forgiven.
Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.
What makes a group “super” is a little relative. Who can really say what past musical experience is “enough” to make a new collaboration level up to the term? Take local music scenes for example. Hometown heroes might bounce between bands, creating the opportunity for what I’ll call local supergroups. Maybe they aren’t super to everyone, but they are super to their neighbors and loyal fans.
Let’s hear more under the radar supergroups who are united by Sheryl Crow’s 1996 hit, “If It Makes You Happy,” of all things. It was a self-care mantra for the world-weary before “self-care” was a common phrase that became a double-edged sword. “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.”
Which cover comes out on top?
Amy Speace – Don’t Let Us Get Sick (Warren Zevon cover)
“Don’t Let Us Get Sick” was a moving song even before Warren Zevon got sick, didn’t see a doctor soon enough, and died. After that, the context makes it even more poignant. The canonical cover is Judee Sill’s, but on her new album, Amy Speace gives it a run for its money.
Amigo the Devil – Before He Cheats (Carrie Underwood cover)
When we last heard Amigo the Devil, he was stripping down a Tom Jones song to create a haunting murder ballad. Now he does the same to another highly polished pop song – but a much more recent one. “[The original is] this very confidence-boosting, really good-feeling, power-infusing song,” Amigo’s Danny Kiranos told Rolling Stone. “I was curious what it would sound like if you took away the positive nature of it and kept the lyrics, essentially the emotions they are portraying.”