Sep 022020
 
Future Teens

“All Star” is both Smash Mouth’s most famous and most notorious song, featured in not one but two feature films (Mystery Men and Shrek) and subject of endless memes. The song’s restlessness positivity – despite the somewhat downbeat lyrics of the verses – has proved easy to mock, as has lead singer Steve Harwell’s distinct and unconventional voice. Still, it was a massive hit when it came out and it has become a radio staple in the subsequent decades.

Future teens are an indie pop band from Boston with a penchant for covers, releasing a covers album in 2018. Their vibe is a lot more mopey than Smash Mouth; they describe themselves as “bummer pop.” And they have covered the most unlikely of songs: “All Star.”

Their cover opens with co-lead singer Daniel Radin almost a cappella, with only the occasional tinkling of a piano. As the song builds, there is a distinct Counting Crows vibe, with the vocal melody altered to fit the vibe. Amy Hoffman, the other lead singer, takes over for the second verse, giving the song more of an emo/’00s indie pop vibe. Instead of the (in)famous whistle break, the band jam, which solidifies the ’00s indie rock sound. For the third verse most of the instrumentation breaks away, only to come back to build slowly to a brief climax complete with emo screaming before the final chorus’s grand finale.

The result ends up something like an indie or emo power ballad. It, needless to say, a complete re-imagining of the song. Listen below.

Feb 282018
 
best cover songs february

Today we continue the tradition we started way back one month ago. Since we’re still new at this, I’ll reiterate that our picks are unranked and semi-impulsive. Even the un-blurbed “Honorable Mentions” at the bottom aren’t necessarily worse than the rest; in many cases, we’ve just already written about them at length and have little else to say.

Okay, disclaimers behind us, let’s dive in. Continue reading »

Dec 172015
 

Follow all our Best of 2015 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

CoverMeBestSongs2015

I didn’t realize it until I began laying out our post, but this year’s Best Cover Songs list shares quite a few artists with last year’s. And some that showed up here the year before that. Jack White’s on his fourth appearance. And Jason Isbell and Hot Chip not only both reappear from last year, but have moved up in the rankings.

Though we’re always on the lookout for the new (and to be sure, there are plenty of first-timers here too), the number of repeat honorees illustrates how covering a song is a skill just like any other. The relative few artists who have mastered it can probably deliver worthy covers again and again.

How a great cover happens is something I’ve been thinking a lot about this year as I’ve been writing a series of articles diving deep into the creation of iconic cover songs through history (I posted two of them online, and the rest are being turned into a book). In every case the artist had just the right amount of reverence for the original song: honoring its intention without simply aping it. It’s a fine line, and one even otherwise able musicians can’t always walk. Plenty of iconic people don’t make good cover artists (I’d nominate U2 as an example: some revelatory covers of the band, but not a lot by them). Given the skill involved, perhaps it’s no surprise that someone who can do a good cover once can do it again.

So, to longtime readers, you will see some familiar names below. But you’ll also see a lot of new names, and they’re names you should remember. If the past is any guide, you may well see them again next year, and the year after that.

Click on over to page two to begin our countdown, and thanks for reading.

– Ray Padgett, Editor in Chief
(Illustration by Sarah Parkinson)

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