Dec 092022
 

One Great Cover looks at the greatest cover songs ever, and how they got to be that way.

Mad World

You break something down to its most basic parts and people just react.–Michael Andrews, 2003

The Californian composer Michael Andrews and his childhood buddy Gary Jules scored the most unlikely UK Christmas #1 in history with their cover of “Mad World” in 2003. Listeners raised a lot more questions than glasses of eggnog. Where were the sleighbells, the snow allusions? Where was the Christian message of peace, à la Cliff Richard? The children’s choir? The cloying sentimentality? The song had none of these things. Instead, it had a stripped-back sound, a quiet mournfulness, and some distinctly unfestive lines laid bare. One was: “Went to school and I was very nervous / No one knew me, no one knew me.” Another was: “The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had.”

In fact, the song was basically about a depressed kid.

It wasn’t just about a depressed kid; it was even more about a depressed kid than the original. And this was likely the key to its greatness and, amazingly, its Yuletide success.
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Oct 312022
 
avril lavigne
Avril Lavigne & All Time Low – All the Small Things (Blink 182 cover)

One way you can tell millennials are getting old: There are now nostalgia-bait festivals catering to the music of their (our) youth. Such was the case with When We Were Young, the emo and pop-punk fest in Vegas a couple weeks ago with Paramore, My Chemical Romance, Bright Eyes, and dozens more. A video high point is this extremely fun and infectious cover of “All the Small Things” by All Time Low and Avril Lavigne, performed right after Blink 182 announced they were getting back together. Best part: When the entire crowd hollers alone to “Work sucks / I know”! Continue reading »

Jul 132022
 

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

a cappella cover

Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

Today’s question: What’s your favorite instrumental cover?
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May 052021
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

Patti Smith Twelve

Up until her release of Twelve in 2007, Patti Smith had not been much of one for studio covers, give or take her fabled extended riff on “Gloria,” which remains a live staple. Sure, she had the Byrds’ “So You Want to Be a Rock’n’Roll Star” on her third album, and Dylan’s John Wesley Harding deep cut “Wicked Messenger” on her sixth, but she otherwise largely wrote her own, with her friends and band members. Twelve surprised fans and critics alike, not only by being all other people’s songs, but also by the twelve songs Smith had chosen. Continue reading »

Apr 262021
 

Scouting for Girls "Easy Cover"Scouting for Girls, an English pop band, are preparing to unleash some pent up momentum and energy in the form of a UK and Ireland tour, their longest ever, starting in September. In preparation, they have released a new album, Easy Cover. It features 8 tracks throwing back to their ’80s childhood and 3 original tracks inspired by those good old days. This is one of those albums released recently that can’t be taken out of the pandemic context. It was clearly formed as a response to the all-encompassing gloom and doom and as an attempt to provide a soundtrack to crawling back out into the light.

Scouting for Girls say it themselves:

We’re not trying to do justice to these songs! That’s impossible. We’re just trying to have fun and take them out on the road to give people the night out they deserve after 2020!

With that framing in mind, this (mostly) cover album delivers. Will it change your life? No. Is it earnest and feel-good? Definitely!

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Mar 302021
 

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!

the bad plus covers

It’s a good time for a look back at The Bad Plus. The jazz trio recently announced a new chapter in their 20-year career: they are downsizing to a duo, as pianist Orrin Evans departs the band. (Evans joined in 2017 to replace the band’s original pianist Ethan Iverson.) The remaining musical chairs belong to bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King. The moment is an interesting one for a band that always rejected the “piano-led trio” descriptor, insisting instead on “leaderless collective.” While fans await the band’s next chapter, we have highlights from their previous chapters to dig into.
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