Pop-punk quintet The Maine always seems to have a gentle and melodic with impeccable harmonies, and this cover of Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer” is no different. According to Alt Press, Maine’s vocalist John O’Callaghan had said “We couldn’t get tickets for Taylor Swift’s tour, so we decided to cover ‘Cruel Summer so we can have our own concert on the tour bus.”
To come up with our year-end list, we listened to thousands of covers.
That’s not an exaggeration, or loosely throwing around “thousands” for effect. My iTunes tells me I personally listened to and rated 1,120 new covers in 2021. And I’m just one of a dozen people here. Many of those thousands of covers were very good! But “very good” isn’t good enough for our annual year-end Best Cover Songs list. So when we say these 50 are the cream of the crop, we mean it.
They, as usual, have little in common with each other. A few tie into current events: Artists we lost, social justice concerns, live music’s fitful return. Most don’t. But does a doom metal cover of Donna Summer really need a reason to exist? How about African blues Bob Dylan, New Orleans bounce Lady Gaga, or organ ballad Fleetwood Mac? Nah. We’re just glad they’re here.
So dive into our countdown below – and, if you want us to send you a couple hundred Honorable Mentions culled from those thousands, join the Cover Me Patreon.
– Ray Padgett, Editor in Chief
‘The Best Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.
2020 marks a number of twenty-year anniversaries in music, but perhaps nothing as much as the extremely turn-of-the-millenium phenomenon of the boy band. At the start of the year, NSYNC set a first-week sales record with No Strings Attached. At the end of it, Backstreet Boys set their own sales record with Black & Blue. No one before or since sold CDs like boy bands sold CDs. Even the year’s other huge artists seemed defined in reaction to boy bands; Eminem dissed boy bands in seemingly half of his songs, while Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst was constantly starting feuds with them. It was that kind of year.
Because boy bands had their detractors. Boy oh boy, did they have their detractors. I was a 13-year old in 2000, and I remember the arguments dominating middle school hallways. But whether you were a fanatic or a skeptic, it’s hard to argue that, stripped of the love-it-or-hate-it presentation, the songs were rock solid (melodically, if not always lyrically). I imagine every one of us has gotten some of these stuck in our head – even if we didn’t want them there.
So rather than picking just one artist, we decided to pay tribute to the entire genre. We didn’t limit it to songs from the year 2000, but we did limit it to the phenomenon that 2000 represents. Though you can make a fair argument that The Beatles and Jackson 5 were boy bands, including groups like that would render this list pretty meaningless. Every artist here fits a pretty strict definition of a boy band, even if they came just before the genre’s cultural peak (New Edition) or after it (One Direction).
So everybody, rock your body with the 25 best boy band covers ever.
– Ray Padgett
The list starts on Page 2.
They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
Note: This post was supposed to go up yesterday, but due to server issues it never did. So a happy belated birthday to Mr. Dogg!
Happy b-dizzle to Cordozar Calvin Broadus, the king of Tha Dogg Pound. Hailing from sunny California, Snoop Dogg turns 39 today and still continues to make cameos on some of the latest pop hits. His association with Dr. Dre, a penchant for the smokier things in life, and of course the addition of “izzle” to our vocabulary have made him a legendary icon in hip hop.
His soothing rap voice is unforgettable, his ability to party is undeniable, and he'll leave you no choice but to join in. For a tough rapper, Snoop has shown he has a sense of humor in various movie roles. Artists have adopted that same humor in their covers of his songs.