Oct 052023
john matos toto africa

It wasn’t so long ago that it felt like everybody and their grandmother was covering Toto‘s “Africa.” It turned from a popular cover song into a meme. Seemingly kicked off by Weezer’s infamous, fan-requested 2018 cover, the trend had actually been going strong for a while – there were at least 10 covers of “Africa” in 2017 alone – and the song has actually been a popular cover choice since the ’90s. The frequency has really died down in the last couple of years, though.

So it would seem that Abiotic’s John Matos, Suicide Silence’s Eddie Hermida and Mike Caputo are quite late to the party. But for anyone who perhaps got a little tired of all the straight-ahead, overly similar “Africa” covers that seemed to be absolutely everywhere 5 years ago, this might an antidote.

You see, Abiotic are a deathcore band. As are Suicide Silence. Deathcore, for those of you who don’t know, is a niche metal subgenre that combines tropes from classic death metal with some aspects of metalcore (itself a hybrid of hardcore punk and forms of metal). Like a lot of these niche metal subgenres, the sound is very specific; differentiating deathcore from other niche forms of extreme metal is likely not every easy for the average listener. But none of that really matters for this cover.

What matters is that Matos, Hermida and Caputo obliterate most of the original song. The only real concession to the original song is Matos’ guitar echoing the famous opening synth part periodically. Hermida growls and sings the chorus so aggressively you have to listen hard to hear the melody. And Matos’ guitars and especially Caputo’s drums just pummel away, removing most hints that this could be a Toto cover. If you like extreme metal covers of pop hits, and you’ve grown tired of the sheer number of “Africa” covers out there, this is for you.

Mar 232022

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, suggested by staffer Hope Silverman: What’s your favorite cover as performed by a choir?
Continue reading »

Feb 282022
best cover songs
Blacktop Mojo – My Girl (The Temptations cover)

You may listen to the gentle plucking when this begins and thing, boy that’s not what I expected from that band photo. Is this an acoustic flying V? Blacktop Mojo’s “My Girl” stays pretty and meditative for over half the run time, turning the oldies classic into a pretty folk-rock ballad. Eventually, though, true to that long-hair-and-leather image, the heads start banging and axes start shredding. Continue reading »

Jun 302021
best cover songs of june
Adia Victoria – On and On (Erykah Badu cover)

Adia Victoria recorded this powerful Badu cover for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. She said of the time she discovered the song, “I was looking for something that was bigger and deeper and felt more warm than the idea of a Christian God. And I dove into my imagination. And the first time I heard ‘on and on’ it felt like Erykah Badu was waiting for me to be her there.” Continue reading »

Aug 082019
david byrne cover songs

Talking Heads only ever recorded one cover, and when I talked to David Byrne about it for my book, he seemed to have mixed feelings on the subject. “There’s always a little bit of resistance to recording a cover like that because it’s kind of a crowd pleaser,” he told me. “I’d seen it happen before, where radio DJs who pick what they’re going to play will often pick a cover song… So then a band gets known for covering somebody else’s song as opposed to writing their own material. They have to go through a struggle for years to get identified with their own songs.”

Talking Heads recorded “Take Me to the River,” it became their biggest hit up to that point, and Byrne said: That’s it. No more covers. The band never followed it up with a second.

He’s relaxed the rules a bit more in his solo career, most recently covering Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout” on tour (he says he’s bringing the cover to Broadway, too). And clearly he’s been listening to covers. For his DB Radio show on his website, he just compiled a wonderfully eclectic mix of his favorite covers. The theme, he says, is artists doing the unexpected, from Sonic Youth covering The Carpenters to Miley Cyrus covering Nine Inch Nails. And when the song choice itself may not be surprising – Patti Smith covering the Rolling Stones, say – the arrangements are. Here’s what he wrote on his website: Continue reading »

Jan 252019

As anyone who checked Twitter yesterday is well aware, Weezer shocked the internet with a surprise covers album, dubbed the Teal Album for its absurd yacht-rock cover. The album precedes the band’s long-promised Black Album, set to release March 1st.

Weezer spent 2018 stoking the social media flames with their famous covers bout with Toto, and I think we all just expected “Africa” to be the end of it. But Weezer clearly saw an opportunity to generate some buzz for their new album and upcoming tour with The Pixies. Twitter flames aside, how do the covers on the album actually stack up? Let’s take a look at The Good, The Bad, and The (Really) Ugly. Continue reading »