BABii — Lovefool (The Cardigans cover)
Brent Amaker And The Rodeo – Gut Feeling (Devo cover)
Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
I imagine there are more than a few readers for whom George Michael might come under the heading of guilty pleasure. Maybe that’s why it’s taken as long as it has for him to be enrolled, and rightfully, into the Rock & Roll Half Fame. Guilt or no guilt, let’s just pause and admit that he really was one of the most creative interpreters of song we have had, as well as writing a fair old number of quality bangers himself. Yes, some of it may well have been somewhat wispy and ephemeral–most great pop music is–but I defy anyone not to have had a sly, secret bop to “Club Tropicana” in the comfort of their own kitchen.
I could certainly never really admit to loving Wham! at the time, but I sure as hell admired them. Later, as a solo artist, when it seemed Michael was the desire of all our wives and girlfriends, yes, it became a little harder. But, if anything, the quality of his own songs improved exponentially, until it would be only a curmudgeon who could deny his true talent. As his life, and its myriad difficulties, unraveled, that “local color” gave him, in the ridiculous way fame works, a greater credibility, and his untimely death gave even more. Add in the legion stories of his kindness to strangers, and we have all the trappings of a modern legend. Imagine had he lived.
Songs From The Last Century, Michael’s cover album, came out in 1999. He released it at a time when his powers were arguably at his peak, following a run of chart-topping releases, Faith, Listen Without Prejudice (Volume 1) and Older, at least in his homeland. (In the US he had had to be satisfied with numbers 1, 2 and 6, respectively, ultimately very good listings for an artist seen largely as a singles specialist.) By his standards it was a flop, only managing a UK number 2 slot. For some reason, the American market did not take to it all, it getting only as far as a lowly 157, perhaps giving some concern to his management. Not to worry: five years later, Patience returned him to the top spot at home, and 12 in the US.
‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.
Last week we kicked off our new One Hit Wonders series with ten covers of big 1950s hits, and today we continue it with 20 covers of 1960s smashes.
Some classic songs getting covered in here, in some cases by artists that should have had many more hits just as big. So it goes in pop music. We’ll probably never be able to do a The 40 Best Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs Covers Ever list, though, so we celebrate them here with a few fun reimaginings of their early 1960 chart-topper “Stay.”
Bria’s “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” made our list of the Best Covers of 2022. The track was a sneak peak at her covers EP Cuntry Covers Vol. 2, and the full thing dropped a few weeks ago. It includes a wonderful version of this much more obscure song. Bria explains: “Mary Margaret O’Hara is a creative force and one of my favorite Canadian artists. I have been a huge fan of hers for quite some time and really wanted to try my hand at one of her songs for Vol. 2. She is a real queen of vocal improvisation. It’s a trait of hers that I’ve always admired, so I really wanted to explore that when recording this cover. The video for this track is special to us, a sort of collage of memory; fragmented footage of summer taken over the last two years is dispersed throughout shots of a vast winter scene, filmed while we finished the record up North with our live band.”
U2’s modus operandi lately has been to get small. It seems that they’re fully committing to the approach, too: Songs of Surrender, their latest release, looks back at 40 songs from the U2 catalog with new stripped-back arrangements and acoustic instrumentation. The record pares the band’s arena-sized grandeur back to something more like pub-backroom closeness. Bono described the approach in a recent interview on BBC by saying, “Edge and I had this phrase that we were throwing around — ‘Intimacy is the new punk rock.’”
Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.
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 cover performed by a child?