Nov 022020
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

I Wanna Dance With Somebody covers

Whitney Houston was a force; her accolades are legion. The people at Guinness World Records named her the most awarded female artist of all time. Her 415 awards (as of 2010) include 6 Grammys and 22 American Music Awards. Of her 30 Billboard Music Awards, she won 11 in one year, breaking a record. Each of her 7 solo albums and 2 soundtrack albums have been certified gold or above.

Houston also has won awards for her involvement in films, including most famously in The Bodyguard with her stunning (cover) performance of “I Will Always Love You.” NPR calls the song the “‘Old Town Road’ of its day.” The Bodyguard soundtrack remains, (as far as I can track down,) the best-selling soundtrack of all time, and the movie’s portrayal of an interracial relationship was impactful at the time.

Houston was not free of personal struggles, including drug use and her tumultuous relationship with Bobby Brown. But today, her impact lies beyond even her music and acting. Houston was a major supporter of Nelson Mandela and performed in benefit concerts during his imprisonment. She then became the first big-name musician to visit South Africa post-apartheid under Mandela. Proceeds from her broadcast of the concerts there were donated to South African charities.

It was only a matter of time before yet another award appeared on Houston’s already long list. This year we celebrate her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It should be noted that Houston is the only female to be inducted this year, joining the fewer than 8% of the other hall of famers who are women.

Although we celebrate Houston’s accomplishment, we take a look at five more somber covers of her Grammy-winning hit “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

Continue reading »

Aug 312020
 
best cover songs august 2020
Alex Kapranos & Clara Luciani – Summer Wine (Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra cover)

Clara Luciani is Nancy Sinatra and Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos is Lee Hazlewood on this charming cover. Kapranos wrote, “When the lockdown started, we decided to record [‘Summer Wine’] — more for ourselves than anything else. We wanted to create the atmosphere of an imaginary world away from the confinement we were experiencing. Not that we were unhappy, but the imagination is the greatest medium for escape and adventure… After the lockdown eased off, we got together to film the video with our friends Adrien, Leo, Fiona and Hugo. I love the ideas they had, which suit the mood of the song and reflect our… well, our love of karaoke!” Continue reading »

May 122020
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s big day with cover tributes to his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Steve Winwood turns 72 today, so we have quite a few candles to light. The multi-instrumentalist singer and songwriter has had so many different incarnations that surveying his career makes you dizzy. It’s not just that Winwood tried his hand at different genres, it’s that he helped define those genres. These things can happen when a gifted artist jumps in on the action early —Winwood was famous for his music by the age of 16—and then keeps evolving in ways that matter. Add to that some serious staying power, and you have an impressive career–one that is still going strong six decades in.

In fact, last year may have been Winwood’s best ever, in a funny way. DJ-producer Kygo remixed Whitney Houston’s cover of Winwood’s “Higher Love,” and released it digitally; the song now has about 350,000,000 hits on Spotify alone. More about that song later, but for now just imagine that a small number of Kygo’s followers are asking themselves, “Who wrote this?” What will they find, and like, once they go down the Winwood rabbit hole?
Continue reading »

Nov 012019
 

Check out the best covers of past months here.

best cover songs october 2019
Angie McMahon – Knowing Me, Knowing You (ABBA cover)

It comes too late for our Best ABBA Covers countdown, but Angie McMahon’s low-simmer version of “Knowing Me, Knowing You” would make a worthy addition. Though it comes coated in a layer of rock grit, the band’s vocal harmonies stand up to the Swedes. And just wait for Angie McMahon’s cover-closing holler. Continue reading »

Sep 302019
 

Check out the best covers of past months here.

best cover songs september
Anderson .Paak – Old Town Road (Lil Nas X cover)

Given how thoroughly “Old Town Road” dominated the summer – the longest-reigning Billboard #1 in history, for those under-a-rock-dwellers among you – it seems shocking that it took until now for the first truly great cover to emerge. Less shocking: that it came from rapper/singer/drummer extraordinaire Anderson .Paak. Back in May, he performed a more straightforward version with Lil Nas X himself, but for BBC’s Live Lounge he and his band The Free Nationals reinvented it into a soul groove with shades of D’Angelo. Continue reading »

Jan 312019
 
best cover songs january
Beck – Tarantula (Colourbox cover)

Few expected the movie Roma to be as big a hit as it was (it’s tied for the most Oscar nominations). Even Sony must not have, as they’re just getting around to releasing a soundtrack two months after release – and as Music Inspired By The Film Roma, i.e. must that doesn’t actually appear in the film. But Beck’s beautiful cover of 4AD group Colourbox arrives better late than never. Accompanied by an orchestra and Leslie Feist on backing vocals, he’s never sounded more like Peter Gabriel. Continue reading »