I was listening to Luther Vandross’s cover/medley of “Superstar” and “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” and it got me thinking about how the quality of cover songs has gotten off track since the YouTube era began. Ideally a good cover holds its own as a piece. In other words, I need a reason to listen to it besides the fact that I already like the original. Creating a memorable cover begins with the artist finding a way to pay genuine homage to the original artist and work. Musicians should realize that there’s a thin line between irony and authenticity.
With all that said, I can’t blame anyone for the endless churning out of covers because it’s simply a sign of the times. Today’s technology makes it so easy for an artist to mindlessly come up with an arrangement, record on high quality equipment, and have a song available online for the public within a day.
I made it my own personal challenge to find 10 songs from the past 5 years to include in this feature. It turned out to actually be pretty difficult because there was a whole lot of less-than-average stuff to sort through in my music library, but I’m happy to report that I managed to do it. Artists include Cee Lo Green, Florence + the Machine, and Neon Hitch.
- Neon Hitch, “Gucci Gucci” (Kreayshawn Cover)
- The Knocks, “Midnight City” ft. Mandy Lee (M83 Cover)
- Cee Lo Green, “No One’s Gonna Love You” (Band of Horses Cover)
- Lissie, “Pursuit of Happiness” (Kid Cudi Cover)
- Theophilus London, “Oops (Oh My)” (Tweet Cover)
- Meshell Ndegeocello, “Love You Down” (Ready for the World/INOJ Cover)
- Jamie Cullum, “Don’t Stop the Music” (Rihanna Cover)
- Birdy, “1901” (Phoenix Cover)
- Florence + the Machine, “Take Care” (Drake Cover)
- Dr. Dog, “Heart It Races” (Architecture in Helsinki Cover)