Cover songs present a slew of issues-from trying to make an original song sound original again to avoiding sounding different just for the sake of sounding different- and somewhere in the midst of those issues lies some sort of a sweet spot, a sweet spot Utah superduo Oh, Be Clever have set up shop in for the entirety of their cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World”.
From the onset, singer Brittney Shields’ voice (which I have at this point given up trying to find more superlatives for) takes up a haunting tone to pair with Producer/Writer Cory Layton’s ideal as always soundscape while the record presents a caressing yet cold tone. The contrast between the lullaby-like tone of Shields’ vocals and the dark lyrics she recites captures the essence of the song in ideal fashion.
Layton’s work on the instrumental gives new life to the record. The grim overall sound of the instrumental plays out at a slower pace than the original, lending to that aforementioned contrast as well.
Listen to “Mad World” here:
We’ll keep it short and sweet. Chance The Rapper made his solo return with Coloring Book. It was pretty hard to not just link to Coloring Book for Best of May, but we still have some gems for you to throw into your rotation! Link, and stream below.
PS: Go Cavs!
Crywolf has been on a tear later. In the past year, he’s released 3 projects that have steadily built his buzz and audience. Equally talented as a producer as he is a singer, his latest effort is a complete revamp of “Never Be Like You” by Flume, and it’s stellar from front to back. Most wouldn’t be able to pull off a cover like this – a record that was already a #1 hit in Australia – but Crywolf seemingly reinvents the wheel with ease. Replacing the original’s pop flavor for something more brooding, Crywolf’s vocals soar over deep R&B tones that give a dark twist to “Never Be Like You” that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Stream Crywolf’s excellent cover of “Never Be Like You” below, and let us know what you think in the comments!
The OVO Sound signed duo seem to be on fire these days. They released their sensual r&b debut album SEPT. 5TH merely a week ago and they aren’t stopping there. Although that album alone could keep Dvsn fans satisfied for a while, they’ve still taken their turn at creating covers of some of the classic rhythm and blues tracks of our time. Last week it was Aaliyah’s “One In A Million” and this time, it’s Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” (possibly the most classic you can get with r&b music). Dvsn’s rendition has that vibe we’ve come to love from the duo, smooth and mysterious, but it still has that shining bit of Marvin Gaye to keep things respectful. Check out the sexy cover of one of the sexiest classics below.
If you’ve ever lost somebody, you may be familiar with the connection you feel to a song when it seems to resemble that person you lost. It can happen with love and breakups, and it can happen with the death of a loved one. You start to hear a song in a different way and suddenly the lyrics mean so much more to you.
I’ve always found this to be a really powerful experience in music. I find myself listening to the lyrics much more intently when I’m at my highest or my lowest, searching for similarities and connections to my own life and emotions.
A similar experience happened to Lonely Child, who recorded this cover of Miguel’s song “A Beautiful Exit” after losing a very close friend of his. He was in the midst of a crazy time of his life; he was working too much, building his studio, and was constantly feeling exhausted. He told me the following:
When my friend died, it obviously took a lasting toll. Whenever I was driving, though, this Miguel record would play. It was the first in my iPod’s rotation, so it would come on every time I turned on my car. And it started to reveal itself as being about my friend. It was so weird, but this song became part of my day to day life, every time I’d drive my car. And I realized I wanted to record it as a tribute to my friend. It so perfectly describes him, encapsulates how I feel about him, and was just such a cathartic experience to record. It’s the first thing I recorded entirely in my new studio as well. It’s just a very important, personal recording to me.
Things like that are a big part of why I love music so much. We can find peace in our deepest hours through songs and stories. It hurts like hell to lose somebody, but being able to cling on to a special feeling like this and, for Lonely Child, forever remembering that his first song in his new studio was written in memory of his friend, makes it seem like everything just might be okay.
Hit the jump to listen to the Miguel original and read the lyrics.
Pretty Sister isn’t letting the winter weather keep him down, but that’s probably because he’s based in LA, and not in the Midwest, such as myself. “Drive” embodies that LA life, with the sunshine, and windows down. J blazing, fun chasing, Tupac listening, you get the point. It’s a pretty compelling song for me to drop whatever I’m doing, and make the move to LA. Pretty Sister is also behind the insanely good “Pony” cover, which I left below, as well.
Covers are a tricky thing for an artist to pull off successfully, let alone a producer. Luckily for JR Nelson (who has made a splash with a pair of massive remixes), his cover game is just as on point as his remix game. Tackling The Weeknd is surely no easy task, and although the featured Amory isn’t as dynamic of a singer as Abel, JR puts his enough of his own unique “future” R&B flavor to make this cover interesting. With soulful strings and tight percussion, JR once again proves he’s a producer to watch out for this year.
Stream JR’s cover of “The Hills” below, and let us what you think in the comments!
The Internet just got their first Grammy nomination and are still flying on the high of a successful album, so it’s no surprise that another artist would want to take on one of their beautiful creations. A new act, Heirsound, have decided to put their own touch on The Internet track “Just Sayin” and it’s quite the display of what the band is capable of. Although they don’t stray too far from the original, they still manage to provide their own sound in the process. They give the r&b, funky tune a little taste of alternative-rock and it shows in all the right ways. Listen to the Heirsound’s impressive cover of “Just Sayin” below.
It’s not very often that I can be blown away by a cover, but Olivia Knox is a superstar in the making. I had absolutely no idea who she was until I came across her cover of Gallant’s “Weight In Gold” yesterday, and as soon as I hit play, I couldn’t stop listening to her – it was that amazing.
The original was premiered by Zane Lowe on Beats 1 at the end of June, and it cemented Gallant’s reputation as one of the music industry’s fastest rising stars, as he effortlessly combined awe-inspiring production with his smooth, sultry vocals to re-invent R&B into a more electronic-tinged genre.
Olivia Knox’s rendition of Gallant’s original has an undeniable beauty. The production is toned down a bit, allowing Olivia Knox to take center stage and deliver a stunning vocal performance that will make a grown man weep. It’s the type of song that will have you looking at yourself in the mirror and digging deep to re-evaluate your decisions.
The #SunsetFam killed it this month (we kill it every month). When collaborating for these monthly playlists, we like to do what’s best for business, and you are what’s best for business. Different genres, different artists, different sounds. There’s something on here for everyone, or maybe you’re like us and everything on here is for you. Say goodbye to July, and welcome August with open arms.
Highlights this month:
RKCB makes their debut with “Ignite.” NoMBe shines with “Miss Mirage” as he takes you on a journey. Gnash drops his guard and lets you in with “I Hate U I Love U.” MIYNT channels dark-pop-magic with “Civil War.” Allday, who you may remember from working with Skizzy Mars, dropped a solid 7-track mixtape. Arjun told us we should worry about a guy named Allan Rayman. Last, but not least, Meek Mill called out Drake for being fake. Drake responded with not one,
not two, not three, just kidding, two “diss” songs because I guess rappers still do that. You can find the second one on this playlist. Oh, and our fellow writer, Andy, became Twitter famous with his tweet about Meek Mill’s response track.
Hit the jump for the Soundcloud stream and download!
A friend of mine from college reached out to me a couple years ago saying that he enjoyed following my blog and was also really into discovering music. Since then, we’ve followed each other’s Spotify playlists and have kept one another abreast of the latest discoveries we’ve come across. Most recently, he sent me a list of his favorite YouTube covers that he had found. I asked him if he wanted to put it together into a list of the 20 Best YouTube Cover Songs he could find, and he delivered a gem. Below is a continuous playlist of his picks for 20 Best YouTube Cover Songs and a couple thoughts about each one. Hit the jump to see the full playlist and each song’s explanation, which often includes links to other masterpieces.
[Songs picked and descriptions written by Greg Hylant - follow his New Music Everyday playlist on Spotify here]
1. #1 Dads – Two Weeks (FKA Twigs ft. Tom Snowdon Cover)
This unexpected take on Robert Pattinson’s girlfriend’s instant classic Two Weeks is what sparked my journey through the bowels of YouTube to find the best covers out there in the first place. It has everything…originality, drop dead gorgeous harmonies, a band name inspired by coffee mugs, and the best white guy dance hands since Shaun Sperling.
2. Asgeir – Heart-Shaped Box (Nirvana Cover)
If you’re wondering why this guy looks like an extra from Vikings, it’s because he basically is. Asgeir is Iceland’s fastest selling artist of all time. 1 in every 10 Icelanders (is that a thing?) owns a copy of his debut album. His voice has a haunting quality befitting of his native landscapes, the home also shared by wildlings and white walkers. It works perfectly on this version of my personal favorite Nirvana track, which was actually written the same year this young man was born. Jesus.
3. Sam Smith – Fast Car (Tracy Chapman Cover)
Sam Smith’s rise has been meteoric. In August 2013, I was lucky enough to catch his first ever show in the US at mercury lounge in NYC. Fast forward a year and a half, and he has an armful of Grammys, sold out runs at Madison Square Garden and Taylor Swift on speed dial. Fast Car is timeless, and people seem to love singing it…like here, here, here
Chelsea Lankes (the artist you should have been listening to since even before she released “Ghost”, an incredible record from early last year) just released “Too Young to Fall In Love”, a cover of the 1983 Mötley Crüe classic, and I’ve been listening to it on repeat ever since.
The trouble with cover songs is making them sound new and different, but Lankes handles this issue with the same ease she made us think of lost love on “Ghost”, recognize new love on “Secret”, and “let it happen” on “Down for Whatever”. The strength Lankes shows here is a rare ability to take a concept she didn’t come up with, with lyrics she didn’t write, and proceed to spend the next three minutes and 10 seconds convincing you that there is no way anybody else could have owned the song the way she did. “Too Young to Fall In Love” not only feels like a Chelsea Lankes song, but it makes chronological sense when compared to her recent releases.
The production on the track is air-tight as well. Showing flashes of Lankes’ past releases, the instrumental contributes to the cover feeling like an original record. Lankes rides the beat in a familiar confident fashion, showcasing flawless vocals which succeed at sounding both confident and vulnerable at the same time. The way the guitar solo/bridge is newly wrapped creates a perfect setting for the final moments of the track, and Lankes brings it home with ease.
Be on the lookout for more music from Chelsea Lankes, and if you haven’t already, go back and listen to “Ghost”, “Secret”, “Down For Whatever”, and anything you can find from previous releases. You’ll thank me later.