Another Ten of my Favourite Cover Songs
Possibly my favourite thing to write about on this blog is the world of cover songs. Like my previous lists it showcases different genres, different instruments and all the interesting ways that artists can cover other artists. I hope you enjoy reading this list as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
Skameleon – Wonderwall
I went to university in Manchester, and I strongly remember how enthusiastically a pub would sing-a-long to a band covering Wonderwall. This song always makes me feel good, which is why it’s a perfect choice to pair with ska, music that always puts a smile on people’s faces.
Sometimes an album name tells you everything you need to know about a band. This Wonderwall cover is from the album ‘Ska Makes Everything Better’ by Skameleon. Skameleon are a German cover band that rework rock and pop classics in the ska style. Ska is one of the happiest and most upbeat genres of music that is so easy to dance to. Skameleon clearly have so much fun making their videos and singing their cover songs. They have two albums of cover songs that are all as much fun as this.
Skåld – Seven Nation Army
Seven Nation Army is one of the catchiest songs of all time, and I adore this cover. Skåld are a French band that sing take normally inspiration from viking mythology and sing in old Norse. This time they may be singing in English, but their sound is still as powerful and intimidating as a longboat full of Vikings. The vocals really stand out compared to other Seven Nation Army cover songs because the focus is often on the iconic guitar. The singing on Skåld’s cover is so intense you can’t help but sing-a-long.
Eva Auner – In The End (Kalimba Cover)
The kalimba, or thumb piano, is one of my favourite instruments because it is very easy to pick up and play. Even if you don’t know what you are doing, you can play notes at random and the chances are it will sound beautiful. I bought a kalimba last year to take with me when I go travelling and it was an excellent decision. Covers like this helped inspire me to buy my kalimba. The kalimba is a very simple instrument, so this wonderful cover is testament to Eva’s talent and the beauty of the original song. Bands like Linkin Park were huge when I first got into rock and metal, so even though they aren’t my favourite band, I still get nostalgic listening to music from that era.
I had to mention this similar cover by Jamie Dupuis. It has a really atmospheric quality to it, and his harp-guitar is a wicked instrument. He describes it as an ambient cover and I can see why, the notes really resonate and it’s very calming.
Floppotron – The Kids aren’t Alright
I featured Floppotron on a list last year, but I just had to include them again. At first I was surprised that you could play music with old computer technology like floppy disk drives. But Floppotron’s youTube uploads are full of more surprises. Some many genres and styles of music have been recreated in electronic form. It doesn’t seem to matter what Floppotron covers, it still sounds great.
The Kids aren’t Alright is from The Offspring’s Americana album, which is their second-best selling album and my favourite album of all time. I have listened to it so many times and I love its cynical and satirical take on America. In 2014 The Offspring had a 20-year anniversary tour where they played the Smash album in full. I loved it but the one album I would really love to see live is Americana.
The Surfrajettes – Toxic
I wouldn’t normally listen to Britney Spears covers or surf rock, but some how they combine really well. My favourite part of youTube is finding something completely unexpected. You never know what the algorithm is going to recommend. If it wasn’t for the algorithm I wouldn’t have any idea that surf rock was still a thing. Clearly it is in Canada, where the Surfrajettes perform lots of surf rock covers.
The amalgamation of a old fashioned music genre with a more modern pop song is a really satisfying. This is quite a popular trend on youTube with artists like Postmodern Jukebox and Robyn Adele Anderson are extremely popular. The Postmodern Jukebox cover of Creep by Radiohead has over 80 million views, which makes it one of the most watched cover songs on all of youTube. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who loves covers using older genres.
Charles Bradley – Changes
When ever you listen to a great cover, there is always the question, is this better than the original? The original Black Sabbath song is powerful, but it isn’t one of their best songs. In the hands of Charles Bradley it becomes something else entirely. Charles Bradley is singing about the loss of his mother, and he puts his heart and soul in to this song. There can hardly be more raw emotion poured into one song in all of music.
So, is this better than the original? For most covers the answer is no and being as good as the original is high praise for a cover. Changes is a rare example where Charles Bradley outshines Black Sabbath. You would be forgiven for thinking Bradley wrote this song, given how extremely personal this performance is. This is more than just a song. This is an expression of Bradley’s deepest feelings and emotions.
Asami Zdrenka – Pure Morning
Placebo’s Without You I’m Nothing was the first album I ever bought and I bought it because I loved this one song. It describes a friend and a friendship, but only in fragments in a cryptic way. I love this mysterious style that just gives an impression of this person. It’s also an unusual topic for Placebo whose usual themes are sexuality, drugs and mental health. This is my favourite Placebo song, which weirdly means I clash with the band who think the lyrics are poor quality and rarely play it live.
Cover songs can be a good excuse for artists to record music outside their normal territory or to express parts of their taste in music they can’t normally express. Asami Zdrenka was part of a pop group Neon Jungle, but this track shows that she can rock too. She has an incredible voice and manages to emulate Brian Molko’s which is very distinctive. If you listen to her other songs, she sounds completely different, so she is clearly a very versatile singer.
Sonic Boom Six – Let’s Push Things Forward
Sonic Boom Six are my favourite band of all time, but some how this is their first entry on any of my music posts. Sonic Boom Six are a difficult band to describe using genres because they combine influences from many different artists. The Streets are definitely one of them, so it’s interesting to see them cover a Streets track. They are a difficult group to imitate but Sonic Boom Six chose the perfect track to cover. This song is supposed to inspire bands to try and do new things which is clearly a message that Sonic Boom Six listened to.
When doing a cover, bands must decide how faithful to be to the source material. I’m impressed with how the Sonic Boom Six style shines through whilst staying true to the original. Some of the lyrics are tweaked while elements of rock, ska and dubstep combine to make that classic Sonic Boom Six sound.
Fraser Edwards – Skater Boi
Music has a special ability to instantly take us back to the time, place or person we associate it with. Avril Lavigne’s music always reminds me of summer holidays. Even if the song is radically changed I still remember that feeling of freedom at the end of a school year when I listen to Skater Boi.
Guitar covers are the most common type of cover found on youTube. You can usually find many different guitarists covering any song you want. This means it takes something special for a guitarist to stand out and make my lists. Fraser Edwards is a fantastic shred guitarist, and this cover shows it. At times his fingers are a complete blur as his hand slides up and down the fret-board. I chose this cover because it blends the original song with creative guitar solos.
Melodicka Bros – Toxicity
A genre I’ve been getting more and more into recently is cyber-punk and synthwave. When their songs do make sense, System of a Down have a bleak outlook on the present and cyber-punk has a similar take on the future, so cyber-punk is a perfect match for the lyrics. System of a Down were a big part of the reason I got into heavy metal and being in front row at one of their concerts was one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had at a gig. I queued all day in the sun on a hot summer’s day, spent the whole concert trapped against the safety barrier and it was fantastic.
This video also looks like it was a fun video to make. They did an impressive job of creating the cyber-punk look on a real budget. If you watch to the end of the video, they show some of the tips and tricks they used. The Melodicka Bros don’t just do cyber-punk songs, but are very versatile and do lots of different alternative versions of songs. They have covered other System of a Down songs for example in a “way too happy style”. They have covered many different bands in lots of unique ways. I heartily recommend exploring their back catalogue for other gems.