The Art of the Cover

Probably the only thing I like better than great songs is great COVERS of great songs. So today’s post is a meditation on this subject. Bear with me, there are cool videos at the bottom.

We begin with the great song: “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye. When I first heard it on the radio, I was like, hey, that’s a catchy little song with a nice bite! So I looked up the band and listened to their album on Spotify, then I listened to it again, and again, and…you get the idea. But then one day I had the volume on REALLY LOUD in my car when this song came on, and I found myself really listening to the lyrics. Have you ever been blown off, dumped, or treated poorly by a member of the opposite sex? If so, you can probably really dig into lines like:

Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over 

But had me believing it was always something that I’d done 

But I don’t wanna live that way 

Reading into every word you say

Kinda cathartic, right?

Now we move onto the great covers! Cover songs are an art form–the best covers often transcend the source material, locating and personalizing the universal truth that the original artist perhaps missed or buried under style or flash. If you don’t believe me, check out this list as a starting point. (I think as a culture we can collectively agree that Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt is the best of all time, right? I will give Whitney a close second with “I Will Always Love You,” but, come on, that video.)

So obviously Walk Off the Earth’s five-people-playing-an-entire-song-on-one-instrument thing is what made this particular cover blow up, but the thing that keeps me hitting “repeat” on this one is the facial expressions! They just completely nailed the tone of the song and when I watch them I’m like, yeah, I AM so over you, (fill in the blank)! You ARE just somebody that I used to know!

If you’ve known me for more than five minutes, you probably know I love acapella music. There is no shame and element of guilty pleasure–I just think it’s downright cool. Not only is it beautiful and generally performed by people with actual talent–the form requires musical interpretation that often wakes me up to a song I thought I knew. This past fall I got really into The Sing-Off, so when someone sent me this video of Pentatonix (winners of this past season, who I love even though I was totally rooting for The Dartmouth Aires, I mean come on) covering the song I was like !!!!!!! before I even opened the link.

No list of covers is complete without my very most favorites: the incredibly talented, enviably cool, infectiously joyful kids of the PS 22 Chorus!

And in case you haven’t seen it, the original video, by Gotye and Kimbra, which is very cool and artsy and buzz-worthy in its own right:


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