There was a time when covers were a big part of the music charts. A hit song might be covered half a dozen times by big artists within a year of its release. The idea was that a great song could be a hit on several different charts reaching different listeners with only a slight change to the arrangement and an established artist. Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine was covered by industry stars like Michael Jackson, Nancy Wilson, and Betty Wright within months of its release and at least 24 times within three years of its 1971 release. Since the Seventies covers have been done, but the rush to rearrange a current hit has largely gone away.
In recent years covers were used to help get an indie band some streaming exposure. A good cover might open the door to new listeners and possibly new opportunities. A great cover on YouTube could create social media followers and help the band promote their music or tour. Over the last year or two covers have come roaring back with indie artists. Every week there are new covers released (3 in my Spotify Release Radar just this week). These covers are fun and nostalgic. This new trend makes it possible for a band like Scary Pockets, a band that primarily puts out covers, to build an international following and even tour. Covers are back!
With that said here are my favorite covers so far in 2022:
Strawberry Letter 23 (Brothers Johnson) – Neal Francis
This cover is so true to the original Brothers Johnson’s laid-back soulful rock. This cover has great work on the guitar but is missing the killer bassline of Louis E. “Thunder-Thumb” Johnson. But this is overall such a cool cover. Just for giggles here is a video of the original: https://youtu.be/f0bdLdTJdKI
Dammit (Blink 182) – Katie Taupin
Talk about a completely different arrangement. “Dammit” is a classic Blink 182 punk tune complete with rocking guitars. Taupin’s take is sentimental and a touch haunting. Distorted edgy guitars play throughout, but a piano replaces the lead during the rhythmic hook. The song surges and emotes. Try listening to the two songs back-to-back and you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for both recordings.
Head On (The Jesus and Mary Chain cover) - Ducks Ltd. ft. Illuminati Hotties
I just love Ducks Ltd. This has their brilliant punk surf guitar sound. The song is bright and lifts you up. The original was a dark gritty garage band grind. Ducks Ltd. Didn’t change the melody. There are no production tricks here. They just played this tune like they wrote it. It sounds like their tune and they give a garage rock classic a great cover.
How Bizarre (OMC cover) - Holy Schnikes!
Holy schnikes this is so fun. Cymbal crashing chaos, organized noise, and those great ska horns (keyboards?). Give these folks a follow. They are doing cool music.
Levitating (Dua Lipa) – Scary Pockets
How about taking a Dua Lipa pop tune and throwing in some blues licks and an organ to make it sound really badass? The vocals are smooth, but the music channels Seventies blues/rock. It’s difficult to cover a huge pop song. In this case, Scary Pockets elevated “Levitating” by giving a whole new sound.