Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Lot to Cover

The countdown is on. We are one week away from Election Day, so I must be here to talk about politics, right? Right? Bueller?

Nope, I'm taking a break to write about something a little lighter. The past month has been rough. In addition to all the election BS everyone is dealing with, my dad was in a motorcycle accident and has been in the hospital for over two weeks. Add some extra personal stress and anxiety and... Well, it's just not been a great time for me.

There are a few things in life I can always count on to make me feel better. My hubby. My friends. My family. My pups. And music.

I love music.

Lately I've been focusing on covers, largely thanks to a trial of SiriusXM during which I could listen to their online stations, including the new Covers channel. I fell in love with that channel. Hard. My trial ended just over two weeks ago and I'm still not over it. I'm mourning the loss of my channel. I've tried creating sort of a covers station on Pandora, but I don't think it understands what I want (though it, too, has shown me some awesome songs).

I've written in defense of covers before, thanks to Glee. I've even written about Christmas covers. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I'm obsessing over cover songs yet again.

Today I want to share my five most recent cover obsessions. (FYI, just because they're recent obsessions doesn't mean the covers themselves are necessarily recent. I say this so no one goes, "Pfft, that's not new!" Yeah, I know it's not. Shut up.)

So, in no particular order...

1. KHS, Sam Tsui, Madilyn Bailey, Alex G - Send My Love: This collaboration of awesome Youtube artists Kurt Hugo Schneider, Sam Tsui, Madilyn Bailey, and Alex G is one of MANY Adele covers out there, yet it stands out to me as one of the very best. Not only are the vocals amazing (a cappella is my weakness!), this is probably the craziest game of patty cake you'll ever see.

Favorite Moment: The vocals drop out around 2:22 for some intricate hand clapping. When they come back around 2:38... Perfection.

2. Disturbed - The Sound of Silence: I'm a big fan of oldies, and I have a hard time with a lot of modern covers of songs I fell in love with as a kid. However, this Simon & Garfunkel cover is a definite exception. David Draiman's voice and delivery really bring out the intensity of the lyrics, stirring up visceral emotions and rekindling my love of this 60s hit.

Favorite Moment: Hard to choose, but I'll say right around 1:48 when Draiman starts belting out the words. His voice is so beautiful it hurts.

3. Twenty One Two - Love Yourself: Twenty One Two consists of a drummer and a singer/guitarist, both from Sweden. I'm a huge fan and all of their covers rock (in fact, their cover of Lukas Graham's "7 Years" just won MTV's best cover of the month), but this one holds a special place in my heart. I hate to admit it, but I love this song in general. If you're like me, you probably got into it on the radio and then found out it was Justin Bieber and sort of hated yourself a little. Well, fear not! This cover means you can love the song without having to love the Biebs. Also, it was the first of their songs to come up on XM's Covers station (and you always remember your first love).

Favorite Moment: Probably the first time they start the chorus (1:13-ish), just before you find out about a slight modification in the lyrics. The impact is greatest when it's unexpected.

4. Pentatonix ft Jason Derulo - If I Ever Fall in Love: I've been a fan of Pentatonix since they were on The Sing-Off, and I've been following Jason Derulo since the days of MySpace (you know, when people still used it and thought Facebook was a "ripoff" of it). When I showed Hubby the carpool karaoke clip with Jason showing off his training, he was amazed to learn that he can really sing (not just "pop crap"), so I had to share this song with him as well. Shai's original is... well, it's something. Don't get me wrong, the vocals are pretty sweet (holy falsetto, Batman!), but the style of the early 90s didn't do the original any favors. This is a rare case where I think the cover is way better than the original.

Favorite Moment: 2:36. Falsetto FTW.

5. Postmodern Jukebox ft Haley Reinhart - Creep: Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox is a thing of wonder. "We take pop music back in time," says their Facebook page. Sounds simple, but the arrangements are anything but. PMJ takes a song and gives it a makeover, a whole new life. (I can't explain it any better than that, so just check out their Youtube channel, OK?) This Radiohead cover is a fan favorite, thanks in part to the incredible voice of Haley Reinhart, who I have a HUGE music crush on. (If she sounds familiar, you might have heard her version of "Can't Help Falling in Love With You" from the Extra Gum commercial. Oh, and I guess she was on American Idol. So. Yeah.)

Favorite Moment: I truly love this entire song, and if I could wrap myself inside Haley's voice like a burrito, I probably would. But my favorite part begins at 4:03. Not only is Haley singing her freaking heart out, but listen to the instruments in the section that follows. Scott Bradlee is going nuts on the piano (his arrangements are insane!), and the whole thing just comes together in the most spectacular way. I adore it.

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