Category Archives: Cover Songs

Today’s Top 5: Harriet

harrietA few months back, someone (or several someones) posted to Facebook about a British singer named Harriet, who’d just released a new album. I remember that the post(s) came on a busy work day, so clicks weren’t made and, as is often the case, the post(s) descended on my timeline never to be seen again; and the mental note I made to check her out went the way of many mental notes.

Information overload is par for the course these days, after all.

Anyway, fast forward to this morning, when I pulled up Rumer, backed by Lissie & the Pierces, singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on YouTube –

It’s a beautiful, touching performance of a beautiful, touching song. And there, on the right hand “Up Next” list of videos picked by YouTube’s algorithms, was a song by Harriet: “Maybe This Christmas.”

Now, as I write, it’s a little past one p.m., Eastern time, on Christmas day. I’m in no rush. Diane and I exchanged gifts (10,000 Maniacs’ Our Time in Eden on vinyl for me!) last night, and we have nowhere to be until later this afternoon. I planned to use this time to start work on a Top 5 culled from a 1974 Rolling Stone…but those plans went out the window once I heard Harriet’s voice. Here’s another taste – the lead single from her self-titled debut album:

What I’ve learned over the past few hours: Everyone and their brother, including Rumer (and, now, me), have compared Harriet’s vocals to Karen Carpenter’s; and that I really like her music. Perhaps that’s because, as she says in this interview, it’s rooted in the ‘70s:

So, without further adieu, here’s today’s Top 5: Harriet – two additional tracks from her album, plus a few smart covers.

1) “What’s Mine Is Yours.”

2) “Afterglow.”

3) “Last Christmas/I Can’t Smile Without You.”

4) “Every Breath You Take.”

5) “I’m Not in Love.”

 

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Today’s Top 5: Rumer Has It

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By the end of the month, I will be immersed in my Album of the Year: Rumer’s This Girl’s in Love: A Bacharach and David Songbook. I say that without equivocation or hesitation because, well, it’s Rumer; and, as the YouTube sampler she released a few weeks back demonstrates, that voice and these songs equal unadulterated bliss.

This past week, she released her spin on the classic “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” which was a No. 7 hit for Jackie DeShannon in the year of my birth, 1965.

Rumer has a knack for choosing the perfect song to cover so, for today’s Top 5: Rumer Has It. These aren’t necessarily my all-time favorite covers by her, just a collection of cool songs she chose to perform in concert, on TV or in the recording studio. (Her second album, Boys Don’t Cry, is an all-covers affair, of course; and her B-Sides compilation includes more.)

1) “Take It to the Limit” – the Eagles’ classic.

2) “Rocket Man” – Elton John’s classic.

3) “American Dove” – the Laura Nyro song. (This is my video, by the way; and is from Rumer’s American soil debut, which occurred months prior to Seasons of My Soul being released in the U.S.).

4) “Sara Smile” – The Hall & Oates’ classic.

5) “Arthur’s Theme (The Best You Can Do)” – the Oscar-winning title tune to Arthur.

And two bonuses:

6) “Moon River” – One of my favorite songs of all-time. This comes close to Audrey Hepburn’s original, which can be found in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

7) “Goodbye Girl” – from the classic movie of the same name; and the perfect end to Rumer’s 2010 debut.

Today’s Top 5: Cover Songs, Part Two

I’ve written before of my affinity for cover songs. There’s just something magical when a singer tackles a contemporary’s tune and/or digs deep into the charts of history to celebrate an influence. It sheds light on him or her, I think, in a way that one’s own work doesn’t.

Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, of course, cover songs were somewhat de rigueur. Many a Motown LP followed a simple pattern: the artist’s current single(s); versions of their stablemates’ hits; and renditions of Beatles’ songs and other current tunes. Gladys Knight & the Pips’ If I Were Your Woman album, from 1971, includes her renditions of Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright” and the Beatles’ “Let It Be,” for instance, and her Standing Ovation features her sultry take on Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night.”

In today’s world, many an aspiring singer has a YouTube channel loaded with their renditions, many of them very good, of current and classic songs. I’m sidestepping that rabbit hole to focus primarily on artists who’ve released original works, however.

So, without further adieu, here’s today’s Top 5: Cover Songs, Part Two.

1)  Rumer – “Balance of Nature.” This is another tasty treat from the Brit singer-songwriter’s upcoming album, This Girl’s in Love: A Bacharach and David Songbook. (It was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick for her 1972 Warner Brothers’ debut, Dionne.)

2) Rylie Bourne – “Fist City.” One of my favorite new artists shows off her roots with this rendition of the feisty Loretta Lynn classic.

3) The MonaLisa Twins – “God Only Knows.” So, above, I mentioned the rabbit hole of YouTube. The MonaLisa Twins, who I discovered courtesy of YouTube’s algorithms, are singing sisters from Austria who moved to Liverpool a few years back – and, man, what voices! This hails from their 2014 MonaLisa Twins Play Beatles & More album.

4) Paul Weller – “What’s Going On.” The “modfather” is joined by Lena Fiagbe for this cover of the timeless Marvin Gaye song.

5) Britta Phillips – “Drive.” A cover of the Cars’ song; a studio version can be found on her recent album, the sublime Luck or Magic.

And a few bonuses…

Elvis Presley – “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Presley expanded his Vegas sets with a plethora of contemporary tunes. This wondrous rendition of the Simon & Garfunkel chestnut comes from the That’s the Way It Is film, which documented his 1970 return to live performance in Las Vegas.

Alicia Keys – “Someday We’ll All Be Free.” Here’s Alicia from the America: A Tribute to Heroes TV special in 2001 performing a stirring rendition of the 1973 Donnie Hathaway classic.

Juliana Hatfield – “It Never Rains in Southern California.” A few years back, Juliana offered to record song requests for one of her PledgeMusic projects – for $1000 a pop, if my memory is correct. That was far and away out of my budget then, and still is now, but hey – someone ponied up the cash. Here’s one of them: a wistful version of the 1972 hit by Albert Hammond.