So… cover songs. So many great ones, but also some incredible covers albums. My top two albums of the year were both covers albums, and this was a year where albums were dominant over individual songs (as great as those songs were).
That's it, really. Little else to say. These are from albums released in 2021 or were individual tracks released in 2021, all are cover of earlier songs, and in two cases they are remakes by the original artists, but done differently.
Half of these tracks come from albums I reviewed in 2021, and so I'll be linking to the original reviews in those cases.
'A Girl Like You' by Tame Impala
From the Like A Version sessions on Triple-J (and YouTube), the old Edwyn Collins song is given a modern pop sheen makeover that actually suits the music really well, and yet they maintain the sound of the original. Well done.
'American Pie' by Home Free with Don McLean
Home Free are a country group that I knew as an a cappella band. Their covers of country music are really good, but no song they recorded this year hit the spot as well as this version of the classic song with the song's writer and original performer Don McLean. McLean is not just a cameo, but an integral part of this track, and the harmonious voices and beat-boxing are just great.
'cardigan' by Something For Kate
The original appears on Taylor Swift's frankly remarkable folklore album, and yet Something For Kate really take it and run with it from this Like A Version recording, making it into a strong rock track.
'Dancing In The Dark' by Thursday
From 2 Minutes To Late Night, a talk-show I know nothing about, this track popped up on a Bandcamp recommendation, I bought it and I just think it is great. The Bruce Springsteen original is not my favourite of his tracks, but this cover is so well done.
'For What It's Worth' by Sammy Hagar & The Circle
An awesome covers album, not a dud track on it. And this is the best track on the glorious album Lockdown 2020, a cover of the Buffalo Springfield classic.
'Jenny Take A Ride!' by Deep Purple
The hardest album to pick just one track from! Even harder than Amy Shark in the last column. My second favourite album of the year is Turning To Crime, and this Mitch Ryder cover is great.
'Long As I Can See The Light' by The Mighty Mighty BossToneS
Taking the Creedence Clearwater Revival track and adding their own flourish. From When God Was Great.
'Love Hurts' by Jimmy Barnes featuring Jane Barnes
Originally by the Everly Brothers, and covered by so many and so often, Barnesy adds his own twist to it. From Flesh And Blood.
'Phantom Of The Opera Medley' by Jared Halley with Lauren Paley
Regular readers will know that there has to be a Jared Halley track on one of these covers lists of recent years… and this is one of the very best medleys he has done. I am a sucker for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, and I would love to see Halley on stage one day performing as the Phantom. Lauren Paley is no slouch, either, adding a wonderful counterpoint to Halley's magnificence (and if there is a stage version, I would want her as Christine with Halley's Phantom).
'Rock Around The Clock' by Ringo Starr
From the interesting Change The World EP, Starr takes the Bill Haley And His Comets original and just does a fun-filled, straight-up rock rendition. There is very little more to be said – this is just a gang of fun.
'Safety Dance' by Angel Olsen
Interesting, ethereal take on the 80s classic by Men Without Hats. From a really good EP, Aisles.
'Wouldn't It Be Nice' by Brian Wilson
There could have been three tracks here, but I went for this beautiful piece, originally by Wilson's own Beach Boys. From At My Piano.
All right, now, this is my favourite album of the year: Still Wish You Were Here (2021).
A full album remake of the Pink Floyd classic album. I reviewed it and said that, while not as good as the original, it is still an amazingly strong album. Listening to it again, front to back, it was so well done. A true act of love. This is stunning.
And that's my cover songs (and albums) of the year. I say it again: what a great year for music. Thanks to the artists for helping make this year not completely awful.