One quality that has to apply to many great pop songs is that it simply has to be glorious. in this age of streaming dominating the charts and the fact that there are fewer pop hits there are still great songs being released every month. One of the wonderful things about a new pop song is when you hear it for the first time on the radio or more often nowadays through Youtube or a music streaming site you know whether you like it not and that in a long time to come you will still like it.
One song that I was in awe of when I first heard it was Diamonds by Rihanna. Sia has created many wonderfully powerful songs but Diamonds which she co-wrote for Rihanna with Benjamin Levin, Mikkel S. Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen will always be a pop masterpiece. Today I decided to start posting about pop music again and instead of starting again I am continuing my list of 100 Pop Cover versions that I love. While looking on line for a cover of Diamonds I found this version by Kevin, Karla & La Banda who I was not familiar with before. They are a brother and sister pop duo who each were stars initially through television in Chile and then in music and whose cover versions of international pop hits are truly made their own. A great pop song is often given a new quality when performed in another language and Kevin & Karla’s Spanish version of Diamonds is simply glorious. I absolutely love their vocals and the production too is superb. They have many cover versions on line as well as their own original songs and I will post more of the ones I love the most on this list too. Here is a Huffingpost Post article from a few years ago which tells you more about how they first started recording music. Check out their Youtube page on line here. Follow them on Twitter here.
Lana del Rey today revealed the album cover for her forthcoming new album Lust for Life. Her fourth studio album is due for release on the 26th of May. It’s lead single Love was released in February and charted at number 35 here in Ireland and just missed out on the top 40 in the UK when it reached number 41, it was a top 20 hit on the sales charts.
The beautiful video for Love was directed by Rich Lee and has been viewed over 45,000,000 times to date.
Part of the publicity to date for Lust for Life has also included her wonderfully tongue in cheek album trailer.
One of the best albums of the past few months is Tough Love the second studio album by Jessie Ware. In January she was in concert here in Dublin at The Academy where she played songs from both that album and her fantastic debut album Devotion. She had plenty of banter between songs and had a real genuine connection with the crowd one that I know she repeated on her U.K. tour dates that followed. In March and April she is in concert in the U.S. and Canada and then back to the U.K. Details of those tour dates are here.
Tough Love has already had two U.K. top 40 singles; the title track which reached number 34 and Say You Love Me which is her most successful U.K. single to date which reached number 22.
Following the release of the equally excellent third single You & I (Forever) the fourth single released from Tough Love is Champagne Kisses.
Her music videos are often little works of pop culture art and the video for Champagne Kisses is pure class.
Champagne Kisses has also been remixed by TCTS and debuted on Annie Mac‘s Radio 1 show this week.
Beginning today I want to feature a song of the day. These songs may be brand new music singles or album tracks or songs that I recently rediscovered and want to share. The first song is a brand new song by Raheem Bakaré and is Portrait of Love which features on his E.P. AWOL. Raheem released the music video for Portrait of Love and what is extra brilliant is that he directed it himself. The video has several narratives running through it and is just as beautiful as the song. I first heard his voice through the wonderful Reload Sessions Youtube channel where he has covered Sam Smith’s Stay with Me. There is so much wonderful new music and creativity out there at the moment and music has become an exciting time again.
Raheem’s website is here which includes a Soundcloud link to AWOL and he is on Twitter @RaheemBakare.
In 1983 Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home) by Paul Young reached number one in the U.K. singles charts and also here in Ireland. It was also Paul’s first song to feature on the Billboard Hot 100 when it reached number 70. His follow up single Come Back and Stay would be more successful in the U.S. giving him his first top 30 hit there when it reached number 22. It got to number 4 in the U.K. and was a top 3 hit in Ireland. It also got to number one in Switzerland, New Zealand and Germany and by then Paul was well on his way to being an international pop star.
Come Back and Stay was originally written and recorded by Jack Lee who also wrote many other songs including Hangin’ on the Telephone which would become one of Blondie‘s iconic hits. Paul Young was one of those artists who simply made his own version stand out. Come Back and Stay still sounds so fresh, so sharp when heard again today. It was the intro track on his debut album No Parlez which is still essential listening for any pop music fan.
Here’s the music video for Come Back and Stay which like many of the music videos of it’s day is like a little short film.
and also one of Paul’s Top of the Pops performances of the song.
One of the biggest worldwide hits of the year so far has been Sing by Ed Sheeran which features on his second studio album x which is released today here in Ireland and on Monday in the U.K. It is hard to believe that Ed is still only 23 years ago and how his success has increased continuously ever since his song The A Team became what is still to date his signature song.
Of all of his singles released to date it is his song I See Fire that I like the most. It featured on the soundtrack for Peter Jackson’s film The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. While I See Fire was an international hit it strangely didn’t go top ten in the U.K.singles charts reaching only number 13 there. Anyone who has seen the film will know how perfect it is for the end credits of the film and became part of the narrative of the film’s trilogy to lead directly into the forthcoming final film’s storyline.
Because Ed Sheeran’s songs often just need a vocalist and guitar they have become some of the most covered songs to feature on Youtube and reality music television shows but there are still plenty of singers who shine when when record their own versions. Earlier this year I discovered the wonderful Youtube channel The Reload Sessions. There is a great quality of songs featured on the Reload Sessions and one of the songs that stood out the most was Tom Bem‘s cover of I See Fire. He is accompanied by fellow musicians Joel Grainger and Jay Jenkinson. Tom’s own original songs are excellent as well and I want to do a separate post of them but for now here is his perfect cover of a beautiful song.
Other songs featured on the Reload Sessions can be viewed here and Tom’s Youtube channel which features his own songs is here.
Matt Johnson first came to fame as one of the contestants on the television show Popstars: The Rivals when he was selected as one of the five male vocalists for the pop group One True Voice. They had two top ten hits the double A-side Sacred Trust and After You’re Gone which got to number 2 in the U.K. singles charts and number 9 here in Ireland in December of 2002 and also Shakespeare’s (Way With) Words which reached the top 10 in 2003. While it was Girls Aloud who went on to be the big success story of that show what people forget sometimes is that the guys in One True Voice also had great voices especially Matt. Through his Youtube channel and under the name Matt & the Monkey he has recorded several pop cover versions including recent hit songs by Katy Perry, Imagine Dragons, Naughty Boy featuring Sam Smith and Clean Bandit.
Matt’s most recent cover is Rest of My Life which a lesser known song that was recorded by Bruno Mars. As Matt notes on his Youtube page it is a song that has not been released as a single or featured on any album to date. In that way Rest of My Life becomes a song many will associate Matt’s version first. I think it’s one of his best to date.
Here also is a video of Matt narrating his own story of how music has played a central role in his own life and how it continues to be the thing he most loves to do. His story is one that completely centres on being positive and I know it will inspire others to do the same.
All of Matt’s music videos can be seen on his Matt & The Monkey Youtube page and he is on Twitter @MJOfficial
Let’s Get By Together is an album of cover versions of pop songs by various music artists in aid of Belong To Ireland’s national organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people. It was released on June 1oth at a launch here in Dublin and was produced by the second year graduates of the Sound Training Centre. There is an interesting variety of songs covered and I want to feature two or three of them on this year’s 100 Pop Cover Versions series. One of the stand out tracks for me is Jaime Nanci‘s version of Madonna‘s Borderline which was one of the great singles from her 1983 debut album Madonna. If you follow Jaime on Facebook or Twitter you will know how wonderfully out and proud he is as a gay man and whose heart is always in the right place about all sorts of issues both LGBT related and many other issues. It is extra fab then that he is married to Michael who continues to do such pioneering work with Belong To.
In 2012 when I did my first 100 Cover Versions list Jaime and his band The Blue Boys featured on three covers which were his versions of Kate Bush’s Babooshka, the old movie song Am I Blue, Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield and which all showed that Jaime is one of the most perfect people to reinvent either a pop song or old jazz and blues classic.
The best thing about writing a pop blog is when you get feedback from the person whose work you feature. This doesn’t happen very often and when it does it’s a lovely boost so getting acknowledgement from Jaime when I did those posts was lovely. At the time he also very kindly added my name to a guest list in a show he did in Dublin, the first time that has ever happened to me so thank you again Jaime if you read this post too.
The 14 track album Let’s Get By Together can be purchased via ITunes here. Jaime Nanci’s & The Blue Boys website is here, he is on Twitter @JaimeNanci and watch out for his forthcoming new album Toys later this summer. You can listen to some of his songs both studio and live versions on his Soundcloud page here.
Here is his version of Borderline one of pop’s greatest songs.
In 1987 and 1988 Johnny Hates Jazz had several worldwide hit singles which all featured on their debut album Turn Back the Clock. Today it is their second single Shattered Dreams which is their most well known song and has become one of those songs that almost always features on any great best of the 1980’s collections. I of course love that song but it was their follow up single I Don’t Want To Be A Hero that is my favourite single by them. It reached number 11 on the U.K. singles charts and number 13 here in Ireland and was also a top twenty hit in countries such as Germany, Sweden, Poland, Italy and Canada. The message of it’s anti-war lyrics still ring through today. Both Shattered Dreams and I Don’t Want to Be A Hero were released in 1988 in the U.S.A.
In 2013 Johnny Hates Jazz’s original band members vocalist Clark Datchler and bassist Mike Nocito recorded their well acclaimed album Magnetized. There are several music stars who first came to fame in the 1980’s who have through social media sites such as Twitter stayed in touch and have been appreciative of their fans support and Clark and Johnny Hates Jazz are definitely such stars.
There were two music videos for I Don’t Want To Be A Hero. Here is the original European video.
and the American music video.
and also the wonderful extended remix.
Johnny Hates Jazz‘s website is here and they are on Twitter @JHJ_Official and Clark is @ClarkDatchler. Click here for details of their Magnetized album.
If you have ever seen Tori Amos in concert you will know that one of the great parts of her shows is when she covers another music artists songs. Many of these songs are wonderful commercial pop songs which she of course makes completely her own. Her version of Kylie’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head is an example of an iconic pop song that becomes a Tori Amos atmospheric experience.
Tori is currently touring promoting her current album Unrepentant Geraldines. What a joy it was this week to discover that she did a cover of Madonna‘s 1998 worldwide hit single Frozen. The performance is from her concert in Amsterdam on May 29th.
The video clip below is via TauRush2 Youtube page. Thank you very much for posting the video clip.