It seems like most singers get to a point in their career when they do a covers album. This fall brings new covers albums from Annie Lennox (Nostalgia), Aretha Franklin (Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics), Bette Midler (It’s the Girls) plus Lady GaGa and Tony Bennett (Cheek to Cheek). I can see why artists do these albums. They can pay tribute to songs/artists that they admire; and the pressure is off to come up with some great new songs. The question is are they really bringing anything new to the table with these? Or is it a vanity project with just so-so results? Read on to hear my thoughts on these projects:
Annie Lennox “Nostalgia” She’s got one of the best voices in pop music, so for me she can sing anything. She chose a collection of songs from the 30’s and 40’s… and it works for me. It has already gone to #1 on the jazz album chart.
Aretha Franklin “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics” Aretha is awesome, that being said, I wish she had covered other songs. These were all very big hits, and it is hard to do something better when they were done right the first time.
Bette Midler “It’s the Girls” The Divine Miss M chose to cover songs made popular by girl groups. The most interesting song is a ballad version of TLC’s “Waterfalls.” She sounds great as always, but the end result was just OK to me.
Lady GaGa and Tony Bennett “Cheek to Cheek” I applaud Lady GaGa’s commitment to this project, with the tour and all. She definitely has the voice to sing these songs. But I think I would have liked to hear some different songs, as most have been covered many times before.
Barry Manilow “My Dream Duets” Barry duets with a bunch of dead singers on this collection — everyone from Whitney Houston to Jimmy Durante to John Denver. Why oh why…
Gloria Estefan “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” She picked songs that inspired her and that she liked growing up. The result was 2 Top Ten hits for her from this project including ‘Turn the Beat Around”.
Annie Lennox “Medusa” For the most part, I wasn’t very familiar with the songs on here. She chose wisely.
Natalie Cole “Unforgettable with Love” The platinum standard for covers/standards albums. Natalie paid tribute to the songs of her father and did a fantastic job. She earned multiple Grammy awards and set sales records too.
Boyz II Men “Love” It was nice to hear the Boyz put their spin on songs by the Goo Goo Dolls and Take That.
Michael McDonald “Motown” This album reminded people how great a singer he really is. A commercial and critical hit for him.
Wynonna “Sing Chapter 1” This lady can sing pretty much anything for me. The album is all covers except for the title song.
Hall & Oates “Our Kind of Soul” One of my favorite duos, Daryl Hall has a fantastic soulful voice. Nothing new really, but it is well done.
Michael Bolton “Timeless — The Classics” His version of the Bee Gee’s ‘To love Somebody” was a hit off of this collection. The rest is nice too.
Linda Ronstadt “What’s New” One of her many transformations. With the help of Nelson Riddle conducting, this set of standards reinvigorated her career at that point.
Some OK moments
All of the following have some nice moments, but nothing I would rave about.
Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmunds “Playlist” Song you would have heard on 70’s radio pretty much. Nice, if a bit boring.
Rod Stewart “It Had to Be You: The Great American Songbook”; “As Time Goes By: The Great American Songbook Volume II”; “Stardust: The Great American Songbook Volume III”; “Thanks for the Memory: The Great American Songbook Volume VI”; “Still the Same: Great Rock Classics of Our Time”; “Soulbook”; “Fly Me to the Moon: The Great American Songbook Volume V” God knows he has done quite a few covers albums! The Great American Songbook ones were big hits for him… I have heard the songs done better in my opinion. I do like the rock classics and soul covers though.
Gloria Estefan “The Standards” Another album of standards from the Great American Songbook. I haven’t heard enough to really get an opinion on it.
Rick Springfield “The Day After Yesterday” Songs that he liked from the 70’s and 80’s.
Erasure “ABBA-Esque” This EP updated some of ABBA classics.
A-Teens “The ABBA Generation” A teen pop group consisting of 2 guys and 2 girls (like ABBA), whose first album was all ABBA covers.
Gretchen Wilson “Under the Covers” She has a great country-rock voice, haven’t heard this though.
Dolly Parton “Those Were the Days” Dolly pairs up with various friends for this set of songs. Guest stars include Keith Urban and Cat Stevens.
Cyndi Lauper “At Last” Yes, Cyndi has a nice voice, but I really felt that she lost herself here. Where was the fun?
Duran Duran “Thank You” Bad song choices, and done badly too. The only halfway decent song was “White Lines”.
Boyz II Men “Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville, USA” This sounded good on paper I am sure, but was just OK in reality. Stick with the originals.
Colton Ford “Under the Covers” Former porn star covers everyone from Alicia Keys to Robin S. and more on this collection. He should stick to porn.
I am sure there are more that I missed. What are your favorite covers albums? I would love to hear from you.
KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.