THE BEST Music

Can’t Stop: Piano Cover

Can’t Stop: Piano Cover

In the words of the Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Choose not a life of imitation.” Musician Gamazda offers up a great piano cover version of RHCP’s 2002 hit “Can’t Stop” that’s so good that it even managed to score two thumbs up from the band that created it.

GWAR AVC House Show

GWAR AVC House Show

(PG-13: Language) Like the rest of us, the members of GWAR have been trapped here on earth since the pandemic took hold. The A.V. Club managed to score an intimate acoustic concert session with the legendary intergalactic metal band while quarantined. Incredibly, zero fake blood or guts were spilled during the performance.

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Puddles Pity Party: Smile

Puddles Pity Party: Smile

The sad clown with the golden voice might need to take his own lyrical advice after singing this silky smooth, but sorrowful rendition of Nat King Cole’s “Smile” that first appeared as an instrumental in the Charlie Chaplin film Modern Times way back in 1936.

The Weeknd: Snowchild

The Weeknd: Snowchild

The official music video for “Snowchild” pairs cinematic, anime imagery with The Weeknd’s autobiographical track about his quick rise to fame and fortune, his struggles with drugs, and the challenges that come with celebrity life. Directed by Arthell Isom of D’ART Shtajio.

Elton John f/Soulja Boy

Elton John f/Soulja Boy

If there are two musicians we never thought we’d mention in the same breath, we’re thinking that Elton John and Soulja Boy would probably be somewhere on that list. Regardless, mashup artist William Maranci managed to find a way to combine “Bennie and the Jets” and “Pretty Boy Swag” into a cohesive track.

The Great Electronic Gig in the Sky

The Great Electronic Gig in the Sky

French musician Grégoire Blanc brings his own unique flair to the 1973 Pink Floyd classic “The Great Gig in the Sky” with a soul-stirring cover performed on the highly-expressive Haken Continuum, a vintage Elektor Formant modular synth, grand piano, and a theremin taking on Clare Torry’s famous vocals.

Black Is King (Trailer)

Black Is King (Trailer)

Queen B’s “Black is King” is a cinematic visual album inspired by “The Lion King.” Beyonce’s most ambitious project yet infuses elements of black history with an empowering message for young kings and queens seeking identity, and co-starring roles for Jay-Z, Lupita Nyong’o, and Naomi Campbell. Premieres 7.31.20 on Disney+.

Lenny Kravitz Tiny Desk Concert

Lenny Kravitz Tiny Desk Concert

Without an arena (or the NPR offices) to perform in, Lenny Kravitz and his bandmates turned in this intimate three-song concert from Lenny’s chill home setting in Eleuthera, Bahamas. The tracks include “Thinking Of You,” “What Did I Do With My Life?,” and the 2020-appropriate “We Can Get It All Together.”

50 Songs a Year: 1979 to 1989

50 Songs a Year: 1979 to 1989

After 8 long months, Chicago remix duo the The Hood Internet has completed their retrospective series, with each of their tracks representing a year from 1979 and 1989, and each brilliantly capturing the best and most memorable music of the era. Enjoy our playlist and let all 11 tracks fill your ears with joy.

U Can’t Touch This Fingerstyle

U Can’t Touch This Fingerstyle

Stop. Hammer Time. Musician Alexandr Misko gives the 1990 MC Hammer hit U Can’t Touch This a completely new sound, performing the rhythms of the track on his acoustic guitar. Alexandr’s Russian-accented rap flow brings it all together.

Saloon Music Medley

Saloon Music Medley

Pianist Vinheteiro demonstrates just how important it is to play music on period-correct instruments. Listen and you’ll be transported to an old timey saloon with this medley of Scott Joplin ragtime tunes, performed on an Barthol & Berlin upright piano made that dates back to 1915.

Tom Rosenthal: Jim and Dwight

Tom Rosenthal: Jim and Dwight

If there’s one thing you could always count on when watching The Office, it was the antagonistic relationship between Jim and Dwight. Musician Tom Rosenthal’s catchy folk tune draws parallels between the Dunder Mifflin co-workers and other couples who butt heads. Music video by Efa Blosse-Mason and Sophie Marsh.

Ludwig Göransson: The Mandalorian

Ludwig Göransson: The Mandalorian

Composer Ludwig Göransson is the musical genius behind the score from The Mandalorian. Now, courtesy of director Isaac Ravishankara, we have an official music video for the opening theme that offers a glimpse into the musician at work, as he creates the richly textured sounds of the modern western.

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Michael Jackson Fingerstyle

Michael Jackson Fingerstyle

Musician Kent Nishimura shows off his impressive acoustic guitar chops once more, with a couple of great fingerstyle covers of two very different Michael Jackson tunes, Human Nature, Thriller, Rock with You, and the Justin Timberlake collab Love Never Felt So Good.

Iggy Pop: The Passenger (Video)

Iggy Pop: The Passenger (Video)

Iggy Pop’s timeless tune “The Passenger” is a highlight from 1977’s Lust For Life – Pop’s most successful solo album. Finally, 43 years later, it has an official video. Directed by Simon Taylor, the cinematic black-and-white montage is inspired by the nocturnal rides Iggy took with David Bowie during their memorable collaborations.

The Evolution of Guitar Intros

The Evolution of Guitar Intros

Guitars have been an important part of popular music for hundreds of years. Musician Mark Sagum looks back from 1960 to 2020 for a taste of some of the most recognizable guitar intros. If you want to get the emotions going, this is the way to kick off a tune.

Hamilton But It’s Muppets

Hamilton But It’s Muppets

With its release on Disney+, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit Hamilton is once again the talk of the town. Perhaps seeing a rainbow connection, Ricky Downes III recorded the entire musical in the voices of The Muppets. When Beaker started rapping, coffee came out of our nose. Act two here.

Hey Ya!: Synthwave Remix

Hey Ya!: Synthwave Remix

Musician Astrophysics takes songs from various genres, and slathers them with a thick layer of 1980s electronic sounds, then complements them with appropriately retro graphics. There’s lots of great stuff to enjoy on their YouTube channel, but this synthwave remix of Outkast’s 2003 hit Hey Ya! is our favorite (so far.)

Marc Martel + UQC: Under Pressure

Marc Martel + UQC: Under Pressure

Musician Marc Martel is joined by the members of The Ultimate Queen Celebration for an awesome “work from home” cover version of the 1981 track Under Pressure. Martel channels Freddie Mercury brilliantly as always, while guitarist Tristan Avakian brings his own flair to Bowie’s vocals.

40 Fingers: Back in Black

40 Fingers: Back in Black

The members of Italian guitar ensemble 40 Fingers perform an outstanding acoustic cover version of the AC/DC classic Back in Black unlike any we’ve heard before. It has every bit of energy of the original, but with a totally different vibe.

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Jacob Collier: Tiny Desk Concert

Jacob Collier: Tiny Desk Concert

Among his many talents, musician Jacob Collier is known for his multitrack music videos. While quarantined at home, he and his three identical (virtual) twins performed this stellar NPR Tiny Desk Concert that showcases his diverse musical skills through three smooth and enveloping tunes.

Fooling Yourself Orchestral Cover

Fooling Yourself Orchestral Cover

Crank up the volume and brighten your day as Styx lead vocalist and guitarist Tommy Shaw and the talented musicians of the Contemporary Youth Orchestra perform an fantastic at home cover version of the classic rock hit Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) from the 1977 album The Grand Illusion.

Puddles: Stairway to Gilligan’s Island

Puddles: Stairway to Gilligan’s Island

Back in 1978, Little Roger and the Goosebumps figured out that the lyrics to the theme from Gilligan’s Island lined up perfectly with Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. While we loved the novelty of the classic mashup, Puddles Pity Party really ramped up the vocals and theatricality. Oh, and on a related note…

Linger on Cello

Linger on Cello

Cellist Helen Newby has posted a handful of great multi-track performances on her YouTube channel, and our favorite so far has to be this enveloping cover of one of the best songs ever, The Cranberries’ soul-stirring track Linger. It’s a beautiful arrangement, and a loving tribute to the late Dolores O’Riordan.

The Fresh Prince of Ireland

The Fresh Prince of Ireland

We’re used to hearing the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as a hip hop song. But musician Stefan Murphy of The Mighty Stef gave it a whole different sound, as a solemn Irish folk song that will have you weeping into your glass of Jameson’s by the time it’s over.

Buddhist Monk Covers Judas Priest

Buddhist Monk Covers Judas Priest

Kossan has the unique distinction of being a Buddhist monk and a rock musician. He recently performed a buzzworthy cover version of the 1980 Judas Priest classic Breaking the Law that we will now start using as the backing track for our daily mindful meditation.

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