morecoolclevercovers: Adaku (@muzikizoxygen), @CaseyStratton, @CleoSol, and Steve (Starchild) aka @SteveGrandMusic

I’ve said it before, but I rarely find a cover version of a song that I like better than the original.  One of the songs I’ve chosen about I DO like better than the original.  With others, I admire creativity and interpretation, and two choices today are smart mashups.


ADAKU, “Is This Love Song”

I’ve introduced you to Nigerian-born American alternative R&B singer Adaku before, with her two classy originals “Or You Can” (and its lovely video) and the provocative “Silent Treatment”.  This time the singer shifts to her sparkling high register for “Is This Love Song” – which is two parts The Cure’s biggest hit “Lovesong” (though youngin’s will know it better as recorded by Adele on 21) and one part Bob Marley’s “Is This Love”.  Set to the melody of the former, the mashup is simply killer, and we get to see Adaku singing as herself this time in the accompanying video.  Expect the unexpected for this well thought out winner.  Watch below and you can download it for free right here.  Adaku’s debut album, titled PLASMA, is anticipated later this year.



Casey Stratton is a wonderful singer/songwriter with a huge, prolific repertoire.  So it was a pleasant surprise for him to dig back into his own archive, from just a few years back, to offer us his rendition of Brandon Flowers’ solo hit “Crossfire” as a free download right here.  Casey pretty much leaves well enough alone and lets the song bask in its own glory (the original got to #1 on my personal chart too in 2010), but he delves into the emotional side, making the chorus and other parts of the song much more affecting than the original.  Be sure to check out what else Casey has to offer in his body of work in his online store right here.  “Crossfire” is a terrific choice – listen below c/o Popservations blog.


CLEO SOL, “Teardrop”

Cleo Sol is a relatively new British singer of Serbian, Spanish, and Jamaican heritage, which makes for a huge jumping off point stylistically for her songs.  She’s had some success in her native country with her fusion of R&B, rap, jazz and funk, so “Teardrop” takes a few steps away from all of that to showcase her singing in a slightly different way.  It’s a slick adaptation of Massive Attack’s classic chilled-out 90’s song that gets interpolated with verses and melody of The Verve’s 1997 worldwide hit “Bittersweet Symphony”.  Hardly what you might expect, but it gels beautifully.  It’s also a free download which you can hear and save below.



The world has recently got to know Steve (Starchild) much better as Country singer Steve Grand with his viral hit “All American Boy”, which essentially was his coming out song/video.  I don’t gravitate very well to country music, so “All American Boy” has not resonated with me, though I’m thrilled that the singer has got some well-deserved new fans, and he seems like a genuinely thankful and earnest guy.  A fellow music buff (and major Steve Grand fan) posted Steve’s video for his cover of Lady GaGa’s “You And I” on a message board where I am an administrator that is just pre-Steve Grand.  All you need to do is watch this explosive performance to hear the oodles of talent that Steve obviously has.  I don’t just like it better than GaGa’s original (not one of her better songs, to me), I LOVE IT and am so glad I get to hear another side of Steve Grand even if it is in the recent past.  Judge for yourself, but “All American Boy” is only Steve Grand’s ticket into the game; now that he’s there I’m gonna watch and see how this talent gets unleashed.  And if he can stay as earthy and true to his fans, there is no limit 🙂

Love Power from Armand Deluxe & SIRPAUL and Casey Stratton, Plus 3 Terrific Covers

A lot of thoughts came to my mind this week with the USA supreme court ruling concerning the magical and often elusive thing that is LOVE.  Almost every person has their own definition of what it means to them, and how they behave in loving others and being loved by them.  Too many people however allow labels and hatred to get in the way, when it’s really so easy to substitute kindness, peace and happiness in order to move forward.

Two songs also happened to truly resonate with me this week because of this, and while they have significantly different styles, the basis of each song is general enough to be far-reaching.

ARMAND DELUXE featuring SIRPAUL, “One Love”

“One Love” is one beauty of a summer dance anthem by producer/remixer/DJ Armand Deluxe and veteran NYC dance performer SIRPAUL.  It really doesn’t say anything new – “one heart, one mind, one love”, asking us to stand up and join hands, and so forth.  But these two artists get the message across with a joyful, positive and enthusiastic approach that simply makes you stop what you’re doing to get up and dance and celebrate love.  “One Love” is worthy of worldwide attention and I’m hoping the two can create a video for the song.  In tandem with this, Armand has started a Facebook page called The Global Love Project, where people can post their own stories.  It’s an interesting idea and we’ll see where it goes.  “One Love” and The Global Love Project can only do the world some good!!


Prolific and very reliable Michigan-based singer Casey Stratton recently dropped his latest album Sea Into Sky.  And as I was listening to the album this week, before any of the activity in the US started to come to a head, the second song on the album “Love Is Love” struck me perhaps as Casey’s best song in a while.  It immediately stays in your head with its quiet and lyrical start which builds to a powerful and emotional crescendo after the three minute mark.  Fans of Loreena McKennitt, Kate Bush, Tori Amos and others should flock to this, but for others like me Casey has written simple yet powerful lyrics that have arrived with fortuitous timing.  As always, Casey’s elegant voice and musicianship is striking, making “Love Is Love” one complete package you need to hear that will warm your heart, soul and mind.  You can buy “Love Is Love” and Sea Into Sky through Casey’s store.

Three splendid cover versions have caught my attention recently by some familiar names you know well from this blog 🙂

NICK, “Get Lucky”

It’s getting closer to that time when a single from Nick Hagelin’s upcoming Streamline/Interscope album is due for release.  So with his cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”, we have a more produced effort but boy does it ever pack a punch.  I love the song as is (currently #2 on my chart), but I love this version too!!  Nick’s vocals positively rule this song, he changes up the approach with a gentle and sexy vocal that allows his falsetto to seep in.  The guys look like they are having a blast, and I hope Nick’s album can show off a lot of these qualities that you often don’t find in major label releases.

ADAM TYLER, “The A Team”

Given all of the You Tube versions of Ed Sheeran’s worldwide hit, you’d think that one more might just get caught in the blur.  But it doesn’t.  LA-based singer Adam Tyler, currently on my chart with his EDM hit “Fade Into The Light”, strips the song down to basics as he has done before with other covers like “Torn” and ‘Turning Tables”, and sings a brilliantly heartfelt rendition that breaks loose the numbness after hearing the original so many times now.  This bodes well for our Adam as he strides forward to create a follow up of originals to his winning 2011 album Shattered Ice.


Now that Zedd & Foxes’ original of “Clarity” looks like it will crack the Pop Top 10, it’s highly appropriate for Zedd’s pal Matthew Koma (who sang on the #1 dance hit of 2012 “Spectrum”) to interpret his friend’s huge hit.  This is an acoustic version recorded live at the Cherrytree House where Matthew does not strive to copy Foxes’ vocal range and instead adapts the song beautifully to his lower register.

Spring Popervescence #2, featuring Gentlemen Hall, Jane Badler, Casey Stratton, BAKER, I Am A Camera, Craig Powell, and Cadence Burns

There’s so much good new music about that I can’t get a chance to write about it all.  There may have to be a Spring Popervescence #3 before any Summer Popervescence happens!

Gentlemen Hall “All Our Love”

I’ve been enjoying the Boston 6 man ensemble’s EP When We All Disappear for a while now, but it’s taken the video for “All Our Love” to bring the song’s anthemic call for love to the forefront for me.  Led by a Gavin Merlot vocal, the video takes a few frames to digest but once you’re in, there’s a most worthwhile story that should be a calling card for people to put aside their differences and celebrate love.  You can download When We All Disappear from Gentlemen Hall’s website.

Jane Badler “Yesterday’s Tomorrows”

Jane Badler is best known as an actress from the 1980’s sci-fi show “V” (as Diana, the lizard queen – and she made a cameo in the recent reboot too), but in the years since the show she relocated to Australia to continue her film and stage career.  Like many multi-talents, Jane is also a singer who has released a few jazz-oriented albums over the past few years.  But it’s no wonder that her talents have spread back to the North American market with the upcoming release of an EP called Mistaken Identity.  “Yesterday’s Tomorrows” is a stunning and catchy theatrical piece of business where everything old-fashioned is new again, and is most deserving of your attention.  Rock it’s not, but visions of theatre or movie theme songs will dance in your head to leave you captivated.  Don’t be surprised if Jane Badler quietly makes her mark again worldwide on record.  Listen below.

Casey Stratton “When The Fates Came” (EP)

The prolific Michigan-based singer and multi-instrumentalist is on deck with the upcoming album The Calling Of The Crows, which is preceded by this six song EP which will only make you want more.  Like many others, I discovered Casey through his major label releases back in 2003/04 which yielded a number one dance/club play hit (“House of Jupiter”).  But dance music was not where his music was meant to be.  He’s moved comfortably into territory where he joins the likes of Sarah McLachlan, Loreena McKennitt and others who create lush landscapes to compliment personal, direct, and articulate stories.  Independently released, as with all of his records since 2005, When The Fates Came touches on loss, love, self-discovery and more.  And it’s all led by Casey’s compelling high register, beautifully sung, particularly on the title song and “All I Am”.  You can listen to it all and purchase it at Casey’s store (link below).

Casey Stratton’s store

BAKER “Convince Me” and “Heart-Shaped Box”

BAKER is an L.A.-based singer/songwriter who’s in the process of recording his first album, but has put forth a number of songs over the past few years online for your listening pleasure.  The model, Harvard grad, and classical cellist alternates between pop/electronica and softer songs which show off his range and style.  So in anticipation of some new songs, I’ll tip you off to the infectious “Convince Me” and an engaging take on Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box”, which shows that Baker’s boundaries appear to be limitless.  Listen to them below and watch an interview with BAKER as well to learn more.

I Am A Camera “Factory Boys”

I’ve talked about a darker nu-disco kind of dance music that seems to stem from New York City (Jessica 6, Penguin Prison) but I’ve also found out of Austin, Texas (Eleven:Eleven), and now out of the U.K.  British duo I Am A Camera do reference the late 70’s and early 80’s club scene with the energetic nu-disco of “Factory Boys”, sure to stay in both your head and your feet.  Watch the video below.

Craig Powell “One Night Stand”

You may remember Craig Powell from his appearance on last year’s Ballroom Remixed extravaganza (“You Could Change a Tiger’s Stripes”) though UK dancephiles will know him from some local hits as well as a member of Uniting Nations (“Out of Touch” got to the UK Top 10).  Using some of the same key people from Ballroom Remixed, such as producer/remixer extraordinaire Ricardo Autobahn, Craig now showcases “One Night Stand” via Soundcloud below.  With a crisp vocal, the song celebrates a crunchy late 80’s early 90’s flavour which could find success in other territories as well.

Cadence Burns “Smile”

Sheer delight overcomes me when I find a new viral talent emerging online.  Cadence Burns is a Canadian singer who has been working in L.A. with fellow Canadian Tim Feehan, who has had some hits of his own (1986’s “Where’s The Fire”, particularly) as well as several songs featured in movies.  Cadence just has that unspeakable and joyous natural talent about her which rings so true in “Smile”.  This is a talent to be nurtured, and I’m sure we’ll hear much more from her.  There’s not much available online about Cadence – yet.  Watch below.

Tuned-On! Top 300 of the 2000’s, Part 5 (100-51)

Online discoveries and remixes dominate the top 100 of this decade list.  It is like no other list I’ve created before, but it parallels my list of the 1970’s in some ways since I was discovering the UK charts and dance remixes in the latter part of that decade.  But there would have been no way for me to discover, without our current technology and without meeting online friends:

* Dance music available otherwise to club DJ’s such as songs by Casey Stratton, iio, Motorcycle, Axwell, Crystal Waters, Cassius, Armin Van Buuren, Roger Sanchez, and Matt Darey, including remixes of songs by Coldplay and The Fray

* Canadian talent from across the country such as Mitchell Hunter and Jake

* Talent from across the world like Agnes Carlsson, Freemasons, Adele, Duffy, and Newton Faulkner

* Lesser known artists awaiting their breakout, like Tyler Hilton, Evan Taubenfeld, and Dan Black

* Updates on favourites such as David Usher, Darren Hayes, and Chris Isaak

* Monitoring success of new decade favourites like Jason Mraz and Lifehouse

The ‘hits’ are still here too, though much less so than ever.  Discovered the traditional way were songs by 3 Doors Down, Leona Lewis, George Michael (“Amazing”), The Fray (“Over My Head”), and Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown.

So the Top 100 begins with the updated list right here – don’t forget to leave your comments and observations!!