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Angelique Kidjo's 'Quimbara' makes npr's 'best cover songs of 2019'

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The art of covering a song might have reached its pop-culture saturation point this year, thanks to an abundance of special programming (Triple J's Like A Version, BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge, Spotify Sessions, Amazon Prime exclusives), tribute albums and touring surprises. But what makes for a good cover? Sometimes it's an arrangement that's radical; at other points, it's the unexpected connection between artists, or an unspooling of genre. A roots artist that likes emo? A rapper going hardcore? A country artist drawn to French pop? These days, cross-genre covering should come as no surprise; the music-makers of 2019 have omnivorous diets, digesting eclectic influences and spitting them back out in song. For some of the artists on this list (Alex Lahey, Rustin Kelly), a cover is an opportunity to pay homage to the music of their youth. It's the chance to speak to a cultural lineage, looking backward (Los Tigres del Norte, Sam Smith) or forward (Tanya Tucker, Angélique Kidjo). And lately, it's a tender love note through time - "I miss you. You were gone too soon" (Jeffrey Lewis).

The genius of Africanizing music that already has African roots is crystallized one Celia Cruz's most popular songs. Angélique Kidjo's confident vocals float over a decidedly African-inspired rhythm that emphasizes the power of the song to move bodies onto the dance floor. -Felix Contreras      PHOTO: Laurent Seroussi/

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