Where do we go from fear? After the attacks on their concert at the Bataclan in Paris in November, Eagles of Death Metal practiced what they preached and turned to rock ’n’ roll as the best salve they could offer. In honoring the victims, they issued a call to arms for any musician worldwide to remix, release, and ultimately reinvent their glam-y ballad “I Love You All the Time.” They dubbed the effort “Play It Forward.” Since initiating the drive the week of Thanksgiving, there have been frequent contributions from notable acts such as My Morning Jacket, Savages, and Florence + the Machine. With each cover comes a sense of solidarity more vibrant than that of any social-media photo filter.
While the versions courtesy of big-name artists are warmly encouraging, it’s the little guys who form a buzzing online hive that subtly illustrate this campaign’s brilliance. Bedroom singer-songwriters, bluegrass string bands, and DJs alike joined in from across the globe to produce a musical event that encapsulated the woes and pros of 2015: mass interconnectedness, dismay, hope.
When “I Love You All the Time” was released on October 2, in tandem with Eagles of Death Metal’s fourth album, Zipper Down, the pop-rock trifle seemed little more than a three-minute plea for love — and about two shirt unbuttonings away from a Thin Lizzy tribute. By December, the song had transformed. Not only does its title suggest universal affection and serve as a battle cry for harmony, but its opening lyrics (“I’m never alone”) and the unsettling coincidence of the second verse being sung entirely in French enhance the song’s mystique. Seldom in the history of popular music has a song been reimagined so swiftly and vividly while serving as a reminder of the persistence of good.
Collected below is a list of ten musicians who heeded the call:
10. Petra Haden
Petra Haden is a violinist and singer who was a member of the Decemberists and That Dog; she has also recorded with the Foo Fighters, Green Day, and Queens of the Stone Age. Her take on “I Love You All The Time,” a lovely a cappella rendition, recalls the best parts of a Glee cover while trimming any of the annoyances of, well, a Glee cover.
There are examples of DJs retooling the core of the song, but none has approached it in a manner so somber and bleak as this Netherlands-based artist. Kointree’s version eschews the beauty of the melody in favor of the darkness but does it in a way where you can embrace the cold — think old Nine Inch Nails. Plus, the elusive Hollander’s accompanying video, of a distorted walk through the frozen forest, contributes to the overall mood, without being overly moody.
8. Red Sand Studio
This Lyon, France–based recording studio and production company recast “I Love You All the Time” with all manner of Eighties attitude, which plays out smoothly for a couple of reasons. EoDM’s Zipper Down included a cover of Duran Duran’s “Save a Prayer,” for one — after the attacks, the Fab Five’s Simon Le Bon tweeted that royalties from the song would be donated to charity. EoDM leaders Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme were inspired by Duran Duran’s decision, which paved the way for the Play It Forward campaign.
7. Ragged String Band
U.K.-based but Americana-devoted, Ragged String Band are a folk quintet straight out of Essex who tackled their take using banjo plucks and some Tin Pan Alley harmonica. It’s a stripped-down hoedown where the only instrument missing is a moonshine jug sporting three X’s. It’s also a fitting tribute to “I Love You All the Time” ’s inherent adaptability.
6. Tomasz Bukowski
A one-man band from Poland with a charismatic persona and an impressively tacky shirt shows viewers, instrument by instrument, how he devised his cover. Recording each bit in various nooks around his home and using a very DIY microphone filter, Bukowski charms his way through his cover and offers solace to EoDM in a most fitting way: “As the beer label says in 00:09, ‘Powodzenia,’ which means ‘Good luck,’ ” he writes in the description. Powodzenia to you, too.
Cue the John Hughes montage: We have a synthwave cover to embrace. A trio from Austria, Dates begin their rendition with a fuzzy synthesizer note before launching into an irresistible, beat-heavy blast. Think Europe’s own Future Islands, but with a helping of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and just a skosh of Q Lazzarus.
There isn’t much info on the Web about this Dutch guitarist, but what we do know about Wonderdog is that he recorded his version in Bussum, Netherlands, and that his hammer-on technique is on point. Looking like the kind of guy who would steal your spouse at a California beach party, Wonderdog retunes his guitar to simultaneously hit the rhythm and lead sections of “I Love You All the Time.” In the finale, he nails the most cathartic chorus found in the whole bunch. Somewhere out there, Kid Rock felt a shiver.
3. Tropic of Xhao
Tropic of Xhao are another Essex-based group (their cover was recorded by the same studio that helmed Ragged String Band’s), and the trio’s singer, Lulah Harper, casts a brooding and smoky spell over this formerly glam jam. Driving a spooky, psychedelic stake into the heart of the original, Tropic of Xhao reimagine “I Love You All the Time” as a Phantogram-worthy comparison. Plus, Harper is a Seinfeld fan and nicknamed herself “Moops Electric,” recalling the classic Moors vs. Moops debate between George and the Bubble Boy. For eternity, serenity now!
2. Jürgen Brunner
“Rock ’n’ roll, friends. That’s the key,” states Jürgen Brunner, an Austria-based video game developer who released this cover through his company ILIKESCIFI. He reworks the song into a café-suitable rendition, complete with acoustic rambling and a baritone plea. Simple and effective, like the coastline photo chosen for the video art.
1. Louie Chelle V
What look to be two college roommates (the bunk bed and tapestry are dead giveaways) perform a delicate cover wherein they trade French verses and harmonies. In the description they write how they were inspired by the Kings of Leon cover, which EoDM’s Hughes has praised, as quoted in Rolling Stone: “It just really nails the Gerry Rafferty–Seventies sensibility.”