Content Warning: Some Bardcore artists cover songs that may contain foul or suggestive language. While most are instrumental covers or the translated lyrics are mostly family-friendly versions, please understand many people are creating these songs and we at GUG have not listened to every single one.
Bardcore Music: Bringing ye through yon plague Medieval style!
Imagine this: You’re out to dinner with your family at a new restaurant in town. You walk in and notice it’s medieval-themed. Waitresses are barmaids wearing corsets over dresses and waiters are dressed like stablehands wearing white linen button-downs over brown riding pants. You see half-gallon sized beer steins, and turkey legs as big as a grown man’s forearm fill the tables. You smell the seasoned meat, sweet honeyed mead, and baked yeast rolls that fill each table. You take your seat and look around to take in the sights and sounds, and start to notice the music playing over the speakers is familiar. The instruments and the words sound different, but the melody is familiar….
It’s a medieval version of Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks!”
Of all the covers you’ve heard over the years — punk goes crunk, pop goes punk, acoustic covers of metal songs, MTV’s Unplugged — this new sound is unfamiliar, yet so catchy. With tin whistles, lutes, hand drums, tambourines, and beautiful voices singing archaic “middle English” translated lyrics, Bardcore is taking over the YouTube music scene. I know once I discovered it, I shared it with everyone I could, so I can only imagine how much further it’s traveled from there!
Pray tell, what is Bardcore?
Bardcore, also known as tavernware, is a genre of music that uses lutes, fiddles, harps, flutes, and nylon-stringed guitars to cover already popular songs. The music mixed with Middle English lyrics creates an atmosphere of being in a tavern in the 13th or 14th century. One can almost imagine being a knight at the round table celebrating while a local bard regales you with a tale of how of an auburn-haired maiden stole her true love – “He talketh of thee in his sleep / And alas, I cannot keep / From weeping when I hear thy name / Jolene”
Bardcore was first introduced by YouTuber Algal the Bard in 2017. Algal dropped their version of “Toxicity” by System of a Down, which has no vocals. It’s relaxing and light-hearted compared to the original. He’s since released many other covers including Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” and Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” as well as a meme medley and a Legend of Zelda medley.
Bardcore hit its peak in April of 2020 during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many people stuck in their homes looking for something to quell the boredom of quarantine, my best friend was scrolling through YouTube for something interesting. He found Hildegard von Blingin’s channel and the cover of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” and immediately knew it was something I needed in my life. He was absolutely right. It sent me down a rabbit hole of finding every YouTube channel I could with Bardcore music and soaking every song in like a sponge.
I tell ye the truth, Bardcore does not disappoint!
As far as I’m concerned, Bardcore music has been some of the best “new music” to rise in popularity during the COVID-19 epidemic. It is a beautiful tribute to an underappreciated era of music and rarely used instruments. It’s catchy because the songs are covers, yet its unique style appeals to anyone, even people who are not fans of the originals. I hope this trend will continue to be popular even after the virus is eradicated. There are so many songs still yet to be turned into Bardcore that I can see it being around for a good, long time.
Below are a couple of other Bardcore covers I’ve enjoyed (almost more than the original songs).
Iron Maiden’s “Fear of the Dark” by Algal the Bard
Hildegard von Blingin’s cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”