Bardcore: The Rise of Medieval-Style Covers

Bardcore Hildegard von Blingin Somebody that I used to know

What do the Middle Ages and 2020 have in common? One, there’s the pandemic. The second one, however, is rather unexpected — the production of medieval music, or some form of it.

The past few months have seen the rise of a phenomenon called Bardcore, a music genre consisting of medievalesque adaptations of modern popular songs. It is coined from the word bard, a medieval storyteller and singer, and the combining form -core extracted from another music genre hardcore.

Although medieval remakes of contemporary music already existed before 2020, most notably Algal the Bard’s cover of System of a Down’s Toxicity in December 2017, it was two viral YouTubers who finally pushed it to prominence this year: Cornelius Link and Hildegard von Blingin’.

The consensus is that this particular trend started on April 20, 2020, when German web developer Cornelius Link released a remake of Tony Igy’s Astronomia. He then followed it up weeks later with an instrumental version of Foster the People’s breakthrough hit Pumped Up Kicks, which Hildegard von Blingin’ help blow up by adding vocals and reworking the lyrics Olde English style.

Hildegard von Blingin's profile picture
Hildegard von Blingin’s moniker is a tribute to the impressive medieval Saint Hildegard von Bingen, a German Benedictine abbess, composer, and polymath.

By the time Von Blingin’s third cover was released, several names for the new music genre had been suggested, with popular contenders “Tavernwave” and “Bardcore” getting more love. Ultimately Bardcore stuck and has since gone viral with the Bad Romance cover. A quick review of Google Trends shows an increase in searches for the term Bardcore after Von Blingin’ announced the names.

He talketh of thee in his sleep
And alas, I cannot keep
From weeping when I hear thy name Jolene
Although it is so plain to see
How little he doth mean to thee
My love for him is boundless as the sea

Eventually, several other YouTube channels sprouted, adding to the Bardcore discography. And some of these artists have already expressed interest in making original medieval-style music soon.

While this pandemic has been a source of anxiety and boredom, it has also given the people more time in their hands, with many pursuing lost or newfound creative outlets. Bardcore might just be one of this hard time’s refreshing results, offering a bit of escapism and joy even for a short while.


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