Bardcore: Is Medieval Music Experiencing an Unlikely Resurgence?

Jones, Thomas; The Bard; Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales;

Words by Molly Allen and Alex Payne
Painting by Thomas Jones, courtesy of National Museum Wales

Hell yeah!
By Molly Allen

After binging the hit Netflix series ‘The Witcher’ back in January, I never expected to find a series of ‘medieval’ style covers of songs inspired by the show’s soundtrack. At first, I was skeptical; I found these covers funny and entertaining, but is there a market for this kind of music? In the past there have been dozens of cover styles, and these covers have appeared largely on the streaming site YouTube. ‘Nightcore’, ‘metalcore’ and jazz covers from channels such as ‘PostmodernJukebox’ have appeared on the platform through trends. Once someone has created a cover of a song in a certain style, there are likely to be dozens more. YouTube has produced some of the wackiest music as a result, and the popularity of the platform has allowed more and more people to express their creativity.

Bands such as ‘Okilly Dokilly’, a simpsons themed metalcore act (yes this is a thing), have gained a cult following, with their music video ‘White Wine Spritzer’ having gained over 6 million views. So even though these cover styles can be classed as trends, is it impossible to imagine that there could be an audience for each style of music? With this in mind, I listened to ‘Bardcore’ again. The more I listened to the covers, the more I started to enjoy this style of music. From Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ to Foster the People’s ‘Pumped Up Kicks’, there are dozens of songs covered in the ‘bardcore’ style. I even found an instrumental cover of Noisestorm’s ‘Crab Rave’! One channel called “Hildegard Von Blingin’” on YouTube was my favourite for this style of music, specifically their cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’. While the change in lyrics to older English was hilarious, I still found myself enjoying the music, and the singer was incredibly talented. I originally thought this was going to be another funny YouTube trend, but channels keep producing ‘Bardcore’ covers, and they keep getting better and better. Who knows, maybe this trend will stick around for a while? If I’m honest, I hope so!

No way!
By Alex Payne

I’ve had enough annoying trends in music this decade. From Crunkcore and bloated deluxe albums to platform exclusive releases and unnecessary rap features, haven’t we suffered enough? Apparently not, as Bardcore, the mawkish trend of covering pop songs in a period style, has bubbled to the surface on streaming sites with the same persistence and obnoxiousness as the smell of blocked drains. Created by a German web-developer with a penchant for the medieval sometime during lockdown, it has since been swiftly adopted by dozens of wanna-be minstrels on Youtube, piggybacking off of the success of small screen adaptation of The Witcher.

Far be it from me to sit here and dictate who is allowed to enjoy what, but there’s a nagging sensation that I’m living in the film Yesterday – but instead of the Beatles, everyone else has forgotten the entire genre of folk. The cutesy charm of the whole affair feels forced and deflated when confronted by the fact that bearded blokes playing various stringed instruments isn’t as novel as it seems. Many of the hastily arranged covers no longer bother to rewrite the lyrics in mock Olde English fashion, so that’s essentially all they are: folk covers with clever marketing. That’s fine, but why should we pretend that they’re anything more than a fad? When was the last time you thought about 8bit chiptune covers, and will anyone care about those incessant Toad covers in t-minus 6 months? Unlikely. So you can keep your pipes, your harps and especially your lutes – I’m going to continue to be a Bardcore spoilsport.