A new musical trend has reached mainstream listeners: Bardcore, or medieval covers of modern songs.
While medieval covers of popular modern songs have long been a mainstay of YouTube musicians, this relatively new genre only recently hit mainstream consciousness. Hundreds of new Bardcore songs that showcase medieval style lyrics, Bayeux Tapestry imagery, and period instruments, are now getting millions of hits.
“I want thy horror, I want thy design / Thou art a criminal whilst thou art mine,” sings Hildegard von Blingin, a popular Bardcorist. Hidegard says she started writing medieval-style song covers after she got bored during the pandemic lockdown and decided to record a few songs in her bedroom. Her version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” now has nearly 6 million views.
Some credit 27-year-old German web developer Cornelius Link for kickstarting the new genre, when he posted last February his medieval version of Tony Igy’s “Astronomia”. Link says what makes the genre popular is that Bardcorists don’t take themselves too seriously. Rather they just want to have some fun by experimenting with different musical styles.
“One day a friend sent a medieval take on the image to a group chat, and someone said it’d be funny if it was set to medieval music,” says Link. “Since I've written a lot of music for indie films and smaller games, and have always been enthusiastic about medieval music, I thought this could be fun.”
Another popular Bardcorist is Sam Ord, who re-created an instrumental version of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball”, among other popular medieval cover songs. When asked about his inspiration, he said he wanted to create music that would make people laugh.
Even TikTok'ers have gotten into the action, by posting videos of themselves dressed in pseudo-period garb and dancing to Bardcore songs against a medieval-looking backdrop.
Musicologist Dr. Lisa Colton says that Zoomers (Generation Z) are drawn to Bardcore, partially due to a nostalgia for a simpler time that was more domestic and less technological, and partially because the medieval period—with its many calamities and horrors, such as the Black Death and Viking incursions—may appeal to Zoomers’ dark sense of humor.
Whether Bardcore is a flash in the pan or becomes a long-lasting musical style is yet to be seen. Even so, it’s well worth a listen.
Check out a few of our favorites:
Jawne: Linkin Park’s “Numb”
Joseph Phaze: Take on Me
Canticles: Bon Jovi’s "Livin' on a Prayer"
Algal the Bard: Queen’s "Somebody to Love"
Stantough: Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off"
Samus Ordicus: Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black"
Early Style: Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven"