Bardcore (also known as Tavernwave) is a music genre that arranges modern pop-songs such as "What is Love", "Pumped up Kicks" or "Astronomia" to sound medieval and "old-timey". Some of the songs also feature rewritten versions of the original lyrics, using archaism to make them sound more authentically medieval.
Prior to 2020, some individual medieval adaptations of popular music had gained attention on YouTube, such as LjB0's Halo Theme remix and Algal the Bard's version of System of a Down's "Toxicity" which attracted millions of listeners after it was published in December 2017.
However, The Guardian dates the origin of bardcore as a distinct trend to 20 April 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, when 27-year-old German YouTuber Cornelius Link released "Astronomia (Medieval Style)". The track is a remake of Tony Igy's 2010 electronic dance track "Astronomia", which had gained widespread attention as the soundtrack to the coffin dance meme.
Link followed this a few weeks later with a medieval-style instrumental version of Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks", which Canadian YouTuber Hildegard von Blingin' (a play on the name of the medieval composer Hildegard von Bingen) then re-released with an added vocal track using a medieval-style adaptation of the original lyrics. By the end of June, both versions had reached 4 million views. Hildegard von Blingin' has also covered Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance", Radiohead's "Creep", Dolly Parton's "Jolene" and Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know", changing the rhythm and lyrics to fit the genre.
Wu Tang Clan endorsed Bardcore artist 'Beedle the Bardcore' by reposting his cover of their track C.R.E.A.M on their official YouTube channel.
The trend was joined by other YouTubers, including Graywyck, Constantine, and Samus Ordicus. Elmira Tanatarova in i-D suggests bardcore "carries with it the weight of years of memes made about the medieval era and the bleak darkness of that time period that appeals to Gen Z's existential humour."
As of September 2020 hundreds of songs have been covered in medieval/bardcore style, most can be found on YouTube.
In October 2020, Scott Mills featured tracks by prominent Bardcore artists Beedle The Bardcore, Hildegard Von Blingin’ and Stantough on his prime time BBC Radio 1 show.
- Pumped Up Kicks (Medieval Style) by Cornelius Link
- What is Love (Medieval Style with Vocals - Original by Cornelius Link) vocals by Hildegard von Blingin'
- WAP (Well Armed Peasants) by Elise Roth
- House Of The Rising Sun 1270 A.D (Cover in Old French 800-1400 A.D) Bardcore by the miracle aligner