Top 40 Cover Songs of 2013 (20-1)

And here’s part two, the Best 20 Cover Songs of 2013:

NB: To reiterate, I’ve included the original artist(s) in parentheses.


20. Jimmy Eat World – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (Taylor Swift)

Classic JEW twist on the seminal T. Swift tune.


19. Alt-j – A Real Hero (College)

This acapella cover is downright striking.


18. Scout Niblett – No Scrubs (TLC)

This sounds like it would’ve been a low-fi grunge hit in the 90’s.


17. Chvrches – I Would Die 4 V (Prince)

One of the first songs I heard from Chvrches, and to date, a staple of their live set. One of Prince’s best songs made over perfectly.


16. Russian Police Choir – Get Lucky (Daft Punk)

This makes me endlessly happy. #RussianSwag


15. Of Monsters And Men – Skeletons (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)

Of Monsters And Men were already super charming before they did this cover. After? Not quite sure. I don’t want to be blinded by such light.


14. The 1975 – What Makes You Beautiful (One Direction)

I think “What Makes You Beautiful” is a world-conquering pop song. It was when I first heard it, and it still is a couple years later. What The 1975 have done to it is hidden its in-your-faceness. In its stead is an emotionally vulnerable song that sounds nothing like the original. Well done lads.


13. Ms Mr – Dance Yrself Clean (LCD Soundsystem)

This is a tonne of fun. Ms Mr had a huge year. I will never tire of hearing the line, “talking like a jerk, except you are an actual jerk, and living proof, that sometimes friends are mean.”


12. Say Lou Lou – Feels Like We Only Go Backwards (Tame Impala)

Complete revamp of the original. Say Lou Lou have painted the song with sensual electronic tones to brilliant effect.


For me, the following 11 covers stand above the rest. Tread lightly, there are potent concoctions ahead…


11. Cold War Kids – Opium Tea (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds)

I had to look up the original, as this cover sounds unmistakably like a Cold War Kids original. (A formidable, frolicking CWK song at that.)


10. Arctic Monkeys – Hold On, We’re Going Home (Drake)

Alex Turner may be the only person on the planet able to accomplish what’s been done here. He takes Drake’s subtlety and throws it out the window, infusing his own brand of ever-developing, world-conquering, slick-backed, Turner magnetism.


9. Twin Shadow – W/O/W/U (With Or Without You) (U2)

Simply in love with this.


8. Tears For Fears – Boy From School (Hot Chip)

Smart move by Tears For Fears to do a trio of covers to get people talking about them again. Arcade Fire’s “Ready To Start” seems to have garnered most of the praise, but I think Tears For Fears’ take on Animal Collective’s “My Girls” and, in particular, Hot Chip’s “Boy From School” are much better. This is an incredible cover.


7. Kings Of Leon – Dancing On My Own (Robyn)

The more I heard this, the more I fell for it. Kings of Leon slow down the tempo, and Caleb Followill delivers an impassioned vocal, making this an undeniable hit. I can’t forget Robyn’s original — it was a massive statement — but I kind of feel like Kings of Leon wrote this song. It’s now a tormented, bluesy rock track, and it’s outstanding.


6. 2 Cellos – Every Breath You Take (The Police)

In case you haven’t heard 2 Cellos before, the collective consists of, you guessed it, two cellos. What those two cellos are able to do to songs, particularly this seminal  80’s hit, is nothing short of magic. The emotional resonance factor here is through the roof. This is an extremely powerful piece of music. It’s mere background info that it happens to be a cover.


5. Purity Ring – Grammy (Soulja Boy)

When I first heard this track, I thought it was a Purity Ring original, and one of their best. I found out weeks later it was a Soulja Boy cover (I know right?). Don’t let that fool you, this is electrifying electro-pop. It’s waaaay better, more full, more fun than the original.


4. Haim – Strong Enough (Sheryl Crow)

I’m partial to the original. It’s probably my favourite Sheryl Crow song. To hear it updated with such tact and care gave me the warm and fuzzies all over. In particular, the simple synth chords and the electric guitar make this a supremely special cover.


3. Basia Bulat – Glory Days (Bruce Springsteen)

It’s pretty simple. I root for Basia Bulat. She’s a Canadian musician who seems like she’s giving everything of her artistic soul to her music. She’s uber-talented. She chose to cover a classic song from The Boss. And that hammered harp (pianoette). My God, that hammered harp. What a marvelous instrument. What a remarkable artist. What a wondrous cover.


2. WOTE & KRNFX – I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor Swift)

The coolest cover of the year. The most bad-ass. Walk Off The Earth are absolutely brimming with creative ideas. KRNFX kills it here. Go Canada.


1. Capital Children’s Choir – Untrust Us (Crystal Castles)

My favourite and what I think is the best cover of 2013. That I didn’t see it on any other list purporting to speak of the best cover songs of the year is a monumental crime. This version of “Untrust Us” is pure, peaceful, and full of some extremely weird alchemy. I’d love to meet the person who decided this choir should cover this song and shake his/her hand. This is what musicians hope to achieve when they cover a song, yet it’s nearly impossible for it to result in something so special, as it miraculously has here.


Capitol Children’s Choir – Shake It Out (Florence and The Machine)

Had I known of this cover last year, it would’ve placed in my top 3. An unbelievably beautiful, serene take on an already gorgeous song.

Top 40 Cover Songs of 2013 (40-21)

Hear, hear

Hear, hear










I’m going out on all four limbs when I say 2013 has been the best year for cover songs that I can recall. More and more artists are issuing covers; whether it’s to draw publicity to one’s own music, or via some irrepressible artistic impulse, cover songs abound. This is a good thing. Sure, there will be crappy ones, and sure, about 98% of the time, a cover song isn’t as good as the original, but I think that’s missing the point. It’s nice to see musicians pay homage to other musicians/songs. Invariably, an artist gives something of themself when they do a cover, and the best cover songs add not only something new, but something indescribable, something magical.

I’m always searching for and welcoming of cover songs. You could even say my appetite in pursuing this type of music is voracious. I thoroughly enjoyed curating this list, and think it’s one of the most meticulously constructed “Best of 2013” or “Best Cover Songs” lists around. If you’re reading/listening, hopefully there’s something here for you to enjoy, as these covers run the gamut of musical genres. Here are my Top 40 Cover Songs of 2013:

NB: One minor addition to this year’s list: I’ll be including the original artist(s) in parentheses.


40. The xx – Finally (Kings of Tomorrow)

Testament to The xx: this sounds like one of their songs.


39. Eddie Berman & Laura Marling – Dancing In The Dark (Bruce Springsteen)

Striking harmonies.


38. Erasure – Gaudete (Classic Christmas carol)

Erasure have always been, and will always be, pop maestros — even whilst singing in Latin.


37. Phosphorescent – Ya Hey (Vampire Weekend)

A quiet(er), reflective, love-torn cover. Matthew Houck is a magician.


36. Sparrow Sleeps – The Middle (Jimmy Eat World)

Ever wonder what Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” would sound like if it were a lullaby? Someone did, and made this wonderfully unique version.


35. Bastille – We Can’t Stop (Miley Cyrus)

Too. Much. Fun. Adding Papa Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” into the mix is icing on the cake.


34. The Killers – Lovers In A Dangerous Time (Bruce Cockburn)

I feel fortunate to have seen this cover in person. I think this might have been a one-off. If so, what a one-off it was. Flowers’ vocal soars with Cockburn’s lyrics.


33. Prince – Even Flow (Pearl Jam)

Prince is a bad, bad man. This is short and awesome.


32. Sad Clown With The Golden Voice – Royals (Lorde)

Of the 37,589 covers of “Royals” on the internet, this is the best one.


31. Boyce Ave & Fifth Harmony – Mirrors (Justin Timberlake)

Wonderfully sung.


30. Ed Sheeran & Passenger – No Diggity (Blackstreet)

Off-kilter cover that works magnificently. Sheeran and Passenger sound fantastic.


29. Pentatonix – Little Drummer Boy (Belongs to Christmas)

Pristine and perfect.


28. Bastille – Requiem For Blue Jeans (Lana Del Rey)

Sort of a mashup. Sort of a cover. All the way wicked.


27. Folly And The Hunter – Marry The Night (Lady Gaga)

Love that this slow, tempered version plays over Gaga’s actual video for “Marry The Night”.


26. London Grammar – Wicked Game (Chris Isaak)

My God, Hannah Reid’s voice. My God.


25. Walk Off The Earth f. Selah Sue – Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (Frankie Valli)

WOTE continue to turn everything they touch into gold.


24. Straight No Chaser f. Dolly Parton – Jolene (Dolly Parton)

A cover featuring the original artist? Yessir. A really good one too.


23. Sleeping At Last – The Safety Dance (Men Without Hats)

This is a stunning cover. Brings out a beauty in the melody/lyrics that one could’ve only imagined.


22. Ghosts – If You Have Ghosts (Roky Erickson)

The music seems secondary to this wild, brilliant, image-centred collective, though this cover pushes through; it’s the best piece of music they’ve yet released.


21. Tears For Fears – My Girls (Animal Collective)

This is so bloody good.