Top 50 Cover Songs of 2015 (25-1)

Here are my favourite 25 Cover Songs of 2015:

25. Seth Boyer – All Star (Smash Mouth)

Boyer turns this 90’s/early 2000’s staple into something nearly unrecognizable.

 

24. Sia – California Dreamin’ (The Mamas and The Papas)

Everything Sia does is huge. This is no different.

 

Bonus: Jack and White – How’s It Going To Be (Third Eye Blind)

 

23. The Wind and The Wave – Gold, Guns, Girls (Metric)

If you have Spotify, this swell cover resides there. Otherwise, I can’t find a link to share.

 

22. Capitol Children’s Choir – Chances (The Strokes)

Any cover these kids do is incredible.

 

21. Ryan Adams – Shake It Off/Blank Space

 

20. Metric- Feels Like We Only Go Backwards (Tame Impala)

 

Bonus: Prince – Creep (Radiohead)

Forever one of the baddest men on the planet. #GameBlouses

 

19. Red Fang – Can’t Help Falling In Love (Elvis Presley)

Whoa. As hard as three feet of solid ice. So different from the original.

 

18. Art vs. Science – Enter Sandman (Metallica)

Unlike you’ve ever heard this song, I can all but guarantee.

 

17. Tame Impala – Confide In Me (Kylie Minogue)

Kevin Parker and company are on fire. Everything they touch is sorcerer’s practice.

 

16. Twin Caverns – Gold Digger (Kanye West)

Flips this banger on its head.

 

Bonus: Birdy – 1901 (Phoenix)/White Water Hymnal (Fleet Foxes)

Older covers but ones that I just came to know. So, so pretty.

 

15. Phox – Miss You (Blink-182)

I was probably always going to love this cover, as I think it’s Blink’s melodic masterpiece. Phox does well with it.

 

14. Ben Howard – Wildest Moments (Jessie Ware)

Captivating take on one of the best pop songs of the first part of the decade.

 

13. I Know Leopard – Waterfalls (TLC)

Serenity. Love the double-take lead vocals and the instrumentation.

 

Bonus: Branches – I Believe In A Thing Called Love (The Darkness)

 

12. Tinashe – I Wanna Get Better (Bleachers)

 

11. James Blake – The Sound of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel)

Wow, Blake has outdone himself here. This is gorgeous.

 

10. Mitski – Fireproof (One Direction)

If this was a Mitski original, it would’ve been a hit. Such is the quality of this cover.

 

9. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Laid (James)

One of my favourite melodies ever.

 

Bonus: Elle King – My Neck My Back (Khia)

Pure filth and King pulls it off with aplomb. Very strange to here this song as a guitar-led folk track, but it’s compelling nevertheless.

 

8. Cigarettes After Sex – Keep On Loving You (REO Speedwagon)

A fantastic cover that sets a new mood for this classic tune.

 

7. Gallant – Learn To Fly (Foo Fighters)

Wow. Just wow. A masterstroke of soul-bearing intensity. Goose-bump inducing to put it mildly.

 

6. Ryan Adams – Out Of The Woods (Taylor Swift)

‘Twas a great idea for Adams to cover Swift’s world-conquering 1989. The interest in such an endeavour was bound to be large. But not many artists could pull it off as Adams has. Turning an in-your-face pop behemoth into a slow-burning, alt-country reflection must not have been easy, but for Adams, it sounds oh-so natural. “Out Of The Woods” is my favourite, and I think, the best cover on the album.

 

5. Florence and The Machine – Times Like These (Foo Fighters)

Florence is ebullience incarnate and this is Exhibit 23-A of about 1000 examples. Ms. Welch is one of the best and biggest headlining acts in the world for a damn good reason. She’s bigger than life and her energy is contagious.

 

4. Hot Chip – Dancing In The Dark (Bruce Springsteen)

It wasn’t enough for Hot Chip to make a tremendous cover of this Boss milestone, but they went and mixed in (seamlessly I might add) LCD Soundsystem’s indomitable “All My Friends” to make this cover an unholy amalgam of beastly sounds. Brilliant.

 

3. Mark Ronson f. Andrew Wyatt (Miike Snow), Kevin Parker (Tame Impala), Kirin J. Callinan – I Sat By The Ocean (Queens of The Stone Age)

I’m in an ongoing state of awe at the quality of this cover. It’s one of my favourite QOTSA songs. What Mark Ronson and Kevin Prker (Tame Impala) and Andrew Wyatt (Miike Snow) and Kirin J. Callinan and others have made here is simply astounding. It’s funk. It’s soul. It’s psychedelic. It’s pop. It’s a fucking blast with treasures obvious and hidden. Typically, covers of songs that aren’t old (2013) don’t posses gravity like songs that’ve simmered in the ether for a while do. This song blasts away that idea with Ultron-level firepower.

 

2. Chromatics – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper)

I can’t put my finger on why I’m so into this cover. It’s magic of the highest wizardly-form, and I get lost in it. It’s one big exhale. It’s one big hook. It’s one hell of a song.

 

1. Jim Adkins – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper)

Strange or coincidental that my two favourite covers of 2015 are of the same song? Not really sure, but I am sure that this is my favourite cover of the year. Jim Adkins, in a way that only he can, shows us a side of this song that’s never been heard before. Every single word hangs on the melody, reaching to climb above the melody to get a glimpse of the world outside itself. That in itself is a wonderful accomplishment.

When we listen to a song, we hear the music and we hear the lyrics. That’s obvious. When something is obvious though, it can hide in plain sight. Jim Adkins has taken a classic that everyone knows, and miraculously, he’s made it into something that can finally be heard. I’d first come to know “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” many years ago. But now, oddly, beautifully, all these years later, I think I’ve finally heard it. That’s magic and that’s why I love music as I do.

 

Top 50 Cover Songs of 2014 (25-1)

My favourite 25 cover songs of 2014 (with original artist in parentheses);

25. Alt-j – Fitzpleasure (A cappella)

Not technically from 2014, but a beautiful cover nevertheless.

 

24. Sam Smith – How Will I Know (Whitney Houston)

Mr. Smith covered a bunch of tunes in 2014, and this was my favourite. He takes an already great pop song/melody, sung by a likewise preternaturally gifted singer, and makes it sound sensational in a way that only he can.

 

23. Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires – Born In The USA (Bruce Springsteen)

So, so different than the original. It actually sounds like a new song, such is its wayward exploration of one of The Boss’s best tunes.

 

22. Hot Chip – Atomic Bomb (William Onyeabor)

Hot Chip make everything they touch fun, including this cover.

 

21. Grouplove – Ways To Go/Spiderhead (Cover of their own song)/(Cage The Elephant)

I love that Grouplove spontaneously covered their own song before they tackled the Cage tune, for which they issue all kinds of justice. Grouplove imbed an alt-country soul to maybe the best song from Cage’s latest album, and it works out great.

 

20. The Cure – Hello Goodbye (The Beatles)

The Cure covering The Beatles? Yes please, I’ll have some of that.

 

19. London Grammar – Pure Shores (All Saints)

“Pure Shores” is one of the best pop songs of the late 90’s/early aughts. William Orbit’s production on the track is magical. It’s All Saints’ best song by a mile, and I love that it’s been given a new sound almost a decade and a half after its release. Hannah Reid’s pristine voice sounds great guiding this cover to its beach.

 

18. Sufjan Stevens – A Little Lost (Arthur Russell)

Sufjan for all of the feels. Always.

 

17. The Honey Ants – You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon)

The most genuine and heart-warming this song has yet sounded. The harmonies in this version are gorgeous. Paul Simon, Al, and those wishing to be called Al should all be proud.

 

16. Capitol Chidlren’s Choir – Father Father (Lauren Mvula)

I really wish this troupe would do more covers, as everything they do is golden. But, I guess, you know, school and all.

 

15. Kiesza – What Is Love (Haddaway)

Wonderfully-sung, stripped down version of the untz-untz classic.

 

14. Foster The People – Hold On, We’re Going Home (Drake)

Really, really dig this brooding, auto-tune employing, synth-heavy cover that Mark Foster and his people have cooked up.

 

13. Henry Green – My Number (Foals)

Where the original is a jittery, ooh-laden alt-pop gem, the cover is a cavernous, deep breath of a song. I like the turn down. It’s peaceful here.

 

12. Local H – Team (Lorde)

If you’re wondering what a Lorde track would sound like with a hard rock facelift, here lies your answer. It works.

 

11. Avec Sans – Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush)

Running Up That Hill is a classic song. Placebo’s mid-aughts cover (featured most notably on The O.C.) is astounding(ly good). You’d think it’d be pointless for another act to have another go at it, right? Wrong. Whatever the motivation, I’m glad Avec Sans made this cover. The synth work on this cover is phenomenal.

 

10. Say Lou Lou – Instant Crush (Daft Punk)

A warmer, more personal take on one of the better songs from Daft Punk’s last album.

 

9. Arctic Monkeys – Feels Like We Only Go Backwards (Tame Impala)

I love the original. The lyrics, melody, and music are all fantastic. But when Alex Turner drops his signature croon on a track, he makes it his own, and that’s that. This is an amazing cover by a brilliant musician.

 

8. Nazca – Survivor (Destiny’s Child)

Jaw-dropping cover. Adds a healthy serving of emotional resonance that the original can’t touch. I know the original was a huge hit for Destiny’s Child, but it sounds kind of dated at this point. Frankly, this cover is better.

 

7. Red Hot Chilli Pipers – Wake Me Up (Avicii)

If you like bagpipes, this is your jam. When I first came across this tune, I thought the Red Hot Chilli Peppers had done the cover. Then I learned to read, and then I realized the tune’s by an aerophone-wielding collective of Scots. This instrumental cover is brilliant.

 

6. Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang – Stayin’ Alive (Bee Gees)

This cover is batshit crazy. It’s unlike anything I’d heard, cover or otherwise, in 2014. It’s incredible.

 

5. Chvrches – Do I Wanna Know? (Arctic Monkeys)

Chvrches’ more-than-two-years-hot-streak knows no bounds. And it doesn’t apply to just their own stuff, but everything they touch. This cover is sensational. The synth work by Iain Cook and Martin Doherty is sublime. No synth-based cover of this song could’ve been constructed in a better way.

 

4. Manchester Orchestra – Escape (Jimmy Buffett)

Do you like pina coladas? Do you like cover songs that come from the deepest part of left field that they have to climb over the wall, into the bleachers, out of the stadium, down the street, and into another area code? Do you like getting caught in the rain? Do you have half a brain? If you find yourself answering yes to any of these queries, you’ll probably like this song. Hell, if you just listen to this song, you’ll probably like it. And I’ll like you. Life is simple sometimes.

 

3. Sturgill Simpson – The Promise (When In Rome)

What do I hear when I listen to this Sturgill Simpson cover? A beautiful fucking song. The original is a slinky synth-pop ditty in the vain of Erasure or Pet Shop Boys. It’s a really cool track. This cover couldn’t give two shits about cool. It’s a grassroots promise, and it conveys the gravity of that commitment in a profound, heart-rattling way. Extremely impressive.

 

2. Todd Terje f. Bryan Ferry – Johnny and Mary (Robert Palmer)

Bryan Ferry is a fucking force on this cover. Not because he’s yelling at the top of this lungs, but because his vocal is stranded on an island of pain, where life’s experiences — the tumult of reflecting on those experiences in particular — is the only hope of getting off. If a man is wise with no one to share his wisdom with, is he still wise?

All that power and I haven’t even touched on Todd Terje’s awesome track. The vibe he’s constructed is a perfect match for Ferry’s pensive, aching vocal. It’s sparse when it needs to be, filling when it should be. “Johnny and Mary” is a classic song. I feel like this cover can already be called that too. Mighty, mighty stuff.

 

1. The Tea Party – The Maker (Daniel Lanois)

Hands down, my favourite cover of the year. It’s the ode to deep water. It’s Daniel Lanois’ melody and lyric. It’s Jeff Martin’s typically teflon-strong vocal. It’s reminiscing about the fields of Abraham. It’s the cymbal. That purposeful, perfectly timed cymbal. It’s The Maker.

Whose maker? Mine, yours, this song’s, all song’s, all things.

It’s the guitar. It’s the best song on The Tea Party’s latest and long-awaited new record. It’s that one of the best bands in Canadian history is back together. It’s that all three of them are brilliant musicians.

All of it, moving.

Usually, I’m taken aback by covers that alter the source material in very obvious ways. That’s what makes a cover stand out. Why do it if you can’t bring something something fresh and original to the project.

What touches me and astounds me so much about this cover is that The Tea Party don’t really change things that much. It’s not a dance version of a country song. It’s not a rock version of an a cappella tune. The melody is unchanged.

The original is — although I only discovered it in 2014 — one of the best songs a Canadian band or artist has ever produced. Of this I’m sure.

And yet, I’m completely transfixed and transported. At their best, The Tea Party have always had that power. They’ve proven that on songs like “Psychopomp”, “Fire In The Head”, “Release”, and “Save Me”.

For a band that have issued some of the best and most original rock music of the last 20 years to produce a cover this affecting is a fucking marvel.

It had been 10 long years since The Tea Party last released new music. If it proves to be a one off, and they never make another record again, they should find solace in this cover.

They took a piece of art that already, wonderfully, gracefully, existed in the artistic consciousness. They didn’t make it better. They didn’t make it fresher. They made it their own. They gave us a reminder. Of what music is capable of. Isn’t that the point of it all?