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 100 Songs of 2012 (25-11)

25. a) Psy – Gangnam Style

Beyond the billion views (whatever lies beyond that barren, dystopian wasteland), beyond the irony, beyond the incessant repetition, beyond the kitchen-sink video, beyond the cross-cultural domination, is a genuinely fantastic pop song. That’s pretty much all there is to it really.


25. b) Dum Dum Girls – Lord Knows/I Got Nothing

Sune Rose Wagner’s influence on Dum Dum Girls is stark and scintillating. “Lord Knows” and “I Got Nothing” are a tremendous pair of songs.


24. Deadmau5 – The Veldt

The edit of this track is solid, but the true star is the extended, 8:42-long cut. The longer version allows the pristine production to breathe. Deadmau5 surely knew he had a huge club/festival banger in his hands when he made “The Veldt”. A juggernaut, this song is big enough to match his grand live ambitions.


23. Green Day – Kill The DJ

Green Day do irony. Green Day do the danciest track they’ve ever done. Green Day go party-rocking. Green Day: still awesome.


22. a) Pink – Blow Me (One Last Kiss)/Try

The Paul Pierce, Joe Sakic, Todd Helton of the pop music scene, Pink keeps piling up hits but somehow, that’s not enough to reach the pop-culture dominating stratosphere of her contemporaries, Gaga or Britney. “Try” and “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” are two of the best songs she’s ever done. They’re pop gold. I have a tonne of respect for Pink, her capabilities, accomplishments, her style. She’s a star, even if she might not garner the attention that others do.


22. b) The Killers – Be Still

The best song on Battle Born. The biggest risk, the haunter, the almost perfect. If not for a couple very minute transitional details and slightly awkward production decisions, this would certainly be a top 10 song on my list and proudly join the ranks of their galaxy-dwelling tracks like “Read My Mind”, “All These Things That I’ve Done”, and “Smile Like You Mean It”. As it stands, it’s still a gargantuan, and might be the best vocal Brandon Flowers has ever laid down. I love the way it gets all “this can’t be The Killers” when the beat drops at 1:33. Maybe the best “earphones” track they’ve ever done.


21. Metric – Breathing Underwater

Non est tanti to Metric — they do it all the damn time. How they keep doing this year after year, album after album, song after song, I’ll never know. Saying they’re supremely gifted at making songs would be the understatement of the year. They just have it. A way with pop music and songcraft that frankly, I don’t think any other band has. “Breathing Underwater” is vital. It was never going to be anything less.


20. The Temper Trap – Rabbit Hole

That voice. Dougy Mandagi owns the funk out of “Rabbit Hole”, which is already replete with an endless supply of hooks. I love how the song builds to a climax that shatters glass, kicks ass, and to outer space, blasts. The way Dougy’s voice mimics the guitar line at 2:21 and 2:44 is spine-tingling. Into the “Rabbit Hole”, and how.


19. a) Mechandise – Time

Guitar riff of the year? Yup, I think so. “Time” is a sensational song.


19. b) Young Empires – White Doves

Go Toronto Go. This is a powerful anthem, a looped-out, chant-driven, coruscating diamond of a tune.


18. The Bloody Beetroots – Church of Noise

I take to my knees, link hands together, look up and give thanks. For, to, and from. The. Church. Of. Noise.


17. a) Grimes – Oblivion/Genesis

Two of the catchiest songs you’ll find on this plane or the next. Grimes, the enchanting chanteuse, juxtaposes some really dark, synth-led pop with an angelic, lilting voice. “Oblivion” is the more coherent (lyrically, musically) of the two, a fairytale where Hansel and Gretel look out for each other’s health, but also do copious amounts of amphetamines, so we never know for sure who’s getting baked (probably everyone). They’re having fun though, that much is apparent. “Genesis” is a beginning, a beguiling, nonsensical, rambler of a bear trap. It’s so, so hard to resist the pleas of such a sweet sounding siren, but if you relent and get too close, I’m not so sure you’ll be able to come back whence you came. The power of Grimes is that the trip is probably worth it.


17. b) Dan Friel – Valedictorian

The instrumental song of the year. I don’t think I can recall another instrumental having such a strong melody. The activity of this song is so frenetic it will leap off the screen and provide you with the energy equivalent of 4 Red Bulls, 11 espressos, 21 chocolate bars, or a gram of Grimes’ Gretel’s party favour bag. What a speech.


16. Arctic Monkeys – R U Mine?

The most “we’re going to smack you over the head repeatedly with a monstrous rock song” rock song the Arctic lads have ever done. “R U Mine?” is a departure from typical Monkey fare, where a new maturity is ever-apparent. When they burst onto the scene about ten years ago, I thought their talent was evident to anyone with ears, and they’ve honed it like I thought they might. They’re comfortable doing any style, and I feel confident the world will continue to be engaged and surprised by this band as long as they’re together. There’s too much talent here to not be.


15. Donkeyboy – City Boy

Underneath my skin there’s an ego. Underneath my skin there’s an eagle. It doesn’t matter. Whatever the lyrics are, “City Boy” is about the tune. And what a tune it is. The Norwegian collective have issued their strongest song to date, a sugary, seductive, skipping romp full of rainbows, radios, and regal eagles. Scandinavians have a way with pop unlike anyone else; “City Boy” is a testament to that fact. Pop just doesn’t get more likable than this.


14. a) Porcelain Raft – Drifting In And Out

Waves upon waves, upon decks upon decks,

Seen with specs, though wet, clearly wet;

The body, it roars, useless tools, bloody oars,

Cascading liquid, wasted heeds, wordless heeds;

A lost captain, now swimming with plankton,

A fight for life, with bigger life, a soaking life;

The water, it gloats, no protection, no boats,

The water, it sees, a sacrifice, it needs;

Hungry and vicious, it lingers, no contrition,

Clinging is fruitless, barren hope, no denouement;

Visions of yore, waving by windows, outside the door,

Motionless, breathless, swept away to the shore.


14. b) The Shoes – Time To Dance

Mixing Phoenix and Justice with a swirling, murderous beat results in this insouciant, incessant monster of a tune and video (featured below). Somehow, Jake Gyllenhaal as a vicious psycho fits perfectly with this outsized party banger. The 6-strike piano part has a buoying effect on the track and towards the end of the song, the cowbell is used to devastating effect, transforming the track into a party alarm of epic proportions. The build up, climax, and flourish are all fantastic. The Shoes have made a phenomenal tune here.


13. The Shins – Simple Song/The Rifle’s Spiral

I think James Mercer has always had it. I think James Mercer will always have it. A knack for incredibly affecting melodies and contemplative, intelligent lyrics is his MO — hell, it’s probably in his DNA. It was always going to be impossible to live up to the album of a lifetime, Wincing The Night Away, but “Simple Song” and “The Rifle’s Spiral” are shining examples of how close he, and his bandmates in The Shins, have come. If you let them, both tracks have the power to carry you away for hours and days, to galactic showers and different planes. I don’t think there’s a point in coming back.


12. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe/ Kelly Clarkson – Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)

Both of these songs opened up to me at same time, graduating at the top of their class together, summa cum laude, hence their link together here on my list. I can’t say which one I think is better. Though they differ from each other in how they anchor themselves, they do share several commonalities. They both have hooks that annihilate the listener. They’ll both leave you humming the melody for hours. Each is pretty much as good as pop can get.

Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe

“Call Me Maybe” was the bigger of the two songs, seemingly covered a thousand times over and tattooing itself on the pop culture Zeitgeist unlike any other song. It’s the sneakily catchy lyrics that add weight to this pop colossus, but it’s the production that is the true star here. Jepsen’s voice is nothing to write home about. It’s serviceable and sweet. But Josh Ramsey’s production is why this song slithered into millions of ears and refused to leave. The Marianas Trench maestro has amazing pop instincts, and I think his best trick in “Call Me Maybe” is the choppy guitar shuffle (during the chorus) that dances on the track like it’s got hot coals for feet.


Kelly Clarkson – Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)

“Stronger” is the warmer of the two tracks and finds Ms. Clarkson at the top of her game. The song was always going to be a huge radio smash, with its affable hook and deliberate, heart-felt delivery by its singer. “Stonger”, with “Since U Been Gone” (its aural accomplice), finds Clarkson, and the Swedish hit factory that produced both of them, humming along as smoothly as ever. More please.


11. a) Autre Ne Veut – Counting

Brooklyn, carry on with your bad self. Effectively mixing Yeasayer, Gayngs, and Grimes is no easy task, but to go above and beyond that and make something this powerful, this expressive, this lovely, is transcendental from beguiling beginning through coruscating chorus to epinician end. I cannot stop listening to this song. I cannot stop feeling this song.


11. b) Frank Ocean – Pyramids/Thinking About You

Mr. Ocean is laudable is all manner of ways. Working in arenas (RnB, Hip Hop, Pop) where “aureo hamo piscari” is still a lyrical linchpin, a driving dragoon, Mr. Salt Water Body is different — extremely different. It’s his voice, his storytelling, his presence. These things resonate with people like no one has in what seems like a really long time. “Thinking About You” is the penumbra, the passion, the pain. It’s at once heartbreaking and life-affirming. To have that power. “Pyramids” is the pleasure, the pop masterstroke, the piece de resistance. To have that position.