I’m expanding my favourite cover songs list of 2014 to 50 songs from the 40 it was last year, as 2014 saw a tonne of great, fresh takes on songs, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t link to as many of them as possible. Without any more preamble, here’s the list of My 50 Favourite Cover Songs of 2014:
(Original artist is in parentheses.)
KRNFX – Get Lucky (from 2013)
50. Jarvis Cocker – The Power Of Love (Celine Dion)
49. Bill Patton – Jenny From The Block (Jennifer Lopez)
48. Papertwin – Revelator (Gillian Welch)
47. James Vincent McMorrow – West Coast (Lana Del Rey)
46. Asgeir – Heart Shaped Box (Nirvana)
45. Mo – Say You’ll Be There (Spice Girls)
44. Lorde – Don’t Tell ‘Em (Jeremih)
43. The Holidays – Is This How You Feel? (The Preatures)
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.