I love this cover of Only Girl in the World by Belgian rock band Triggerfinger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTfeXf-r1dQ
Then there’s this oddly catchy interpretation of Wrecking Ball: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7JgVqbh8nE
Green Day did a decent version of A Quick One: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFTH5QzxEvQ
And a very hearfelt choir version of Africa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ7-ingO9eY
Video Killed the Radio Star - Originally by the Buggles, Covered by Joyce Manor
I was a huge fan of this band in undergrad but I was so confused when they announced that there was going to be a cover of this song on their (then) new album. I fell in love after I listened to it. It puts their emo-twinged california punk style on this song, speeds it up, and totally makes it their own.
I really, really like A Perfect Circles Cover of John Lennons Imagine.
To me the lyrics always sounded like the sermon of a cult leader preaching to his followers. This cover nails that dystopian feeling perfectly. It’s also the one APC song I still listen to regularly. I like the sound, but the band just seems so pretentious and/or edge lordy to me.
A friend always rates the Metallica version over the Thin Lizzy version. He thinks it’s funny to rub it in. He’s only been doing it for 10 years.
Goldfinger’s cover of Nena’s 99 Red Balloons rocks. It’s big and full and still feels genuine.
I’ve always enjoyed Biffy Clyro’s cover of Buddy Holly where they turn it into a noisy rock jam in the middle. It’s great.
Biffy Clyro - Buddy Holly
I first heard Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want because of This is England and the Clayhill cover, which I honestly LOVE and is my preferred version of the song. Gavin Clark is a wonderful singer.
Clayhill - Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want
Yaeji does this song so well!!! I love her voice in this cover
Xiu Xiu’s cover of Tracy Chapman’s classic Fast Car turns a heartfelt, optimistic ballad into a man’s complete stripping down. This is the one instance I’ve ever really enjoyed an acoustic/ukulele cover of another song because of how hard Jamie’s trying to relate to the lyrics he’s singing, it feels so hopeless and pahtetic, he just wants to have something to hold on to, so he tries to will himself into feeling Tracy’s words, but it really seems like he’s close to tears by the end of the song. Add to that the fact you can practically hear the movements of his face, the cello in the background, and the track’s placement at the end of a messy, painful album in A Promise, and, I don’t know, it’s my favorite cover.
Bjork’s adaptation of Like Someone in Love is less of a cover and just a variation on a standard but the way her voice matches with the dreamy harp is perfect for the feeling the song’s lyrics create. It’s a shame her MTV Unplugged episode didn’t get quite as much respect as other great Unplugged performances.
Radiohead’s cover of “Ceremony” is fantastic, though I’m perennially biased in its favor since it was also teenage me’s introduction to Joy Division/New Order. The same also goes for their take on “The Headmaster Ritual,” since I had never even heard of The Smiths up until that point.
And because “Ceremony” is just one of my favorite songs of all time, I also want to shout out Galaxie 500’s cover as well (which might actually be the best cover now that I think about it)
I absolutely love Cowboy Junkies’ cover of ‘Sweet Jane’ originally done by The Velvet Underground
I also really like the cover of The Beatles’ ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun’ by The Breeders
I’m going to happily extend the Xiu Xiu/Ceremony shoutouts here:
I’m not even the biggest Xiu Xiu fan out there, but I think Stewart’s delivery definitely outdoes Sumner’s Ian impression. And to think this was one of their first releases! They knew what they were really early on.
Oh, also Yellow Loveless is mostly passable but Shonen Knife’s cover of When You Sleep is worth it all:
at the risk of exposing myself as completely idiosyncratic I really like both of TMBG’s Covers for AV undercover:
The Postmodern Jukebox Feat. Kate Davis All About that Bass cover:
I don’t know if anybody outside of Canada even knows about Crabbuckit but you should it is quite good and won a Juno and anyway This Goodlovelies cover of it is also quite good:
And what they hey, lets go whole hog and throw in Sandy Duncan’s Barry Manilow cover from The Muppet Show. I’m comfortable with who I am.
As far as I’m concerned Nirvana’s cover of The Man Who Sold the World is the definitive version.
Gillian Welch’s cover of “Black Star (Radiohead)” is REALLY cool
Charles Bradley’s version of “Heart of Gold (Neil Young)” and “Changes (Black Sabbath)”
That Tubthumping cover is good! It reminded me to go look up another A.V. undercover song that I liked: Calexico covering Danger Zone. They really make it sound like a pretty damn good Calexico song!
Why did I have to scroll this far down to find Nirvana? It wasn’t a popular song beforehand, but Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam is amazing also.
The Slowdive cover of Golden Hair, a Syd Barrett song that was itself a reference to James Joyce, is incredible also, especially live. Saw them last year close with the song and I was entranced.
Both thumbs_down and Scotch Mist are rad as helllllllllllll!
Props to the Galaxie 500 rec also–such an amazing album!
That whole MTV Unplugged album is just devastating. Going from All Apologies into the Leadbelly cover is so difficult to watch, considering Kurt would be dead in a few months, it sounds like he’s singing his suicide note.
“Only Love Can Break Your Heart” by Saint Etienne is like, the one cover that’s probably followed me around for as long as I’ve listened to music. I also didn’t realize it was a Neil Young cover until like, last year.
I’ve also been really into the covers that Chromatics do; I spent a ton of time in high school listening to their version of “Running Up That Hill,” but their version of “Ceremony” is pretty solid too.