I don’t know if you know this, but I love covers. One of my favorite things in life is when, at a live show, a band busts out a completely random song that everyone knows… even if they don’t know the band on stage. The more random/obscure/not fitting with their genre, the better. The crowd begins singing along (even those who don’t even know what stage at Zilker Park they’ve wandered to), and everyone hears the song in a new and interesting way. That’s what it’s all about.
Below is a list of some of my favorite covers. Several of them I have had the pleasure of hearing live. These are not really in a particular order, except as they came to mind, and which ones had good videos/ links to share. For the full list, check out all the songs on my last.fm that I have tagged “great cover.”
1. “Fantasy” performed by Final Fantasy, (original artist: Mariah Carey)
Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy (and one of the brigade of musicians that makes up Arcade Fire) is fiercely talented. His solo-ish project, Final Fantasy is made up of his vocals, keyboard, and violin skills.
This one is a classic. Note: This YouTube video is a reallllly uptempo version. The studio version of Bluegrass Gin and Juice can be found on last.fm!
Amanda Palmer does some really fantastic covers. Creep on the Ukelele, Hallelujah, etc. etc. My personal favorite is “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music. Because The Sound of Music is still relevant, decades later. Just ask State Farm insurance.
**Bonus points because she is using Twitter more successfully than any other artist I follow**
4. Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur
If you love John Lennon, covers, and world relief causes, this album is fantastic. It is the last CD I spent money on, and it is worth every penny.
My absolute favorite is Regina Spektor doing “Real Love,” though I also adore Corinne Bailey Rae “Losing You” and I’m not going to lie – Black Eyed Peas “Power to the People.” Whoever made the call to let Avril Lavigne cover Imagine is out of their Canadian-bacon-infused mind.
Pics from when I saw Regina last November (album is aptly titled, “November Rain”).
Cat Power is another artist known for her covers, but I don’t always love them. This one, however, I adore. I can’t quite tell if it’s the hauntingly simple accompaniment or the perfect role it played in the movie Juno, but whatever it is – I love.
6. Jason Mraz – “Rainbow Connection” (Originally performed by Kermit the Frog)
You know I love Jason Mraz. He is my favorite live artist for his crazy vocal skills, and insane artistic energy. When playing his biggest hits live, he will usually go into a ridiculously random cover in the middle (like Wonderwall or No Woman, No Cry). Below is “Rainbow Connection” – one of my childhood favorites.
7. Paolo Nutini – “Crazy” (Originally performed by Gnarls Barkley)
Adorable Scottish man all hunched over singing his heart out… what’s not to love?? His new CD comes out this month… watch for it!
8. The Polyphonic Spree – Lithium (Originally performed by Nirvana)
Speaking of one of the top 3 concert experiences of my life – go see The Polyphonic Spree live immediately. Even better, wait until their annual Christmas Extravaganza in Dallas (half Christmas music, half rock & roll, usually at the Grenada) and stay for BOTH shows. It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced (unless you perform high energy, dance-a-licious grooves with 12 of your closest orchestral musician friends on a regular basis).
Your YouTube video for this one is Happy Christmas (War is Over) from the Spree Christmas show 2007 (I was there singing along)! And yes, those are audience children on stage. With people dressed as Rudolph and Frosty and Santa and Elves. Glorious.
Rounding out a top 15!
There are so many great covers out there. Here is the list of a few more that are definitely worth checking out:
- Cake “I Will Survive”
- Everclear “The Boys are Back in Town”
- Sheryl Crow “Sweet Child O’ Mine”
- Joss Stone – “Some Kind of Wonderful”
- Mandy Moore – “Umbrella”
- Nouvelle Vague – Nouvelle Vague is a musical collective of artists who take popular songs and re-release them as lounge songs. My favorite: Too Drunk to Fuck
- Tegan & Sara – “Dancing in the Dark”
- The Flying Lizards “Money” – as seen in Empire Records (DAMN the man! SAVE the Empire!)
Anything I left out? Any recommendations? Please, please, please share!!