It’s the worst when a band covers a song and just tries to imitate the original artist (do you hear me, Ugly Kid Joe?). To me, the whole point of covers is to put your own mark on the song. Let’s take a minute and celebrate some covers that have gone beyond the call of duty, and really tried to make the cover their own:
1. Mad World
You probably know the Gary Jules version from Donnie Darko and might not even realize that it’s a cover of a Tears for Fears jam! You fool! Check out the original – such a different vibe:
2. Don’t Let It Bring You Down
There is a gorgeous cover of “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” in American Beauty. Being a somewhat armchair Neil Young fan, I had no idea it was a cover of our Canadian folk icon, until someone slapped me in the face and said how dare you.
Imagine Dragons have been tearing it up on the charts with their single “Radioactive,” which is a relentlessly awesome pounding anthem. My band Brunswick Project decided to give it the cover treatment, but wanted to totally alter the tone of the song, changing the tempo, the key, adding trumpet, and other elements inspired by The Triplets of Belleville, and even messing with the chord progression a little bit. Yes, I am plugging my own band. *waves hand* These are not the droids you’re looking for.
4. Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)
Internet darlings Pomplamoose did their own amazing version of “Single Ladies” by Beyonce and really took it in a new direction. They even messed with some lyrics in the middle because Nataly didn’t like ‘em. If I’m being perfectly honest, I kind of like Pomplamoose’s version better, though it’s admittedly less fierce:
The original song by Massive Attack is a total masterpiece, and probably the finest example of trip-hop from that era. This didn’t stop folk singer Jose Gonzales from releasing his own absolutely breath-taking version. Now we have two!
And there you have it. Got any suggestions of other great covers for this list? Leave a comment below!