Dec 162011

When people look back in 2011 in music a decade from now, one name will come to mind: Adele. In our little world of cover songs, she dominated. Everyone covered Adele this year. It’s not just that we saw more covers of “Rolling in the Deep” than any other song; they beat out second place (probably “Pumped Up Kicks”) by like a factor of five! We generally try to look for larger cover trends in these annual wrap-ups, but it’s hard to remember anything else from this year except the year-long onslaught of Adele covers hitting our mailbox.

There’s only one “Rolling in the Deep” cover in this year’s list though. The rest are all over the place. Some of the artists listed built their covers with lush soundscapes, thick beats, and intricate string work. Others just took guitars or pianos and bowled us over with the emotion in their voices. There may not be much of an overarching “Year in Covers” narrative, but that means there’s a cover or two for everyone. From feel-good takes on rap songs to kill-yourself versions of pop songs, this year’s list features flips, flops, and genre switcheroos of all sorts. A good cover should be informed by the source material but stand on its own, and we’ll be unrolling the 50 finest examples of songs doing just that all week. Start with #50-41 on the next page and check back daily as we count down to the best cover of 2011.

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13 Responses to “The Best Cover Songs of 2011”

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  1. Romi H says:

    Being the self proclaimed cover song junkie that I am, I think this is a mighty fine list from 2011 with the exception of one blaring omission, Victoria Faiella’s eclectic world spin on Black Sabbath’s War Pigs.

  2. dj maus says:

    My cover top 20 of 2011:
    1. Jack White – Love is blindness (U2)
    2. The Dum Dum Girls – There is a light that never goes out (The Smiths)
    3. Thundercat – For love I come (George Duke)
    4. Frankie Rose – Some (The Strokes)
    5. Low – Africa (Toto)
    6. Charles Bradley & the Menahan Street Band – Stay away (Nirvana)
    7. John Maus – Hey moon (Molly Nilsson)
    8. Bonnie Prince Billy – All the trees of the field will clap their hands (Sufjan Stevens)
    9. Unwed Sailor – Sister (Sufjan Stevens)
    10. TRS-80 & Ariel Pink – Sky sailor (Daft Punk)
    11. The Phantom Four – A forest (The Cure)
    12. Crystal Fighters – Fiesta de los maniquies (Golpes Bajos)
    13. ESG – What she came for (Franz Ferdinand)
    14. Cowboy Junkies – Wrong piano (Vic Chesnutt)
    15. Frank Lammers & the Magic Band – I’m gonna booglarize you baby (Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band)
    16. Nine Inch Nails – Zoo station (U2)
    17. Phantom Four & the Arguido – Leave me alone (New Order)
    18. Cowboy Junkies – Ladle (Vic Chesnutt)
    19. De Kift – Kweade Tongen (Vladimir Vysotsky)
    20. EMA – Endless nameless (Nirvana)

  3. Anna says:

    I don’t know if you know this or not but the song you have posted for number 43 is “Little Black Angel” and not Oh Land’s Cover of “Bloodbuzz Ohio”. ( I did enjoy the song you have posted though. )

  4. Anna says:

    Sorry got my numbers confused, what I get to trying to read at 3 am.

  5. Himself says:

    Justin Vernon channels the plaintive hopelessness of the original track’s lyrics more potently than Bonnie Raitt herself.

    Really? Plaintive, yes, …shrilly so.

    Perhaps the voice is an acquired taste. If so, it’s a taste I’ve not acquired and doubt I ever would. It lacks the any of the qualities I find compelling in a voice.

    The piano playing is amateurish and the reference to Nick of Time is antithetical to the song.

    Plus, though Bonnie has rendered the definitive version, she didn’t write it. Mike All-Pro-Defensive-Lineman Reid did.

    Get outta here.

  6. Paul says:

    Thanks for compiling this list! FYI – #37 “Downtown Train” is a Tom Waits song, previously covered by Springsteen.

  7. Rich says:

    @Paul – Nope. “DownBOUND Train” and “DownTOWN Train.” Two different songs with confusingly similar titles. Springsteen has covered Waits’ “Jersey Girl” though.

  8. Tiffany says:

    Please check out my female piano version of It Will Rain

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