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40. I’m Shakin’ (Little Willie John cover)
As he often did on White Stripes albums, Jack White tossed one old-school cover onto his debut solo album Blunderbuss. His grimy version of Little Willie John’s “I’m Shakin’,” ups the sexual anguish while all-girl band the Peacocks hoot and holler behind.
39. Used Cars (Bruce Springsteen cover)
Nebraska is Springsteen’s most stripped-down record, but Portland’s Horse Feathers apparently decided it was still too lush. Only the barest threads of guitar accompany Justin Ringle’s high and lonesome tenor, making the original seem like “Badlands” by comparison.
38. Born to Die (Lana Del Rey cover)
Lana Del Rey songs have more harp than most any other pop music around, but Patrick Wolf decided that still wasn’t enough. His fantastical, almost medieval “Born to Die” layers lush upon lush, with strings and vibrato and a whole lot of heart-on-sleeve emoting.
37. This Will Be Our Year (The Zombies cover)
Every New Year a few new covers of this song trickle out, but few shimmer as majestically as Memoryhouse’s slow-burner, complete with an über-fuzzed-out guitar solo. Any bands planning on covering this in a few weeks, consider the bar raised.
36. One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong (Leonard Cohen cover)
Father John Misty
Bruce, Bob, and Neil released new albums this year, but in many ways Leonard was the champion among the songwriting legends, at least in number of covers he earned. Father John Misty gets through the many lyrics of “One of Us Cannot Be Wrong,” but the most powerful moment comes when he dispenses with words entirely and just starts crying out.
35. Bad As Me (Tom Waits cover)
Having done a knockout Arctic Monkey cover soon after they broke, Tom Jones knows how to strike while the iron is hot. Less than a year after its release, “Bad As Me” gets the bluesy stomp treatment in a year that saw Jones’ critical star ascend (see also his Howlin’ Wolf cover with Jack White).
34. DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love (Usher cover)
On her Find Restless Cover EP, Sarah Winters strips down songs by Rihanna, Kanye, and Frank Ocean to spare piano ballads. Where Usher sounded like a predator on the prowl on “DJ Got Us Falling in Love,” Winters’ version feels like a wistful fantasy.
33. Ain’t No Grave (Traditional cover)
On his posthumous American record, Johnny Cash and Rick Rubin revived “Ain’t No Grave” with chains and cello. North Carolina’s Drunken Prayer goes the powerpop route instead, like the Feelies going gospel.
32. Straight Back (Fleetwood Mac cover)
The Just Tell Me That You Want Me tribute had bigger indie names, but no artist translated a Fleetwood Mac song as thoroughly into their sound as Washed Out. The chillwave bliss-out jam is all atmosphere, baby-making music for the Brooklyn set.
31. Man in the Long Black Coat (Bob Dylan cover)
One of the best covers on the 75-track Chimes of Freedom collection wasn’t on any of their four discs – it was a bonus track. The swampy “Man in the Long Black Coat” channels Dr. John voodoo vibes for an ominous reinvention of Bob’s 1989 deep cut.
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