Oscar season is amongst us, and it’s a shame that cover songs cannot be considered for best song. The film Wild, starring a nominated Reese Witherspoon, features an incredible cover of R.E.M.‘s “Walk Unafraid,” by First Aid Kit – one so good, we named it one of the best covers of 2014. Now the Swedish sister act has teamed up with guitarist Peter Buck to deliver this goosebump-inducing live rendition.
Follow all our Best of 2014 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.
A few months ago, I read an interesting interview with an artist named Nouela. You probably haven’t heard of her, but you may have heard her music. She’s become a specialist in a weird but growing niche: covers recorded for movie and television trailers. Whether doing a piano “Sound of Silence” to promote a new HBO show or a brooding “Black Hole Sun” to promote Liam Neeson punching people, she’s found a quickly-growing way of getting her covers out there.
It struck me as part of a growing trend we’ve seen. More and more great covers seem to come from unexpected places. Sure, you’ve got still your standby sources, your b-sides, tribute albums, and radio shows. But new avenues for covers have increasingly crept in. This year saw a Sam Smith cover that is only available to hear under Grey’s Anatomy dialog (thankfully he’s recorded a few live versions too) and a whole covers album recorded to plug a Canadian TV show. Brands have fully embraced covers too, most recently My Morning Jacket’s “This Land Is Your Land” recorded for North Face ads, or Charli XCX and Bleachers trading covers for Kia.
We don’t care where they originated when we make our year-end lists, though, and we would up with some of everything. In our top five alone, we’ve got a live radio session, a deluxe-edition bonus track, and a cover hiding in plain sight on one of the most acclaimed country records of the year. You have to keep an eye on more places than ever to spot the best covers these days. Wherever they come from, we’re glad to have ’em.
Click on over to page two to begin our countdown, and thanks for reading.
– Ray Padgett, Editor in Chief
(Illustration by Sarah Parkinson)
The Swedish sister duo may be a lot of things, but afraid to approach a song from a different angle is definitely not one of them.
Aside from building a huge following from their two full length albums, sister duo First Aid Kit has also garnered attention due to their amazing covers. From Patti Smith to Fleet Foxes, the Swedish siblings have amazed and even brought the original singers to tears with their renditions. The sisters’ latest cover of Paul Simon‘s “Kathy” is an excellent addition to an already impressive cover discography.
Although the term “perfection” is often thrown around without reserve or actual thought, First Aid Kit may have reached it with its latest cover. The folk duo, known for their angelic harmonizing voices and beyond-their-age depth, recently covered Joan Baez‘s “Diamonds & Rust,” and to say it is haunting is something of an understatement.