From Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation and English alt-rock group Placebo, to electro pop duo Avec Sans and British singer-songwriter Will Young, “Running Up That Hill” has certainly seen its fair share of cover versions.
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)
Covering “Hounds of Love” is something of a rite of passage for alt-bands of the 21st century. Some covers go unnoticed, others become anthems, such as The Futureheads take on the Kate Bush ballad. Other covers, such as Nite Jewel‘s pass at the jam, completely turn the song on its head, becoming an entirely different beast completely.
For their latest single, ZZ Top draw on an unlikely inspiration: Houston rapper DJ DMD, who had a minor local hit in 1999 with “25 Lighters (ft. Lil’ Keke & Fat Pat).” The bearded trio have renamed it “I Gotsta Get Paid,” and fuzz-riffed it out with a classic chicks and hot rods video.
Quickies rounds up new can’t-miss covers. Download ‘em below.
• Toronto quartet the Darcys recorded a full-album cover of Steely Dan’s Aja, which they’ll release later this month. For now, they released their version of “Josie,” trading in the original’s reggae-funk for an echoing, ambient-folk vibe. We can’t wait to hear the rest.
MP3: The Darcys – Josie (Steely Dan cover)
While listening to indie hip-hop artist Sage Francis on Turntable.fm, a friend recommended I check out “this British hip-hop dude Sage works with” on his record label. So I track down the above long-bearded U.K. hip-hop, spoken word artist, Scroobius Pip. After listening to the first eight tracks on his new release Distraction Pieces, I was on the beginning of track nine “Feel It” when my wife walked by and heard it. “Who is that doing Kate Bush?” she asked.