Oct 072019
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

500 miles proclaimers covers

If all you know about Craig and Charlie Reid, collectively known as the Proclaimers, is that they’re Scottish twin brothers who sang that “dada-da-da” song from Benny and Joon, you’re missing out on a substantial, fairly diverse, discography. They regularly play to large crowds in Europe, their music has been featured on at least five other movie soundtracks, and their songs have inspired a jukebox musical that was itself made into a film. While full-on commercial success has been a tad elusive here in the US, their best-known tune here, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” has garnered quite a bit of of love, manifested in over forty cover versions known to man (or at least to SecondHandSongs).

I’m all for artists taking a cover and making it their own, but in selecting covers for this article, I chose versions that were true to the energy and exuberance of the original. Versions that recast this song as a ballad or a torch song just didn’t do it for me. Of the versions I selected…
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Justin Timberlake

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Dec 022008
 

I’ve got a confession: I think Justin Timberlake has talent. Lots of it. That isn’t to say I actually listen to him very much, but he seems to be able to make popular culture work for him, rather than just being swept along like so many other hitmakers. The guy’s got charisma to spare, and with the inevitable Dick in a Box spin-off season coming up soon, why not celebrate his many hits?

Shawn Lee’s Ping-Pong Orchestra – Rock Your Body
Bossa nova horn disco reggae lounge funk…it’s an interesting mix, and mostly instrumental. [Buy]

David Porteous – My Love
He’s got six covers up for free on his site, and they’re all great! [Buy]

Maximo Park – Like I Love You
Bouncy and fun, this comes from the great Radio 1 compilation, celebrating the BBC show’s 40th anniversary with forty covers, one song from each year. Well worth snagging. [Buy]

Glen Hansard – Cry Me a River
A radio broadcast with an obnoxious host, this one takes a while to really get going, but once that violin comes in to join the Once singer’s voices it’s smooth sailing. [Buy]
Update: Version without the host added. Thanks Ayla!

Boyce Avenue – Lovestoned
These guys are masters of the pop cover, having dozens of great acoustic ones ready for download. Some nice rhythmic plucking pushes along powerful vocals that, just like JT, aren’t afraid of a little falsetto. [Buy]

Kaki King – I Think She Knows
Originally an interlude of “Lovestoned,” King extracts it and makes it its own song on the just-released Guilt By Association Vol. 2 comp. [Buy]

James Eric – Sexyback
Some more sensitive acoustic guy. It just seems to work with Justin songs; not sure why. [Buy]

Tobias Froberg – What Goes Around Comes Around
Is that accordion in a JT cover? I think I’m in love. [Buy]

Umphrey’s McGee – Dick in a Box
The jam masters rocked this one out for eight minutes in Portland ’07. It’s smooth, jazzy, and sexy as it wants to be. [Buy]