The Best Cover Songs of 2012

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Dec 212012

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40. I’m Shakin’ (Little Willie John cover)
Jack White

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)
Horse Feathers

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)
Patrick Wolf

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)
Tom Jones

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)
Sarah Winters

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)
Drunken Prayer

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)
Washed Out

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)
Daniel Bedingfield

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.

Continue to Page 3 for #21-30…

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  12 Responses to “The Best Cover Songs of 2012”

Comments (11) Pingbacks (1)
  1. This is a great and marvellous topic ! Thank you for this best of ! i love it !

  2. so far, Triggerfinger is my favourite…great cover, sounds like completly different song

  3. “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.”

    That’s how Cohen’s version is

  4. We Found Love – Fleet Foxes Sing cover was really good!

  5. I think you’re missing Janne Schra’s cover of Asaf Avidan’s song ‘One day/Reckoning Song’

  6. Uh, She Drives Me Crazy was a huge hit:

    and they weren’t a “one hit wonder”:

  7. How can you mention I’m Shakin’ and not tip your hat to The Blasters who covered this 30 years ago? for shame

  8. Ane Brun’s cover of “Tunnels!” (Arcade Fire)

  9. How can you mention “I’m Shakin’” and not tip your hat to The Blasters…and the guy who wrote it, 50 years ago, Rudy Toombs? Toombs, who also wrote “One Mint Julep” and “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer” among other hits, deserves more attention.

  10. I only found one or two of these interesting. You post better covers than most of these every day.

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