30. Blue Jeans (Lana Del Rey cover)
Pulled Apart By Horses
Lana Del Rey covers – even the good ones – generally follow a template of blurred pop, smoky vocals, and distant emotion. Pulled Apart By Horses offer a refreshing change of pace with this scrappy, rocking, almost-falling apart romp through a shredding “Blue Jeans.”
29. Black Tongue (Mastodon cover)
Credit where credit is due: Feist and Mastodon came together for one of the most WTF collabs of the year that didn’t involve Wayne Coyne. On their split Record Store Day single, the metal heroes and indie-folk princess covered each others’ songs. Mastodon’s half is tough to listen to, but Feist finds a pleasant midpoint, getting down and dirty without losing her light touch.
28. I Gotsta Get Paid (DJ DMD cover)
No one questions ZZ Top’s deep knowledge of the blues, but turns out their Houston roots extend back to obscure ‘90s hip hop. Their remake of DJ DMD’s “25 Lighters” find the regional rap hit getting the full out chug-a-lug treatment from Gibbons and co.
27. Breathe (Pink Floyd cover ft. Tupac Shakur)
L.A. duo Capital Cities’ “Breathe” would be a great electropop jam had they merely stuck to the source material. What brings it to the next level is in the poignant snippet of Tupac’s “Smile” they bring in, adding a gritty depth that contrasts with the spacey Floyd jams.
26. Candy-O (The Cars cover)
Almost two decades into his career, Richard Buckner hooked up with Merge Records and Bon Iver started singing his praises. His hip cred extends all the way to Record Store Day exclusive vinyl, include the “Willow” seven-inch that came backed with his spare, haunted take on the Cars’ “Candy-O.”
25. Midnight City (M83 cover)
Benjamin Francis Leftwich
“Midnight City” topped numerous “Best Songs of 2011” lists, but it wasn’t til Oh-Twelve that M83’s electro bouncer got the definitive cover. As we’ve seen him do before, Benjamin Francis Leftwich peels back the gloss and finds a fragile melody.
24. Run to the Hills (Iron Maiden cover)
Quieting down Iron Maiden songs has been done before – the sorely-missed Hellsongs basically made a career of it. Bunny West’s “Run to the Hills” though doesn’t come with a wink; the subtler take brings out dark lyrics that are way less ridiculous than you think.
23. Rolling in the Deep (Adele cover)
Back in the early days of YouTube, ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro went viral with an instrumental “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” That song was at least quiet to begin with though; on “Rolling in the Deep” Shimabukuro pares back the biggest singer of our time to four strings and a tiny wooden body.
22. Love Sick (Bob Dylan cover)
Mariachi El Bronx
The White Stripes covered this one a lot live, but even they couldn’t imagine how well this would work as a south-of-the-border salsa fiesta. The Bronx’s Latin offshoot Mariachi El Bronx brings guitarrón, bajo sexto, and congas to mariachi-fy a late-period Dylan song.
21. Danger Zone (Kenny Loggins cover)
Many of the best A.V. Undercovers don’t really stand alone without the video (see GWAR’s “Carry On Wayward Son”). Calexico’s horn-flecked take on the Top Gun theme though brings more heart and sincerity than the cheesy ‘80s hit has any right to expect.
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