The Best Cover Songs of 2013

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Dec 192013

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40. Prologue/Twilight (Electric Light Orchestra cover)
Kishi Bashi

Kishi Bashi removes the prologue. He also removes the orchestra. And the electric. But the string quartet cover is faithful in mood and vocals. And it shows the song to be a durable pop song that can hold up well with minimal production and zero synthesizers. -Dan Cwirka

39. Bad As Me (Tom Waits cover)
Shovels & Rope

Shovels and Rope had a great year in 2013, appearing on Letterman, playing a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR, and sharing an Austin City Limits episode with the Lumineers. “Bad As Me” was released as the flip-side of a 45 they put on for Jack White’s Third Man Records, where they ditch Waits’ Screamin’ Jay Hawkins howl for a relatively settled-down bluesy tantrum. -Sean Balkwill

38. Marry the Night (Lady Gaga cover)
Folly and the Hunter

Most Lady Gaga covers fall into one of two categories: girl-in-a-coffee-shop or I-am-gonna-try-my-hardest-to-make-my-rendition-even-crazier-than-hers. They both work, to a certain extent. Folly & The Hunter opted to go for a subtler approach in their folk and heartbreak-laced rendition of “Marry the Night.” -Maggie E. Clancy

37. March of the Pigs (Nine Inch Nails cover)

This angry industrial song plays on the juxtaposition of buzzing, chainsaw guitars against Trent Rezner’s cooing “and doesn’t it make you feel better.” L.A. pop group Superhumanoids took the sweetness of that one line and spread it beautifully across the whole song. -Mike Misch

36. Midnight City (M83 cover)
The Last Bison

The Last Bison’s carousing folk tunes are full of banjos, drums and other down-home instruments, so how the Virginia natives found their way to electronic pop band M83’s “Midnight City” is anyone’s guess. The band’s folky approach ends up adding a quiet element of electricity to the tune. The sheer number of instruments – ample guitars, percussion, banjo and strings – give the song an airy, urgent atmosphere. -Rachel McFarland

35. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) (The Proclaimers cover)
Mikal Cronin

In this cover given to Aquarium Drunkard for the Lagniappe Sessions, Mikal Cronin ditches the four-to-the-floor distorted energy he’s made his name on for a lightly-strummed ukelele. In doing so, Cronin infuses the Proclaimers’ declaration of love across many miles with the melancholy that long distance relationships tend to actually bring. -Matt Corley

34. Night Moves (Bob Segar cover)
Ash Reiter

Bob Seger’s “Night Moves’ is imprinted in the brain of anyone who grew up in the ’70s or spent time listening to a classic rock radio station. Ash Reiter’s cover of “Night Moves” remains true to the original structure, except Seger’s powerful rasp is replaced with Reiter’s playful, soft and shimmery voice. We have to listen closely and rediscover the song in the process. -Chet Thomas

33. Wrecking Ball (Miley Cyrus cover)
Silver Swans

What hasn’t already been said about Miley Cyrus that is left to be said? Whether you love her or hate her, you have to admit this girl knows how to get attention, and therefore, a lot of covers of her songs. Silver Swans’ rendition of “Wrecking Ball” is beyond sexy, raw, and rather dreamy. -M.E.C.

32. Ya Hey (Vampire Weekend cover)

A cover from one band with a big release to another seems like a good way to celebrate success – after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In this case, it’s not so much imitation as reinvention. Phosphorescent’s Matthew Houck takes Vampire Weekend’s kicked-up tune and uses every ounce of sadness in his vocals to make it a charming, chilled-out version. Brought down to alluring instrumentation and the sorrow-tinged vocals of Houck, it’s a pacified cover that makes “Ya Hey” wistfully simple. -R.M.

31. Everyday Is Like Sunday (Morrissey cover)

Like a one-stop primer in how to do a cover. Duo Monophonia takes a Morrissey staple and makes it completely their own, an atmospheric and haunting synth-infused tune that leaves all of the hairs standing on the back of your neck. -M.E.C.

Continue to Page 3 for #21-30…

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  8 Responses to “The Best Cover Songs of 2013”

Comments (4) Pingbacks (4)
  1. My 1st choice is: “All of me” by John Jorge.

  2. were these in reverse order? I liked them less and less as time went on

  3. I absolutely love Low’s version of Rihanna’s “Stay.” Surprised it wasn’t on the list.

  4. Hey!
    Low’s version of Rihanna’s “Stay.” is wonderful you’re right to suprise not on the checklist.
    I’d love to collect all in my website please check it out also ;) for all cover stuff.

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