Follow all our Best of 2015 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.
I didn’t realize it until I began laying out our post, but this year’s Best Cover Songs list shares quite a few artists with last year’s. And some that showed up here the year before that. Jack White’s on his fourth appearance. And Jason Isbell and Hot Chip not only both reappear from last year, but have moved up in the rankings.
Though we’re always on the lookout for the new (and to be sure, there are plenty of first-timers here too), the number of repeat honorees illustrates how covering a song is a skill just like any other. The relative few artists who have mastered it can probably deliver worthy covers again and again.
How a great cover happens is something I’ve been thinking a lot about this year as I’ve been writing a series of articles diving deep into the creation of iconic cover songs through history (I posted two of them online, and the rest are being turned into a book). In every case the artist had just the right amount of reverence for the original song: honoring its intention without simply aping it. It’s a fine line, and one even otherwise able musicians can’t always walk. Plenty of iconic people don’t make good cover artists (I’d nominate U2 as an example: some revelatory covers of the band, but not a lot by them). Given the skill involved, perhaps it’s no surprise that someone who can do a good cover once can do it again.
So, to longtime readers, you will see some familiar names below. But you’ll also see a lot of new names, and they’re names you should remember. If the past is any guide, you may well see them again next year, and the year after that.
Click on over to page two to begin our countdown, and thanks for reading.
– Ray Padgett, Editor in Chief
(Illustration by Sarah Parkinson)
I love this so hard–it just made my night to see this list here. Thank you! I’ll also buy the hell out of your book.
This is a great article.
I have to put one cover song that i really loved this year.
PHOTOTAXIS, a band from TEL AVIV, doing PRINCE song, WHEN DOVES CRY
You got to listen to it. so good.
Thanks so much for this post. I just went and purchased three of the tracks!
Great list, but was hoping to find one of the covers I had one repeat last year, Christine and the Queens – Paradis Perdus.
Great list. I do like James Blake’s “Sound of Silence”, but there’s another 2015 version of that song I like even better — the one by Disturbed.
Really, really should be on this list. Holding Out for a Hero (Bonnie Tyler) by Nothing But Thieves. Sounds like it was mixed with Jeff Buckley’s “Dream Brother” and works fantastically.
Thnx, but 1.James Blake, when disturbed version I got goosebumps , when Blake version I fell asleep!
This posting brought me so much joy. The Cigarettes after Sex REO cover is phenomenal and I wouldn’t have found it otherwise. Keep up the great work. Great site mate!
The REO Speedwagon cover by Cigarettes After Sex is one of the best I’ve heard in a long time, but you missed Amy Lee’s ridiculously amazing cover of U2’s “With Or Without You.”