Jul 012019

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30. Diana Krall – Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

Diana Krall’s twelfth album, Wallflower, is a cover album that contains hits from the 1970s. When Krall takes on Elton John, she stays true to the original, maintaining the same slow piano accompaniment. This version is stripped of additional instruments, except for a few strings that occasionally provide backup, relying on Krall’s piano and vocals to deliver a sense of desperate longing. Krall’s deep, slightly raspy voice aches with sincerity; she needn’t do anything more to make us love her and this cover. – Sara Stoudt

29. Kelly Sweet – Love Song (Lesley Duncan)

“Love Song” from Tumbleweed Connection – itself a cover of a sort, though writer Lesley Duncan joins him on it – is a simple, elegant song that seems to be criminally overlooked in the Elton John cannon. Having seen him live maybe eight times and watched many live recordings, my memory can’t bring forth hearing any instances where I heave heard Elton perform his version live. So it would stand to reason that there would not be very many recent covers, either. With this version, courtesy of pop singer Kelly Sweet, every ounce of emotion is used up as the singer completely wraps herself up in the song and never seems to want to let go. – Walt Falconer

28. Ellie Goulding – Your Song

Ellie Goulding’s dark take on this classic love song wrings desperation from John’s music and Bernie Taupin’s lyrics. Her voice is the focus here. Although the accompanying piano and strings are interesting enough, Goulding can sing this in any style she pleases because she sounds incredible doing it. – Mike Misch

27. Vince Neil – The Bitch Is Back

Although the original song has some rock vibes to match the at-times harsh lyrics, they contrast with the big-band background, complete with a killer saxophone solo. Vince Neil, the lead singer of Mötley Crüe, doubles down on the rock for this cover of “The Bitch Is Back,” taken from Neil’s last album (called Tattoos & Tequila, which really sets the mood). Neil gives this song the edge that the lyrics are begging for, swapping the saxophone solo with an electric guitar shred. – Sara Stoudt

26. Warren Haynes – Indian Sunset

In his long career, Warren Haynes has been a member of the Allman Brothers Band, toured with surviving members of the Grateful Dead, and spent more than two decades leading the jam band Gov’t Mule. He serves in none of these capacities with his solo cover of “Indian Sunset.” Released on The Lone EP, Haynes takes John’s theatrical deep cut from Madman Across the Water and strips it down to its core. Haynes sings the song of Native American genocide like a folk tune that’s been passed down through ages, injecting a bit of righteous anger into the finale. – Curtis Zimmermann

24 (Tie): Iron Horse & The Lil Smokies – Rocket Man

I wrote a Five Good Covers piece about “Rocket Man” that led one reader to suggest I listen to the bluegrass version by Iron Horse, promising that “Oh my God, the Harmonies ROCK!” They do indeed, soaring with the kind of twang that one might encounter at Mission Control Center in Houston (the band’s actually from Alabama). But let’s not forget the musicianship – it’s a pleasure to hear Anthony Richardson’s banjo moving like a rocket on rails, so fast yet so smooth. – Patrick Robbins

“Rocket Man” gets a second bluegrass interpretation from The Lil Smokies, an acoustic band originally from Montana. This version is performed at a slightly faster pace than the original, adding a sense of urgency. Elton John’s traditional piano is replaced by fiddle and banjo, which both get to show off throughout the song with extended solos. These solos show the prowess of both string players and make us forget that we are listening to “Rocket Man” for a bit. Although the lead singer doesn’t attempt the occasional falsetto that Elton adds, his voice is strong and soulful. – Sara Stoudt

23. Brook Benton – Country Comfort

Plenty of country singers have lent their voices to covers of “Country Comfort.” Soul crooner Brook Benton, best known for his classic “Rainy Night in Georgia,” had a different take on the song. For his 1972 album Story Teller, Benton reinterpreted the track as a quiet soul tune, playing up the whimsical nostalgia of the lyrics. Listening to Benton sing, one can almost see the 6:09 train “roaring past the creek” in a small town in Georgia or any other state south of the Mason-Dixon line. – Curtis Zimmermann

22. Indigo Girls – Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters

Although the title “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” is a bit opaque, the song itself is, by Bernie Taupin standards, a pretty straightforward reflection on the ups and downs of living in New York City in the 1970s. Reportedly one of John’s favorites, he sang it at The Concert for New York City, a tribute to the city’s employees who were working on the post-9/11 recovery effort. The Indigo Girls often perform covers of artists who influenced them, and they regularly brought out a version of “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” during the mid-2000s, releasing one live take on their 2005 Rarities album. They don’t do anything particularly surprising with the song, basically playing it as if it was an Indigo Girls song, and that’s alright with me. – Jordan Becker

21. Hall & Oates – Philadelphia Freedom

Daryl Hall and John Oates mostly sat out the music scene in the ‘90s. The pair, who had cranked out 13 studio albums during the previous two decades, would release just two. But what they lacked in quantity comes through with the quality of the cover the duo recorded for the 1991 tribute record Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin. Together, Hall & Oates sang the song with their signature blend of blue-eyed Philly soul. All that’s missing is a jam session with Sir Elton at Daryl’s house. – Curtis Zimmermann

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  3 Responses to “The Best Elton John Covers Ever”

Comments (3)
  1. Pretty much any comment here is by definition a nitpick but missing the Buckshot LeFonque version of Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters…oy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3tu1yTdlQs

  2. My favorite – The Hickoids… from Austin, TX

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