Feb 282022
best cover songs
Blacktop Mojo – My Girl (The Temptations cover)

You may listen to the gentle plucking when this begins and thing, boy that’s not what I expected from that band photo. Is this an acoustic flying V? Blacktop Mojo’s “My Girl” stays pretty and meditative for over half the run time, turning the oldies classic into a pretty folk-rock ballad. Eventually, though, true to that long-hair-and-leather image, the heads start banging and axes start shredding.

Dave Winnel – Africa (Toto cover)

Weezer’s version of “Africa” became a surprise hit a few years ago, despite the band basically covering the Toto song note for note. The notes are still there in Dave Winnel’s version too, but they come much faster. This uptemo electro-punk banger remains immediately recognizable as “Africa,” but you can picture people losing their minds if this dropped in a dance club.

Lingua Ignota – Katie Cruel (Trad. cover)

Kristin Hayter aka Lingua Ignota can’t seem to do a bad or even mediocre cover. She makes everything she touches dark and menacing, whether it’s Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” or Eminem’s “Kim.” The traditional folk song “Katie Cruel” is a good fit to continue that trend – it has “cruel” right in the name, after all. Her version begins as a pretty gothic piano ballad. But it soon grows more angrier and more distorted, as vocals pile atop each other and cellos surge. Another stunner that will leave you with a chill.

Nerf Herder – My Bologna (Weird Al Yankovic cover)

Nerf Herder’s new single “Born Weird” shouts out Dr. Demento playing Weird Al on the radio, and features the Weird man himself adding an accordion solo. So, for the b-side, they decided to cover one of the early Al songs the good doctor was spinning: “My Bologna.” Comedy-punk covers of Weird Al songs have become a real thing in recent years (see also: Jonah Ray), and this is another good one to add to the canon!

Noga Erez – Industry Baby (Lil Nas X ft. Jack Harlow cover)

Israeli pop singer Noga Erez said of her cover, “When I first heard ‘Industry Baby,’ like so many others, I was hooked instantly. Ori Rousso, my partner, and I have been working for quite some time on various projects integrating brass and woodwind instruments. We wanted to see this come to life with a full unplugged brass orchestra and a band… So, we just went for it. It was incredibly fun and challenging. Lil Nas X is an insane vocalist, and I had the best time working on this cover.”

Omarion – With a Little Help from My Friends (The Beatles cover)

Omarion, former singer for boy band B2K, released not one but two versions of this cover. The first, dubbed the “Poppin Mix,” keeps the tempo and feel of the original, while adding some R&B sonic flourishes, nodding abit to the Joe Cocker version. Personally, though, I prefer the slow neo-soul groove of the second version, the “Soul Mix.” This version takes its time as the song stretches out to twice its luxurious length.

Silk Sonic – Love’s Train (Con Funk Shun cover)

At a quick read, I assumed Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak of Silk Sonic had covered “Love Train,” the old O-Jay’s song. And they should! But this is “Love’s Train” – note the apostrophe-s – a semi-obscure funk song by 1980s R&B group Con Funk Shun. Silk Sonic’s version doesn’t veer too far from the original, but features some knockout ladies-man crooning from both Mars and .Paak.

The Smile – It’s Different for Girls (Joe Jackson cover)

The Smile is Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Johny Greenwood alongside Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner. Strangely, their early singles and live shows have sounded more like Bends-era Radiohead than actual Radiohead has in decades. I can’t imagine anyone had a Joe Jackson cover on their bingo card, but they performed it live at several shows this month.

Tuluum Shimmering – Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young cover)

Tuluum Shimmering’s stock in trade is extremely long, spaced-out covers of classic rock songs. He’s done the Dead, Byrds, and America, and this month he unveiled a 26-minute “Cinnamon Girl.” Young himself might play “Cinnamon Girl” for 26 minutes, of course, but not like this. It’s quiet and meditative, super weird without ever getting loud. Or bothering to sing any of the words.

Vera Blue – Stay (The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber cover)

Last year, girl on red’s killer cover of “Stay” made me a fan of The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber hit I’d heretofore ignored. And now Vera Blue’s extremely catchy indie-rock run through the song, performed live for Australian radio station Triple J, might be making me a superfan.

Wednesday – Lock, Stock and Teardrops (Roger Miller cover)

Aquarium Drunkard delivers one of its best “Lagniappe Sessions” yet with indie-rock group Wednesday’s trio of punked-out country covers. Picking the best of the three is tough, but I’ll give the slight edge to this distorted squall through an old Roger Miller tune. Singer Karly Hartzman explains, “This is one of those tracks I listened to over and over when I first heard it, and one I continue to learn from with each listen. Every line of this song breaks my heart cause you can tell the speaker is nowhere near healed from the heartbreak, and is singing to pull himself out of the pit.” Listen to it and the other two at Aquarium Drunkard.

The Best of the Rest

Cassandra Jenkins – It’s You (Animal Collective cover)

Debra Devi – Please Mr. Postman (The Marvelettes cover)

Eli Paperboy Reed – I’m Bringing Home Good News (Merle Haggard cover)

Felicia – Get Lucky (Daft Punk cover)

GAYLE – You Oughta Know (Alanis Morissette cover)

Haunted Summer – You Put My Love Out the Door (Daniel Johnston cover)

Hyd – Into My Arms (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds cover)

Japanese Breakfast – Nobody Sees Me Like You Do (Yoko Ono cover)

Julia Jacklin – Just To Be A Part (Bill Fay cover)

Karine Hannah – Separate Ways (Journey cover)

Laura Heaberlin – I’m Going to Go Back There Someday (Muppets cover)

The Main Squeeze – Readymade (Red Hot Chili Peppers cover)

Mary Spender and Josh Turner – Sultans of Swing (Dire Straits cover)

Missy Higgins – Total Control (The Motels cover)

Morgan Wade – Suspicious Minds (Elvis cover)

Phosphorescent – I’m a Mess (Nick Lowe cover)

Rod Gator – Everytime (Britney Spears cover)

Samia – Born on a Train (Magnetic Fields cover)

Screaming Females – Helena (My Chemical Romance cover)

Stephanie Lambring – Losing My Religion (R.E.M. cover)

The War on Drugs – Against the Wind (Bob Seger cover)

Check out previous months’ best covers lists.

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