Dec 162022

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10. Midwife – Send the Pain Below (Chevelle cover)

Chevelle isn’t a band that gets a lot of airplay these days, but their song “Send the Pain Below” is pretty immediately recognizable to anyone who was listening to alternative rock in the early 2000s. Even still, it could take a couple minutes for this cover by Midwife to register. The echoing, half-whispered vocals hover over shoegaze guitars until the chorus when Madeline Johnston combines those sweet vocals with muted screaming. It’s both a tribute to and elevation of the original. – Mike Misch

9. Beabadoobee – The Adults Are Talking (The Strokes cover)

“The Adults Are Talking” was originally released as the fourth single off The Strokes’ 2020 album The New Abnormal. Beabadoobee, also known as Beatrice Kristi Laus, is a Filipino-British singer and songwriter whose musical palette lives in the realms of lo-fi, indie, and bedroom pop. Her covers from an Antidote Live Session, released as a part of her deluxe version of the 2022 album Beatopia, and is as poignant and captivating as the original. Her version is softer and full of layered acoustic guitars, and I can’t say enough good things about her effortless, mellifluous voice. For me, the pointed lyrics about society in “The Adults Are Talking” become crystal-clear in this artist’s hands. – Aleah Fitzwater

8. Lucy Dacus – Home Again (Carole King)

It’s weird to describe any track on Carole King’s seminal Tapestry album as a deep cut—are there deep cuts on an album that has sold 30 million copies? Yet as one of the LP’s few non-singles, that’s kind of what the plain-spoken and heartfelt “Home Again” is. While Lucy Dacus is a brilliant songwriter in her own right, she is also a masterful interpreter, and over the course of her young career she has kicked out an assortment of truly exceptional covers (this one in particular). Her stunning cover of “Home Again”— recorded along with “It’s Too Late” for a special Carole King live release on Jack White’s Third Man label— was a genuine labor of love. Dacus says that hearing Tapestry as a child “defined what music sounded like to me and is still a foundation of how I understand songwriting…her work is part of my DNA and I’m grateful for it.” Dacus’s cover eschews the assertive piano of the original and replaces it with some seriously swoon-worthy acoustic picking (the bridge, in particular, is heart-meltingly lovely). And where King belted the original, Dacus turns the volume down, opting for a shyer, more subtle vocal delivery. This “Home Again” sounds like a modern-day Christmas standard in the best possible way, like some distant folky relation of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s beloved “I Believe In Father Christmas”, but without all the histrionics and proggy flourishes. A welcoming, wistful, and wintry hymn for bookish music nerds everywhere, Dacus totally freakin’ nails it. – Hope Silverman

7. Cat Power – Against the Wind (Bob Seger cover)

Cat Power is an absolute visionary when it comes to covers. She’s now on her third all-covers album, but she can just keep on plowing that furrow if her version of Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind” is anything to go by. She’s not daunted by the song’s revered and holy status within the heartland rock tradition, or by the fact that it’s one of Seger’s signature tunes, with gruff vocal, chugging rhythm, organ, steel guitar, and Glenn Frey harmonies all in check. No sir, she has no problem in transforming it into a slow, stirring, and deeply soulful expression of loss, faded idealism, and dislocation. Her distinctive self-harmonies lend raw emotion to Seger’s majestic lines: “Guess I lost my way / Oh, there were so many roads / I was livin’ to run and running to live.” The turbulent piano lines, meanwhile, add to the sense of anxiety and desperation. – Adam Mason

6. Ibibio Sound Machine – Heroes (David Bowie cover)

Just when you believe all that could ever be done to a song has been, along come Ibibio Sound Machine with an exquisite and unclassifiable beauty like this. Mashing electronica, bubbly afro-pop rhythms and even a soupçon of euro-pop cheese into a steaming hot jollof, the dish served is as surprising as it is inventive. London-based, the band have been plying their groove since 2013, a horn heavy mix of afro-beat with drum ’n’ bass, elements of disco and techno joining hands in dance, with the seductive voice of Eno Williams a silky purr over the skittering backdrop. If you think this version a delight, just wait until you hear the dub version on the flip. – Seuras Og

5. Cave In – The Hole (Townes Van Zandt cover)

Legendary country/folk singer Townes Van Zandt lends himself well to fierce rock outfits, just like Johnny Cash did. It’s his tales of hard living, self-abuse, sinfulness, and drug addiction that does it, as well as being forsaken, and outcast. It makes sense, then, that US metal band Cave In should do such a fine job in reinventing Van Zandt’s chilling “The Hole,” a live song collected on 1997’s posthumous The Highway Kind album, on which the singer told the story of falling into a cave in the woods and finding himself in the lair of an old woman with a “smile just like the grave.” Cave In are attuned to the fact that it’s some kind of fairy tale as a metaphor for addiction or mental illness, and they bring to it a doom-laden baritone, some eerie synth noises, droning guitars, and frenzied guitar solos, which add to a tense and menacing atmosphere. – Adam Mason

4. Special Interest – Follow Me (Amanda Lear cover)

Singer-model-actress-painter-TV presenter-cult hero Amanda Lear’s CV reads more like the outline of a fantastical and bizarrely glamorous miniseries than it does an occupational history. She was a muse to artist Salvador Dali and a former paramour of regal rock hot boys Brian Jones, Bryan Ferry, and David Bowie. She was the inspiration for the Rolling Stones song “Miss Amanda Jones” and the cover star of Roxy Music’s 1973 album For Your Pleasure. But the true star on the top of the tree is not who or what she inspired but something of her own creation: the glorious, evergreen pop-disco-banger from 1978, “Follow Me”. Co-written with producer Anthony Monn, the song was a top ten hit in 1978 everywhere except the U.S. and U.K. and remains a beloved classic of ’70s Eurodisco nerds, Glam Rock aficionados, and late-night dancing queens the whole world over. I recommend listening to and watching the wondrous original here as it will help you appreciate just how masterful and brilliant this cover by Special Interest really is. The fabulous punkified-disco-pop-everything under-the-sun New Orleans band’s “Follow Me” is raucously urgent and gut-bustingly beautiful. It is David Bowie’s “Heroes” on steroids and ecstasy. – Hope Silverman

3. Samia – Born on a Train (Magnetic Fields cover)

Like Samia, The Magnetic Fields often have a bit of playfulness in their darkest songs, and the other way around. Though no one would describe Samia’s arrangement as “weird,” the performance subtly latches onto that intangible strangeness in the lyrics just well enough. Caleb Hinz’s intimate production deserves credit, but it wouldn’t work without Samia singing like a ghost idly singing to herself as she wanders down one of those roads made of nothing but neon signs. She brings it a bit of the otherworldliness that you find in all those songs about trains and dead people on Anthology of American Folk Music. – Adam Selzer

2. Morgan Wade – Suspicious Minds (Elvis cover)

Morgan Wade’s debut album, Reckless was co-produced by guitarist Sadler Vaden, Jason Isbell’s foil in the 400 Unit, and features other members of that band. Wade’s voice, a gruff, twangy soprano, lends gravity to the album’s songs about addiction, mental health and isolation. It’s clearly a country rock record, but it steers clear of many of the cliches of the genre. The album was a critical and commercial success when it was originally released in 2021, and in 2022, Wade released a Deluxe Edition with six new tracks, including a cover of “Suspicious Minds.” The song is about a dysfunctional relationship, so it fits right in. Elvis Presley’s cover (that’s right, it was original recorded by its writer, Mark James, to no acclaim), is a classic of the soul-influenced, horn/string/background vocal laden power ballads popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. And it undoubtedly is incredible. But Wade’s version simply kicks ass, with no excess or pretense, and some great guitar from Vaden. – Jordan Becker

1. Kasey Chambers – Lose Yourself (Eminem cover)

In 2002, Eminem made a bid for immortality when he starred in 8 Mile, a semi-autobiographical film about a rapper trying to earn his street cred. The movie was both a commercial and critical success, earning the rapper an Oscar for best original song “Lose Yourself.” In the ensuing decades, the song has endured as a fire-up jock jam. Still going strong in 2022, Eminem performed the bombastic track live at the halftime show for Super Bowl LVI in February. Australian country singer Kasey Chambers took a different approach with her live eight-minute cover. For the first half of the song, she plays it as a stripped-down banjo folk song, treating the verses like lines of spoken word poetry. At the halfway point, Chambers plugs in, cranks up the amps and transforms the cover into a fist-pumping anthem. Chambers drives the crowd into a frenzy, almost like the audience at the Shelter in the final moments of 8 Mile. She truly owned both the music and the moment. – Curtis Zimmermann

Don’t miss The Best Cover and Tribute Albums of 2022 and the Best Cover EPs of 2022 (Patreon exclusive).

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  4 Responses to “The 50 Best Cover Songs of 2022”

Comments (3) Pingbacks (1)
  1. Not exactly what you’d call a banner year for covers . . .

  2. Thanks for this, as always.
    A few that really hit me were compelling were Chis Thiles and Punch Brothers version of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” ,
    As mentioned in the post, the YouTube live version is really something.
    Also loved hearing the cover of “If you’re gonna be dumb…”
    But … your #1 was also mine: Lose Yourself. I was awestruck.
    I learned of it from a CM post, and sent it around to a lot of folks, some of whom were as blown away as me.
    Thanks for what you do.
    Regards, Dave.

  3. Yeah, people might argue about your rankings of #2-50, but “Lose Yourself” was #1 by far.

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