Dec 152023

Follow all our Best of 2023 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

I like to think that badass lady in the artwork up there (done by our own Hope Silverman!) embodies the spirit of this year’s list. Not that they’re all CBGB-style punk songs—though there are a couple—but in her devil-may-care attitude. “Who says I shouldn’t do a hardcore cover of the Cranberries? A post-punk cover of Nick Drake? A hip-hop cover of The Highwaymen? Screw that!”

As with most good covers, the 50 covers we pulled out among the thousands we listened to bring a healthy blend of reverence and irreverence. Reverence because the artists love the source material. Irreverence because they’re not afraid to warp it, bend it, mold it in their own image. A few of the songs below are fairly obscure, but most you probably already know. Just not like this.


Nov 302023
best cover songs
boygenius ft. Ye Vagabonds — The Parting Glass (Trad. cover)

Every year, Phoebe Bridgers releases a surprise cover around the holidays to benefit charity. This year, she brought in her boygenius bandmates as well as vocal group Ye Vagabonds to cover “The Parting Glass.” It’s a traditional Irish tune, but their version pays specific homage to Sinead O’Connor, who covered it in 2002. Sales benefit the Aisling Project, an after-school project working with children and young people growing up in a disadvantaged area of Dublin. The beneficiary was chosen by the estate of O’Connor, who died in July. Continue reading »

Oct 272023
marc almond love is a battlefield

For the singles from his new ’80s covers project, Trevor Horn has already worked with a future megastar and someone who came to prominence in the ’90s. For the latest, he has chosen to work with a past collaborator and actual icon of the ’80s. “Love Is a Battlefield” is his new track with Marc Almond, who came to prominence with Soft Cell but has expanded his repertoire well beyond those pop roots.

Pat Benatar’s Cri de Guerre is her most covered song, and we picked out some great versions when she entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2022. There are always new entrants to the arena to take up the cudgels. Continue reading »

Oct 162023
seal steppin out

Seal was one of the most successful singer-songwriters of the ’90s and continues to produce new work and has a tour planned for 2024. For his latest single, working with old friend and producer Trevor Horn, he has reworked an iconic track from the ’80s: Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out.” Continue reading »

Oct 112023
lady blackbird slave to the rhythm

Marley Munroe’s amazing talent was honed and recognized early, but her more recent metamorphosis into Lady Blackbird has made her name. Having successfully paid tribute to one icon, taking her new name from a Nina Simone song, she is now taking on another. Her audacious cover of Grace Jones’ “Slave to the Rhythm” is now available. Continue reading »