As we find ourselves over a decade into the 21st Century it is only natural people would begin to argue that all the best songs have been written already. Not that we’d necessarily agree with that of course but the likelihood of a cover version springing up does seem to have increased.
There is of course an art to a good cover song but we’re not just talking about good cover songs here, we’re talking about covers that somehow embody the idea of the song more than the original, allowing it to be the song it should have been all along. These are the ones that totally stole the show, some of which you might not even realise were covers because well, in your head, there really is no other version.
10. The Flying Burrito Brothers – Do Right Woman
Sorry Aretha, we love your version, we really do – the tenderness with which you treat the vocals and the warmth you give Chips Moman and Dan Penn‘s number but it was The Flying Burrito Brother’s 1969 album The Gilded Palace of Sin which gave birth to the version we love the most. It’s sinewy strings, soothing vocals harmonies and gently swaying country rhythms really tapping into the song’s message.
9. Ryan Adams – Wonderwall
It is nothing short of a miracle that anyone was able to take Noel Gallagher‘s words and turn them into something as subtle, poignant and heart breaking as Ryan Adams did in 2001, not to mention the fact that the ubiquity of this song would have put most people off of touching with a barge poll. Not Adams though, he delved beyond the pomposity, opened it up and let it breath with a newly found fragility. Even Noel has admitted that “I never got my head round this song until I heard Ryan Adams play and he did an amazing cover of it” going on to admit that Ryan’s version has had an affect on how he plays the song now.
8. Lemonheads – Different Drum
Originally written by The Monkees‘ Michael Nesmith in 1965 and included in the The Greenbriar Boys 1966 album Better Late Than Never! ’Different Drum’ weaves a tragically familiar tale of two lovers who are at different places in their lives, one wants to settle whilst the narrator still craves his freedom. Folk legends John Herald and his band may well be, but able to do the adolescent nature of this love story justice they are not. Thankfully it was that very nature which made it ripe for the picking, and who better to tap into that pysche than a 23-year-old Evan Dando? The Lemonheads stole this warbling bluegrass number out of its nicey-nicey home and threw distorted guitars at it until it became a veritable nineties teen anthem.
7. Björk – It’s Oh So Quiet
Everyone knows this is Björk’s song. I bet you’re picturing the famous Spike Jonze directed video in your head right now. In actual fact though Björk’s break through pop moment has it’s routes in a 1948 German song called ‘Und jetzt ist es still’ performed by Horst Winter and later, more famously, covered by Betty Hutton in 1951. For such a playful song it is a wonder our favourite iceland pop star didn’t come up with it herself.