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Based on a conversation with my best friend last night and subsequent article that I read upon his recommendation, I felt compelled to share some of the best covers that I have heard. I wanted to identify cover songs that create a new sonic experience that often confuses the listener to whom the song should originally be attributed to. Common examples that come to mind are Jimi Hendrix classic rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Along the Watchtower,” and Johnny Cash’s iconic cover of Nine Inch Nails opus “Hurt,” which I would have preferred to put in the top slot.
The following twenty covers re-imagine and recreate the original songs. In many cases, they reinvent the songs and the new versions make them listenable music.
20. FKA twigs – “Elastic Heart” Sia/Weeknd/Diplo Cover Hunger Games powered by Sia and The Weeknd into a new sonic landscape.
In this cover, FKA twigs uses similar production to her single “Water Me,” to transform the Diplo produced single from T
19. Robot Koch & Delhia de France – “California Dreamin’” The Mamas and the Papas Cover
Made popular by the trailer for the movie San Andreas, the strip down and create a haunting study of the song.
18. Gary Jules – “Mad World” Tears For Fears Cover
The iconic recreation of an undervalued Tears For Fears album track.
17. Sia – “Under the Milky Way Tonight” The Church Cover
Also along the Donny Darko theme, Sia reimagines the song.
16. Citizen Cope/Easy Star All Stars – “Karma Police” Radiohead Cover
Citizen Cope adds for to an Island themed cover of the classic Radiohead single
15. Major Lazer feat MØ – “ Lost” Frank Ocean Cover
Major Lazer enlists MØ to reinvent Frank Ocean’s song with an island slant.
14. Macy Gray – “Sail” AWOLNATION Cover
Macy Gray highlights her Covers album with an intimate rendition of the AWOLNATION single. She performed with tem at Coachella 2012’s first weekend.
13. Gnarls Barkley – “Reckoner” Radiohead Cover
Cee-Lo Green adds vocals to this live cover of Radiohead’s “Reckoner.” It was hard to choose as it relates to him, as the Cee-Lo and Foo Fighters fueled cover of Prince’s “Darlin’ Nikki” is a classic.
12. The Fray – “Heartless” Kanye West Cover
The Fray emote Kane’s work through a piece that they actually assembled and released themselves.
11. Damien Rice – “One” U2 Cover
Damien’s always haunting vocals recreate the 90’s single of U2.
10. Maxwell – “Gotta Get: Closer” Nine Inch Nails Cover
Maxwell takes Trent Reznor’s “Cloer” and turns it into a revival gospel tinged recreation. The concept and change alone from a track that touts “I want to fuck you like an animal,” s noteworthy alone.
9. Josef Salvat – “Diamonds” Rihanna Cover
A haunting reimagining of Rihanna’s top single.
8. Swann feat Nouela – “Black Hole Sun” Soundgarden Cover
A track that adds a new dimension to a Grunge era single that propelled Chris Cornell.
7. Jose Gonzalez – “Teardrop” Massive Attack Cover
The Zero 7 contributor breathes his own life into the Massive Attack single most assoctiated with the series House.
6. Stina Nordemstam – “Purple Rain” Prince Cover
It is rare that I can listen to covers of Prince, but Stina does well in carving her own version of the consummate single of 1984.
5. Yul Anderson – “Watchtower” Bob Dylan/Jimi Hendrix Cover
This version does no justice to Yul Anderson’s album rendition of “Along the Watchtower.” Please seek this track out, the imagination that went into creating the true rendition is awe inspiring.
4. Susanna & The Magical Orchestra “Love Will Tear Us Apart” Joy Division Cover
A song that I was told should not be covered, Susanna reconstructs the Joy Division song into a new piece, a la Johnny Cash with Nine Inch Nails “Hurt.”
3. Cassandra Wilson – “Love is Blindness” U2 Cover
Listening to Cassandra’s cover, forced me to go back and listen to the original by U2. I prefer Cassandra Wilson’s cover.
2. Tori Amos – “Losing My Religion” REM Cover
I hate to overuse the word “haunting,” but there is no other way to describe how Tori Amos took an iconic 90’s pop ballad and reinvented a piece that was used for the 90’s film Higher Learning.
1. Antony and the Johnsons – “Crazy in Love” Beyoncé Cover
I do not listen to Beyoncé often, and this song alone did nothing for me, by her. Antony craftily recreates the track adding pain and emotion and depth into the pop track. That reimagining alone garners him the top spot.
The manuscript Blue Lines is the fictional coming of age narrative of a young California woman Key Yemaya Walker, and her 2 year growing journey through school, love, and life period piece, written by Kenneth Suffern, Jr., taking place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the years of 1997 – 1998. Loosely based on true events, and experiences during that time, told through the eyes and voice of the main female protagonist, a freshman first attending the school.