Our Favourite Covers


Written by Hatti Whitman
09 Monday 09th January 2012


Birdy – ‘1901’ (Phoenix)

Like all Birdy’s cover versions this is a tinkly, piano-based track that pays full homage to the original whilst making its focal point her incredible voice. It's important to remember while listening that the girl is FIFTEEN. Whilst lacking the energy of the original, this allows Birdy to sustain longer notes, exercising the full depth and profundity of the lyrics; stretching the song at the edges and remoulding it into something that sounds like a lovely sigh of longing. By halfway through I wasn’t even missing Thomas Mars, which is really saying something.

Dum Dum Girls – ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’ (The Smiths)

As a rule, I am not a fan of people covering The Smiths. There’s a brand of louche gloom that Morrissey whacked a copyright on about thirty years ago and anyone who does attempt to imitate it tends to come across as either bored or hopelessly earnest. Dum Dum Girls sidestep this issue by making a cover that’s brash and loud and full of attitude enough to be totally, unapologetically brilliant.

Neon Indian – ‘Children of the Revolution’ (T-Rex)

This cover takes the guitar riff and string section of T-Rex’s iconic song and turns them into a throbbing synth bass-line. This is such an unexpected move that it takes a second to reconcile the first few moments of Neon Indian’s cover, with its bleeping notes and smoky, minimal vocal, to the original. Then around about the first chorus you suddenly realise just how awesome a take on ‘Children’ this is, and let the pared-back, downbeat tempo take you where it will.

PS I Love You – ‘Subdivisions’ (Rush)

Working in entirely the opposite direction to Neon Indian’s take on T-Rex, PS I Love You translate Rush’s early-eighties synths into a nifty bit of guitar work, roughing up the slickness of this classic rock tune to create a frenetically energetic cover. With the tempo ramped up enough to cut the length of the original by over a minute, we're also treated to the fractious edginess of Paul Saulnier’s vocal, making this cover not so much teenage angsty as teenage angry.

Skull Tape – ‘Whip My Hair/Drowning in Blood’ (Willow Smith)

By combining it with one of their own songs Skull Tape deliver a gory, grimy, unforgettable version of Willow Smith’s terrifying anthem of precocity. The video’s hilarious – watery fake blood splashing out of mouths and over faces, but the real triumph here is that the cover works, transforming the poppy, rainbow-coloured ‘Whip My Hair’ into a smashing medley with their own ‘Drowning in Blood.’ There is something inherently great about ‘I whip my hair back and forth/Just whip it real good’ in a shouty, masculine voice.

Mr Little Jeans  - ‘The Suburbs’ (Arcade Fire)

One of the runaway-successes of the last year, this unexpectedly good cover of the supposedly uncoverable Arcade Fire brings a sexy, dubsteppy vibe to their bittersweet coming-of-age hit. Monica Berkenes’ voice is low and sultry yet still sweet, with enough innocence to sing about the end of childhood without sounding trite. This cover packs its punch more in the downbeat rhythm and swooping synths than in the poignant lyrics (which is where the original hits you), but it’s an all round brilliant take.

Let us know your favourite cover versions in the comments below.

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