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Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024
The Observer

2015's top covers

I love when artists do covers. Hearing a favorite song through another artist’s perspective is always a rewarding experience. While not all covers are created equal, 2015 has already been blessed with a multitude of inventive covers, below is a small sampling providing exactly what 2015 has to offer.

Kishi Bashi – “This Must Be the Place, Naïve Melody” (Talking Heads)

Kishi Bashi’s orchestra back cover of the Talking Heads quirky 1983 hit provides a perfect balance between preserving the charm of the original song while adding new insight. As the plucking of violin strings and rhythm of cellos dance in the background, Bashi gloriously hits every note. Even David Byrne would be impressed.

Father John Misty – “Heart Shaped Box” (Nirvana)

Father John Misty has been hard at work in 2015. After dropping one of the best albums of the year in “I Love you, Honey Bear,” Misty has been producing unique covers from multiple artists, including Arcade Fire, Leonard Cohen and even Taylor Swift. Yet, what I like most about his take on Nirvana’s pivotal “Heart Shape Box” is the preserved ominous tone. With only a guitar, Misty is still able to capture that dour soulfulness so characteristic of Nirvana.

Sufjan Stevens – Hotline Bling (Drake)

Earlier this week, Jersey City was blessed with Sufjan Stevens' fun rendition of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” – awkward dances and all. Showing off his inhuman falsetto, Stevens, along with backing vocals via Gallant, provides a great rendition as pictures of Drake cover the backdrop. What a time to be alive.

CHVRCHES –“What Do You Mean” (Justin Bieber)

This one may be my favorite. CHVRCHES, the spunky indie pop trio, crafted an even more danceable version of Bieber's late summer hit. In BBC Radio 1’s Live studio, Lauren Mayberry shows off her soulful vocals as synth layers mesh superbly in the background. The crescendo choruses work so well, the synth is not overpowering, rather it compliments the vocals. Sorry Biebs (and Miko) but I think I may like this version better.

Yo La Tengo – “Friday I’m in Love” (The Cure)

What cover list would be complete without Yo La Tengo? The critically acclaimed indie rock outfit has been producing interesting covers most every year of their long career, and 2015 is no exception with their version of “Friday I’m in Love." I’m interested in any Cure cover, but add an apocalyptic music video in the background, and I’m fascinated. The relaxed vibe of the cover was the immediate draw, but it’s Ira Kaplan's hauntingly harmonic vocals that stuck with me.

Ryan Adams – “Bad Blood” (Taylor Swift)

Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift’s entire “1989” — and got some flak for it. While Adams’ version of 1989 may leave a bit to be desired, he got it right with “Bad Blood.” Adams' bluesy guitar works in its simplicity. Playing with many of Swift’s expertly crafted melodies, Adams adds an element of subtlety that is refreshing.

Tobias Jesso Jr. – “Hey Ya!” (Outkast)

“Hey Ya!” will forever be my favorite song to throw on at a party. It’s a lovely a song to listen to and an even better one to dance to. Tobias Jesso Jr. took a break from his characteristic poignant blend of indie rock to give his Hollywood fans an opportunity to dance. Keeping up with the chaotic rhythm, Jesso Jr. gave his best Andre 3000 impression. If nothing else, this cover is a lot of fun.

Foo Fighters – “Tom Sawyer” (Rush)

At a show earlier this year in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, The Foo Fighters preformed “Tom Sawyer.” What made this cover so interesting was the addition of a new singer. As Dave Grohl sat in his custom broken-leg throne, he asked his raving fans if anyone actually knew all the words to “Tom Sawyer” – enter Brian to the stage. As if destined from birth, my man Brian belted out every word, astonishing everyone — rock god Grohl included. Well done, Brian. In the video, Dave Grohl curses like a sailor, but I advise you check it out anyway. Do it for Brian.