Monday, December 17, 2007

12 Posts of Christmas: Top 20 Covers of 2007

If you're a regular reader of Silly Pipe Dreams, then you know I have a soft spot for covers. You may recall a short-lived weekly post called "Under The Covers". It will probably remain short-lived.

BUT! For Post #2 of my 12 Posts of Christmas, I do have a list of my top twenty favorite covers this year!

For a song to qualify, the cover must have either been released or first performed live in 2007. There were a lot of crappy covers to wade through to get to this list (I'm looking at you, Corinne Bailey Rae! Bringing "Sexyback"? How about you bring 2 minutes and 31 seconds of my life back? Diss!)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy some of the tracks below. To see the list, click on the link below, and then let me know what you think in the comments!

A Silly Pipe Dreams List

*UPDATED (12/18): Just realized Obadiah Parker's "Hey Ya" was 2006. The list has been revised.

20. VIDEO: "Proud Mary/All Along the Watchtower/Best of You" - Prince (live)
Oh, the awesomeness that was Prince's Super Bowl performance. I didn't even mean to watch the game. I just happened to turn on the TV in time for the halftime show. Prince doing a cover medley extravaganza? Including a Foo Fighters song?? And ending with a glorious performance of "Purple Rain" IN the rain??? I would watch more sports if this could be guaranteed at every halftime. I, of course, will not be posting the song because I fear Prince's legal team more than death. But the video link is above, and it is hosted by Daily Motion (did you catch that lawyers?).

I'm kind of cheating with this one because I'm not offering you a recording, which is why this isn't much higher on the list. I originally left it off for that very reason, but added it after having to remove Obadiah Parker's "Hey Ya" cover.

19. "Umbrella (Rihanna cover)" - Tegan and Sara (live)
[myspace] [more tracks]
This one's not perfect. It's live, thus the recording's so-so. But there were so many "Umbrella" covers this year, I had to pick one for the list. I'd pretty much listen to any song these girls choose to cover. Tegan and Sara, please don't prove me wrong and cover "Cotton-Eyed Joe."

18. "You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon cover)" - Jens Lekman (live)
[myspace] [more tracks]
The kids on the blogosphere go absolutely nuts for Mr. Jens Lekman. I haven't been able to get into his stuff yet, but I do enjoy this much more melancholy take on Paul Simon's song. Why no chorus? Lekman said at a performance, "As a kid, I always hated the chorus of this song. And I always hated Chevy Chase's stupid grinning face in the video...but I realized how amazing the words and the verses were, this kind of abstract, weird poetry. I realized that I have to sing this song, but cut out Chevy Chase and the chorus."

17. "Pretty in Pink (Psychedelic Furs cover)" - The National (live)
[myspace] [more tracks]
Without really checking them out, I had idiotically passed this band off as another Joy Division groupie (i.e. She Wants Revenge). Thus, I waited until about two months ago to start listening to The National's 2007 effort, Boxer. And now, I'm just another National groupie. Their album is in my top five of 2007, and this cover is off their Daytrotter Sessions.

If you've never done so, do check out the uber-cool site,, for more awesome live recordings from your favorite indie bands. While you're checking out cool sites, head over to Blogothèque as well. Really well-done street performance videos by many of the bands on this list.

16. "Don't Stop Believin' (Journey cover)" - Petra Haden
[buy album] [myspace] [more tracks]
Love the original, love Petra Haden, love a cappella. Not everyone's cup of tea, but this cover was meant for me. It's off a cover compilation titled Guilty By Association, which is full of, you guessed it, guilty pleasures. Personally, this track and The Concretes' cover of "Back For Good" were the only two that stood out, but you should definitely check out Petra's many other covers. I enjoy her take on "Yellow" and "God Only Knows."

15. "I Summon You (Spoon cover)" - The Watson Twins (live)
[myspace] [more tracks]
One of my favorite Spoon songs covered by two of my favorite twins (keep trying Olsens, you'll be a fav someday). It's nice to hear this track sung by soothing female voices.

14. "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere (Bob Dylan cover)" - Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
[buy album] [myspace] [more tracks]
I have not seen the movie yet, but the soundtrack's pretty wonderful. Of course, if you're not a Dylan fan, you might want to avoid purchasing an album comprised solely of Dylan covers. But if you're not a Dylan fan, you might want to also do some soul-searching. You may recognize the names Glen Hansard and Markete Irglova from another amazing soundtrack: Once.

14. "Hey Ya (Outkast cover)" - Obadiah Parker (live)
[buy album] [myspace] [more tracks]
I'm not a fan of this guy's original music, but this cover sure is great. I think a million college students had the same reaction this year.

13. "Don't Get Me Wrong (Pretenders cover)" - Lily Allen
[buy album] [myspace] [more tracks]
Lily Allen recorded a few other good covers this year - The Kooks' "Naive," ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky," etc. This one is my favorite though, her voice is just so freaking cute and sexy. Male readers, I'll refrain from calling anything "so freaking cute and sexy" ever again. Sorry.

12. "Bring It On Home To Me (Sam Cooke cover)" - Britt Daniel
[buy album] [myspace] [more tracks]
Britt Daniel's voice is just "so freaking cute and sexy!" Just kidding. This cover takes a classic song and strips it down to just clapping and egg shaker and Britt's voice. And it works. This is off a compliation album called Bridging The Distance, comprised of songs from artists with some relation to Portland, OR. Not worth buying the entire thing imho, but you can purchase choice tracks on iTunes via the "buy album" link above.

Speaking of Britt Daniel, Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga will most likely be in my top ten 2007 albums. It will definitely be in my top worst album names of 2007.

11. "Talking Old Soldiers (Elton John cover)" - Bettye LaVette
[buy album] [myspace] [more tracks]
Elton's song was meant for a voice like this. Bettye LaVette absolutely owns this. The most depressing song on the list. Not wise to listen to before or after a Friday night out.

10. "Careless Whisper (George Michael cover)" - Gossip
[buy album] [myspace] [more tracks]
Beth Ditto can sing. This song makes me want to dance. That pretty much sums up this cover.

This and the earlier Lily Allen cover are off Radio 1's compilation album, Radio 1 Established 1967, but wait! Do not purchase this album! The 38 other covers are extremely underwhelming. Definitely not worth the $63 price tag!

But that's just me. The "buy album" link is still up above to aid in your regretable decision.

9. "Ceremony (New Order cover)" - Radiohead (live)
[more tracks]
It's just nice to hear Radiohead do anything remotely normal. They recorded this along with a Smiths cover in a webcast earlier this year. While I love In Rainbows and Radiohead's progressive ways, I still love them most when they're not trying to reinvent the wheel and they stick to playing as a simple, yet amazing, rock band. They do this here.

8. "Down In A Hole (Alice in Chains cover)" - Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
[buy album] [myspace] [more tracks]
I never thought I'd enjoy an Alice in Chains song this much. This entire EP is great. Purchase via the link above.

7. "Sea Lion Woman (Nina Simone cover)" - Feist
[buy album] [myspace] [more tracks]
Sweet Sassy Molassey, Feist had a good year. I'm sure most of you have purchased The Reminder by now. This is just one of the many, many awesome tracks from that album.

6. "Goin' To Acapulco (Bob Dylan cover)" - Jim James & Calexico
[buy album] [myspace] [more tracks]
My favorite off the I'm Not There soundtrack, and the second to make this list. My Morning Jacket's lead singer, Jim James, brings a sort of haunting quality to this song. It wasn't my favorite right from the get-go, but it grows on you.

5. "Love Reign O'er Me (The Who cover)" - Pearl Jam
[buy album] [myspace] [more tracks]
While Pearl Jam's cover didn't inspire me enough to see the movie, it's still pretty awesome. And yeah, that's it. As you can see, I'm getting tired of writing these little commentaries.

4. "When You Were Mine (Prince cover)" - Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele
[myspace] [more tracks]
This is an incredibly simple rendition of the Prince original. Yet, there's something about Dent May, and his magnificent ukulele, that makes this cover incredibly addicting. This was the first I had heard of Dent May, and after a bit of googling, I found that he has his EP online as a free download. Go check it out. Reminiscent of The Magnetic Fields.

3. "So Long, Marianne (Leonard Cohen cover)" - Ravens & Chimes
[myspace] [more tracks]
"So Long, Marianne" is one of my favorite Leonard Cohen songs. This cover is not that song. And I'm glad it's not. Ravens & Chimes take the original and put an Arcade Fire-ish spin on it. With a driving bass drum and collective "woah-oh-oh" chanting, the finished product is its own distinctive song, and a very good one at that. Check out the band's album, Reichenbach Falls.

2. "Valerie (The Zutons cover)" - Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse
[buy album] [myspace] [more tracks]
Some online critics, like Pitchfork, did not take kindly to this one. And I'm not really sure why. The original Zutons song is indeed awesome, but a cover doesn't necessarily have to surpass its source. Ronson and Winehouse took an already great song, stamped their own doo-wop sound on it, and it remains a great song. Thumbs up from me!

1. "All My Friends (LCD Soundsystem cover)" - Franz Ferdinand
[buy album] [myspace] [more tracks]
First off, the original song is amazing. I absolutely love the lyrics and the line, "You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan, and the next five years trying to be with your friends again." I think that sums up how a lot of young adults in their mid-20's feel. I definitely do.

The lyrics seem to fit even better in the hands and guitars of Franz Ferdinand, which add a sense of urgency and drive, while still keeping its kinda depressing foundation. When I'm driving home alone after a night out, which is every night out, I find myself listening to this version more.

The original LCD Soundsystem track is in my top twenty songs of the year. Franz Ferdinand's cover is in my top ten. Thus, number one favorite cover of 2007.


Anonymous megan said...

Thanks for the music!
Im with you on the not being totally sold on Jens Lekman, however that cover is beautiful. I also love the cover of "You Aint Goin Nowhere." And "Sea Lion Woman" is one of my favorites off of "The Reminder." It always makes me want to dance around and clap my hands haha.

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Nessa said...

Great list, as usual, but where was Chris Thile's cover of "Heart in a Cage"?

You did say it was possibly your favorite cover of all time.

And while it's technically been around since last year, so has "Hey Ya"

I'm just asking! :)

8:54 PM  
Blogger Captain Oats said...

Hey Megan,
Glad you enjoyed the covers! Anything I missed that you'd put on the list?

Hi Nessa,
Great point! I did not realize the "Hey Ya" cover was 2006. I've revised the list, thanks for pointing that out!

I do love Thile's "Heart in a Cage" cover, and were this 2006, I'd totally have it on there somewhere!

3:00 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

For a good cover of "Sexyback," try Rock Plaza Central. Note: If you dislike bluegrass, this may be one minute and five seconds' more excruciating than Ms. Bailey Ray's version.

8:50 AM  
Blogger NYOne said...

Great list, Captain! I can't wait to check out some of the new tracks. Personally, I enjoyed the Plain White T's cover of Umbrella the most this year. I can't swear that it was 2007, but the Grizzly Bear's "He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)" was hilarious and wrong and awesome.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Wayne said...

Fun list esp. Tegan and Sara's.
Let me add some of my favorite covers of this year...might show my age or lack of

1) Killing Moon (echo and the bunnymen) - Grant Lee Philips (cover album, nineteeneighties is great)
2) Chasing Car (snow patrol) - Natasha Bedingfield
3) Stop Me (The Smiths) - Mark Ronson
4) How Deep Is Your Love (Bee Gees) - The Bird and the Bee

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer in GA said...

Great list!

I really liked Dawn Landes' cover of "Young Folks".

4:00 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

Great list! I'm obsessed with The National, so I was very happy to see their cover of Pretty in Pink on there. And I love your #1 choice.
A couple of my faves that didn't make the cut:
Natasha Bedingfield - The Scientist (Coldplay cover)
Kelly Clarkson - Why (Annie Lennox cover) (I'm not a huge Kelly Clarkson fan, but I love her version of this song)

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the music!

One that I would have added "Hard Sun" by Eddie Vedder. I love that you have Love Reign O'er Me, but damn I love Eddie's voice on Hard Sun.


5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome songs Sonny! I am loving Britt Daniel doing "Bring it on Home". That's one of my favorites of all time.

Plus, who doesn't love the egg-shaker?


5:59 AM  
Blogger michelle said...

thanks for the music! lily allen always makes me smile. :)

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Krissi D said...

You're back; yay! Me missed you much! Thanks for the tunes. they're great!

Have a Merry Merry and a Happy Happy and remember a huge majority of TV audiences are behind the writers!!

8:31 PM  
Anonymous megan said...

Hey cap'n, I would add Ivana XL "Nobody Does it Better"
So breathy and beautiful and seductive and yet sweet.

9:30 PM  
Blogger KBO said...

Great list to distract me from real work today. I, too, never thought I could love an Alice in Chains song like I love the Ryan Adams/Cardinals cover.

5:42 AM  
Blogger Aeris Cloud said...

Great choices. "Sea Lion Woman" is such a catchy song. It's interesting to hear the original Nina Simone song and compare it to Feist's version.

5:47 AM  
Blogger Me said...

Nice list. I thought U2's cover of Instant Karma was one of the better covers this year. They really didn't do anything special or try to re-invent the song. It was just a good straightforward cover.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome. I knew you'd come through with some new music. I know I'm needy but you really have been such a great source for finding new music. Thank you & because I love it so, keep it up, please. Wusical Wednesday or whatever day of the week it doesn't matter there's a ton of music I'm sure I'm missing out on & I know you are the guy who knows what that is. I know you are super busy, which is why you don't post as much, but know that when you do, it is SUPER APPRECIATED that it had to be shouted. Thanks again. I'm looking forward to hearing & listening to these covers & possibly discovering new bands.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Taylor said...

Yet again you manage to take what small music cred I believe I have and smash it into little too-reflective uniform pieces.
Without you I might be listening to Fergie. Or even worse, Britney/ *shudders*
Anyway, thank you!!!

1:24 PM  
Anonymous vaedri said...

Thanks so much - I always enjoy so much of what you share, so I'm sure I'll have a few more favourites after this bunch!

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you haven't already, check out Ollabelle's cover of 'Sea Lion Woman' (called 'See Line Woman' on their Riverside Battle Songs CD). It was released in August '06 so therefore doesn't qualify on this list but it's another interesting take on a Nina Simone classic.

Oh and as a sidenote for those covers lovers out there, Radiohead covers the Deftones 'Be Quiet & Drive' and I think it's beautiful.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just looking at this blog right now for the first time and I'm sad that your 'under the covers' post was only short-lived. I also have a soft spot for covers. I was going to start writing a monthly article for music publications called 'cover to cover' because I love this stuff. Any chance it won't be so short lived?

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm thrilled you recognized Dent May; he's a local gem, known by hundreds of Oxford residents as "that guy that works at the bookstore in the Square who was on Thacker Mountain Radio."

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Strategy Game Guides said...

Very nice selection mate, I truly enjoyed listening to these even now that Christmas is gone for yet another year!

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice list. I thought U2's cover of Instant Karma was one of the better covers this year. They really didn't do anything special or try to re-invent the song. It was just a good straightforward cover.

Pulsione erotica

5:03 PM  
Blogger ann said...

Christmas season is coming again, we all gonna hear this songs soon on any radio station! :)

2:37 AM  
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7:51 PM  

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