Published Dec 24, 2013While every year we keep our ears to the ground for new tunes, there's something to be said for the charm of a cover song. Sometimes the idea of a song-based revamp can be as simple as hearing a different voice tackling a familiar vocal hook, while just as often listeners can get a kick out of finding a rock track delivered as roots-reggae, or hard-hitting metal recast under the hushed care of a bunch of folkies.
Assembled here are some of Exclaim!'s favourite cover songs of 2013, a mix of classic and contemporary cuts given a spit-shine by artists looking to give their own favourite songs new life.
Don't forget to check out our 2013 in Lists section to see more of our Year-End coverage.
Best Cover Songs of 2013:
"Vasoline" (Stone Temple Pilots)
Zeus didn't exactly embrace their inner grungers when they slapped a new coat of paint onto "Vasoline," one of Stone Temple Pilots' crunchiest offerings back in the '90s. True, a fuzz bass still rumbles heavy on that familiar two-note melody, but the Ontario outfit brought aboard a laid-back groove, siren-style synth sounds and more on their funky redo.
9. Lana Del Rey
"Summer Wine" (Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra)
The orchestral majesty of the original may give way to synth-strings on this version, but the entwining of Lana Del Rey's smoke-screen vocals and Barrie-James O'Neill's booming baritone still makes for a romantic run-through just a hair below Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra's arrangement.
8. Janelle Monáe
"I Want You Back" (The Jackson 5)
The Electric Lady was another impressive future-funk adventure from the R&B game's favourite arch-android, but Monáe took a fantastic journey back to the late '60s by redoing the Jackson 5's debut major label single, "I Want You Back." Her vocals run a little more low-key than little MJ's, and the soul arrangement is scaled back to just some shaker rhythms and a guitar jangle, but the song remains just as infectious over 40 years later.
7. Ty Segall
"The Motivator" (T. Rex)
That Ty Segall is into Marc Bolan should be no surprise, if only because both artists have impressively prolific and fairly consistent catalogues. Most awesome about Segall's dialled-down take on the searing rock groove of Electric Warrior's "The Motivator," however, is that by scrubbing the distortion in favour of acoustic guitars and a mild bongo-pound he may in fact also be toasting pre-glam Bolan, back when the band were called Tyrannosaurus Rex.
6. Ghost B.C.
"Waiting For the Night" (Depeche Mode)
Though culled from Depeche Mode's classic Violator LP, ghoulish psych-rock crew Ghost B.C.'s fuzzed-up take on "Waiting For the Night" treats the song just right. Gone are the minimalist synth swells, with Ghost BC instead rocking things up tenfold with gothic organ, a crunchy slow-mo beat and gothic vocal harmonies bringing a new twist on Dave Gahan's dark, stark reality.