I for one really hate covers… for the most part. There a
re some instances where a cover is better than the original recording – Clapton’s version of “Who Shot the Sheriff” comes to mind – but I generally feel like the artists covering a song should have left well enough alone. The popularity of YouTube has exacerbated this peeve of mine as any schmuck with a guitar (or other instrument) and a camera can post their terribly grating (seriously, I can’t even imagine talking to some of these people, let alone letting them sing to me) voice and mediocre (if you’re lucky) playing skills in order to torture the rest of the world.
Still, there are some diamonds in the rough, and that’s what I’m highlighting for you today. I’ve waded through the dirt and filth of YouTube to bring you my favourite covers so you don’t have to. Now, what kind of criteria did I use? Thanks for asking. First, it had to be a video on YouTube. Second, it had to be a cover. It’s that simple. Because I was so open about what to include you’ll see that there are not only professional instrumentals and popular bands, but also people with a camera and some talent who really stand out for one reason or another. As previously stated and the title suggests these are my favourite covers – that being the case the list is not exaustive and I realize there may be other covers that are just as good or better that I didn’t include. If you think I’ve missed something, put a link in the comments for other people’s benefit. And yes, I realize that some of the videos have gone viral and you may have seen them before.
So, after that lengthy introduction, here’s the list:
“The Final Countdown”
Originally by: Europe
Covered by: Liepāja Symphony Orchestra
I’m not sure it’s possible to not like this version of “The Final Countdown”. The original hit is catchy, even if it does feel like the equivalent of musical rock candy – good in small doses, but ultimately empty and bad for
your health if you have too much. I’ve heard other orchestral covers before, especially by the London Philharmonic, but this one really catches the fire of the original and rocks. Part of the appeal is also how into the music they get. I mean honestly, they headbang while playing cellos. How can you top that?
originally by: System of a Down
Holy shit this is a great cover. If you gave me the audio alone I would like it – the drumming is excellent and the two electric violins are an odd choice that really highlight what the instrument can do, espicially in this day and age. Then you have the video. Not only is it shot decently well, but the women are friggin’ gorgeous. Combine that with them rocking out hardcore and you’ve got a powerful combination. This video may have made the rounds a while ago, but it’s an instant classic and deservedly went viral.
“I Can’t Be Satisfied”
Originally by: Muddy Waters
Cover by: Slidestrings
This one is more similar in style and execution than any of the other covers in the list – Muddy Waters played slide guitar and Slidestrings covered him with a slide banjo. I like Slidestring’s cover because instead of dropping the vocals and just covering the guitar part he picked them up on the banjo. I think Muddy Water’s version is still the best, but this is an acceptable and perhaps outstanding take on it.
“Accidentally in Love”
Originally by: The Counting Crows
Cover by: jaaaaaaa (Julia Nunes)
I have to admit that I found out about Julia Nunes rather late in the game and that I really wish I’d found her earlier. It’s not that she’s a musical prodigy or anything, though she is good on the ukulele and guitar and has a decent voice you can listen to. No, I really like her because you can tell she really likes what she’s doing. You can’t help but smiling as you watch her play, the excitement is that contagious. I also like her because she’s amazed she’s internet famous. Her first video was a ukulele cover of Weezer’s “Keep Fishin’” she made in order to win a new, shinier ukulele. And then the internet happened and she went viral. She didn’t let it get to her head, and while her newer videos may be a bit more polished she still maintains the fun aire that made people like her in the first place.
Orginally by: The Beach Boys
Cover by: The Muppets
Ok, so I lied before. This is the cover most like the original. I mean it’s more or less the exact same instrumentally, just sung by The Muppets. I think part of why I like it is because I saw the video on Nickelodeon years and years ago. After they stopped playing it I couldn’t find the video anywhere, until YouTube happened. So admittedly there’s some nostalgic attachment working here. Still, I think most other people can agree that it’s a fun take on the classic song.
“Almost Cut My Hair”
Orginally by: Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young
Cover by: strat2caster
“Almost Cut My Hair” is one of my favourite CSN(&Y) songs, probably because I can easily relate to the topic, what with having the majestic mane that I do. Why strat2caster may not win any awards for singing or guitar ability any time soon, I still love his cover for a couple of reasons. First, he just looks like he ought to be singing it. Second, you can tell he really loves the music. There’s something to being authentic and playing a song you can get your heart into. Sure, people might like to listen to Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber and cover their songs, but I find it hard to believe anyone could put so much feeling into them.
“No Woman, No Cry”
Originally by: Bob Marley and the Wailers
Cover by: Blues Traveler and Ziggy Marley
This is an interesting take on the famous Bob Marley song. Upon hearing it you could guess, knowing nothing else, that’s it’s a Blues Traveler cover. That’s not to say that’s bad, just that their style and sound shine through. So it’s not like this is a punk cover or rock cover of “No Woman, No Cry”, this is a Blues Traveler cover. They pull the song off very well, both musically and stylistically. What really brings it together and pushes it onto my list is Ziggy Marley with them. Both Ziggy and John Popper (Blues Traveler frontman) are virtuosos in their respective genres and combined create a musical powerhouse filled with soul.
**This post is Ernest Hemingway approved**