Tik Tok is a sad song??
January 7, 2011 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for acoustic covers of pop songs that add emotion?

I found and looked through this question that has a few relevant answers, but I'm more specifically interested in the cover turning a pop/dance song into a slow one with depth and emotion. This, this and this is what I'm looking for.
posted by LarrenD to Media & Arts (61 answers total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
Richard Thompson is the king.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:38 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ted Leo: Since You've Been Gone
posted by eatdonuts at 11:39 AM on January 7, 2011

I Love How You Love Me
posted by scruss at 11:39 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Such Great Heights (The Postal Service), Iron and Wine cover
posted by ddaavviidd at 11:39 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wakey!Wakey! did a pretty good acoustic cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy"

Taken by Trees did a haunting version of "Sweet Child of Mine" for a horror movie I cannot recall.

Just about any cover Johnny Cash or Ray Charles ever did. Cash's cover of NiN's "Hurt" fits the bill particularly well.
posted by cross_impact at 11:46 AM on January 7, 2011

No joke, but I really appreciated the following cover more than the original Outkast song:

Mat Weddle - Hey Ya
posted by jpolchlopek at 11:47 AM on January 7, 2011 [5 favorites]

Patti Smith's cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" makes me cry.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:49 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Greg Laswell also did "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," used to surprisingly devastating effect in an episode of The Hills. Seriously!
posted by bcwinters at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2011

The Flaming Lips covering Kylie Minogue's Can't Get You Out Of My Head. Well, acoustic guitar, at least.
posted by Mountain Goatse at 11:55 AM on January 7, 2011

Jose Gonzalez covering The Knife's "Heartbeats".

Not really a pop song in the same vein as Cyndi Lauper or Katy Perry, but certainly in the spirit of what you're asking for.
posted by axiom at 11:55 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

M Wards cover of Let's Dance
posted by phelixshu at 11:57 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mat Weddle - Hey Ya

Mandy Moore - Umbrella

The Chapin Sisters - Toxic

Tori Amos does a ton of live covers that are great in a very-Tori Amos way.
posted by pised at 11:58 AM on January 7, 2011

The version that Cyndi Lauper herself does now of her earlier pop hit Time After Time - slower, much more thoughtful - is very moving. She duets with famous partners on it for various occasions and benefits; here, she performs it with her close friend, Patti Labelle.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 11:59 AM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you can find Lispector's version of 'Total Eclipse of the Heart', it's an almost perfect example - it's almost too sincere and emotional to listen to. You can find it here - it's on the 'Lucas Never Understood' album.

A youtube example - Cat Power's version of 'Deep Inside', though the original isn't without depth either.
posted by piato at 12:04 PM on January 7, 2011

Another Tori Amos cover: a super-creepy version of Eminem's already-creepy "'97 Bonnie and Clyde", off her album Strange Little Girls where she reinterprets songs originally performed by men.
posted by pised at 12:07 PM on January 7, 2011

Eva Cassidy's version of Time After Time is a favorite of mine...
posted by theplatypus at 12:25 PM on January 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

The ultimate example of this trope is Clem Snide's cover of Beautiful, originally by Christina Aguilera.
posted by carsonb at 12:31 PM on January 7, 2011

An early example of this trope, and still one of my favorites: Aztec Camera doing "Jump"
posted by neroli at 12:42 PM on January 7, 2011

Yael Naim- Toxic
posted by kimdog at 12:42 PM on January 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Glen Hansard has two outstanding covers:

Cry Me a River (orig. Justin Timberlake)
Everytime (orig Britney Spears)
posted by AgentRocket at 12:50 PM on January 7, 2011

John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats) has been been doing a cover of "The Sign" at live shows for years, often including a monologue about his love of the song. There are a million recordings and videos floating around: this is a particularly good version.
posted by neroli at 12:51 PM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Andrew Paul Woodworth — Fight for Your Right is a soulful acoustic guitar cover, though it's hard not to interpret it as somewhat tongue-in-cheek.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:51 PM on January 7, 2011

Brianna Lane's cover of "Learn to Fly", by the Foo Fighters, is one of my favorites.
posted by bibliowench at 12:56 PM on January 7, 2011

Ane Brun - True Colors.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:00 PM on January 7, 2011

Swans - Can't Find My Way Home

Jarboe adds melodrama to everything.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:13 PM on January 7, 2011

"I'm a Believer" was a giant pop hit for the Monkees in 1966. Neil Diamond wrote it and did this acoustic version all these years later. Maybe 1966 isn't what you had in mind, but still...
posted by Right On Red at 2:26 PM on January 7, 2011

Zee Avi - First of the Gang (Morrissey) Beautiful and melancholy.
posted by rosebengal at 2:31 PM on January 7, 2011

Nina Gordon's cover of N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton
Edson's cover of The Darkness' I Believe in a Thing Called Love
The Scala & Kolacny Brothers Choir's cover of the Divinyls' I Touch Myself
and weirdest and greatest of all the Langley Schools Music Project's cover of The Eagles' Desperado
posted by nicwolff at 3:07 PM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is it a cover if it's the same band? Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps (live acoustic version)
posted by mhum at 3:10 PM on January 7, 2011

Seconding Matt Weddle's Hey Ya and Tori's Teen Spirit.

In the spirit of artists "covering" their own songs, I present the Foo Fighters' Everlong.
posted by chronic sublime at 4:27 PM on January 7, 2011

Jimmy Fallon (as Neil Young) and Bruce Springstein's cover of Willow Smith's Whip My Hair.

I know it was done as satire, but still! It's amazing!
posted by keep it under cover at 4:38 PM on January 7, 2011

John Wesley Harding, Like a Prayer.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:23 PM on January 7, 2011

Sam Amidon - Relief (R. Kelly cover)
posted by rrrico at 5:34 PM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Omagh Community Youth Choir covers U2's Love Rescue Me
posted by alfanut at 6:22 PM on January 7, 2011

OOH OOOH!!!! I got one!

Dismemberment Plan - Crush (Jennifer Paige)
posted by stratastar at 7:29 PM on January 7, 2011

Lady GaGa covers her own songs in acoustic style to surprisingly good results:

Poker Face
posted by Senza Volto at 8:24 PM on January 7, 2011

By the way, probably not what you're looking for, but here's Lady Gaga's Paparazzi awesomely covered by an 11 year old on piano.
posted by Senza Volto at 8:26 PM on January 7, 2011

Evan Dando of the Lemonheads could make a whole album of acoustical pop covers. His best are ABBA's 'Knowing Me, Knowing You' and Whitney Houston's 'How Will I Know?'
posted by Mael Oui at 12:43 AM on January 8, 2011

Dig around MeFi Music a little. This may have been some sort music challenge or something a while back. At any rate, listen to edgeways haunting version of "You Spin Me Round"
posted by klarck at 5:34 AM on January 8, 2011

As much as I hate to admit it, the cast from Glee has done a couple of really good covers, one being the cover of Lady Gaga's Poker Face.

For redemption I'll also submit some Final Fantasy covers:
The Power of Love

Oh, and I can't remember if it was mentioned, but the AV Club did a series with musicians that made for some great covers:
The Clientele- Paper Planes
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists- Everybody Wants to Rule the World
posted by _superconductor at 6:33 AM on January 8, 2011

Oh, and it would probably be apt to mention the oeuvre of Nouvelle Vague.

Some good ones include:
Love Will Tear Us Apart
In A Manner of Speaking
Our Lips Are Sealed
God Save the Queen

yeah you get the point.
posted by _superconductor at 7:22 AM on January 8, 2011

As if Townes Van Zant wasn't stripped enough, this Be Good Tanyas version of Waitin' Around To Die is awesome (and was used well on Breaking Bad). Evan Dando did a good job with it too.
posted by skypieces at 11:08 AM on January 8, 2011

Ryan Adams - Wonderwall
posted by gally99 at 5:55 PM on January 8, 2011

Mechanical Bride - Umbrella
posted by bobobox at 7:27 PM on January 11, 2011

Nthing Tori Amos; her cover of "I Don't Like Mondays" by the Boomtown Rats is one of my favorite songs.
posted by kostia at 10:09 PM on January 11, 2011

Travis - Hit Me Baby One More Time

This might be the most niggling exception, but the Travis version (at least the recording of it I've heard) kind of undercuts itself because you can hear them laughing in the background: they're jokey and overly broad about it. The Fountains of Wayne version is practically heartbreaking by comparison.
posted by kittyprecious at 10:51 AM on January 12, 2011

Crooked Fingers' cover of Prince's When You Were Mine is pretty brutal if banjo/cello gets into your heart more than synth does.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:40 AM on January 12, 2011

Hellsongs are a female-fronted, Swedish 'lounge rock' band who do acoustic covers of Metal classics such as Iron Maiden's 'Run to the Hills'.
posted by Rufus T. Firefly at 11:43 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, has no one yet mentioned Jonathan Coulton's cover of Baby Got Back?

I recently heard the original version for the first time in ages. I was shocked at how crass and commercial it was. Coulton's version is just so sweet and heartfelt. How he manages to dig poignancy out of a vintage early 90s Sir Mix-A-Lot song is nothing short of miraculous.
posted by ErikaB at 7:19 PM on January 13, 2011

Not acoustic, but definitely slowed down and emotionally charged: Dump doing Prince's 1999.
posted by carsonb at 7:22 PM on January 13, 2011

Britney Spears' Everytime as performed by Glen Hansard and Colm Mac Con Iomaire of The Frames.
posted by shannonm at 4:52 PM on January 17, 2011

Another Eva Cassidy entry: Ain't No Sunshine (original by Bill Withers). Check out her other songs -- she was a very talented woman who did some lovely covers.
posted by Paris Elk at 9:51 AM on January 29, 2011

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