Introduce me to mindblowing covers of cliched songs.
December 14, 2011 5:06 PM   Subscribe

Introduce me to mindblowing covers. I'm interested in cool, unconventional cover versions that turn cliched songs into something new entirely.
posted by micketymoc to Media & Arts (155 answers total) 179 users marked this as a favorite

Have you looked through Copy Cats on Tumblr? There's lots of nice surprises there.
posted by everydayanewday at 5:18 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

They're sick of being told that it's by Phish. And sick of being asked to play it. But Gourds cover of Snoop Dogg's Gin & Juice is definitely unconventional.
posted by lantius at 5:18 PM on December 14, 2011 [5 favorites]

posted by John Cohen at 5:18 PM on December 14, 2011

New York, New York by Cat Power
posted by bricksNmortar at 5:18 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

It doesn't get much better than Richard Thompson covering Britney Spears:
posted by wisekaren at 5:19 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Let's Dance, originally by David Bowie; transformed into a dreamy love song by M. Ward.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 5:21 PM on December 14, 2011 [7 favorites]

The Cardigans covers of Iron Man and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath are great.

The Flashbulb's cover of California Dreaming is very effective at conveying the mood of the song.

The Noto + Sakamoto version of By This River strips out the vocals in favor of piano/synth nuance.

Boris and Ai Aso together cover two older songs (one each) and put a decidedly different spin on each, in the former case because Wata does the vocals.

All of Steven Wilson's Cover Versions are worth a listen and also pack one original song each.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:21 PM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

Lambchop's cover of This Corrosion is... amazing, and makes the song something much more interesting than the original IMO.
posted by selfnoise at 5:21 PM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

Once In A Lifetime, done by Muph & Plutonic.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:21 PM on December 14, 2011

Eva Cassidy's Fields of Gold
posted by jquinby at 5:23 PM on December 14, 2011 [8 favorites]

Fantastic Plastic Machine covering Eurythmics' There Must Be an Angel (really requires a full 8-minute listening to appreciate it--but it's a wonderful 8 minutes).
posted by holterbarbour at 5:23 PM on December 14, 2011

Marilyn Manson's I Put A Spell On You. The sound he makes dragging on a cigarette is almost like an angry kiss.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:26 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nina Simone's cover of The BeeGee's "To Love Somebody" is a favourite of mine.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:28 PM on December 14, 2011

Also, The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain, who've never done an uninteresting cover, do Ennio Morricone.

So do Metallica.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:29 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Puppini Sisters are a close-harmony singing group in the style of the Andrews Sisters. They have done covers of some 1940s songs, covers of more recent songs in a 1940s style, and some original songs.

Definitely two of their more unconventional covers are The Smith's Panic and Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 5:32 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Saint Etienne's cover of Only Love Can Break Your Heart, originally by Neil Young.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:32 PM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

Ugh, that should be "The Smiths' Panic." Misplaced apostrophe.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 5:32 PM on December 14, 2011

Bill Evans' heartbroken, abstract reading of "I Loves You Porgy" from "The Solo Sessions, Vol. 2" is the quintessential one for me.

In a totally different direction, I also love LSDudes's Speak-and-Spell run at Don't Stop Believing - an early 80s hit that sounds the way the early 80s actually felt.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:34 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fairly certain everyone and their mother has seen this, but this guy does a pretty sweet "Hey Ya."

About twice a month I just search "acoustic cover" on youtube and watch what comes up.
posted by TomMelee at 5:35 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Clare and the Reasons- That's All
posted by catwash at 5:37 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

How about Man or Astro-Man doing the Talking Heads Television Man?
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:38 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Marilyn Manson Sweet Dreams
Sisters of Mercy Confide in Me
Cat Power Wonderwall
Dolly Parton Stairway to Heaven
posted by thylacinthine at 5:38 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Parenthetical Girls' cover of The Smiths' "This Charming Man turns the song into the truly terrifying thing the lyrics mean for it to be.
posted by griphus at 5:38 PM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

Im not usually a fan of covers, but the Shins version of We Will Become Silhouettes is kind of amazing. I much prefer it to the original.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 5:40 PM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

Grace Jones, She's Lost Control (Joy Division)

Eddie Hazel (from Funkadelic), California Dreamin' (the Mamas and the Papas)

Robert Wyatt, At Last I Am Free (Chic)

Nadja, Needle in the Hay (Elliott Smith) in a drone metal stylee
posted by Adventurer at 5:41 PM on December 14, 2011

I am short on time, but Aaron Durr's jazzy cover of Ludacris' "Roll Out" is just plain great.
posted by Night_owl at 5:42 PM on December 14, 2011

Ha, strike "At Last I Am Free," nothing overfamiliar about the original.
posted by Adventurer at 5:43 PM on December 14, 2011

"superstar" - originally by delaney & bonnie, covered by the carpenters, and then fantastically covered by sonic youth.
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 5:47 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I missed the "cliched originals" aspect of your question when I got excited about answering, but here are some definite reworks:

Infectious Grooves, Fame (David Bowie).

Stevie Ray Vaughn, Voodoo Chile (Jimi Hendrix)

Whitney Houston, I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton)

Johnny Cash, Rusty Cage (Soundgarden)

The Cardigans, Ironman (Black Sabbath)

Pretty "campy," but sill enjoyable: Paul Anka's album, Rock Swings
posted by GPF at 5:49 PM on December 14, 2011

This cover of Close to You from the movie Mirrormask.
posted by gauche at 5:51 PM on December 14, 2011

Winterplay, Billie Jean
posted by needled at 5:52 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's a stack of goodies at JJJ's Like A Version. One of my favourites is Damien Rice doing When Doves Cry.
posted by honey-barbara at 5:57 PM on December 14, 2011

Marty Casey Hit Me Baby (One More Time)
posted by thylacinthine at 5:58 PM on December 14, 2011

Ooh, also the Manic Street Preachers' cover of Umbrella, originally by Rihanna.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:59 PM on December 14, 2011

Three covers for J.S. Bach:

Sankanda et Lasset uns den night zerteilen

Quia Respexit

Air on a G string
posted by Bokmakierie at 5:59 PM on December 14, 2011

You should be listening to: Coverville. Acres of covers to choose from.

My suggestions, in no particular order:

Title . . . Artist [Originator]
Umbrella . . . Mandy Moore [Rhianna]
God Only Knows . . . Jonatha Brooke [Beach Boys]
I Will Survive . . . The Puppini Sisters [Gloria Gaynor]
MacArthur Park . . . Negro Problem [Richard Harris/Jimmy Webb]
Dear Prudence . . . Siouxsie & The Banshees [The Beatles]
Jump . . . Aztec Camera [Van Halen]
Friend Of The Devil . . . Lyle Lovett [Grateful Dead]
I'm Down . . . Beastie Boys [Beatles]
posted by artlung at 6:01 PM on December 14, 2011

This is one of my favorites - Rasputina's cello-rock cover version of The Velvet Underground's All Tomorrow's Parties
posted by SNWidget at 6:04 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) doing Billie Jean (Michael Jackson) and Redemption Song (Bob Marley)
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:06 PM on December 14, 2011

Alanis Morissette's cover of The Black Eyed Peas My Humps.
posted by wondermouse at 6:08 PM on December 14, 2011

Tom Waits Heigh Ho [Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs]
posted by Wossname at 6:08 PM on December 14, 2011

Cake's cover of War Pigs, which I like even better than their cover of I Will Survive.

I also love all the Nouvelle Vague covers, some better than the originals (which is saying a lot, because I love me some 80s music).
posted by immlass at 6:09 PM on December 14, 2011

Jeff Mangum — I Love How You Love Me
Robyn Hitchcock — More Than This
Ebony Hillbillies — Sexual Healing (in part in the link)
Marissa Nadler — True Love Will Find You in the End
Carolina Chocolate Drops — Hit 'em up Style
posted by scruss at 6:12 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Max Raabe: Oops I Did it Again (though I wish the drum part was more interesting)
posted by Wossname at 6:13 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Glen Hansard, of the Frames, covering Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" (Scroll down and hit the play button.)
posted by punchtothehead at 6:14 PM on December 14, 2011

Not sure if this is exactly what is being requested, but these covers have certainly redefined the originals for me.
Thou's cover of Nirvana's "Something in the Way"
Melt Banana's ridiculous take on Queen's "We will rock you"
Weedeater's cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Gimme Back my Bullets"
posted by yeoldefortran at 6:20 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

English Beat covering Tears of a Clown: Ska Smokey!
posted by apparently at 6:20 PM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

I've always had a particular fondness for Fiona Apple's cover of Across the Universe--in no small part because Pleasantville is a gem of a movie.
posted by Decimask at 6:26 PM on December 14, 2011

There are lots of great covers on When Pigs Fly, including Don Ho's cover of Shock the Monkey, Leslie Gore singing Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Herman's Hermits singing White Wedding, and Jackie Chan and Ani Difranco singing Unforgettable.

Another one that may interest you is Pat Boone's heavy metal album In a Metal Mood. Including this version of "Enter Sandman

If you like folk, Richard Thompson's Oops I did it again is a lot of fun.

If you like Folk Metal Disco, try Turisa's Rasputin.

posted by Mad_Carew at 6:29 PM on December 14, 2011

Richard Cheese. Jazzy lounge singer covers of unlikely tunes.
posted by lizifer at 6:33 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cat Power - Sea of Love

Johnny Cash - Personal Jesus

Aretha Franklin - The Weight
posted by amelliferae at 6:33 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Alien Ant Farm does Smooth Criminal.
posted by defreckled at 7:02 PM on December 14, 2011

Authority Zero doing Wall of Voodoo's Mexican Radio -
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:02 PM on December 14, 2011

The M. Ward version of Let's Dance by David Bowie.

Also, I like it when musicians playing acoustic instruments try to keep up with machines, like in these two covers:

The Bad Plus' version of Flim by Aphex Twin.
The Brandt Brauer Frick version of A 606 n' Rock n' Roll by James Braun.
posted by umbú at 7:03 PM on December 14, 2011

Mariah Carey's Bringing on the Heartbreak by Def Leppard originally.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:05 PM on December 14, 2011

Just to update the previous thread,
Joni Mitchell's acoustic performance of "This Flight Tonight"
Nazareth's electric cover of "This Flight Tonight"
Nazareth's acoustic version of Nazareth's electric cover of Joni Mitchell's acoustic performance of "This Flight Tonight"
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:07 PM on December 14, 2011

Wow, who would have thought NPR would reference Big Black? Christ I'm old. That being said, St. Vincent's cover of Big Black's totally epic seminal Kerosene is really incredible in the way it captures the energy and spirit of the original. The original being one of the best songs ever.
posted by xmutex at 7:25 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Toni Amos's cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit

Indigo Girls do Romeo & Juliet (originally by Dire Straights)

The glass harp you linked to is awesome.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:28 PM on December 14, 2011

Also, it's shitty quality, but Bon Iver is a genius so his cover of I Don't Want To Lose Your Love is just magical. Especially live, if you catch him...
posted by xmutex at 7:34 PM on December 14, 2011

All Along The Watchtower: Dave Matthews Band w/ John Popper
Superstar: Sonic Youth
Unchained Melody: U2
Orion: Rodrigo Y Gabriella
Wish You Were Here: Wyclef Jean
Midnight Cowboy: Faith No More
Fake Plastic Trees: Amanda Palmer
Under Pressure: Ben Harper
posted by nickrussell at 7:35 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Karen O's cover of Immigrant Song
posted by elizardbits at 7:36 PM on December 14, 2011

Sinead O'Connor - All Apologies (Nirvana)
Johnny Cash - Hurt (Nine Inch Nails)
Chemlab - In Every Dreamhome A Heartache (Roxy Music)
Tricky - Black Steel (Public Enemy)
Mogwai - Don't Cry (Guns 'n Roses)
Love and Rockets - Ball of Confusion (Temptations)
Revolting Cocks - If You Think I'm Sexy (Rod Stewart)
Patti Smith - Oh Yoko (John Lennon)

...and two that are kind of cheating a bit, because they both have one of the original performers, but no less mindblowing for it.

Merry Clayton - Gimme Shelter (Rolling Stones)
Annie Lennox + David Bowie - Under Pressure (Queen)

....and finally, Buffy St. Marie covering a Leonard Cohen poem:

Buffy St. Marie - God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot (Leonard Cohen)
posted by Jairus at 7:37 PM on December 14, 2011

sorry, linkety
posted by elizardbits at 7:37 PM on December 14, 2011

Oh, Better version (soundboard) of Bon Iver's Your Love.. man!
posted by xmutex at 7:38 PM on December 14, 2011

Mark Kozelek recorded an entire album of acoustic AC/DC covers, and another album of brilliantly reinterpreted Modest Mouse songs (the latter released as a Sun Kil Moon record). They're both great.

Up To My Neck In You
Trucker's Atlas
posted by amb at 7:49 PM on December 14, 2011

Yael Naim covering Toxic
posted by sadtomato at 8:02 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I love Rivers Cuomo's cover of Tomorrow from Annie. He changes the chord progression slightly, and suddenly it's really lovely and wistful.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 8:07 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Probably some duplicates from above here:
posted by nicwolff at 8:11 PM on December 14, 2011

Sarah Blasko doing Outkast's Hey Ya
posted by b33j at 8:12 PM on December 14, 2011

William Shatner covered Common People.
posted by myelin sheath at 8:14 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Andrew Denton (Australian radio/TV personality) caused a number of unusual covers to be done, out of the artist's normal genre.

Teenage Dirtbag done country style.
I write the songs done Blues
Morning Train done Rock
posted by b33j at 8:18 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

My favorite: Jonathan Coulton - Baby Got Back, originally by Sir Mix-A-Lot
posted by Ephilation at 8:19 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's an oldie, but if you've never seen it, or haven't seen it recently: Jimi Hendrix's cover of Like a Rolling Stone from Monterey Pop is epic. The copyright holders are playing whack-a-mole with this one on youtube, so you may have to search for it.
posted by and for no one at 8:21 PM on December 14, 2011

Jolene by the White Stripes. There are quite a few really great live versions on Youtube.
posted by peep at 8:36 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Residents' The 3rd Reich and Roll definitely turns cliched songs into something new entirely, whether you like what they turn them into is another matter of course.

Side A
Side B

posted by pmcp at 8:48 PM on December 14, 2011

Also, I really like this Freakwater's folk cover of War Pigs by Black Sabbath.
posted by pmcp at 8:51 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding NIN`s Hurt covered by Johnny Cash.
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 8:54 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Long Winters cover of ZZ Top's "Give Me All Your Lovin'", which is on a Starbucks compilation of all things (Sweetheart 2010). Video of a live performance of it, with accompanying hilarity, here.
posted by bedhead at 9:00 PM on December 14, 2011

Cake's version of I Will Survive is a great gender- and genre-switch of a cover.

The Section Quartet's fantastic string quartet adaptation of Muse's Time is Running Out (link to the ASCAP video so you can see the live version). They do other covers, but this is my favorite.
posted by clerestory at 9:32 PM on December 14, 2011

The Abyssinians-Blowin in the wind
posted by alfanut at 9:37 PM on December 14, 2011

Coltrane's My Favorite Things
posted by at at 9:57 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tom Waits' cover of Somewhere (There's a Place for Us) - from West Side Story
posted by marsha56 at 10:55 PM on December 14, 2011

Deathbomb Arc put out a whole record of covers of Cash Money songs, as done by California's weirdest bands: WHY IS ANYTHING FORBIDDEN 2: A TRIBUTE TO CASH MONEY RECORDS
posted by beerbajay at 12:54 AM on December 15, 2011

Australia's public broadcast radio station Triple J (JJJ) has a segment called Like a Version (a play on 'Like a Virgin'). Bands are asked to cover a song acoustically- so far they have released 5 CDs of the results. Bound to be some interesting ones in there for you!
posted by AnnaRat at 1:10 AM on December 15, 2011

Alasdair Roberts (Appendix Out) did a good cover of Pavement's Frontwards.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:42 AM on December 15, 2011

The Bad Livers did a rather splendid version of Lust for Life.
posted by Yo Soy La Morsa at 1:52 AM on December 15, 2011

Les Thugs' cover of the Dead Kennedy's Moon Over Marin shifts it from a short punk song into a long, nightmarish waking dream in the form of 90s shoegazer pop.
posted by rodgerd at 1:56 AM on December 15, 2011

Stairway to Heaven - Rolf Harris
posted by flabdablet at 2:24 AM on December 15, 2011

Staple Singers - For What It's Worth (Buffalo Springfield)
Bettye LaVette - Heart Of Gold (Neil Young)
James Brown - Your Cheatin Heart (Hank Williams)
Toots & The Maytals - Country Roads (John Denver)
Prince Buster - All My Loving (Beatles)
LB - Superbad (James Brown)
Señor Coconut - Smooth Operator (Sade)
Sun City Girls - Me & Mrs. Jones (Billy Paul)
and nobody said Dinosaur Jr yet? - Just Like Heaven (The Cure)
posted by p3t3 at 2:36 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Flaming Lips dual cover of The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army while singing (mostly) the words to the Butthole Surfers - Moving To Florida.

NOFX's cover of Minor Threat - Straight Edge sounds like a completely different song altogether. (for that matter, so does Minor Threat's cover of The Monkees - (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone)

I quite enjoy Reel Big Fish's cover of Duran Duran's Hungry Like The Wolf.
posted by namewithoutwords at 3:43 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Rolling in the deep by John Legend
Killing in the name of by Sebastien
Ayo Technology - Milow
Not really a cover, but there's some great acoustic versions of songs by the same artists....
Personal Fav. Original Fire - Chris Cornell

If you want a copy of the youtube videos, you can always use Youtube to MP3 to Download the songs.
posted by MechEng at 6:01 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Cleverlys perform great bluegrass versions of songs like Walk Like an Egyptian and Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It). They're also a lot of fun to watch.

I can't believe nobody has mentioned Dread Zeppelin yet.
posted by tdismukes at 6:17 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Adventurer posted California Dreaming. But have you ever heard this version of it. (club version)

I believe this is Global Dj's and not Benny Benassi as posted by youtube video name. California Dreaming remixed hook kicks in around the 1 min mark.
posted by MechEng at 6:30 AM on December 15, 2011

Hayseed Dixie's bluegrass version of Highway to Hill (and others)
posted by jquinby at 6:38 AM on December 15, 2011

MeFi Music had an October challenge of recording an uncool song without irony. My favorite is Fame by chococat.
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 6:38 AM on December 15, 2011 Hell
posted by jquinby at 6:39 AM on December 15, 2011

Not sure whether any of these started out cliched, but they're all mindblowing:

- Romeo and Juliet - Dire Straights/The Killers
- Ben Gibbard of Death Cab did Avril Lavigne's Complicated on his solo tour. Reception was mixed. - - There are recordings floating around on the internet.
- Eve 6, back in the day when they were still a band, did a live cover of "I Touch Myself" by the Divinyls. It's pretty rad. Again, you'll find it floating around somewhere.
- The Man Who Sold the World - Bowie/Nirvana
- Summertime - Gershwin I think?/Muse. Also about this song: "The common opinion is that "Summertime" vies with the Beatles' "Yesterday" as one of the most popular cover songs in popular music, with an estimated 2,500 different versions recorded."
- Mad World - Tears for Fears/Gary Jules
- Across the Universe - The Beatles/Fiona Apple
- Across the Universe - The Beatles/Rufus Wainwright
- Sexual Healing - Marvin Gaye/Ben Harper. Another live cover.
- Brandon Boyd of Incubus did a cover of Alison by Elvis Costello for GAP. Don't know if it's still available, it was on some GAP CD.
- Scarlet Begonias - Grateful Dead/Sublime
- Wild Horses - The Rolling Stones/The Sundays
posted by jitterbug perfume at 7:08 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's a thread up on the blue of one of his covers, but Matt Mulholland has a bunch of videos of covers he's done on Youtube, and even has a Covers album out tomorrow on iTunes. His covers are often unconventional, silly, and/or interesting takes of popular music.
posted by mysterpigg at 8:43 AM on December 15, 2011

Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" as performed by Canadian artist Kevin Fox. This is a video of the live performance, similar enough to the recording from his album. I hope Annie and Dave hear this, what a beautiful interpretation of their classic song!
posted by kuppajava at 9:08 AM on December 15, 2011

Clem Snide covered Asia's "Heat of the Moment".

Turns out, it's actually a good song :)
posted by Twicketface at 9:55 AM on December 15, 2011

If you want more joy than you can handle, dig into David Rees's (of Get Your War On fame) archive of Friday Face Offs where he picks a pop song and then finds and raves about the best amateur covers on YouTube.
posted by straight at 10:26 AM on December 15, 2011

Just remembered, Bryan Ferry does a seriously cool Positively 4th Street
posted by Adventurer at 11:01 AM on December 15, 2011

I know I'm late to the game, but Devo's cover of (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction is the best ever done.
posted by Dmenet at 11:18 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Macha Loved Bedhead's touchtone phone cover of Cher's Believe (the original autotune jam) is pretty inspired.
posted by speicus at 11:49 AM on December 15, 2011

Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy) covers Mariah Carey's "Sweet Fantasy" with a violin and a loop pedal.
posted by puddleglum at 11:52 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Several of mine have already been mentioned, but I'd submit:

Coil's "Tainted Love"
Tanzwut's "Ironman" (in German, with bagpipes)
Cat Empire's "Hotel California" (in French)
Bauhaus' "Severance"
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 11:59 AM on December 15, 2011

Einstürzende Neubauten's "Sand" (Sinatra/Hazlewood)
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 12:08 PM on December 15, 2011

Type O Negative usually includes a cover on each album, and Summer Breeze (Seals & Crofts cover) is a particularly lovely departure from the original. There's also Cinnamon Girl, a cover of a Neil Young song, and a Beatles medley.
posted by meggan at 12:33 PM on December 15, 2011

OK Go covered the Muppets Theme. (AWESOME.)
posted by cnc at 1:01 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

-The Slits' "I Heart It Through the Grapevine"
-Devo's "Satisfaction"...PJ Harvey and Bjork's. Cat Power's version is pretty good too.
-Speaking of, Cat Power early on was awesome at twisting songs and making them her own. "Still In Love", "Psychic Hearts", "Wonderwall", "I Found a Reason", "Bathysphere", "Red Apples", "Wild is the Wind", "Sea of Love", "Fate of the Human Carbine", "Yesterday is Here"
-Speaking of Tom Waits and "Sea of Love", his version is nice too.
-Peter Laughner and Friends' version of "The Calvary Cross"
-Sonic Youth's version of "Hotwire My Heart"
-Rebecca Gates' live version of "Talk of the Town" is lovely.
-Speaking of her/the Spinanes, Fluf's version of "Entire"
-Will Oldham/Bonnie "Prince" Billy's covered a bunch of songs by people like the Cranberries ("Dreaming My Dreams"), Bill Withers ("The Same Love that Made Me Laugh")...and often they're quite moving, live at least.
-Love it or hate it, Greg Dulli/Afghan Whigs/Twilight Singers has covered a ton of songs in pretty loving fashion. Personal favorites include "Hyperballad" (if you can find it the live KCRW version is way better/more moving), "Feeling of Gaze", "What Makes You Think You're the One" (so flipping good), "Ex Factor", "Real Love", "Little Red Corvette"
-Crooked Fingers' "The River" and "Sunday Morning Coming Down"
-Tori Amos' mocking version of "Hurt", like putting a pin prick in the balloon of Trent Reznor's ego...I also like her versions of "I Ran", "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", "Real Men", "Rattlesnakes", and "Strange Little Girl".
-Yo La Tengo's "You Can Have It All" and "By the Time It Gets Dark" (Mary Lou Lord's version is good too)
-Elliott Smith's "Waterloo Sunset"
-Not a cover per se, but Richard Buckner's musical adaptation of the poem "Elizabeth Childers" is one of my favorite songs ever
-Red House Painters' "Follow You, Follow Me", "All Mixed Up", "Albuquerque", "Silly Love Songs"
-Low's "Open Arms"
-Ryan Adam and Gillian Welch doing "Helpless"
-Spoon's "Me and the Bean"
-Built to Spill's Linus and Lucy theme
-Galaxie 500's "Listen, the Snow is Falling", "Ceremony", "Cheese and Onions"
-Xiu Xiu's version of (the admittedly already great) "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything", "Blueberry Mineshaft", etc.
-The Fall's "I'm a Mummy"
-I may get hanged for this, but I actually like Swans' version of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" despite not being a Jarbo fan. Dunno why (it's not really my sort of thing generally) but I do.
-Scud Mtn. Boys' "Wichita Lineman"
posted by ifjuly at 1:16 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

And in the vein of "Elizabeth Childers", Bonny Billy and the Marquis de Tren adapting Rabindranath Tagore's poetry in "2/15"
posted by ifjuly at 1:17 PM on December 15, 2011

oh and possibly Scout Niblett's "Just What I Needed"
posted by ifjuly at 1:18 PM on December 15, 2011

Tori Amos has appeared on this list a lot already, but no one has mentioned her cover of Slayer's "Raining Blood".
posted by Lifeson at 4:31 PM on December 15, 2011

Built to Spill's live 20 minute cover of Neil Young's Cortez the Killer is fucking brilliant.
posted by neuromodulator at 5:36 PM on December 15, 2011

I would encourage you to look into more of the covers done by The Bad Plus. Smells Like Teen Spirit, Iron Man, Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb.
posted by koucha at 9:15 PM on December 15, 2011

Bonnie Prince Billy covering R. Kelly. The World's Greatest
posted by metasav at 10:35 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Suzanna and the Magical Orchestra

Stina Nordenstam: People are strange (album; her Purple Rain is particularly good, but I couldn't find a video of it...)

Yat-Kha - ReCovers

posted by monkey closet at 2:11 AM on December 16, 2011

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes do this as an art form. Some of my favorites: Stand By Your Man, The Phantom of the Opera, Don't Cry For Me Argentina.

Shiny Toy Guns - Major Tom is a straight cover that is nonetheless awesome.

Lolita №18 has several, including Be My Baby.

Low IQ & Yukari Fresh - Anarchy in the UK will BLOW YOUR BRAINSTEM.

All of the Balanescu Quartet's covers of Kraftwerk on the album Posessed. Their stunning rendition of Computer Love is my favorite song of all time. BONUS: a gorgeous acoustic guitar version of the BQ's string quartet version of Kraftwerk's electronica.

TVTROPES WARNING: The Cover Changes the Meaning and Changes the Gender list some great ones.

And last but not least, the Dan Band's Total Fucking Eclipse of the Heart
posted by nicebookrack at 5:51 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh oh and Chappaquiddick Skyline's "Leave Me Alone".
posted by ifjuly at 6:32 AM on December 16, 2011

The entire schlick of Kiki And Herb is to turn pop songs into crushing cabaret numbers, check out thier cover of Total Ecplise Of The Heart.
posted by The Whelk at 6:46 AM on December 16, 2011

The Jolly Boys' entire album "Great Expectation" is awesome, here are my favorites:
You Can't Always Get What You Want
Perfect Day

Someone here once pointed me to this, and I love them for it. I don't thrill to the Beatles but oh my god, she has made this one of my favorite songs:
Aretha Franklin - Eleanor Rigby

for a groovy strange mood:
Ella Fitzgerald - Savoy Truffle
Robert Goulet - Green Tambourine
posted by mimi at 7:59 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

U900 cover Michael Jackson's Black or White (spotify link).
posted by tenaciousd at 9:05 AM on December 16, 2011

A few people have mentioned gender-role reversal, Greg Laswell does an awesome job of this:
Girls Just Want to Have Fun
This Woman's Work
posted by wannabecounselor at 6:19 PM on December 16, 2011

Al Green - Light My Fire
posted by empath at 6:48 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Johnny Cash sort of does Judas Priest (it's actually Jesse Morris who recently committed suicide.)
posted by wittgenstein at 10:28 AM on December 17, 2011

Pet Shop Boys cover of Always on my mind.
posted by matthewr at 6:49 PM on December 17, 2011

Nightwish's Phantom of the Opera. Their Over the Hills and Far Away is closer to the original.

Finland's Kuorosota competition, where well-known Finns act as choirmasters for various amateur choir groups, produces a variety of covers: Nightwish's bassist leads Bad Romance; Like a Virgin; I Was Made for Loving You; You Shook Me All Night Long, complete with gender switching.

Flying Nun's "Abbasalutely" album features New Zealand alternative bands doing Abba covers; for me the highlight was the Headless Chickens' Supertrouper, but the likes of Garageland's Dancing Queen are worth a listen.

Scala, a teenage girls' choir, doing The Divynls "I Touch Myself" is... well, it speaks for itself, really.
posted by rodgerd at 12:44 PM on December 18, 2011

American Idol winner Kris Allen's cover of Heartless by Kanye West probably handed him the contest.
posted by Metro Gnome at 1:05 AM on December 19, 2011

Ted Leo covering Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone".

Also, Avail covering John Mellencamp's "Pink Houses".
posted by teriyaki_tornado at 12:18 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ke$ha's version of Dylan's Don't Think Twice it's Alright is pretty incredible considering her other work.
posted by splatta at 5:54 AM on December 20, 2011

St. Vincent - Dig A Pony [Beatles] (alt version)

Ben Gibbard (Death Cab) - Thriller [Michael Jackson]

Jose Gonzalez: Frente - Bizarre Love Triangle [New Order]

Nouvelle Vague - Blue Monday [New Order]

Ted Leo: Calexico: Elliott Smith - Thirteen [Big Star] Warning: May make you cry.

You Ain't no Picasso put together an absolutely epic collection of covers that have been performed by Of Montreal. They've also done the same for St Vincent, Ted Leo, Fleet Foxes, Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, and Spoon.

The Onion's AV club have also curated a large number of indie rock covers over the past two years, almost all of which have been fantastic. [Last year and this year].

The undisputed highlight of that series was They Might Be Giants' cover of Chumbawamba's Tubthumping, which they did without actually really knowing the lyrics, while being accompanied by every single %*&ing person they could find and drag into the AV Club's tiny studio with them. It's every bit as great as it sounds.
posted by schmod at 12:08 PM on December 20, 2011

Some of my favorites are pretty queer :)
XiuXiu does Rihanna Only Girl in the World

The Cliks do Justin Timberlake's Cry Me A River

Tegan and Sara do Prince's When You Were Mine
posted by MidSouthern Mouth at 1:16 PM on December 26, 2011

Oh, that reminds, Crooked Fingers has a poignant cover of "When U Were Mine" too.
posted by ifjuly at 6:53 PM on December 26, 2011

Stayin' Alive by Supple. With cello.
posted by katherant at 10:25 PM on December 26, 2011

Laibach's cover of the Beatles' whole Let it Be album. Their video for Across the Universe (which recasts the song as a sort of sweet but disturbing fascist hymn) is worth watching.
posted by klausness at 8:28 AM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just ran across the Kokolo Afrobeat cover of Girls on Film, which definitely goes in a different direction to the original.
posted by immlass at 9:59 AM on January 14, 2012

White Town's original is kick ass, but Darren Hayes's version is especially heartbreaking (and the gender issue less ambiguous).
posted by divabat at 3:40 AM on January 30, 2012

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