We invite you to throw on a pair of headphones, sit back, and enjoy this great selection of cover songs chosen by the Mint staff.
Lo-Fang – “You’re the one that I want” by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John I loved this movie and soundtrack when I was a kid. I knew every word to every song by heart. The way “You’re the One that I Want” has been completely reinvented here blows my mind a little. He took it from uplifting and feel-good, to dark and deep, without missing a beat. It’s so good in fact, that Chanel No. 5 even used it in a recent spot.
Anne R’s Pick
Miley Cyrus – “Jolene” by Dolly Parton This song showcases Miley’s voice and talent. Dolly Parton is her godmother and you can hear the influence in some of Miley’s other live or acoustic songs.
Johnny Cash – “If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot I’m a big fan of sad and depressing music, and this cover takes the cake. I think it came out after he passed away, and it just seems like every memory/emotion/thought he had comes out in his voice.
Devo – “I can’t get no satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones It’s not that I like it that much, but it’s very different.
Jonathan Coulton – “Baby got back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot This one is just funny!
Cake – “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor For something “completely original”.
Michael Bublé – “Christmas” by Various Artists I’m in a festive mood so I will pick Michael Bublé’s entire Christmas album. His voice, paired with the jazzy melody, very nicely retains a classic feel to traditional holiday songs. While I appreciate other artists who add their own flare when covering songs, holiday music to me is more nostalgic and familiar rather than something new you’re discovering, so I think it’s nice to have an artist that sticks to the original melody that you can sing along with.
Radiohead – “The Headmaster Ritual” by The Smith One of my favorite covers is Radiohead playing the Smiths song “Headmaster Ritual”. Not only is Radiohead and the Smiths two of my favorite groups, but the video is classic Thom Yorke. He sounds awesome and is hilarious to watch perform. He makes a comment about not writing the song but experiencing what it’s about, which sheds some light into his weirdness.
The New Basement Tapes – “When I Get my Hands on You” by Bob Dylan The New Basement Tapes is a group of artists who got together and recorded tracks based on uncovered lyrics handwritten by Bob Dylan. I can listen to this song every day and will never grow sick of it – it’s romantic and heartfelt!
Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield – “Behind the Bars” by Elliot Smith With Jessica’s hauntingly beautiful voice and Seth’s sweet harmonies, these two musicians manage to lift up the sadder songs of Elliot Smith. This is just one song off of their album Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliot Smith, which features many great tracks with a fuller sound and in true Avett style – a banjo. I recommend giving the whole album a listen if you’re an Elliot Smith fan.
Ingrid Michaelson/Army of 3 – “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye To me, this is a very interesting cover, in large part because it was released in the same year as the original, by an arguably “bigger” artist than Gotye (quick, name another Gotye song…you can’t, right?). I’m pretty sure that the “Army of 3” is really just Ingrid Michaelson playing every instrument. I love her voice, and while this version is a less creative interpretation of the original song than others listed, to my ears it’s more appealing than the original. The video (which is just Ingrid playing/singing) is very cool, as well…beautifully art directed.
Johnny Cash – “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails This is one of those “backwards” covers, where an older artist covers a song written and made popular by a newer artist. By 2003, when the song was recorded, Cash’s health was in decline and he lacks some of the power that one would normally associate with his singing. But for some reason, his acoustic rendering (produced by the great Rick Rubin) really works for this song, which I consider even more powerful than the original version. The video by director Mark Romanek mixes in some vintage footage of Johnny, which underscores the sadness in the lyrics. “Everyone I know goes away in the end.” Did someone just cut an onion in here?
The Specials – “Pressure Drop” by Toots & The Maytals The 1969 original by Jamaican band Toots & The Maytals is a great song, full of ska’s signature off-kilter rhythms and wonderful harmonies. But the 1996 cover by English band The Specials takes it up another notch, in my opinion. Recorded for an album of covers, the Specials’ version of the song was also used in the soundtrack of the John Cusack film, Grosse Pointe Blank.
John Coltrane – “My Favorite Things” by Rodgers and Hammerstein It’s tough to call something a cover in the world of jazz, where so many iconic songs are “standards” interpreted by various artists. But I feel okay including the legendary saxophonist’s version of the Sound of Music classic because Julie Andrews’ onscreen rendition is the one most people know. A warning that this recording is about 14 minutes long, but goes through so many gyrations that it’s worth listening to through to the end.
Michael Stipe – “Last Day of Our Acquaintance” by Sinead O’Connor Michael Stipe’s cover of Sinead O’Connor’s “Last Day of Our Acquaintance” is amazing. I saw him perform it live in 1997 and get goosebumps every time I hear it. If you are an R.E.M. fan you will totally understand once you hear it.
The Hooters – “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by The Beatles Back in the mid-80’s I visited my brother Mark at Lehigh and we saw the Hooters. They played a cover of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. Years later it still stuck with me. I was telling a friend about it and we Googled it, and thanks to the magic of the Internet, we found this similar event from an MTV Special.
Korn -“In Between Days (Make Me Bad)” by The Cure Flipping through the channels a few years back, I saw that Unplugged was on MTV and started to watch. The band was Korn. Perhaps not what I listened to on a daily basis, but any music unplugged is good for me. Then, the lead singer starts to reflect on his musical inspiration back when he was in high school and brought onto the stage Robert Smith from The Cure. The rest for me was magic.
Glen Campbell – “Times Like These” by Foo Fighters Struggling with losing his memory, Glen Campbell did some final tours and appeared on a show I often watch, Later…with Jools Holland. I find myself singing this cover at random times, and realize that while I am not a fan of country, Glen Campbell is a pretty cool guy.