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Top 10 Covers We'd Like To Hear

By Danny Roca, Chet Betz, & David Ritter | 2 July 2008

Covers have become jokes. Indie bands do hip hop tracks to show how diverse they are, pop stars do indie tracks to show how “real” they are, and everybody covers the artist that inspired them in the first place—adding little in the process. In other words, next time, why not just come to us and we’ll tell you what you need to do…

10. The Song: The Doors: “When The Music’s Over”
The Artist: Erykah Badu

Why: Because no-one today is mentally frazzled or musically unhinged enough to take on this sprawling 7-minute swamp-rock monster and still be able to give it any sense of direction. She can also sing, which would improve the original 50 times over and maybe, finally, give it the jazz-funk edge it failed to achieve 40 years ago.

9. The Song: Leonard Cohen: “So Long, Marianne”
The Artist: David Thomas Broughton

Why: Who else could sing Cohen’s lyrics like they were written in his blood while providing his own back-up vocals to imitate the women on the original and arranging his acoustic guitar into an innerverse of billowing sound? So long, Marianne, DTB’s gonna take you to a new level of consciousness.

Running time prediction: 42 minutes.

8. The Song: EPMD: “You Gotz to Chill”
The Artist: The Cool Kids

Why: One listen to “You Gotz to Chill” sort of sums up the Cool Kids. Now the Cool Kids should try to sum it up, digging through their hearty root system for a kernel seed. I want to hear them interpret that farting synth bass.

7. The Song: Edith Piaf: “La Vie En Rose”
The Artist: Antony and the Johnsons

Why: Although Rufus Wainwright has been touting himself as a cabaret artist with last year’s Judy fiasco, Antony has got the pipes. With a delicious warble and throaty falsetto, his voice is instantly recognizable. Although the standard has been covered by many, it often becomes aural wallpaper—a pleasant melody to hum along to and little more. It is only really Grace Jones’ cover which managed to extrapolate the song’s sense of hope into a Technicolor rainbow. Antony’s emotionally wrought delivery certainly has the power to jump over that rainbow and send the song heavenwards.

6. The Song: The Stooges: “Dirt”
The Artist: Boris

Why: Proto-slowcore teetering on the edge of distorted obsolescence, the original is both embarrassingly soft and terribly harsh. This is Boris’ bread and butter. A cover to melt your face…and your heart.

5. The Song: The Dixie Cups: “Iko Iko”
The Artist: Fleet Foxes

Fault the Fleet Foxes’ songwriting if you must, but don’t kid yourself: these lads have quickly established themselves as the group vocalists to beat on the late-aught rock scene. Since they can’t just rewrite White Winter Hymnal for the rest of their career (if only!), the Foxes should take some inspiration from another group-vocal standard. Iko Iko is that rare rock performance that doesn’t immediately shake out into melody and background harmony; it’s a chant with its origins in Mardi Gras tribe culture. Let these Seattle boys sink their teach into New Orleans, if only for two and a half minutes, and we’ll start a chain of fan boy high fives to reach from one coast to the other.

4. The Song: Queen f/ David Bowie: “Under Pressure”

Why: Mike Dubue’s entire being could be described as under pressure. Spastic, funky, and weird as all get out, the HILOTRONS frontman brings more personality to the stage than we’ve seen since Freddy Mercury’s untimely death in 1991. Less Mercury’s equal than his comrade-in-arms, Dubue leads his band through territory that’s so far out they just may be able to remind us how weird “Under Pressure” really is. As for who could fill Bowie’s shoes, you got me on that one.

3. The Song: Shirley Ellis: “The Clapping Song”
The Artist: The Breeders

I’ve often wondered if there’s something of the frustrated cheerleader in Kim Deal. Whether it Valley Girl gossiping on Surfer Rosa (1998), or counting off chants on this year’s “Istanbul,” there have always been times when songs could break into “Hey Mickey” at any given moment. Of course, as she has never been one for the obvious cover the Breeders’ next choice would have to be “The Clapping Song.” Listening to it now I can almost hear the Deal sisters chanting along to the chorus in their typical chorus. If anything, it would help undo the evil of Aaron Carter’s despicable cover. All together now: “Three, six, nine / The goose drank wine / The monkey chewed tobacco on the streetcar line…”

2. The Song: Journey: “Don’t Stop Believin’”
The Artist: The Arcade Fire

Why: Who else has the track record, the capacity for epic feeling, the straight-up balls to take on this most monstrous of American anthems? I’m not even sure Journey did it justice; it’s easy to underperform—even just by a bit—a track this massive. Let this band of Montréal sidewalk-walkers and their collection of 14th century yeomen gourd lutes have at it: we may have a new millennium rallying cry on our hands.

1. The Song: Phil Collins: “Another Day In Paradise”
The Artist: Linkin Park

Why: It’s only a matter of fucking time and I’m a busy man, just get it out of the way, you insipid twats.