Best Cover Song Ever?

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 24 2014 @ 12:39pm

The in-tray is inundated with your submissions – over 800 so far. We might close the floodgates later today so we have time to process the Youtubes without hundreds more coming in. So send your top pick to Cover songs that cross genres are especially preferred. On that note:

I’d like to nominate Cake’s cover of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”:

The way it subverts a ’70s anthem with delightful sarcasm is brilliance!

More submissions after the jump. This genre-bender was especially popular:

The Gourds, an Austin alt country band, covered Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice”. I’ve never liked rap or hip hop and these lyrics are offensive. But I love it:

Another picks Cobain’s haunting rendition of Lead Belly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?“:

Nirvana’s Unplugged performance is legendary for so many reasons the random musical guests, unexpected covers, spooky (and supposedly intentional) funereal setting – but to me the performance’s timelessness comes from the simple fact that it was the last time many of Kurt Cobain’s fans saw him alive:

The band toured a bit after the show (mostly Europe, I think), but Cobain died five or six months after Unplugged originally aired. MTV ran it repeatedly after he died, and so the performance came to stand in as a kind of funeral or living memorial, again made all the more poignant by the lilies, candles, and dimly lit staging.

I was 12 when Cobain died – old enough to comprehend the loss and the complexity of what happened, but not quite old enough to really feel it in a personal way. I remember being shocked and confused initially, and sort of dumbfounded in the aftermath as the mourning took hold. At the time I identified with the music more than the person, and his suicide was a real eye-opener in terms of how dark life can be, and how none of us are immune from ourselves, and how the people we look up to are, in fact, people. This performance and this particular song truly marks a coming of age for my generation, and I can’t listen to it even now without feeling a rush of emotions.

Besides the historical/generational significance, the cover is simply amazing. Kurt’s voice has all the anguish, torment, and rawness the song requires. The words practically bleed from his mouth, and the band is so tight and restrained that you think they might explode at any second. He supposedly refused an encore because he didn’t believe he could possibly top that performance, and I have to agree.

This cover probably beats the original:

“Mad World” by Gary Jules and Michael Andrews for the Donnie Darko soundtrack:

But this version isn’t far behind:

Smeagol sings “Mad World”:

The artist not only captures Smeagol perfectly but adjusts the lyrics as if channeling the character.

Track the whole cover contest here.