Posted Aug 9th, 2015 (10:08 am) by Sean O'Leary

Last week we learned that Ryan Adams plans to cover the entirety of Taylor Swift's mega successful album, 1989. We caught a couple clips, and it got us thinking about other covers that bend styles and genres.

So we put together a list of ten great covers that are not in the style of the original, trying to stay away from the obvious ones. (Yes, we all know the story about Johnny Cash Covering "Hurt", Jeff Buckley's cover of "Hallelujah" is great, etc.) So in no particular order, here are ten great covers that colored outside the lines, side by side with their original tracks.

Over The Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ol

We are starting off with an admittedly safe choice, but Kamakawiwo'ol's mash-up of "Over The Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz and "What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong is just about the feel-goodest feel-good song ever. According to legend, Israel rolled into the studio at 3 in the morning (all 500 pounds of him) and recorded the song in one take.

All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix

"All Along The Watchtower" has been covered by damn near everyone. Dave Matthews, U2, Pearl Jam, the Grateful Dead...it just keeps going. But plenty of people don't even know this song is by Dylan, not Hendrix. Those intro chords are iconic, and Jimi's bluesy vocals fit the song far better than Dylan's rasp.

Why Go - POS

"Why Go", off Pearl Jam's Ten, is a solid song. The drums are driving, the guitar solo rips, and Eddie Vedder has that slightly manic edge to his voice that just fits. But POS's live cover for MTV2 reinterprets it as a hip hop track, with a crazy electro synth solo replacing the guitar riff. And despite his crack about there not being Auto-Tune in grunge, he nails the vocals just fine. Must be the flannel shirt.

Superstition - Beck, Bogart & Appice

Stevie Wonder's version of "Superstition" is about as funky as funk gets. Beck, Bogert & Appice give it a little more swagger, putting the iconic lead line on a distorted guitar and giving the whole track a late 60's, Led Zeppelin vibe. Jeff Beck's monster guitar playing is in full effect, and the drum solo on the outro tops it all off.

The Boys Of Summer - The Ataris

An article of great (...well, fun) punk covers could be a whole separate list, and there's more than one in this one. But there's a reason you hear the Ataris playing this on the radio way more than you hear Don Henley's original – Don’s hasn't aged super well, despite Henley's songwriting ability. There's something (marginally more) timeless about a kid with a guitar screaming about a girl. Also bonus points for the Black Flag lyric.

Feeling Good - Muse

There's been a couple of great covers of this song recently, with Lauryn Hill delivering a killer performance of it on a tribute album in Miss Simone's honor. But once you hear the first hit of the descending bass line in a Bellamy-patented crushing guitar line, a trombone just doesn't feel like it has the same power.

Mahna Mahna - Cake

Everything about the Muppets and the original of this song is phenomenal. And the obvious candidate for a Cake entry in a list of covers is "I Will Survive", by Gloria Gaynor. But John McCrea's staggering vocal delivery of the “I Will Survive” chorus is anxiety inducing, and turning "Mahna Mahna" into a funk track with an almost headbanging guitar line is inspired.

Wrecking Ball - Dustin Kensrue

As long as there has been YouTube, there have been deeply serious, sensitive acoustic covers of pop songs with varying levels of quality. Dustin Kensrue, singer of post-hardcore outfit Thrice, has contributed a few, including "Round Here" by Counting Crows and "Radio Radio" by Elvis Costello. But a straight-faced, live cover of "Wrecking Ball" takes the prize, especially the final chorus. Sledgehammer and actual wrecking ball not included. Big ups to The Concert King for the live video.

I Knew You Were Trouble - We Came As Romans

On a list inspired by Taylor Swift covers, there had to be at least one, and this one kills two birds with one stone since it's also another punk cover. We Came As Romans can be hit or miss, but they're no strangers to pop tracks, having contributed quite a few to the Punk Goes Pop series. The ridiculous music video, the cheesy post-hardcore vocals and guitars - you can practically hear the broad grin on the singer's face.

Careless Whisper - Seether

The "ridiculous rock cover of an 80's song" slot on this list nearly belonged to Reel Big Fish's cover of "Take On Me". But Seether's overwrought rock cover of "Careless Whisper" is glorious - it takes the theatrical elements of the original and makes them work with the grizzled but emo modern rock sound. The lead guitar riff (made famous by the Sexy Sax Guy) is perfect, and vocalist Shaun Morgan's delivery is actually pretty restrained. In contrast with the We Came As Romans cover above, Seether play this song seriously, and they do a great job of it.

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