At UIUC, Unofficial is our favorite campus holiday for a reason. It’s basically a cover of St. Patrick’s Day: less known, but certainly no worse. So since you’re probably skipping class anyway, give this playlist of our favorite cover (unofficial) songs a listen. Just be sure to be safe out there and be responsible.
Ben Folds – “Bitches Ain’t Shit” (Dr. Dre)
Rock covers of hip-hop songs don’t usually seem to go over that well outside of one-off performances, but a shining exception to this rule belongs to Ben Folds. This cover of Dr. Dre’s “Bitches Ain’t Shit” has proven the test of time, and as this masterful live performance will prove, truly is a remarkable piece of art. Ok, maybe that was a little excessive praise – but at least it’s worth a laugh. Cheers.
– Boswell Hutson
Franz Ferdinand – “Oblivion” (Grimes)
As far as placement on the musical spectrum is concerned, the manipulation of Grimes’ hit track “Oblivion” swings it to an opposite side, and that’s arguably the best part. What works about covers is that they don’t need to maintain the previous tone or rhythm, but can still honor the song just through a change in artistic expression. While the original track is eclectic and loopy, Franz Ferdinand stabs at the song with a clear cut and acoustic approach — one which also gives me a chance to finally decipher the lyrics without any extra help.
Poolside – “Harvest Moon” (Neil Young)
Neil Young is my musical lord and savior, but when I heard this song, I didn’t even notice it was a cover of Neil Young. It wasn’t until my dad pointed it out to me did i notice the choruses were the same. Poolside brings a really fresh and summer time vibe to this song, removing it from the country twang of the original. The bass in this song is super chill and it goes for a good six minutes so it’s perfect background music for any relaxing activity (like sitting by the poolside).
San Cisco – “Get Lucky” (Daft Punk)
If you were like me and listened to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” nonstop, you have got to listen to San Cisco’s cover of the song. The band takes a weird twist on the song by including bongo drums and the falsetto styling of lead singer Jordi Davieson. But hands down, what makes this cover standout is the pickup of the tempo at 0:41 right when the chorus that we all know and love comes in. So bring on the foot tapping and the awkward shoulder swaying!
Bedhead – “Disorder” (Joy Division)
If you’ve heard much of Bedhead’s music, you already know how their cover of Joy Division’s classic “Disorder” will sound. But it’s still pretty impressive how well the song fits with the band’s aesthetic. The way they take the piercing riff from the original, sand the razor edges off and slow it down makes it feel like their cover would fit comfortably on any of their albums. Sure, “Disorder” didn’t really need to sound any sadder, but when it sounds this good, who cares?
Bleachers – “Dreams” (The Cranberries)
Those nineties kids can fully appreciate the Bleachers inventive rendition of the Cranberries’ classic single from this decade. Not only do the Bleachers recapture this cult classic’s easy going vibe, but they also generously feature synths. Alongside their use of drums, they turn this song into an upbeat-rock anthem that can please any crowd. Thanks to the Bleachers, you might find yourself jamming to music by the Cranberries in a way you never thought was possible.
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound – “I am Trying to Break Your Heart” (Wilco)
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound is a brilliant young soul/funk/blues outfit from Chicago. Their rendition of “I am Trying to Break Your Heart” by Wilco takes the opening song from my favorite album ever and makes it something completely new. They made it a funk song. Sometimes really bad things happen when a band decides to take a song that is tried and true and make it their own. This is not one of those times. This song grooves and bumps in a way that Wilco’s doesn’t. While I don’t completely agree with their interpretation of the meaning of the song, the direction they take it is still awesome!
John Mayer – “Kid A” (Radiohead)
Say what you will about John Mayer’s personality, but at the end of the day, the dude is one hell of a musician. His guitar playing is some of the best of our generation, his arrangements are spectacular, and his voice is richer and more capable than half of the singers out there today (not to mention his ability to sing over incredibly complicated guitar riffs). When you take away the star-studded backing band and custom electric guitars, you’re left with a young man capable of turning a song as produced and complexly layered as Radiohead’s “Kid A” into a somber lullaby (whose lyrics will give you nightmares).
Mundy and Sharon Shannon – “Galway Girl” (Steve Earle)
Be it The Pogues or whatever new music I hear on Sirius XM’s weekly Celtic Crush segment, I can’t get enough of Irish music – and a lot of that started with “Galway Girl.” Perhaps the best thing about this song in particular is that the original is by Steve Earle, who’s about as American as it gets. While he does a good job of getting down with the Irish style, Mundy’s live version takes away the mellow vibe and amps it up a few degrees. And even though Galway doesn’t hold a candle to Dublin, this song makes me miss the city immensely.
Marilyn Manson – “You’re So Vain” (Carly Simon)
The funny thing about Marilyn Manson’s cover of “You’re So Vain” is that he was, until the song’s release, probably one of the least likely candidates for taking on a Carly Simon tune. They are practically on opposite ends of the music spectrum, at least with regard to their fan followings. The fact that this cover exists is pretty surprising and awesome, but even more surprising is that the song is actually kind of good. More importantly, Manson does what a musician should do with a cover by leaving it recognizable, but changing it enough to make it his own creation.
Chet Faker – “No Diggity” (Blackstreet)
Who doesn’t love a good throw back to the late ’90s? Here is a new spin to a beloved party jam. With his cover of “No Diggity”, Chet Faker injects some soulful electronic music to his woozy-voiced rendition. The essence of the song, the cool and sexy tone, is still facilitated throughout. If you want to spice up the end of a party with a chill jam, this cover will surely ease and please all your guests.