We’ve presented the best albums from 2013, the albums that kept rock alive and well, the most watched music videos, and the most Google’d songs. Our look back at the year that was continues with 10 of our favorite cover songs.
1. Gene Wilder’s “Pure Imagination” by Fiona Apple
Damn you, Chipotle, you manipulative bastards. You sell burritos and tacos — I shouldn’t have an emotional attachment to you, except for the two hours after I eat a burrito bowl, when I’m furious at your existence. But you just HAD to go and get Fiona Apple to sing “Pure Imagination,” and it’s superb. Don’t you get any idea, Qdoba.
2. David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” by Chris Hadfield
Back in May, astronaut Chris Hadfield was floating in outer space when he took the premise of a Flight of the Conchords song to its logical conclusion and did his best David Bowie impression. Unlike Major Tom, though, Hadfield returned safe and sound to Earth, so the world will be spared his take on “Hallo Spaceboy.”
3. Black Sabbath’s “Changes” by Charles Bradley
The soul legend slows down the metal gods, resulting in something inexplicably great (and heartbreaking).
4. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” by Patrick Stickles ft. Diarrhea Planet
“Born to Run,” as it should be covered: loudly, covered in sweat, and by a dude from Jersey.
5. Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow” by Prince
It’s a shame Prince’s wailing cover of “Even Flow” doesn’t last longer than 90 seconds. But it’s a relief that the Oh So Purple One has seemingly resolved his long-standing conflict with the Internet. He was on Twitter! He announced pajama dance parties! He gave in and put Dave Chappelle on an album cover! Welcome to 2004, Prince.
6. Rihanna’s “Stay” by Low
Slowed-down pop songs are my jam — there’s nothing like hearing the melancholy buried beneath the blankets of airhorns and horrible synths. Take Low’s cover of “Stay” by Rihanna: it’s gorgeous, like Rihanna, and stirring, unlike Rihanna’s music. Even the most grating song can sound great when stripped to its bones.
7. Outkast’s “Prototype” by Tame Impala
If Kanye West can enlist Justin Vernon, a.k.a. Bon Iver, for help on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, maybe Outkast can bring Tame Impala along with them on their reunion tour? Also, props to the psych-rock group for not going the obvious route and picking “Hey Ya.” Or embarrassing themselves with “B.O.B.”
8. Sheryl Crow’s “Strong Enough” by HAIM
“MORE HAIM,” you might be asking. Well, put it this way: if HAIM can make a Sheryl Crow sound moving, then yes, MORE HAIM. The song starts around 1:10 in.
9. Arcade Fire’s “Ready to Start” by Tears for Fears
As far as predictions for 2013 go, if someone in late-2012 had said, “Y’know, I’m expecting a big year for Tears for Fears. I bet they’re going to release a bunch of really solid covers, with songs from Animal Collective, Hot Chip, and Arcade Fire,” I would have locked you in chains and thrown away the key. “It’s for your own good, you insane monster.” And yet: Tears for Fears released a bunch of really solid covers in 2013, including their take on Arcade Fire’s epic “Ready to Start.” Expect big things for Thompson Twins in 2014.
10. Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” by the Russian Police Choir
It wouldn’t be a “best-of 2013” list without at least one “Get Lucky” cover, but only one “Get Lucky” cover had the irony-free Russian Police Choir (do they have irony in Russia?) singing, “I’m up all night to get some.”