Now that the finish line of 2020 is in sight, at Routenote we’re looking back over this endless year and pulling together some of the highlights from the music world. What was the best cover version of a song you heard in 2020?
An overwhelming number of musicians covered other artists’ songs this year. Many were performed in lockdown, from musicians seeking to keep themselves busy, entertain us in our homes, and respond to the madness of the world through a comforting classic they love. Heartfelt covers, joyful covers – far too many to feature in this selection, but it’s a start.
Dinosour Pile Up – ‘It’s Tricky’
Fuzzy guitars and hefty micro breakdowns soundtrack the daft, delightfully zany music video, channelling the Beastie Boys.
Original: RUN DMC
Sharon Von Etten feat Josh Homme – ‘(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?’
There’s no messing about with arrangements for this duet, a slow and steady country ballad that lets the vocals and emotion shine through.
Original: Nick Lowe, but made famous by Elvis Costello
James Blake – ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’
The electronic artist has released a ‘Covers’ EP. The power of his voice, unobscured by vocal effects, really comes through in this peaceful track.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor – ‘Like a Prayer’
Throughout the UK lockdown, the ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ singer kept thousands entertained with her Kitchen Discos on Instagram Live – karaoke in complete chaos, surrounded by children, vocals still flawless.
Mattiel – ‘Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun’
A great high-energy cover full of attitude. It matches the style of the original and twists it to contain just a chopping drumbeat, chanting and yowling vocals, and growling guitar.
Original: Beastie Boys
Biffy Clyro – ‘WAP’
‘Get your boots and your coat if you’re wet as Biffy’. I have nothing else to say. Except… sorry.
Original: Cardi B feat. Megan Thee Stallion
Bombay Bicycle Club – ‘Lose You to Love Me’
From the Radio 1 Live Lounge at the very beginning of 2020. A restrained, beautifully layered arrangement.
Original: Selena Gomez
Miley Cyrus – ‘Zombie’
In aid of Save Our Stages Fest at Whiskey a Go Go in Los Angeles, Miley went full rock chick, stalking around the band. Featuring throaty vocals and an absolute shred of a guitar solo.
Original: The Cranberries
Jorja Smith – ‘Rose Rouge’
Taken from the Blue Note:Reimagined album, a fascinatingly inventive album of covers of classic jazz tracks reborn for modern ears.
Original: Rose Rouge
Kelly Clarkson – ‘It’s My Life’
A bit of cheesy pop rock joy for you here from the American Idol winner turned chat show host. You cannot deny the force of those pipes.
Original: Bon Jovi
INTER ARMA – ‘Southern Man’
Still have no idea what’s going on here but I kind of love it.
Original: Neil Young, who would almost certainly hate this
Christine and the Queens – ‘Heart of Gold’
Neil Young might find this cover of another of his classics more palatable. An electronic arrangement that’s both beautiful and haunting, with backing vocals that swoop around the raw emotion of the lead.
Original: Neil Young