For this week’s “Andy’s Alternative Hour,” I have chosen the theme of “Cover This,” which embodies some of my favorite and least expected covers, which are performances of a certain song attributed to one band and are performed by another. I have found myself always listening to covers, and they always sneak their way into whatever I’m listening to. So here is my playlist of the best covers you need to listen to:


  1. Last Kiss (1999) – Pearl Jam: Eddie Vedder’s voice enriches to story of Wayne Cochran’s 1961 teen tragedy. This is actually one of the first songs that got me into Pearl Jam and rightfully so — it’s passionate, mysterious and melodic.
  2. Mad World (2001) – Gary Jules: Easily the most haunting track, it’s a deviation of the upbeat progression of the Tears for Fears original. Jules’ piano-driven take is daunting and pays off as it went on to go platinum and become the set piece for the film, “Donnie Darko.”
  3. Take My Breath Away (2004) – My Morning Jacket: Everyone knows this infamous pop anthem from the ‘80s, but My Morning Jacket takes the piece and transforms into into a psychedelic ballad of confounding proportions. Listen to this number and you’ll understand why I feel that My Morning Jacket is the best band to emerge in the past decade.
  4. Style (2015) – Ryan Adams: Move over Taylor Swift — Ryan Adams is the new unintentional reigning majesty of pop. This revered alt-country musician, who has been a favorite of mine for a number of years, gives style to “Style,” infusing his signature delay-tinged goodness and roaring vocal prowess.
  5. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (2009) – Beck: This bluesy track from Bob Dylan receives a necessary reinvention from alt-rock’s most eclectic man. Beck brings to the table his electronic foundation with the grungy blues to create a surprisingly smart and intuitive cover.
  6. Such Great Heights (2003) – Iron & Wine: I find it impossible to not swoon over Sam Beam’s voice and this cover from Postal Service’s debut (and only) album is indicative of his melodic tenderness. The pace changes from an electronic distraction to a simplistic chord progression that makes this version of the song preferred over the original.
  7. Ms. Jackson (2010) – The Vines: Australian Garage Rock meets Outkast in this completely shocking cover of one of my favorite Outkast tracks. Upon first listening, no one can believe that this is the same song found in “Stankonia,” but trust me, this one will grow on you with its Weezer-ish feel.
  8. Because the Night (1986) – Bruce Springsteen: When one legend covers another, you know a sense of magic is about to fill your ears. “The Boss” takes on Patti Smith’s 1978 classic with the classic E-Street flair that, and those harmonies during the fills are powerful as all hell.
  9. Landslide (1994) – The Smashing Pumpkins: Think what you may about Billy Corgan, but his nasally vocals and precise guitar fills fit well with The Pumpkins’ take on Fleetwood Mac’s tearjerker. While lacking the punch that only Stevie Nicks can provide, The Smashing Pumpkins do a damn good job of throwing their eggs in one basket and succeeding.  
  10. Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It (1998) – Phish: Who ever would think that Jon Fishman would rap Will Smith’s funky-fresh rhymes? The seminal jam band of the past 30 years has a reputations for their choice of covers and this cover is so eclectic that it becomes too infectious not to dance along to.
  11. Hurt (2002) – Johnny Cash: This cover came out of left field upon its release since no one believed “the man in black” would ever cover the sinister Nine Inch Nails and put the latter to shame. Cash’s rendition is beyond haunting since it was on of the last pieces he recorded prior to his death in 2003, and it still remains a career staple for the late-singer.
  12. Bold As Love (2006) – John Mayer: I always find it funny how many people listen to Mayer on such a surface level and don’t explore his material with the John Mayer Trio, which in my opinion, is the epitome of modern blues. Mayer is easily one of the best blues guitarists of this genre because honestly, covering Jimi Hendrix is no easy task. While you’re at it, head out to catch Mayer perform with the remaining members of the Grateful Dead under the moniker of the Dead & Company. Read our review of their performance at Madison Square Garden here.
  13. I Fought the Law (1977) – The Clash: Many people don’t know that this song is in fact a cover of The Crickets’ 1960 cut. This punk-filled outing led by Joe Strummer is in fact the epitome of covering done right — local punk bands, take notes!
  14. My Way (1978) – Sid Vicious: Easily the most bizarre cover on this list, Vicious, the renown bassist from The Sex Pistols, takes on Frank Sinatra’s masterpiece with both mockery and full-faced anarchy. The sarcastic crooning in the beginning shows off Vicious’ vile nature and the second the guitar kicks in, you know you’re in for one of the most impressive covers of all time.

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