December 14, 2012

The 10 Best Cover Songs of 2012

Our annual year-end coverage starts with the best covers of 2012. While we’re not really big on remakes or those pointless photocopies of classics, we made it a point to include this category to honor local artists that cradled covers as if it were their child.

Kath Bloom Cover

Perhaps as homage to the soundtrack of Before Sunrise, Allan Lumba (Multo) took to his Soundcloud to drop a lovely cover of Kath Bloom’s sleeper hit “Come Here.” Here, he carries the barenaked simplicity of the song with just an acoustic guitar and his singing voice, pulling off a Ben Gibbard in all the right ways.

Sheena Easton Cover

Zia sports Sheena Easton’s ‘80s hit with a retro-soul ‘do smacked of cold, Holiday blues and sweet-stained horns, topping it all with an impassioned vocal that would make you swoon and drop everything you’re holding at the moment.

NIN Cover

GYHT takes one of Nine Inch Nails’ cult favorites and rearranges it into a synth-heavy, post-industrial banger that would fit in any of Trent Reznor’s side projects, if only he would shut up and allow some banshee to take control of the microphone.

Slowdive Cover

Like nocturnal lullabies at the end of the tunnel, Archaster’s version of this shoegaze earmint is short and bittersweet, carried into a strangely quiet soundworld where there's no sunshine to seep in. Francis Yu has mastered the art of mope, taking it to some form of shrine that we’re happy-sad happy to visit once in a while.

Perfume Genius Cover

What immediately stands out in this Perfume Genius cover is the gripping moroseness that Love Never Dies pulled off, staying pretty faithful to the original’s somber tone and mournful guitar melodies. It’s a straightforward version that walks us though the melancholy and comfort that the song brings, so close to home that you can actually smell and feel it from a close distance.

Uffie Cover

Bianca Yuzon shows us how to wreck a messed up song while making love to it at the same time. On "The Party," she gives us an intimate, soul-baring performance that scrubs off the excessive gimmickries of the original.

Townes Van Zandt Cover

Cabal puts his own spin to this backwoods alt-country standard without destroying its confessional intimacy. He sings it the way it should be sang in funerals and countryside driving, but accompanies it with Byrds-like acoustic guitars that sound like abandoned memories washed out by time.

Frank Ocean Cover

Not exactly thrilled with the idea of anyone covering Frank Ocean songs, but Walkie Talkies' breezy, light take on the R&B auteur’s single is just so damn smooth that it could probably melt everything it touches. As different as their musical styles may be, both shares affinity for knee-jerking falsetto croon that adds the right touch of yearning to a love that’s out of reach.

Juan Dela Cruz Band Cover

The Strangeness embraces acid-washed form and subtlety on their remake of an old Juan Dela Cruz Band song that never really made it as an official single. Their version is as rustic and beautiful as the original, both saturated with doom and dust. But The Strangeness’ take is nostalgia wrapped in warm reverb, pissed by a bunch of newbies whose ambition is as big as the song they’re trying to tackle.

Eggboy Cover

Spazzkid reconstructs Eggboy’s “Desperate” into a rainbow of Eurodisco joy, painting the material with the campy swoon it needs. Here, Mark Redito inhales and exhales night life in breezy, arms-in-the-air pulse, creating a crosspath where dance music and intimacy are not considered mutually exclusive.

My love for the original version aside, Spazzkid’s version is commendable for its efforts in bringing the dancefloor back to its bedroom roots. As if overhauling is not enough, he retouches the original with Chicago house piano lines and feather-light disco haze, but careful not to blotch too much pink to his own Dionysian party. When Mark Reddito confides, “I am desperate, I think it’s so quiet I need a cigarette,” he meant the world needs to chill once in a while. And he’s right: with this track pumping color and groove nonstop, I don’t see any reason why people would rather spend time fathoming their existence than finding ways to celebrate it. All we need is to give in to the pleasures of life, 4 minutes and 26 seconds of it you can find in this track.

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