THE BEST COVER SONGS AND COVER ALBUMS OF 2020
40. Dirty Work (Steely Dan) by Julie London.
39. It’s Tricky (Run DMC) by Dinosaur Pile-Up.
38. Melissa Etheridge’s Concert From Home: Bruce Springsteen.
37. Mama Said Knock You Out (LL Cool J) by Billy Ray Cyrus. Come on, you know you can’t resist it.
36. Anywhere Else But Here by American Hi-Fi (various). The postpunk pop band gives us a covers album that’s truly weird. Poppier versions of “Our House” and Squeeze–and even “Oliver’s Army” made sense. But “I Don’t Like Mondays,” a song about a girl who shoots up her school? And yet…It works.
35. Covers 2 by Joan the Policewoman.
Joan takes apart hits like “I Keep Forgetting,” Neil Young’s “On the Beach,” and even Gil Scott-Heron. And when she puts them back together, they’re completely different.
34. Brothers in Arms (Dire Straits) by Josh Ritter.
So glad to see this great song–from one of the best albums in rock history–getting some love. See also a transcendant version by Julien Regnier-Krief.
33. Higher Love (Steve Windwood) by Kelly Clarkson.
An outstanding live performance at the Billboard Music Awards. Quite a few other cover versions of this song came out this year, oddly enough. And even more odd, I liked Keith Urban’s take on it.
32. Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver) by Whitney and Waxahatchee.
Waxahatchee gave us an embarassing amount of lo-fi, home-recorded covers from quarantine, but this one is studio mixed and absolutely awesome.
31. Houses of the Holy by H.C. McEntire.
A wonderful, completely different cover from a very good album, Eno Axis. See Also Danii Phvntom’s cover of Dancing Days, which also turns a classic metal stomper into something gentle. And if more traditional covers are your thing, See Also Also: Trampled Under Foot (Led Zeppelin) by Black Magic. Just an indie band rocking the hell out the Q-tine. They’ve also got some Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and more.
30. Baby Hold On To Me (Eddie Money) by James Hetfield of Metallica.
29. Acoustic Covers by John Adams. An all-too-short album of some of the songs this busker has been playing live for a while. Not to be missed: Prince/Sinead’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Oh, and his cover of Cher made a Believe-er out of me.
28. Thank U (Alanis Morissette) by Kawehi..
27. Copy That by Sara Evans. This album is just a ton of fun covers, country pop style.
26. Dreaming by Missing Persons. A few original songs, but mostly the unsung new wave band of the ’80s returns to deliver covers of The Mamas and the Papas, Blondie, The Stones, The Cars, and more. A very, very nice record.
25. Shakedown Street (Grateful Dead) by Poolside.
One of several very nice reimaginings of Dead tunes this year. See also: Standing on the Moon by Molly Tuttle and Birdsong by Moonalice.
24. The Georgia E.P. by Death Cab for Cutie. Couldn’t find a live stream for it, but it’s got covers of Neutral Milk Hotel, REM and TLC, and benefitted the Georgia Democratic candidates.
23. Me and Bobby McGee (Kris Kristofferson) by Jill Kinsey.
The full-on country treatment for one of Janis’ best covers.
22. Casbah Club by Lost in Society.
A three-song EP paying tribute to Joe Strummer. It’s not brilliant or anything, but it’s The Clash. Pretty hard to cover the clash and not get coverage on my blog. See also: Mattiel’s “Guns of Brixton.”
See also also: I’m So Bored With the U.S.A. (the Clash) by Dean and Britta. From their “Quarantine Tapes” collection, this kinder, gentler version of the punk classic loses none of the urgency of the original–and it feels so timely.
21. I Love a Rainy Night (Eddie Rabbit) by Mandy Barnett. From her covers album “A Nashville Songbook.” This is one of the best pop country songs ever, and she does a nice job with it.