The 11 wildest cover songs of 2018 (so far)

From Dave Matthews and Cardi B, to Haim and Thin Lizzy, this year has been filled with artists reaching across the aisle to extend a musical handshake.

August 3, 2018

Chances are, a shady tree isn’t the only type of cover your summer has been filled with­ – though musicians offering their own interpretation of others’ work is a tradition as old as music itself, this year has been filled with artists reaching across the aisle to offer musical handshakes, sometimes to the unlikeliest of contemporaries. The year ain’t over yet, but we thought we’d round up some of the craziest covers 2018 has given us so far.

  • Weezer — “Toto Lovefest”

Okay, technically a series of covers, but the saga of the sonic bromance between the two bands is probably the most prominent story when it comes to this cover-filled year. It started with a fan’s online petition to get Weezer to cover “Africa,” Weezer cheekily responding with a “Rosanna” cover instead, only to actually release their own take on “Africa” ­– which proved to be the band’s biggest hit this decade, reaching number 2 on the Billboard Hot Alternative charts. The story didn’t end there though, with Toto members joining Weezer’s Kimmel performance of their hit cover, and Toto most recently dropping their own take of Weezer’s “Hashpipe” at live shows. Just kiss already!

  • Dave Matthews – “Bodak Yellow” (Cardi B Cover)

Dave Matthews seems to be ready to change with festival culture’s shift from noodly jam bands to trap bangers, with the singer appearing on Fallon to promote a sadly-fictional cover album titled Dave Matthews Sings Trap Music. The fictional commercial also featured Matthews’ coffeehouse-ready takes on “Gucci Gang” and Migos’ “Stir Fry,” but the true standout is a cover of “Bodak Yellow” that could easily replace all of Ladybird’s instances of “Crash Into Me.”

  • BADBADNOTGOOD – “Ghost Town” (Kanye West Cover)

The Toronto group continue their incredibly listenable stroll down the avenue between jazz and hip hop by offering up an instrumental cover of the ye standout track. The cover, made for the Louis Vuitton x Virgil Abloh fashion show, sees the group spreading sports stadium organs thickly over their signature grooves, resulting in an anthem that could easily be your next headphone soundtrack to feeling like a million bucks.

  • Vampire Weekend ft. Danielle Haim – “The Boys Are Back in Town” (Thin Lizzy cover)

Not much is known about the new album Vampire Weekend have been working on, but if their performance at Japan’s Fuji Rock festival is anything to go off of, it might be time to bust out the leather jackets and coke mirrors. Joined by Danielle Haim putting on her best heavy metal croon, the musicians swapped in their breezy brands of indie pop for a successful soundalike of Thin Lizzy’s groovy guitar solo showcase.

  • Third Eye Blind – “Joke” (Chastity Belt cover)

Third Eye Blind took note of the river of covers coming out over the past couple of months and upped the ante significantly, with the band preparing to release a collection of covers titled Thanks For Everything later this month. The band cover a lot of musical ground on the EP, offering their takes on everyone from Santigold to Bon Iver, but perhaps the unlikeliest nod is 3EB’s cover of “Joke” by Seattle indie rockers Chastity Belt, with the band giving Belt frontwoman Julia Shapiro mad props as “the Nico of the Northwest.”

  • Vanessa Carlton – “Needle in the Hay” (Elliott Smith cover)

Making your way downtown and/or walking fast never sounded so sad. Carlton’s take on Richie Tenebaum’s favourite Elliott Smith song is her fifth cover this year, following covers of tracks such as Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” and Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend.” This interpretation, however, is by far the most evocative of the collection; a spacey, almost gothic country rendering of one of Smith’s most iconic songs.

  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Oh! You Pretty Things” (David Bowie cover)

Whereas most of the songs on this list gain their appeal through an artist putting their undeniable creative mark on the works of others, what makes Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s cover of David Bowie’s “Oh! You Pretty Things” so noteworthy is how uncannily Ruban Nielson manages channel the late Mr. Stardust himself. Seriously, hit play, close your eyes, try not to convince yourself you’re listening to some unearthed, stripped down Hunky Dory demo.

  • Car Seat Headrest – “Black Paint” (Death Grips cover)

Having built his musical foundation through a healthy handful of self-recorded bandcamp releases, it’s clear that Will Toledo is a child of the Internet, so it makes sense that he’d show some love to perhaps the most Extremely Online band, Death Grips. Though the artists have little in common outside of their fervent online fanbases, Car Seat Headrest still managed to internalize Death Grips’ punishing heaviness into their own slithery, no-wave adjacent version.

Snail Mail – “Speed of Sound” (Coldplay cover)

When it comes to maximalist, production-sheened rock, no one does it these days like Coldplay do – and Snail Mail is here to strip all of that away. Lindsey Jordan & Co. leave it up to only their jangles and thuds to create a sparse sonic vision, one that in its lack of frills remains just as operatic as Chris Martin’s polished original.

  • Harry Styles & Kacey Musgraves – “Still The One” (Shania Twain cover)

When Harry Styles calls you onstage to help him cover one of his “personal favourites,” it’s safe to say that it looks like you’ve made it. Musgraves and Styles turn one of Shania’s mega-hits into a heartwarming duet for thousands of screaming fans, and their warm, intimate team-up only has us clamouring for more from the unlikely duo.

“No Tears Left to Cry” — Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump

Ariana Grande’s voice is a Mariah-esque force unto itself, one that, upon escaping her tiny body, can tear up a beat three times the size of the singer. It goes without saying that it’d be a daunting task for anyone to try and replicate Grande’s Hulk-sized harmonies, especially with the safety net of studio magic replaced by a single acoustic guitar — but Patrick Stump and Co. made a good case for themselves. Appearing on SiriusXM’s Hist1 station, Fall Out Boy launched into a set that included acoustic renditions of their own mega-singles, “Sugar, We’re Going Down” and “Centuries,” but most notably opened with their own stripped-down, crooning take on Grande’s song-of-the-summer contender, “No Tears Left to Cry.” The cover sees FOB frontman Patrick Stump going tit-for-tat with Grande’s pitch switch parade, in addition to a healthy amount of endearingly dorky scatting on the hooks.

Exclusive videos, interviews, contests & more.

sign up for the a.side newsletter

sign up