Home Music Music Lists

10 Best Cover Songs of 2014

From Miley and the Lips tackling the Beatles to the Queen of Soul taking on Adele, the best tribute tunes of the year

The Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus

The Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus performing 'A Day in the Life' on Conan.

Miley and the Lips got weird, Arcade Fire brought the funk and Billy Joel busted a gut on one of his favorite Paul McCartney tunes. In 2014, artists weren't afraid to shake off their own material and try on a few of their favorites. And with social sites like YouTube and Instagram more popular than ever, what could've been long forgotten, one-off live performances were shared worldwide for fans. These were 10 of the best.

School of Seven Bells, "I Got Knocked Down (But I'll Get Up)"

School of Seven Bells, “I Got Knocked Down (But I’ll Get Up)”

The music world lost one of its most promising voices of the last two decades when Benjamin Curtis (who also founded Secret Machines) passed away from lymphoma last December at 35 years old. His musical farewell was this cover of Joey Ramone's song (released in June), which he recorded in the hospital while using FaceTime with his bandmate Alejandra Deheza. (Interestingly, Ramone also passed away due to complications from lymphoma.) While the back story of the track's creation is hair-raising, the duo's pulsing electro groove and Deheza's breathy, angelic vocals are downright life-affirming. It's a heartbreaking coda for one of indie-rock's most gifted songwriters.


Kiesza, “What Is Love”

This Canadian pop star broke out this year thanks to her stylish blend of early-Nineties house, hip-hop, and dance-pop, best heard on her breakout single "Hideaway." While the throwback sound feels like a novelty after a while, it was her cover of Haddaway's radio classic "What Is Love," which she turned into a slow-burning piano ballad, that cut the deepest – and proves she's got staying power as a pop siren.

The Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus

The Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus, “A Day in the Life”

Whether it was Madonna's "Borderline" in 2009 or Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" in 2006, Wayne Coyne and his band of merry pranksters have a long tradition of WTF-ifying classic pop songs. So it's a bit of a shock that their rendition of this Beatles epic — the last cut on their complete cover of Sgt. Peppers' — sounds pretty straightforward at first. The Miley Factor, weirdly enough, saves it: the song's strutting second half, featuring the pop star on lead vocals, morphs into a groovy, disco-y strut. As Miley might say: pretty cool.