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15 Most Surprising Covers From 2014’s Summer Tours

Watch the best, weirdest and straight-up most entertaining homages from the season’s biggest stages

Chance the Rapper performs at Made In America festival.

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 31: Chance the Rapper performs during day 2 of the Made in America Festival at Los Angeles Grand Park on August 31, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage)

Chelsea Lauren/WireImage

It's always fun when a band skips their own compositions to play an unlikely, perhaps tongue-in-cheek cover, and summer 2014 saw plenty of these moments. As it turns out, the large-scale music festivals that now dominate the season are perfectly suited for them: If you're Kaiser Chiefs, you can cover Dolly Parton; and if you're Dolly Parton you can cover "Yakety Sax," playing the title instrument yourself. As the seasons change, here are 15 of the best, weirdest and straight-up most entertaining examples from the past few months.


Beck – Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” at Forecastle

He may not have all the moves down, but Beck can certainly groove. His impromptu tribute to the gloved one is surprisingly playful – he took his chance to wave his hands and whip a mic chord.


Ryan Adams – Danzig’s “Mother” at Newport Folk Festival

Though he approaches the tune with plenty of aggression, Ryan Adams can't help but add a little yearning to Danzig's metal standard. Given his alleged disposition, the song may very well be a warning to overly eager fans.


Chance the Rapper – The ‘Arthur’ Theme

Ziggy Marley's original recording of the theme song for PBS' Arthur will always be definitive, but Chance the Rapper made a nice attempt at several summer festivals. He later recorded a studio version and released it via Soundcloud.


The Eels – Journey’s “Lights” With Steve Perry at the L.A. Orpheum

Steve Perry crushes the hearts of his Bay Area fans when he admits that "Lights" was initially about L.A. but lifts everyone back up when he reaches the track's chorus. The Eels, it turns out, are a fittingly subdued backing band, and Perry carries them through the tune like a lovable nightclub MC.


Arcade Fire – Huey Lewis and the News’ “Back in Time” in Edmonton

For a band that has played everything from "Hot, Hot, Hot" to "Smells Like Teen Spirit," the strangest tribute in recent months might have been this Back to the Future-inspired nod to Edmonton actor Michael J. Fox.


Jack White – Jay Z’s “99 Problems” at Forecastle

During White Stripes fav "Icky Thump," Jack nodded to Jay Z before segueing into a little bit of Dick Dale's surf-rock classic "Misirlou."


Pearl Jam – “Let it Go” in Italy

The self-proclaimed "ultimate dad band" lived up to the title by playing Frozen mega-hit "Let It Go" before launching into the aptly titled "Daughter" at a show in Trieste. Apparently, even they aren't immune to the catchy ballad's appeal.


The Killers – Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” at V Festival

Far better than their San Francisco "Dock of the Bay," the Killers' ace "Fancy" cover was a V Festival highlight. Brandon Flowers handled keys and vocals while drummer Ronnie Vannucci offered an interpretive dance.


Kings of Leon – Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” at Lollapalooza

Kings' cathartic take on Robyn's hit feels less like a party-starter than an attempt at post-breakup solidarity. Lighters up!


Dolly Parton – “Yakety Sax” at Glastonbury

"I was feeling rather sax-y today," Parton told the Glastonbury crowd, trading her fiddle for a miniature horn and blowing the "Yakety Sax" melody herself. Somewhere, the ghost of Benny Hill is running in circles.


Kaiser Chiefs – Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” at Glastonbury

Whether it was pre-planned or inspired by that "Yakety Sax" cover, the Kaiser Chiefs gave it up for Dolly Parton, covering her "9 to 5" at the same festival.


James Blake – Bill Withers’ “Hope She’ll Be Happier” at Bonnaroo

Blake has always incorporated R&B into his music, but at Bonnaroo he reached way back to Bill Withers, setting "Hope She'll Be Happier" to his signature near-ambient post-dubstep electronica.


Manchester Orchestra and Young the Giant – Weezer’s “El Scorcho” at Lollapalooza

Two years ago, Young the Giant made a few headlines with a dull take on R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)," but this year they stepped up their game, bringing out the Manchester Orchestra to help them remake Weezer's classic "El Scorcho."


Grouplove – Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” at Lollapalooza

Playing Lollapalooza, this pop-leaning quintet attempted a little head-banging, nailing the Beastie Boys' punk hit riff-for-riff. The only thing missing was the detective outfits that the Beasties wore for the song's music video.