Ten Covers You’ve Probably Never Heard: Featuring Kimbra, STRFKR, The Civil Wars and More

Sometimes a piece of music contains the ultimate combination of elements, music so perfect that updating with compelling differences would fall under sonic blasphemy.

^If the food and drink were ‘reinterpretation’^

Although possible, I have yet to find one so absolute it denies modification. A good cover can salvage an old song from obscurity, making it relevant again. Innovation and advancement, musical or otherwise, often require new approaches to former ideas. Listed below you’ll find several great songs and ten of their best, revised counterparts.


Hall and Oates “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)

Adding an element of mystery to any work of art generates public curiosity. Similar to Meatloaf’s 1993 SMASH HIT “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”, the question that plagues music fans worldwide is:

What can’t you go for, Hall and Oates?

(Your smash hit isn’t featured yet, but it’s time you told the fans Meatloaf. So, I mean, would you do anything for a Klondike bar?)   If you have insight, or are Meatloaf himself (very likely), please comment below.

Things I Couldn’t Go For (Yeah, I really can’t. Sorry about that.):

  • Having a mullet (fluffy, flat, permed)
  • Being pressured to go along with the crowd against my wishes

Things Daryl Hall Couldn’t Go For (Nope):

  • Being pressured to go along with the crowd against his wishes (hey me too)
  • Not having a fluffy mullet.


The title of this song came from a phrase Daryl Hall used for deflecting pressure from his fellow (mullet-ed) peers.

As in, “Hey Daryl, no one has fluffy mullets anymore, come on, get yourself a long flat one already. Maybe something permed.”

Daryl: “I can’t go for that. No can do.”

Like many great recordings, this one came about through improv in the studio.

When interviewed by Mix Magazine, Daryl Hall reviewed the process, where he

“sat down at a Korg organ that happened to be lying there and started to play this bass line that was coming to me. It’s the old recording studio story: The engineer heard what I was doing and turned on the tape machine. Good thing, because I’m the kind of person who will come up with an idea and forget it. The chords came together in about 10 minutes, and then I heard a guitar riff, which I asked John, who was sitting in the booth, to play.”

With the help of his girlfriend Sara Allen contributing lyrical ideas, and John Oates on guitar, the song was complete.

Simple and genius. So genius that it inspired Michael Jackson to write Billie Jean. According to Daryl,

“Michael Jackson once said directly to me that he hoped I didn’t mind that he copped that groove. That’s okay; it’s something we all do.”

And now for some other interesting facts! (Thanks to songfacts.com!)

  • John Oates particularly likes when their music is sampled, “I like when people have a different take on what you do. That’s quite a compliment”. (In an interview with Livedaily)

This guy! He understands the idea behind covers and remixes.

  •  The track closed the disparity between black and white charts, a typically rare feat for a white act to accomplish. Specifically, it was #1 on both the R&B charts and the Hot 100.
  • Speaking of charts! It knocked Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” from #1 in America, after being there for 10 weeks. Hmm. Get physical Sandra Dee? Can’t do that. Too lazy.
  •  After its release, a British press review determined the song spoke of bondage (not peer pressure and individuality). To this, Hall sarcastically replied “The English…everything has to do with sexual perversion! The English press is great…”


Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers “I Can’t Go For That (Van Sessions)”

The most popular of their zero budget (excluding gas) Van Session web-series thus far is #17. That one is Hall and Oates.

It went viral in March 2012, viewed 1 million+ times during release week.

(You may have heard this one, unlike the title told you.)

Performing since 2008, they are known for their organic sound, a mix of funk, rock, blues, country, and soul. After gaining exposure from their videos, they now have celebrity fans, most importantly, Hall and Oates themselves. They initially created the Van Sessions to show friends, family, and fans about life on the road.

They chose Hall and Oates because the group really likes them. In particular,

“…they have great harmonies, and we love singing harmonies. It was just a cool song. Plus the piano part just made us all laugh”. Source: Denver Post

My favorite part is the ukelele solo. Or perhaps the driving. Maybe it’s the van.


Daryl Hall and Chromeo “I Can’t Go For That (Live from Daryl’s House)”

Part of me feels like this post is more about Hall and less about Oates, but that’s okay. Oates is a good guy too.

Aren’t you, Oates?

Daryl’s hair is now less mullet and more fluff.

Daryl has a web-series aptly titled Live from Daryl’s House, where musicians from various backgrounds get together and rock out from the comfort of his upstate New York home.

Sometimes, if we’re lucky, they play a cover of Hall and Oates.

This one features the Montreal Electro-Funk duo Chromeo, who formed in the early 2000s. Chromeo is the combined efforts of former Hip-Hop producers Pee Thug (talk-box, synthesizers) and Dave One (guitar/vocals).

They are well-dressed, retro, and incredibly slick. Although, the cowboy on acoustic is possibly more slick. (He is)


Michael Jackson “Billie Jean”

Quincy Jones not only hated the bass-line, but the intro and song title.

Pretty much the whole song.

He worried people would confuse “Billie Jean” with tennis player Billie Jean King (really?), who has nothing to do with the song. Except for that she is just a girl, and not Michael Jackson’s lover. Besides that, though.

Fuck all y’all.

Jackson won the battle of calling it “Billie Jean” instead of Quincy’s “Not My Lover” (dumb), and thankfully kept the rest of the song intact, because that’s what made him want to dance. It was “the jelly”. Quincy also did not want it to appear on Thriller. Seriously dude why are you still here?

In terms of recording, Jackson sang the vocals into a six-foot-long cardboard tube for effect, nailing them in one take.

According to Michael:

“Billie Jean is kind of anonymous. It represents a lot of girls. They used to call them groupies in the ’60s…They would hang around backstage doors, and any band that would come to town they would have a relationship with, and I think I wrote this out of experience with my brothers when I was little. There were a lot of Billie Jeans out there. Every girl claimed that their son was related to one of my brothers.” Source: NME

Some speculate that Billie Jean was a real person, mailing Jackson a parcel claiming he was the father of just one twin…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

After several letters, she sent one allegedly containing a gun and a request for Jackson to commit suicide on a particular date, and if done, she would kill herself and the baby.

Jesus lady, relax. Step away from the babies, and don’t mail anything. I hope this information is false, but it is rather believable. I mean, chicks went crazy for Michael. Supposedly, Jackson framed a picture she had sent him in his home. I imagine it looked something like this


The Civil Wars “Billie Jean (live)”
These two officially met at a Nashville songwriting camp in 2008. Their second full-length self-titled album earned them their fourth Grammy award, released in 2013. After a one year hiatus, the Americana Folk duo officially split ways in 2014. Other dates: 1905, 1837, 1473, 1992. No connection. The reason for the band’s dissolution remains one of the music industry’s best kept secrets, and theories abound in speculation, although burned bridges seems a likely culprit.


Jacob McCaslin “Billie Jean (Loop Pedal Cover)”

An excerpt taken directly from his bio page, because I believe they say it best, and I am lazy: Jacob McCaslin is an award winning vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. Influenced very young by the work of soul and blues artists, Jacob has been advancing in all aspects of the music world. While only 19 years old, and having never taken any music lessons, he is recognized as an advanced guitarist by respectable guitar players and dubbed a gifted singer by vocal instructors.

To hear more:



I like his unexpected inclusion of 80s songs such as “Shout” by Tears for Fears, and “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead or Alive. That’s fun.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s