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


Nina Simone “Plain Gold Ring”

Starting off in the 1950s playing piano and faking her way as a singer, Eunice Waymon adopted the stage name Nina Simone. She went on to become one of the most innovative vocalists of her time, bending musical genres to her will, whether blues, jazz, or classical. Her work has inspired many covers for good reason: she is simple yet powerful, talented but accessible, and the music itself leaves enough space for interpretation.


Kimbra “Plain Gold Ring”(Live on KEXP Seattle)”

Anyone can make a cover, sure. Of all the qualified people to cover Nina, I’d say Kimbra takes the cake.  (I know what you’re thinking Michael Bublé, since you read my blog….but you don’t take the cake. Nor the ice cream! You’re not allowed to even eat the cake. Dinner only.)

Kimbra auto-tunes and loops the hell out of it, too. Utilizing her entire body as an instrument, she vibrates with such intense emotion, making her one of the most adept and singular vocalists alive today. Lucky us! Her version is beautiful and haunting.


Cyndi Lauper “Time After Time” (Official Video)

Cyndi had the original Skrillex hair. Which brings me to a more pressing issue: what’s with all the old ladies sweeping? And does hugging them make the fact they are constantly sweeping any better? I can’t get over how much 1980s ridiculousness she managed to jam pack into a five minute video, but for tackling this feat, I thank her. Does she try to leave her boyfriend because he didn’t like her Skrillex hair?

Single. Human. Tear.

On a more interesting musical note, her 1983 debut album had four top 5 singles, making her the first female ever to accomplish such a task. Maybe instead of hugging everyone Cyndi and making them return to eternal cleaning, you could maybe hire a maid, maybe.

“I WILL be WAITing!”

I’m sorry. had to get that out of my system.


Tegan and Sara “Time After Time (Billboard Candid Covers)”


Born in 1980, the twins create music rife with eighties influence, a significant insight into why I like them so much. The other reason being their stage banter, which is funny. Naturally their covers include the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Cyndi Lauper, artists so intrinsically linked to the time period they couldn’t escape with a time machine.

Not even with the help of Bill and Ted.

I prefer the Tegan and Sara version, especially because they can rock zebra pants and incorporate all of the eighties with substantially less cheese, but more importantly none of the Skrillex. Plus, the xylophone.

“Time After Time” fits well within a lot of pop culture. It’s a silly song that I think most people want to sing very loudly. Two of my favorites occur in Parks and Recreation and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion

“Do you have some sort of..business woman’s special?”


Method Man “Bring the Pain”

Tical, Method Man’s debut album apart from Wu Tang Clan,  included “Bring the Pain”as its first single. Released in November 1994, Tical had instant commercial success, reaching #1 on R&B/Hip Hop albums chart, and #4 on the Billboard 200. In 1996 Chris Rock named his comedy special after the hit track. When asked by MTV in 1997 about the title, Method Man eloquently admits affiliations with emo music,

“That’s why I named that joint ‘Bring the Pain,’ because everybody screaming they’re real. What’s real in this world really? Pain. You can’t hide pain. Once it hits you, you’re struck.”

I am grateful for this track because of the covers. They are below.


Mindless Self Indulgence “Bring the Pain (Original cover)”

Not only did MSI produce a cover of Method Man, they produced two. Furthermore, they didn’t merely create two of my favorite covers, but two of my favorite songs, as well.

It’s hard listening to this loudly in traffic as a small white girl.


“Bring the Pain (New Wave)”



Talking Heads “Warning Sign” (Live at Capitol Theatre 1980)


After recording their post-punk classic 77, Talking Heads began working with producer Brian Eno,  who suggested they create compositions considered “other-worldly”. As a result, More Songs About Buildings and Food was released in 1978, a musical exploration in rhythm, nervousness, and paranoia.


Local Natives “Warning Sign (Live on KEXP)”

Described as many things, and none of them generic, Local Natives has been called “afropop-influenced guitars with hyperactive drumming and hooky three-part harmonies” or more simply “psych-folk”. To me, they are the soundtrack to an afternoon fever dream, adventurous, complex, and paranoid. For their 2010 album Gorilla Manor, the group covered Talking Heads, a perfect song for their instrumentation and group dynamic.

P.S KEXP is great. Check them out at their website and on YouTube


Madonna “Burning Up (Official Video)”

Credited for videos such as Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”, Steve Barron reluctantly directed Madonna’s video. He considered the song “meh” and only agreed to the gig because of Warner Brothers Records, a prominent client and Madonna’s agent at the time.

The video is best known for Madonna writhing all over the road, being flirty, some steamy stuff. Madonna things.

“Burning Up” followed Madonna’s first major single “Holiday”. Due to its minor success, she performed it on her 1985 debut tour, and again 19 years later for her 2004 Re-Invention Tour, but nowhere in between.


Starfucker/STRFKR “Burnin’ Up”

STRFKR initially began as a solo project by lead singer Joshua Hodges, also known as Sexton Blake. The group itself formed in 2007, and released an EP in 2008 featuring “Burnin’ Up”. Their name started as a joke, and they attempted to change it briefly to Pyramiddd (three d’s) in hopes that others would take their music more seriously.

Who needs three d’s though? STRFKR certainly doesn’t.

They changed it back, and have been incredibly successful since.

With their combination of somewhat morbid lyrics discussing death, mortality, and the apocalypse, over upbeat, listenable dance music, STRFKR has created a rather distinct musical persona. Their covers take the original and completely make it their own. I prefer Madonna this way. Source: StatusMagOnline

I didn’t want this article to overwhelm you with Cyndi Lauper, if it’s possible, but I also recommend checking out their cover of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” 

Special Bonus Cover! (*throws confetti*)

I was very sneaky and there are really 11 covers.


K$sha “Sleazy”

Unfortunately I have K$sha in my search history and have to scrub my computer and throw everything away.

Trust me when I say it’s completely worth it.

I had a really hard time choosing one photo, so here are several:

Chunky hair

Chunky eyebrows

Chunky doge aww

Okay that last one with the dog was pretty cute.

After some serious detective work, I determined the girl in this video, although appropriately trashy, is not the real K$sha.

And the boy in the girl costume is actually a boy.

And that this video ruins everything.

Listen to the song for as long as possible, then scroll down for the reason behind my sensory torture.

“graymonster, How could you deface your blog with K$sha?” you inquire.

Ah yes, a question as old as time. The answer is simple.


Ben Folds “Sleazy”

Ben Folds knows how to cover really awful songs and make them great. His version of “Sleazy” combines the right amount of silly and captivating.


“What does ObamaCare mean to you?”

Thank you for reading. I hope it inspired you to listen to cover versions even if the original deems itself aesthetically unbearable, and if you have musical inclinations, to perform one yourself.

Your friend,


*Feel free to comment below with any additional covers you think should be featured in the next installment.

*Meatloaf seriously, what is it?

Okay good he told us (starts at 4:15)


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