The 10 Best Cover Songs Of 2011

Tell your children not to walk Wye Oak's way.
2011 was a year of looking back relentlessly, whether you were awash in Remember The '90s nostalgia or getting down at a New Kids On The Block show or watching Lady Gaga try to bring back the variety-hour era with her whacked-out Thanksgiving special. So it's not too surprising that there was a bounty of covers—whether as part of all-tribute-set live shows or attempts to goose sites' online traffic or just for, you know, fun—for the Sound of the City braintrust to choose from when putting together this list. Pop on pop, country on Gaga, and reggae on Seattle below.

10. Araabmuzik, "6 Foot 7 Foot" (live at Brooklyn Bowl)

Less a cover than a deconstruction, Araabmuzik's reworking of Lil Wayne's then-recently-released "6 Foot 7 Foot" before the small crowd at his April show at the Brooklyn Bowl would deserve inclusion for its audacity alone. In its radio-ready form the song is coming apart at the seams, its elements—drums, bass, that looping "Banana Boat Song" sample, Wayne—each attempting to pull the song in their own direction. But for Araab, this wasn't a problem; it was liberation. He exploded the tune and re-arranged it again and again, first around the drums, then the bass, then Wayne himself—and he did it all with swagger of a Dipset affiliate and the patience of the dance producer he would soon grow into.

9. Amy Klein and the Blue Star Band, "Dancing In The Dark" (live at Death By Audio)

The most memorable cover from Permanent Wave's all-star Halloween show in October, the Blue Star Band's take on "Dancing in the Dark" merits inclusion as much for the music as for performance. Everyone dressed up as Bruce and no one as a member of the E Street Band; for authenticity, Clarence Clemons and Courtney Cox stand-ins jumped out of the crowd to enact their respective parts. Only The Muppets did it better.

8. Luke Bryan, "Bad Romance" (live at Madison Square Garden)

Never afraid to court an audience outside of his masculine fanbase, country singer Luke Bryan took his endearingly goofy genre-play to another level when he closed his September 16 set with a run through Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." He forgot a few words but nailed the "Ra Ras"—which, in the end, is all that really matters. "Who is this?" a man at the show asked his wife, clearly enjoying the tune way more than he ever intended to.

7. Taylor Swift, "Super Bass" (radio appearance)

Thanks, Taylor, for spearheading the one-woman campaign behind turning Nicki Minaj's sparkling "Super Bass" into a single—and succeeding.

6. Little Roy, "Dive" (album cut)

Little Roy's Battle For Seattle celebrated the Nirvana-worship that took over the 20th anniversary of Nevermind's release with a slew of old-school reggae covers of the band's catalog. But none were better than this version of a gloomy cut from early in the band's career, which retains its dreariness even when it brightens into a key change on the bridge.

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