“Material Girl” – Barenaked Ladies
Let’s start with a bang, shall we? Back in 1995, the Barenaked Ladies were riding high on the success of their two studio albums. They could have their pick of cover songs! So why not turn Madonna’s sultry pop hit “Material Girl” into a swinging, jazzy number? BONUS: Steven Page plays the flute. THE FLUTE.
“The Needle and the Damage Done” – Our Lady Peace
You’ve got your oversized cardigan and your floppy hair drapes, plus your band is selling out shows all over the country. You’re the new alt-rock phenomenon. So now’s the time to pay homage to Canada’s folk hero, by covering Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done.” In the hands of Our Lady Peace, the song gets a grunge twist.
“I Fought the Law” – Bryan Adams
This song has been covered extensively, but in this version, Canada’s golden boy tries to go bad. This is the aural equivalent of taking a photo inside an olde-timey jail cell at the fair. You’re just pretending to be bad, and that’s the fun.
“Anchorless” – The Weakerthans
Here’s a question for you – can you cover yourself? Or is this song just musical cannibalism? In 1996, singer John K. Samson left the Propaghandi to start the iconic Winnipeg band The Weakerthans, and took the song “Anchorless” with him. Some prefer the faster, punk-ish version of the original, but I think the slower tempo of the Weatherthans version is a better fit for the lyrics.
“A Case of You” – Sloan
Joni Mitchell, Canada’s songstress. She has a voice like crystal blue water flowing in a stream. (No, I’m not being overly poetic. Joni is a goddess. Shut up.) But if you’ve ever listened to a Joni album, and thought, ‘this could use more noise’, look no further. This Sloan cover of “A Case of You” will make you want to start a garage band.
“The Water is Wide” – Sarah McLachlan
Strictly speaking, this isn’t solely a McLachlan cover, but it’s too good not to include. This video is peak 90s, and it’s glorious. First, it was shot at Lillith Fair in 1997. Second, Jewel is there and she is wearing a CROCHETED HALTER TOP. Third, Sarah is doing that warbly thing that only she can do, taking on a verse in Pete Seeger’s “The Water is Wide.”
“Gouge Away” – Hayden
Already a college rock anthem, Pixies’ “Gouge Away” is a stripped-down tune. And in Hayden’s hands, it’s all soulful and moaning. Trust me, it’s a good thing. Also the best part of this video are the comments from the YouTube uploader, which simply read I OWN NOTHING. Very grunge.
“To Love Somebody” – Blue Rodeo
This video was recorded in 2006, but that’s only because Blue Rodeo is still going strong. The Toronto boys have been rocking since 1984. Here, they take it all the way back to 1967, with a bluesy cover of the Bee Gees hit.
“You Shook Me All Night Long” – Shania Twain
Is this a good version of the AC/DC classic rock song? I’ll answer your question with another question: can a song be bad if it has a slide guitar? Ok, Shania takes this rock anthem into classic Shania territory. It’s poppy, it’s cheesy, and there are some twanging country harmonies. Bless her heart.