A lot of couples are looking for unique songs to use for their first dance and for cocktails and dinner. Rather than relying on the standards, they want every song played at their wedding to reflect their music tastes and provide an enjoyable listening experience for everyone in attendance. Cool cover songs can be a great way to bridge the gap between the familiar and the eclectic, and to make fresh the songs that people love, but perhaps have heard all too often. (Note that the cover version has to be good -- who knew Celine Dion covered "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC? Who even wanted to know that?) Here are a few cover songs we've really enjoyed:
Madeline Peyroux, "Dance Me to the End of Love"
Originally written and recorded by the great Leonard Cohen in 1984, "Dance Me to the End of Love," as performed by Madeline Peyroux in 2004, puts a very jazzy, swinging spin on a truly romantic song. This would make a fantastic first dance, or would fit in perfectly alongside the classics like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.
Cat Power, "Sea of Love"
Phil Phillips recorded the original version of this song in 1959, and it has since been covered by everyone from The Honeydrippers to Robert Plant, Del Shannon to Tom Waits. Cat Power's version, from the Juno soundtrack in 2007, is especially pretty, and would work well even in a wedding ceremony.
Adele, "Make You Feel My Love"
Released in 2008, this song has gotten a lot of play in the UK as well as the United States. It's a slightly lesser-known version than that recorded by Bob Dylan (who also wrote the song in 1997), Billy Joel, and Garth Brooks.
Pixie Lott, "Use Somebody"
I feel like I know so many people who are into Kings of Leon, who recorded this song in 2008. Pixie Lott's version, released just last month, is a cool, less rockin', more mellow way to incorporate the song as a first dance.
Jeffrey Gaines, "In Your Eyes"
I'm totally showing my age here, but what child of the 80s doesn't remember this song from their prom, or swooning over the big love scene in Say Anything? Jeffrey Gaines released his cover version in 1992, while Peter Gabriel recorded the original in 1986. Just last night I saw the Gaines cover on "So You Think You Can Dance" and was reminded of its general coolness.
Feist, "Inside and Out"
This cover is a few years old (released in 2005) is a very fun remake of the 1979 Bee Gees hit "Love You Inside and Out," and would work perfectly during cocktails or dinner -- or even dancing, for indie music fans!
The Bird and The Bee, "How Deep is Your Love"
We couldn't very well acknowledge Feist's contribution to the world of Bee Gees covers without doing the same for The Bird and the Bee, who in 2007 released a very sweet and mellow spin on the 1977 classic. Their version was included in the Sex and the City movie, as well as a commercial for VH1's Rock of Love Bus (er, not that we were watching or anything...)
Frente!, "Bizarre Love Triangle"
Anyone who listened to WHFS in 1994 will undoubtedly remember this low-key cover of New Order's 1986 song. While the original is definitely standard dancing fare for 80s music fans, Frente!'s version is a great one to use for the more mellow parts of the reception, and hardly sounds like the same song at all.
Eva Cassidy, "Time After Time"
Most people are probably familiar with Eva Cassidy's versions of "Fields of Gold" or "Over the Rainbow," but we especially like this one because it takes Cyndi Lauper's quintessential 1984 hit and makes it a lot less...well, 80s. The beautiful melody and lyrics of the song really come through on Eva's cover, released in 2000.
Fiona Apple, "Across the Universe"
We know, a lot of people will probably consider it a sacrilege to even suggest a cover of a Beatles song, let alone one by Fiona Apple. Yet this one, from the 1998 movie Pleasantville, is really a very pretty version (we also like Rufus Wainwright's, though Fiona's is a little more mellow and mixable for a wedding).
There are definitely a ton of other great covers out there, though we weren't able to track down Youtube links for all of them. Consider checking out Quincy Coleman's understated version of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (way less dramatic than the original) or Emile Millar's stripped-down cover of Howard Jones' "No One is to Blame" (which does for the song the same thing Eva Cassidy does for "Time After Time").