Covers of the Replacements, ranked

The Replacements in the '80s

The Replacements in the '80s

With the Cover Me Impressed show happening at Harriet Brewing tomorrow, we decided to take a look at Replacements songs other bands have covered (yes, we know none of the bands at the event will be aping the ‘Mats, but the show’s title is taken from their “Color Me Impressed” — see what we did there?) Some were so bad, it was painful to behold, while others fell in line from middling to “Damn, they nailed that thing to the wall!” Here are the six that shook out to be the most interesting, for better or worse.

6. Crash Test Dummies — “Androgynous”

Yes, Brad Roberts’ voice is enough to make most people want to punch a baby, but never has it been more annoying than it is here from 1991’s insipid The Ghosts That Haunt Me. He mostly comes off like a tipsy, overly eager lounge singer, but a little like your cargo shorts-wearing brother-in-law trying too hard to impress you at karaoke, as well. All of which is to say, this thing is a Chernobyl-esque nuclear disaster.

5. The Get Up Kids — “Beer for Breakfast”

This cover makes me simultaneously love and hate TGUK. It makes me love them because this is a pretty goddamn fantastic cover that captures every bit of the 'Mats' ramshackle charm. But it makes me hate them because why couldn’t all of their songs have been in this vein, instead of the whiny, pants-pissing bullshit they chose to foist upon us instead? Nobody does it like the Replacements, but the Get Up Kids come pretty close.

4. Ezra Furman — “Androgynous”

Two cover versions of the same song, you say? Yes. This one is great for a couple of reasons. First, it’s the only one I found that worked with a guitar standing in for the plunky piano on the original. But more importantly, Furman is genderfluid and it’s clear, with his handling of the material, that it isn’t done tongue-in-cheek — this is Furman’s life. It’s not perfect, but with the surrounding context, it easily shakes out as the most meaningful cover version of this song (and there have been many) ever attempted. Furman will hit the Turf Club on Oct. 7.

3. Lorde — “Swingin’ Party”

Lorde’s problem is that she’s always Lorde. That said, her putting the Lorde stamp on what I’ve always felt was filler from Tim proves that she has some genuine chops. The mid-tempo techno beat is odd behind the lyrics, but it’s still cohesive and, in the end, works far better than I wanted it to, though it isn’t necessarily great. I’m an admitted Lorde detractor and wanted this to fail, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t listen to it a few more times after I was done gathering notes on it.

2. Against Me! — “Here Comes a Regular”

When Laura Jane Grace (who later covered “Androgynous” with Joan Jett and Miley Cyrus) was still known as Tom Gabel, she turned in a heart-wrenching version of one of the most beloved songs in the Replacements’ formidable catalog. It’s credited to the entire band, but this was all her from start to finish. “Regular” always sort of brings a tear to my eye when I really sit and listen to it, and while Grace’s effort doesn’t have quite the same effect, it’s still a powerful performance. She seems to understand what a lot of others don’t: The vocals have to be sad, but those chords have to be, too. You can’t just play the guitar and hit the right notes, you have to make it cry into your beer along with you. (See also: Against Me! taking on "Bastards of Young."

1. Glen Campbell — “Sadly Beautiful”

We can talk all day about which cover is best, which is worst and on and on. Here’s the one thing I know, however: This version of “Sadly Beautiful” is Campbell’s version of Cash’s cover of “Hurt.” That is an inarguable fact. It’s also the best cover of any Replacements song recorded to date. That is also an inarguable fact. He referenced the source material perfectly, while also making the song wholly his own, a must with any transcendent cover and also the mark of a top-tier musician. “Sadly Beautiful” is an underrated ‘Mats song in general and this just caused me to realize I don’t listen to the original nearly enough when I’m trudging through Replacements songs on chilly fall afternoons (yeah, that happens a lot.) Who knew Glen Campbell would make me like one of my favorite bands even more?