If you don't recall, the Onion A.V. Club's Undercover series is basically a bunch of bands choosing a song from a predertimined list and then covering it in the venerable A.V. Club offices. The cover is an odd art for a band—do you reinterpret, or do you retain a sense of reverence about the whole thing? The best Undercovers are the ones where the band stretches themselves, not just playing to their influences. You can find the list of songs for the 2013 Undercover season here, and here are the best Undercovers so far:
YOUNG THE GIANT DOING "IGNITION (REMIX)" BY R. KELLY
It's pretty easy to fuck up one of the greatest songs of all time, so it's damn impressive that the band didn't. Young the Giant lead singer Sameer Gadhia gets extra-soulful at the end.
REGGIE WATTS DOING "PANAMA" BY VAN HALEN
Reggie Watts is a one-man comedian band, so it makes zero sense that he chose to cover a really famous guitar song. Shouts out to the air-guitar solo.
GROUPLOVE DOING "PARTY HARD" BY ANDREW W.K.
Points off for turning Andrew Wilkes-Krier's auditory eager into a sticky-sweet acoustic joint, but those points get replaced because they did it in costume.
GWAR DOING "CARRY ON WAYWARD SON" BY KANSAS
"Kansas was a big part of a big part of music where bands were named after geographical locations, so let's hope that that never happens again." No telling whether or not they have Kansas in space, but GWAR positively fucking slays this Guitar Hero staple.
COHEED AND CAMBRIA DOING "A RUSH AND A PUSH AND THE LAND IS HOURS" BY THE SMITHS
Prog-emo goofballs Coheed and Cambria did hella right by this deep cut from Moz and the gang, completely reversing Noisey's editorial stance on the band in the process.
LOW DOING "AFRICA" BY TOTO
Just your usual PSA that lots of kiknda-schloky songs from the '80s also work great as indie rock dirges!
TITUS ANDRONICUS DOING "BLUEBIRD IN MY HEART" BY THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS
The Titus Andronicus drummer works the door at Shea Stadium and is the nicest dude of all ever. Oh, and this song is good too.
LITURGY DOING "PRAYER TO GOD" BY SHELLAC
Hunter Hunt-Hendrix. Steve Albini. Loop pedals. WHO WILL WIN?
THE MOUNTAIN GOATS DOING "BOXCAR" BY JAWBREAKER
John Darnielle is perhaps the single-most interesting human currently residing in the state of North Carolina. He and his Goats brethren deliver Jawbreaker's "Boxcar" with the joy of dudes who have had a few years to digest that the righteous and ultimately kinda-silly fury of the song's lyrics.
BOB MOULD DOING "IF I CAN'T CHANGE YOUR MIND" BY SUGAR (WHICH IS BOB MOULD'S OLD BAND)