Tossing the amps aside and stripping music back to its bare essentials isn’t always an easy task. However, for some bands the risk reaps reward, ultimately unearthing new, notably artistic versions of records we all so famously love. With that being said, here’s a list of some of our favourite unplugged tracks that give their powerhouse originals a run for their money.
Foo Fighters ‘Everlong’
‘Everlong,’ written in the late 1990’s, first appeared as a single from the Foo Fighters’ second album, The Colour and the Shape. Though the song received decent recognition upon its initial release, it was Grohl’s acoustic twist on Howard Stern’s radio show that won fans over. With raw vocals and unamplified instrumentals illuminating the intense sentiment that Grohl poured into the lyrics, it’s clear to see why this is the version that truly resonates with listeners.
Nirvana ‘About a Girl’
The Nirvana MTV unplugged session heralds national praise, and rightfully so. While their cover of David Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ chiefly ranks as the set’s calling card, it’s the remarkably gritty and melancholic ‘About A Girl’ performance that earns a spot on our list.
Jack White ‘The Same Boy You’ve Always Known’
Stepping back from his sweltering, bluesy garage sound, Jack White turns to his Nashville roots, and dishes out some seriously juicy country vibes with his White Stripes hit ‘The Same Boy You’ve Always Known.’
Eric Clapton ‘Layla’
Eric Clapton’s rework of his pre-existing sensation, ‘Layla,’ just goes to show the power of minimalism. Transformed into a slow shuffle track with a jazzy, mystified feel, this lighter rendition shows Clapton’s dynamic range, and consequently pulls ahead of its electric guitar driven original.
Sticky Fingers ‘Happy Endings’
The indie/rock, reggae infused sound of Sydney lads, Sticky Fingers, is infectious, with much of the admiration for the band deriving from their feel-good, charismatic vibe. Despite their plethora of rad, body swaying tunes, it’s acoustic performances, like that of ‘Happy Endings’ (the title track off their 2011 EP) that make you wholeheartedly appreciate their talent and artistry.
The National ‘Sea of Love’
In terms of showcasing the compellingly well-groomed baritone of Matt Berninger, elaborate instrumentation proves insignificant. During The National’s NPR Tiny Desk Concert performance of ‘Sea of Love,’ the band stripped back the upbeat track, and let the unflawed vocals of the frontman reign. Needless to say, this tempered, down-to-earth take successfully worked in their favor.
Rolling Stones ‘Wild Horses’
Prior to its acoustic reveal, ‘Wild Horses’ had already gathered some serious momentum, quickly stapling itself as a Stone’s classic. So when the musical mavericks released an utterly captivating recording, devoid of much of their intricately ornamented, trademark electric swells, the belter of a tune was taken to even greater heights – rawer and more emotional than ever.
Pearl Jam ‘Black’
The list would not be complete without Pearl Jam’s, unplugged rendition of ‘Black.’ The personal nature of the song yields some gut wrenching feels, making it supremely difficult not to rain praise on this champion, instrumentally subdued performance. The intensity and grit of Vetter’s vocals live are inimitable, and sound as good as any recording.
Florence + The Machine ‘Never Let Me Go’
The spellbinding delicateness synonymous with the gloriously volcanic set of pipes on Florence Welch goes undisputed. So when stripped to its purest form, especially on an already heart rendering track, one can ascertain that this holds even more weight.
Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Under the Bridge’
The legendary LA natives round off our list with their acoustic execution of ‘Under the Bridge.’ Typically boasting with hypnotic fretwork, spontaneity and chaotic energy, this diluted rendition diverges from its original in the best way possible, placing a predominant focus on the song’s personal lyrical implications.
Artists in this post
May 10, 1965 Krist Novoselic is born. February 20, 1967 Kurt Cobain is born. January 14, 1969 Dave Grohl is born. Fall 1985 Kurt meets Krist. They play in several bands together, including Stiff Woodies. December 1987 Kurt, Krist and drummer Aaron Burckhard form the original lineup of Nirvana in Aberdeen, Washington. January 23, 1988