“Answering Machine” – Scout

The most controversial song in the countdown. But only because of my silly music rules.

Should a cover, a song both written and made famous by someone else, get consideration as one of my favorites for a given year? Often I would say no. But when it is as exceptional as this one, I say yes.

The 1984 original was a classic Replacements song, sounding as though it was recorded after a marathon drinking session. Paul Westerberg’s voice was shredded, the guitars tuneless noise wailing behind him. It was a drunken, late-night call to a lover far away that would be regretted in the morning.

Here, though, Ashen Keilyn discovers tenderness and sweetness in Westerberg’s lyrics and brings them out for all to hear. She took a love song written for punks, drunks, and the other late night denizens of clubs and bars and turned it into a song for everyone. It may not quite be Siouxsie and the Banshees reimagining “Dear Prudence” or The White Stripes destroying “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself.”

But as far as covers go, it’s pretty great.