WERS Unplucked: Our Acoustic Playlist

Unplucked Acoustic Playlist Graphics by Ainsley Basic

Make sure to join us Thanksgiving weekend on 88.9 for our Unplucked Weekend! As you finish leftover turkey, listen to some special acoustic tunes, all day next Friday and after 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Plus, check out this playlist of all the best acoustic versions and covers of songs, compiled by our staff music writers. From Radiohead to Foster the People, we take you through what makes these twelve acoustic songs so great. 

 

YOLA’S COVER OF “GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD”

With such a powerful voice, it’s no wonder Yola wanted to cover Elton John’s legendary “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” Though much of this cover is similar to the original version, we can hear Yola breakthrough in the chorus. In this section of Elton John’s version, we hear it open up to a large chorus with strings to fill out the sound. In Yola’s take, however, she keeps this portion even-keeled with the rest of the song. This choice lets us really hear the strength in Yola’s voice and gives the song a more intimate feel.

Meghan Hockridge, Program Coordinator

 

FOSTER THE PEOPLE “SIT NEXT TO ME – ACOUSTIC”

“Sit Next To Me” is the kind of song that immediately catches your attention and hooks you on the spot. While Foster the People’s original plays emphasis on light guitar grooves and melodic synths throughout, the acoustic version focuses more on the natural sounds of the guitar strings. Matching the lightheartedness of the lyrics in the chorus, the instrumentation allows the song to flow past the sensitive place built in the first verse. And though the original is great, there’s something about the acoustic version that makes you appreciate the message of the track more. 

Mehvish Ali, Staff Writer

 

MAGGIE ROGERS AND PHOEBE BRIDGERS’ COVER OF “IRIS”

It started with a tweet by Phoebe Bridgers – “if trump loses i will cover iris by the goo goo dolls” – and a response from Maggie Rogers that ignited this amazing collaboration. Their voices intertwine seamlessly in the bright, melancholic harmonies. They keep the soul of the song, only changing the presentation into something even more brilliant. The two stripped down the song instrumentally and let their voices lead the way. This gives space for emotional exploration – whether from the listener or Maggie and Phoebe themselves. It’s a cover that I think even the Goo Goo Dolls would admit truly transforms the song into something more meaningful.

Tatum Jenkins, Music Coordinator

 

WEEZER “FEELS LIKE SUMMER – ACOUSTIC”

It still ‘feels like summer,’ in this Weezer alternate, but instead of the party-like atmosphere built up by the original version, this one evokes a relaxing beachy feel. Stripped of its vocal effects, the rawness and impressive range of vocalist Rivers Cuomo is on full display. It’s hard not to dance and whistle along while listening. “Feels Like Summer – Acoustic” proves that Weezer can ditch all of their usual rock instrumentation and still make a ridiculously catchy tune. 

Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

 

FLEET FOXES “SUNBLIND – ACOUSTIC VERSION”

Where “Sunblind” by Fleet Foxes is lush and vague, the acoustic version offers more clarity through its bareness. Robin Pecknold, their lead singer, gets his time to shine vocally. He’s allowed to carry and guide this song, and I enjoy the fact that we as listeners get to see more of his vision. The guitar lets the brightness and folk-leaning elements reshape the song into something more simple, yet still beautiful. It’s a subtly sparkling cover, and is an unexpected favorite acoustic version of a song for me.

Tatum Jenkins, Music Coordinator

 

RADIOHEAD “FAKE PLASTIC TREES – ACOUSTIC VERSION”

The acoustic version of this Radiohead classic comes off of the soundtrack for the Clueless movie. In the movie, Alicia Silverstone’s character Cher asks “what is it about college students and cry-baby music?” when the fictional college radio station plays the song. As a college student writing for a radio station, it’s ironic to put this song on this list. But, I’ll say this: the beautiful melancholy quality of the original is only amplified in the stripped-down acoustic version. And even though the movie took a jab at it, I’m thankful that Clueless led to its release.

Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

 

RUN RIVER NORTH’S COVER OF “MR. BRIGHTSIDE”

Run River North, an indie folk-rock band based out of L.A., creates a completely new perspective in their cover of Mr. Brightside. The exposition of the song, which is typically recognizable by nearly anyone, is completely transformed in the acoustic version to create a somber campfire feel. The fact that an entirely different, more introspective, and calm interpretation can be derived just from a cover, is what makes this version so successful!

Erin Norton, Staff Writer

 

FOO FIGHTERS – “EVERLONG – ACOUSTIC VERSION”

This acoustic version of “Everlong” sees Foo Fighters in a bit more of a vulnerable light. Throughout the entire song, we only hear the light rhythmic acoustic guitar accompanied by Dave Grohl’s voice, in a much more hushed tone. This softer version exposes a new side to the song and shows a very energetic band, finally relaxed. By stripping down the song, we are able to hear the real desperation in both Grohl’s voice and in the lyrics he is singing.

Meghan Hockridge, Program Coordinator

 

IRON & WINE’S COVER OF “TIME AFTER TIME”

While most acoustic covers slow things down, Samuel Ervin Beam, who goes by the stage name Iron & Wine, speeds things up with his take on Cyndi Lauper’s first number one hit “Time After Time.” Although classic, Lauper’s original version is dated by its keyboard synth-chords and other 80s sounds. In his acoustic version, Iron & Wine give the song a timeless and beautiful spin. With finger-plucked guitar and earnest vocals, the song’s emotional lyrics go straight to the heart.

Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

 

THE BEATLES “WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS – ACOUSTIC VERSION / TAKE 2”

While My Guitar Gently Weeps, one of The Beatles’ most listened to songs and a rock classic, was one of the many songs that The Beatles later released in its most stripped form. This acoustic rendition, one of the song’s initial takes, doesn’t stray too far from the tone of the original. But it ultimately sounds more as if it’s a lullaby. This version also illustrates the production process of the song. Its slightly inconsistent instrumentals and audible discussion among the band members give it character.

Erin Norton, Staff Writer

 

 INGRID MICHAELSON – “BE OK – ACOUSTIC VERSION”

Armed with just a ukulele and her chilling vocals, Ingrid Michaelson delivers a beautiful message of hope with her acoustic version of “Be Ok.” Through the repetitive lyrics, Michaelson wills herself forward to move past her state of heartbreak. “I just want to feel something today,” she sings against upbeat strumming. Though not far off from the original, the acoustic version sounds even more intimate and touching. Ultimately, both versions of “Be Ok” will leave you feeling lighter and capable.

Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

 

LIZ PHAIR “WHY CAN’T I? – LIVE @ YAHOO! MUSIC”

The acoustic version of Liz Phair’s classic rock song “Why Can’t I” deserves appreciation. The natural strain in her vocals when she sings the lyrics, “high enough for you to make me wonder, where it’s going, high enough for you to pull me under, something’s growing” effortlessly stands out. Phair’s original has quite an uplifting melodic tune. With a flare of pop-rock, it can be best described as the song you’d want to hear on the radio as you’re waking up to start the day. In contrast, the acoustic style is more of a soul-filling vibe. Either way, both versions of the track are worth listening to. 

Mehvish Ali, Staff Writer

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