Musicians have captured something special when they can remove most of the instrumentation and effects from a song, and it still holds up—or becomes even better. Here are 20 of our favorite stripped-down versions of songs (not stripper versions—that would be weird.)
We tried to stay away from covers, but when the artist reinvents the song and surpasses the original recording, it’s hard to ignore.
Keep in mind there are millions of these, so we probably missed some of your favorites; feel free to mention them in the comments.
20. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under The Bridge
The acoustic guitar becomes the only drum.
19. XTC – King For a Day
Two years before MTV launched Unplugged and five years after Andy Partridge’s on-stage breakdown led to an end to the band’s live shows, XTC visited MTV’s studios for an acoustic version of three songs, including this one off Oranges and Lemons.
18. Death Cab For Cutie – No Sunlight
They play the whole song in the back of a cab… ironic.
17. Phoenix – 1901
The heavy effects behind 1901 get removed as Phoenix play under umbrellas while rain pelts down. Doen’t seem to bother them.
16. Fanfarlo – Atlas
Fanfarlo’s typical songs contain a heavy dose of chamber pop and electronic elements mixed in. This has none of those.