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Thursday, 5 April 2012

Top 10 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' Covers

As I compiled my all time top 50 favourite tracks, I couldn't help but notice the large amount of covers on Youtube of my number 2 selection; 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' by Neutral Milk Hotel. It seems this is an incredibly popular track with muso's the world over and there are literally hundreds of cover versions for your delictation on the popular video sharing site. There are two reasons for this; 1) It is relatively easy to play on the guitar, and 2) Even if you have a really bad voice, it's possibly no worse than Jeff Mangum. Consequently, you can sound great playing 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' with only a modicum of talent.

I've waded through hundreds of hopefuls to wittle the field down to a top ten of premium quality versions of the song. There were thirty covers on the short-list, so the ultimate top 10 needed to throw something different into the mix as the competition was so hot. 

So sit back, relax and enjoy some time in an aeroplane over the sea... 

10. Trustjess 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea'

There are hundreds of girls strumming guitars and belting out the Neutral Milk Hotel classic on Youtube and this is probably the best of its type. Simple straightforward delivery, a tuneful reedy voice and a nice orange blouse. It basically sets the standard that the rest of the top 10 have to beat.

9. UnjustifiedMurder 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea'

Unjustified Murder's version works on the principle that the whole song needs a good dose of testosterone and aggressively tears into the song like David Gedge in the Wedding Present on rocket fuel. The voice almost has the same ear splitting/glass shattering quality of Mangum himself and you've got to love the short sleaved 'Liberate' T-Shirt look.

8. Bass Causality Featuring Mike Dewitt 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea'

We go upmarket for number 8 with Bass Causality's classy instrumental version. These guys look like music graduates and it just goes to show the power of a good education as this sounds extremely polished and professional. Loved the subtle effects in the video, brilliant tromboning and excellent little claps added towards the end. I'm not sure about the fashion choices, but a triumphant interpretation anyway.

7. Dellistt 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea'

The first appearance for the ukulele as the Dellistt group go instrument crazy by adding a drum and that tooty keyboard thing. It ends up sounding not unlike Beruit which is always a good thing and I love the drummer's moves, although he does look a bit tired by the end. Great vocals, lovely tooting and confident ukulele playing. Highly enjoyable.

6. Milk & Biscuit 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea'

Milk and Biscuit are easily the best of the 'girls with guitars' style cover versions, but also add the extra bonus of changing the song a bit and ultimately making it their own. Delicate guitar picking, fragile vocals and belting harmonies combine to produce a chilled and relaxed version of the song.

5. The Garrats 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea'

Proof if ever it were needed that any song can be improved by the introduction of a homemade shaker. The Garrats look like the kind of family that I'd like to be adopted by and join in with their wholesome sing-a-longs. Great harmonies reminiscent of Abba and a togetherness not seen since the Osmonds combine to create something beautiful. If the one with the bowler hat did a little dance it would have been the icing on the cake.

4. The Mike Jurkowski Combo 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea'

Proof if ever it were needed that the saw is the best musical instrument ever! How do you improve the perfect song? Get some laddish looking guys in hoodies to belt out the song in unison while not quite knowing the words, add a long haired bongo player, and then add a saw player. It's a combination made in heaven. The saw man is good, but not a patch on the Saw Lady!  

3. Tom 1964 and Family 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea'

Or you could take the view that what the song really needs is a slide guitar. Tom and the team add a country and western element to proceedings, but go even further with a production that sounds like it was recorded in an empty Albert Hall. It's a strangely hypnotic combination, but still fails to prompt a smile from Tom. But still, a family that plays together stays together and who can knock the quality of this version. 

2. JustERose 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea'

The ukulele returns in JustERose's minimal version of the song. This Sandra Bullock lookalike adds some vocal gymnastics to liven things up, the likes of which have not been seen since Darius covered 'Hit Me Baby One More Time' on Popstars the Rivals, but it still sounds absolutely brilliant. Great crooning; Mangum take note!  

1. Essteef and his Accordian 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea'

What the song really needs is an accordian. Let's face it; what song wouldn't be improved by being played on an accordian? Essteef rachets up the quality with his twinkling right hand fingers and the pumping of his left hand. The passionate Mangumesque vocals complement the smooth sound of the accordian to perfection. A worthy number 1! 


  1. This is going to give me some serious nightmares. I think my favourite (a very loose useage of the word) has to be Milk & Biscuit. As for some of these other clowns: the saw playing is just so completely random, Essteef's singing on the high notes is cringey and as for the Garrats, they seem like the kind of family who would like to live in The Home in the book The Disappearance. Highly worrying. Now, where's my guitar and kazoo...

  2. Now, I've even started humming it!!! Nightmare. At least it wasn't Eels.

  3. Thats the whole point evlkeith - you don't have to be a good musician or singer to make a cracking version of a Neutral Milk Hotel song. I'm sure you liked them secretly. How can you not like the Garrat's version?!?

  4. (Secretly, I want to be adopted by them too.)

  5. cockpit
    Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was also looking for it, And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him. So I should thank you for the free lunch I got.