I have long held a capalla music in high regard. A group of musicians, without instrumentation, providing an orchestra of sound was popular in days long ago, but the practice has waned in modern times. Luckily, many college a capella groups still exist that carry on this tradition, along with a few professional organizations as well.
It's also no secret that I'm a big fan of cover songs. Taking another artists song and reworking it, when well done, really brings a whole new level to the experience. Hearing one of my favorite songs interpreted anew is a truly joyous experience.
Here's a few favorites that are both a capella and covers, along with the original tracks. Good a cappella music isn't extremely easy to come by, in my experience; if you have any suggestions for others to listen for, feel free to comment below.
The Harvard Callbacks - Don't Change Your Plans
Easily my favorite song of the bunch. The original is great, but production on this version is outrageously good!
Reverse Osmosis - I Believe She's Lying
A great rendition of a Jon Brion classic. Don't know Jon Brion? You probably do, he's produced for tons of people the past decade, most notably Kanye West.
(This m4a file will play in iTunes and on most mp3 players. I hesitate to compress it into an mp3 as sound quality would be further compromised)
Schrödinger's Cat - When Doves Cry
Very creative sound effects make this version almost indistinguishable from the Prince original.
That One - Rainbow Connection
Probably one of my favorite songs ever, I've never heard a bad version of Rainbow Connection. This one doesn't dissapoint.
For some reason, Ben Folds songs really get the a cappella crowd going. There's lots of videos and songs out there if you'll just search YouTube. Here's one I really enjoyed, Army by the University of Rochester's Midnight Ramblers:
Folds has taken notice of these artists and is in the process of putting a few of them on a CD to benefit Save the Music. I'm pretty sure I'll have to buy this when it comes out.
Lastly, a bonus a cappella track, though not a cover, a song from one of my favorite Simpsons episodes, Homer's Barbershop Quartet. Homer and the Be Sharps performing "Baby on Board":