By Joseph Brannigan Lynch
Updated March 15, 2011 at 09:58 PM EDT
Iron And Wine
Credit: Daniel Boczarski/Redferns/Getty Images; Jordan Strauss/
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News from the left-field of awesome: lo-fi folk singer Iron and Wine (a.k.a. Sam Beam) covers an ’80s his from dance-pop icon George Michael.

Beam swung by the Chicago offices of The Onion’s A.V. Club to perform a lovely, subdued version of Michael’s chart-topper “One More Try.”

Beam might not have Michael’s knack for sugary soul, but his less-is-more approach and homespun melodicism make for a stunning reinterpretation. Whereas the backbone of Michael’s song was that raise-your-lighter-in-the-air slow percussion that was so popular in the ’80s, Beam’s version relies on a keyboard set to Easter-morning-organ mode, and the result is surprisingly uplifting. Click here to watch it.

This performance kicks off the second “season” of A.V. Undercover, a web series that involves 25 bands stopping by the A.V. Club offices to take their pick of 25 available cover tunes. But once that song has been recorded, it’s off the list—so who ever shows up late is left with the entrails.*

That is, of course, if you’re playing by the rules. Apparently Iron and Wine was supposed to perform the Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers duet “Islands in the Stream,” but his nameless partner wasn’t able to make it (even though he already had a special guest with the Swell Season‘s Marketa Irglova on backup vocals). So tricky old man Beam managed to squeeze in a cover song that wasn’t on the A.V. Club’s Internet-community-approved list. Those indie singer/songwriters: They’re always playing dirty just to cover a George Michael tune.

Check out the list of upcoming installments, which boasts a wildly eclectic array of covers that include The Clash’s “Janie Jones, Kanye West’s “Runaway,” Gary Numan’s “Cars,” and even the immortal “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba. (*Now you understand the entrails remark.)

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