Four Covers of ‘Nineteen,’ to Which You Can Get Angsty, Feelingsy

Tegan & Sara released The Con when I was 19. That summer I was working at a magazine in New York City and I was not quite hip enough to wear plaid, have horn-rimmed glasses or know how to swoon and be dramatic. Instead, I was awkward-looking, wore a lot of polo shirts (all in one style, different colors), had an angst-carrying capacity of Oh So Much and a blocky iPod that could put one track on repeat ad infinitum. And that one track was Tegan & Sara’s “Nineteen.”

“Nineteen” is one of those oh man, this is totally speaking to me songs that happen when a certain age and a certain level of personal intensity collide. The song gets its hooks in you by hitting your emotionally vulnerable spots. For example, the summer that I first heard Tegan’s husky voice woefully crooning “I felt you in my life before I ever thought to,” I was single and swimming a pool of teenage no one will ever love me, and that line gave me hope.

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So what makes the song so great? It has a dangerous quad-fecta (like a trifecta but four) of frosty-heart-melting themes and make-a-jaded-woman-cry lines: the We Were Made For Each Other (“I felt you in my legs before I even met you”), the I Love You So Much (“When I laid beside you / For the first time I told you / I feel you In my heart”), the Oh My God We’re Breaking Up (“Now we’re saying bye / Bye / Bye”) and the Why Won’t She Return My Calls (“I was nineteen / Call me”). And all of this in the first 24 seconds of the song. It’s a tram tour of Tegan’s romantic history, and the tram has rocket engines.

In tribute to this heart-rending song, lots of heart-rending covers have been made, often featuring copious amounts of vocal reverb (singing-in-a-cave echoes), twangy acoustic guitars (that are not always in tune), and hot androgynous ladies (I’ve often found that even the meh covers get good ratings because of hot ladies; this usually means they are possessors of pixie cuts and lip rings). As your tour guide into the very, very emotional world of “Nineteen,” I offer this selection of covers that I thought stood out and were repeat-worthy (and some that feature hot ladies, for your enjoyment).

 

The first cover is by the Montreal-based band Kimarine. This version takes a little more creative license than most Nineteen covers; it sounds a lot more jangle-pop-y and dreamy, mainly due to the great use of fingerpicking and rhythm guitar. Great cover.

 

 

The second is by musician Emily Zea — it’s a slow-paced, lullaby version with acoustic strumming. Bonus points: Zea looks a bit like what would happen if Ellen Page and Tegan Quin had a baby. An attractive baby who is actually a grown woman wearing a magenta beanie.

 

 

The third is by artist Allison Weiss — it’s an acoustic cover that’s pretty much on par with the original song. What’s great is that Weiss harmonizes with herself in this version and manages to get an urgently sad and angsty element into her voice while she sings.

 

 

The fourth is by Ko Xinyi — a great acoustic cover with great vocals. She trips up a little on the lyrics at 2:12 but manages to keep it classy (and cute). Asian ladies represent!

 

 

And the last is Tegan & Sara performing “Nineteen,” just for kicks. Swoon at those sideswept bangs; those indie mullets! This is the reason we’re here in the first place: a great song.

Is there a cover version of “Nineteen” that’s near and dear to your heart? Do you just need to share some feelings?

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Whitney is a lover of food, books, comic books and journals made for left-handed people. She is a Ph.D. student at Northwestern University, where she studies video games and new media. She is also a graphic designer, writer and editor who has worked for places like Opium Magazine, Literary Death Match, Publishers Weekly and The Feminist Press. Check out her blog at whitneypow.com and follow her on Twitter @whitneypow.

Whitney has written 51 articles for us.

30 Comments

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    before hearing this song..I’d been wondering what it is, this strange emotion that I’ve been having lately. This song put it into such great perspective for me and I am now able to realize that my heart, body, and soul is speaking to me. Saying to me, that I should take risk in love. “…and when I lay beside you for the first time I told you, I fell you in my heart and I don’t even know you… I felt you in my life before I ever thought to…”, these words were the catalyst to my realization that what I feel can’t be washed away by my critical mind. I’ve got to let it happen…the good and the bad <3

    “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

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    This is one of the first Tegan and Sara songs I heard, which led me to the rest of their music, which, combined with the L Word, led to my big gay awakening. I’m such a cliche.
    This song’s important, is what I’m saying.

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    When I was nineteen, my serious, probably-too-passionate relationship fell apart when my girlfriend moved internationally for college. Three weeks after she left I was across the railing from Tegan and Sara at their show, balling my eyes out to the song.
    Oh, memories.
    =)

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    I Love this post so much! My favorite nineteen cover is by nervous but excited. They have a cute/funny little video that goes with it, you can see it here: http://vimeo.com/11662984
    You should also watch all their other “songisodes” and listen to all their music because they are pretty awesome!

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    I’ve never been one of those lesbian who likes typical lesbian music. The only Tegan and Sara songs I knew up until a minute ago were two awesome remixes of their song Alligator: one by Passion Pit, one by Toro Y Moi. Don’t get me wrong, I did go through an Ani DiFranco phrase when I was like 18, but my musical preferences have evolved through many phases over time. Having never heard Nineteen before, I just gave it a chance and it is a pretty great song. Very catchy. The perfect level of lesbian FEELINGS. I think I’m just over my angsty phase. Mindless dancey fun is my go-to. But here’s to the angsty 19-year-olds! It’s a great time! Cheers!

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    I’m old… I was well into my 20’s by the time this song came out. But I did (still do) have a strong emotional attachment to “Days and Days”… When I heard that for the first time I felt like some part of me shifted into the proper place, like I was slightly out of alignment before then. And yes that sounds terribly melodramatic, but I’m kind of like that.

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    I, too, first heard the song not long after it was released, when I was nineteen. It was a pretty confused time in my life. The song made sense then, and it continues to make sense for me in different ways, now that I am older than 19.

    Also, for what it’s worth, my girlfriend hates Tegan and Sara but is tapping her foot to these covers.

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    Allison Weiss is awesome. I am currently obsessed with her cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend.”

    Also, I just realised that I always thought the line was “cold misery” and not “call me.” Hmm that makes more sense.

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    Hey thanks for the reference! Love this site, I was pleasantly suprised to see us on here!
    Cheers, anyone from Montreal should come check out our shows sometime!

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    This was on a constant loop in my car when my first long term relationship came to an end. It’s amazing how a song makes you feel happy and powerful on one day and drives you to tears the next. I haven’t revisited this song until today, and hearing the covers makes me really glad I did.

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