Covers can be truly tragic. All it takes is one person with a complete misunderstanding of his or her talent or of a song to cause you to full-body cringe. We’ve all heard them. We all know the moment when you frantically try to exit the recording because it really is that bad.
On the flipside, covers cans be super nifty sometimes. They can offer a new twist on a song you’ve heard played the same way over and over. They can make you like a song you hate. Sometimes they remind you of a song you used to love. Other times, they totally remake a song and it’s as if you’re listening to something entirely new and original. They can highlight new talents and old ones. And there’s something great about the familiarity of covers. You may not have any idea what the song will sound like, but you know the words. So, though not everyone should sing covers and people have been known to go overboard with them, I do think when done right, they can be really fun. Here are couple of gems I’ve stumbled across over the years!
Leave it to Glass Animals to put a funky, brooding spin on a Kanye song. Like, they make you want to snap along to a Kanye West song. That’s just too great. Also, the way they build up the intensity in the song and bring it to a tension-packed peak at the end is pretty rad.
Hearing a sweet, gentle voice singing this song is hands-down hilarious. At first. Then you realize she has a really great vocals and that this song actually becomes really confident and hot sung by soft-spoken woman. And really, why shouldn’t a soft-spoken woman sing this? Why can’t a whisper be self-assured and bold? This cover has humor, badass femininity, solid vocals, and the same catchiness as the original. Success.
Adele performed this cover when she played the Royal Albert Hall and I’ve loved it ever since. Obviously you have her standard, stellar voice. But you also get some “gnarly banjo”, throaty vocals, playful sounds of disgust at the word love and laughs. This candid live version brings out the heart wrenching, the fun, and the real-life storytelling aspects of this song.
No one loves some good Spice Girls jazzy- and sassy-ness more than I do. I still have Spiceworld on tape; I’d go as far to say it’s one of my more treasured possessions. But Mø’s slowed down, sulky reincarnation is so fitting for the lyrics of this song. Mø turns it into a sexy and pleading, while still confident tune. What more can you ask for when you’re fed up with someone repeatedly fucking you over?
Easily one of my favorite Chet Faker songs. Also a good example of knowing where to draw the line. Love Chet Faker, love this cover, but at the end of the day he’s still a white guy and not going for all of Dr Dre’s or Queen Pen’s verses was a wise move. He moves the song into his classic slow, suave sound. It was a fairly sexy song to begin with, but Chet Faker makes it intimate and all of sudden you’re just in love with this cover and him.
There’s nothing like a little folksy jazz to bring out the sorrow in a song. Everytime I listen to this song, I envision myself as a sort of WWII pin-up girl (think Rory and Lorelai in the dance marathon episode of Gilmore Girls) seeing her man off. Nah? Just me? Okay!
I’ll never get over this tribute. VMA’s did something really right that year. There were so many talented women they could’ve asked to cover an Amy Winehouse song to pay their respects, but we all know it just wouldn’t have been right. Bruno brought his soulful singing, jazzy sound and dance (not to mention his adorable face), and not only did justice to a great song, but also to Amy. Towards the end of the song he literally pays his respects—and makes everyone in the crowd do the same—to her. Obviously nothing can compare to the original, but this doesn’t and Bruno knew that and that’s why it’s a great cover.
Once upon a time I was OBSESSED with this cover. Now I am all over again. I love the way they incorporate a remixed version of Florence’s into the song. “You’ve Got the Love” actually has a long history of being covered and remixed, tracing back to a 1986 Candi Staton single. The xx take this ballad and make it dancey, which is rather unusual for my three favorite, black-clad Brits (though looking back on this from Jamie xx’s new stuff connects a lot of dots). But paired with Oliver and Romy’s stark vocals, they don’t detract from beautiful love lyrics of this song. Instead, they give it a hypnotizing sound that makes for a fun remake of this hit.
Ahhh, the cover that spurred the post. We’ve all heard the song. We’ve all laughed at the videos. We all thought we’d had enough of it. But this cover is gonna make you start jamming out again. Disclosure adds some steel drum sounds and Sam Smith and his backups smoothly sails back and forth through their vocal ranges and the result is a really fun cover. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, nor does it transform the song into something too pop-y. It’s just this really chill cover you can’t quite resist moving to. Get ready to have Hotline Bling on repeat again.