Covering songs is an art form that has become trendier over recent years. Whereas it used to be perceived as ripping off another artist’s work, now it is seen as paying homage to your musical contemporaries. Most artists include covers in their live concert sets, and sometimes that’s the most exciting part of the show. Music lovers enjoy covers because they give a distinguishing interpretation of a song listeners thought they knew. Whether it’s performed at a concert, in a radio station or added to the end of an album, covers are – most of the time – a great listen. If you haven’t heard these next 10 covers yet, you should put your headphones in and hit play.
1. Lissie – Pursuit of Happiness (Kid Cudi)American folk artist Lissie took Kid Cudi’s do-better anthem and put her own guitar-centered spin on the rapper’s hit song. In her version, the focus isn’t so much on the banging beats but on the earnest lyrics, proving to take a different meaning because they’re being sung by a female.
2. Ryan Adams – 1989 (Taylor Swift)If you’re one of the 63.8 million people who follow Taylor Swift on Twitter, then you’ve probably heard of Ryan Adams by now. Since Sept. 21, she’s blown up her feed tweeting and retweeting about this guy who did a cover of her entire 1989 album, so it must be good, right? The answer is a resounding yes. The album is on Spotify, iTunes and YouTube, so you have no excuse to not educate yourself with Adams’ amazing piece of interpretation and artistry.
3. Rixton – Thong Song (Sisqó)The boys of British quartet Rixton are impeccable with their harmonies, and the vocals for this cover are no disappointment. The guys took the ’90s throwback tune and replaced the violins with guitars to make it their own, and the end result is pretty darn catchy.
4. The 1975 – What Makes You Beautiful (One Direction)Talk about a cover that takes a complete 180 from the original. The 1975 took 1D’s breakout single, slowed the beat and gave the pop song a raw emotion that almost makes you want to cry. Almost.
5. Sam Smith – How Will I Know (Whitney Houston)This is the most heavenly piece of music on my iPod, and that’s all you need to know.
6. John Mayer – XO (Beyoncé)Both versions of XO are great in their own rights, but I prefer Mayer’s version simply because it releases a calm over me every time I listen to it. His voice is so soothing, and the song done acoustically makes the beautiful lyrics stand out even more.
7. Hozier – Do I Wanna Know? (Arctic Monkeys)The Take Me To Church crooner took a rock radio staple and gave it a soulful rendition that made me rethink the song and its entire context. I love the Arctic Monkeys’ version, but I only focused on the upbeat, catchy tune and not the lyrics. When Hozier came out with his cover, I couldn’t help but listen to the words, which are surprisingly beautiful and depressing at the same time.
8. Ed Sheeran ft. Passenger – No Diggity (Blackstreet)He is, in my opinion, the king of covers, and Sheeran doesn’t disappoint with his take on Blackstreet’s hit. Accompanied by longtime touring companion Passenger, Sheeran performed this cover at a radio station in 2013, and then it proceeded to blow up on the Internet. He also throws in a bit of Macklemore at the end because he’s just that freaking awesome.
9. James Bay – FourFiveSeconds (Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney)A criticism of the original trio’s FourFiveSeconds is that it’s just a little too bland and that the song never takes off and has that “wow” moment. Bay made sure that wasn’t an issue for the cover he performed in BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge, the hallowed ground of covers. Bay is by far one of my favorite new artists, and his exceptional, soulful voice combined with his talent on the guitar makes this cover one to remember.
10. Arctic Monkeys – Hold On, We’re Going Home (Drake)While singer Alex Turner is attempting his best “dad dancing” in the video, this cover is ridiculously groovy and just plain cool. I feel hipster when I listen to it, but I guess that’s just the effect of the Arctic Monkeys.
Everyone’s tastes are different, but no one can deny that covers, when done right, are heaven to the ears. A lot of good tracks were left out of this lineup, but there are way too many to name – so how did my list stack up to yours? Let me know what your favorite covers are in the comments below!