A truly good cover is hard to come by and unfortunately, bad covers are all too plentiful. Successful covers should find a way to blend two styles of music; paying respect to one while trying to highlight their own. It isn't easy and many have failed (more on that tomorrow). But for now, check out our list of brave souls who tackled some of music's greatest names and successfully transformed the tracks into their own.
5) Sara Bareilles - "Nice Dream" (Radiohead cover)
Indie-Pop Princess, Sara Bareilles
has been sprinkling covers into her setlists ever since the debut of her 2007 Grammy nominated debut Little Voice
. Recently, her shows have consisted of her taking on music legends Radiohead
with a stripped down version of "Nice Dream." Using only the hands and feet of her band to make up the rhymic section, Bareilles sweetly empowering voice delivers a heartfelt performance over a soft ukulele. While the cover mostly sticks to the script of the original, Bareilles and band deserve credit for their ability to make the song their own, and deliver a lighter version without loosing the emotion of the original.
4) The Morning Benders - "Last Night" (The Strokes cover)
Their name (and sound) has changed, but POP ETC
produced an amazing cover while they were still performing under the name The Morning Benders. With the exception of The Strokes
' original bassline, which the Benders decided to play on a xylophone (genius), the song is given a completely new vibe. Had it not come from one of the best rock albums in recent history, it'd be hard to believe this track wasn't originally performed by The Morning Benders. In every layer, in every way, they sucessfully made it their own. With layered vocals at the end, the cover is given a unique, grand finale.
3) Ellie Goulding - "Sleepyhead" (Passion Pit cover)
Fans of Ellie Goulding
know that this is not her first cover. Her adaptation of Elton John's
"Your Song" has gained popularity as a released single and with many succesful trips to BBC's Live Lounge, there are many great Goulding covers to chose from. Her ability to take a highly synthisized, intricately composed song like Passion Pit's
"Sleepyhead" and replace many instrumental layers with her vocals is what makes this one rise to the top. A guitar riff twinkles in the background while Goulding's vocals shine in all layers. The cover is a lighter version than the original, but still strong and great for blasting on a nice, sunny day.
2) The Civil Wars - "Billie Jean" (Michael Jackson cover)
"Billie Jean." Ever heard of it? With one of the most recognizable bass lines in pop music history and literally THE most recognized artist in Michael Jackson
, The Civil Wars had their hands full with this one. Transforming the bass-soaked dance hit into a simple guitar folk ballad, the duo deserve a round of appluase for this one. With a bluesy rythmic interpretation and rolling vocal harmonies, the song given a new life. Vocally, this cover is nothing short of miraculous. The attention to detail and dynamics keeps the cover from becoming too repetitive and keeps it emotionally engaging.
1) Duffy - "Ready for the Floor" (Hot Chip Cover)
has had difficulty recreating the success of her 2007 debut album Rockferry
and her hit single "Mercy." Before the world writes her off as a one hit wonder, check out her INCREDIBLE cover of Hot Chip's
"Ready For The Floor." Duffy and crew reduce the techno dance beat to a set of bongos, two guitars, and one voice -- Duffy's flawlessly unique timbre. Duffy, who gained success during the 'neo-soul' craze of the late 2000s proves her strength lies in her emotion. The true beauty of the cover is its ability to transform the theme and produce a song that stands on its own as an emotionally longing ballad of love lost. Truly remarkable.
Honorable Mention: Childish Gambino - Break (All of the Lights) (Kanye West Cover)
Not exactly a cover, more like a remix with different verses and Gambino singing, but still worth mentioning.