It goes without saying that covering someone else’s music is difficult.
Much like producing a film or stage adaptation of a book or play, an artist is expected to create their very own unique version of the original, without spoiling it for die-hard fans. With the exception of ‘The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face’ (because Peggy’s version was crap) I am in love with both the originals and the covers of each of these tracks. Each cover is injected with a new style or sound, and yet, I can return to the originals without recoiling from the memory of its successor.
Here’s a list of my ten favourite covers and why they work:
1. The Futureheads – Hounds of Love (Kate Bush)
The Futureheads made it to the UK top ten with this cover. I think it was popular, because although ‘Hounds of Love’ is a song we all know and love, and is very much recognisable in this version, the boys stay true to their own musical style from start to finish.
2. Lissie – Pursuit of Happiness (Kid Cudi)
Lissie’s cover of ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ is one of my fave’s because it’s so unlikely. What’s not to love about a sweet American folk singer rapping Kid Cudi’s candid lines of drink-driving and drug-abuse?
3. Jamie XX – Rolling in the Deep (Adele)
I loved Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’. Then it was played over and over and over again. In the gym, in the club, in the supermarket. You get the picture. But just when I thought I couldn’t hear the track one more time without kicking off, the wonderful Jamie XX worked his magic and I fell in love again.
4. Roberta Flack – The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face (Peggy Seeger)
The cover is a gazillion times better than the sappy original and it’s my parents’ “song”. ‘nuff said.
5. Adele – Make You Feel My Love (Bob Dylan)
As much as I love Bob Dylan (A LOT A LOT A LOT) I’m probably not the first to admit that his voice just isn’t that great. ‘Make You Feel My Love’ appeared on his thirtieth studio album in 1997, and by then, poor old Bobbie’s voice had not improved with age. Adele’s version of one of Dylan’s slowest and soppiest tracks suits her style down to a “T” and I think she really does the track justice.
6. MS MR – Dance Yrself Clean (LCD Soundsystem)
Firstly, we owe a lot of the inspiration for this whole blog to the track ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ (ahem, the clue is in the name). Secondly, MS MR are just so cool. Although the band doesn’t alter the original as much as I would have liked, Lizzie Plapinger’s voice speaks for itself.
7. First Aid Kit – Tiger Mountain Peasant Song (Fleet Foxes)
Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg perfect tricky harmonies as they pay tribute to the Fleet Foxes in some Swedish wood. Equipped with one acoustic guitar, two casj check shirts and their beautiful vocals; the girls really out-cute themselves.
8. Florence and the Machine – Postcards from Italy (Beirut)
While Ms Welsh stays very true to the original in this cover, the song suits her voice perfectly. Simple, charming and catchy, why wouldn’t Florence want to cover this beautiful song?
9. Beyoncé and André 3000 – Back to Black (Amy Winehouse)
Although I hated this song when I first heard it because I was so angry that Baz Lurhman’s The Great Gatsby movie wasn’t full of brass and jazz music (uh hello, the book is set in America in the 1920s!); I actually really like this cover. It’s beaty, it’s different and it features Beyoncé. What more could one ask for from a cover?
10. Cyril Hahn – Say My Name (Destiny’s Child)
Talking of Beyoncé… Cyril Hahn’s version of Destiny’s Child’s ‘Say My Name’ is probably one of my most played tracks this year. How does he make the girls sound like that? I am kidding, but the DJ’s remix without a doubt wins the award for the most altered cover track on this list.