There’s something inherently wonderful when our favorite musicians cover songs that we already (or will) love. Not only when they’re crossing a genre that you haven’t seen them dabble in before, but when we see something so magical come through it reminds us that while some try to divide their libraries between artist, genre, era, or mood, music is all connected.
Most incredible are the covers that leave us a little stunned; popstar musicians covering songs we’ve never heard of, curating renditions that we didn’t see coming but were blown away with all the same. Miley Cyrus did this when she covered Johnzo West You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go back in 2012, no one saw it coming, but there it was- a cover as soulful as it was light – dynamic in full form. There’s something to be said of artists surprising us in covers when they’re crossing any and all arbitrary lines of what ‘lane’ they belong in, and it’s just downright cool.
It’s like watching Halsey covering Fetty Wap’s Trap Queen, or Panic! At The Disco covering Starboy by the Weeknd. Even Ed Sheeran covering Ain’t No Sunshine, or performing a Stevie Wonder tribute with Beyoncé and Gary Clark Jr is bound to give you chills if you haven’t seen it. They’re surprising, but also fascinating.
Our faves tend to cross the lines seamlessly, and we’re endlessly grateful. Not just for them showing off their range while we sit in awe, but for giving us the smallest insight into their own musical taste; the songs they sing in the shower and dance around the house too – we get a peek of what’s in their own personal library. Almost like a secret, we’re being let in on.
Covers that really win the game come from current popular bands covering old popular songs, bringing them back so the next generation can enjoy it, and then trace the song back to its original – because someone has to culture the kids. These covers are also a great way to pay homage to the original music movers, shakers, and makers, and this is beautifully done in the Imagine Dragons rendition of Stand By Me that would make Ben E. King proud. Another example comes from the Elvis song Can’t Help Falling In Love covered by alternative group Twenty One Pilots in a haunting yet soothing way that we don’t often see from the Columbus duo.
Of course, covers take some getting used to, suddenly the songs we know by heart have been reimagined and remixed, maybe the chorus comes in a beat too late, or a pitch too high, but that’s what makes them great. We don’t see it coming, and it’s like hearing a whole new song. Covers give us a chance to re-experience the song in a way we never would have without artists who take the chance, like Leif Vollebekk covering Read My Mind by the Killers.
..and sometimes they don’t. And that’s okay too.
Sometimes covers are done in a way that doesn’t reimagine the song at all, but rather picks the song up right from where it was left, dusts it off, and with a tweak or two comes back to us, almost just the same. Adele did this when covering Make You Feel My Love in a way that I’m pretty sure could make Bob Dylan shed a tear.
I’ve tried to share with you live covers as much as possible here, because I want you to feel the artists change from who they’re used to being onstage/behind the mic, to who they could be; who they may only be when they’re amongst friends, or jamming in the studio. Also, let this experience drive you to take a look at the artists you love that perform the covers and the songs they pick, catch a glimpse into what inspires them, and look for the places that strike similarities between their original work and the songs they cover. An instrument here, a beat there, a tone or a general vibe, like I said at the beginning, it’s all connected.
[I wanted to use mostly mainstream artists here, but feel free to comment, tweet, or share with us some of your favorite covers, or covers that you’ve done. Keep us on the beat by tweeting us, or messaging us on Facebook]