November 27, 2013 via Pepsi
The Best Covers of the Year So Far
Just as there is an art to writing a hit pop song, there is a delicate art to recording a successful cover. While a YouTube search will unveil a cavalcade of aspiring performers doing their note-for-note rendition of a pop hit, the artists involved needs to do more than simply imitate. A successful cover means capturing the spirit of the song while putting a unique and personal touch on the new version. You will know the cover is a winner if it can remind you of why the original is so compelling, while taking your emotions to new territory. So with that in mind, we are going to take a look at the finest covers to be released in 2013 so far.
Bastille Covers Miley Cyrus, “We Can't Stop”
Highly skilled at creating pop songs that also stand as pieces of art, London-based foursome Bastille perfectly capture the rebellious spirit of Miley’s coming-of-age anthem while bringing some added emotional weight to the party. The emotive vocal delivery of singer Dan Smith and the addition of strings put it over-the-top, while the interpolation of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” is the cherry on top.
The Great Gatsby cover of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black
This version trades in the smoky retro-tinted flavor of Miss Winehouse’s confessional masterpiece, transforming it into an icy minimalist piece. Despite the tonal change, Beyoncé maintains the emotional depth and feel of the original. On this alternate solo rendition of her duet with Andre 3000, Beyoncé turns in an uninhibited and affecting performance.
Scott Bradlee & Annie Goodchild Cover Katy Perry’s “Roar”
The empowering effect music has on people is undeniable. Hearing a positive message echoed back at you, even when you’re going through the hardest of times, can make a world of difference. Known for their era-spanning covers of hit songs, Scott Bradlee and his band, along with vocalist Annie Goodchild, takes Perry’s defiant anthem and turn it into an empowering Motown-inspired jam.
Walk Off The Earth Covers Lorde’s “Royals”
16-year-old musical prodigy Lorde has taken the world by storm with her anti-materialistic call-to-arms. Tapping into the song’s theme of banding together and rejecting pop culture norms, Canadian cover specialists Walk off the Earth pad out the minimalist drum beat with ukulele and vocal harmonies to create a communal atmosphere, complementing the original message.
George Barnett Covers Daft Punk & Pharrell’s “Get Lucky”
Easily the soundtrack to the spring of 2013, “Get Lucky” is undeniably infectious. While the original is the work of a superstar collaboration, this funky cover is the work of George Barnett, the lead singer of These New Puritans. Singing and playing all the instruments himself, Barnett accentuates the funky flavor Daft Punk and Pharrell created and gives you even more reason to be humming this same tune for another six months. Check it out above.
Arctic Monkeys Cover Drake’s “Hold On, We're Going Home”
While this combo looks somewhat out-of-leftfield on paper, Arctic Monkeys front-man Alex Turner and Drake are both artists who wear their emotions on their sleeves. Putting their trademark hard-hitting spin on the electronic-driven original, this cover works perfectly in execution. Turner’s bluesy vocal inflections take the musical tone in a new direction, without sacrificing the emotional tone. Listen above.
Dirty Projectors Cover Usher’s “Climax”
Known for their love of R&B and their unique approach to musical composition, it’s no surprise Brooklyn’s Dirty Projectors chose to reimagine one of the more musically uncharacteristic pieces from Usher’s catalogue. Toning down the original Diplo production, they manage to craft a truly memorable cover that stays true to the song while maintaining their own sound. Watch their performance of “Climax” above.
Megan Nicole & Max Schneider Cover Bruno Mars’ Treasure”
As a declaration of love and joy to that special someone, it’s only natural that “Treasure” be performed by a male-female duo. While keeping the bounce of the original, this rendition replaces funky synths with a simple yet evocative piano backing, allowing the message to take centre stage. It is the perfect accompaniment for Megan Nicole and Max Schneider, who sound like they are having a whole lot of fun.
The Jungle Giants Cover Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”
Weezer first established their eccentric brand of rock music with this quirky yet endearing hit. Stretching musical boundaries in their own way, Australian four-piece the Jungle Giants explore the song’s unique instrumentation and 1950s inspired tale of star-crossed lovers rebelling against their friends and parents, making it their own.
Lea Michele Covers Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love”
While the cast of Glee are no strangers to covering hit songs, this could easily be the most emotionally-charged musical moment in the show’s history. Lea Michele displays her vocal range and uses her pain to fuel this ultimately powerful performance of the Bob Dylan ballad. You might be familiar with Adele's version too.