I don’t know about you, but I love a good cover. I go on cover-hunting missions and find myself deep down the YouTube rabbit hole and then I’m like, wait a tick, it’s 3am, maybe I SHOULD GO TO SLEEP? But then I don’t sleep, because all I want to do is listen to Jessie J cover Rihanna for like a thousand hours.
I just like how you can get really, really, really sick of a song because you’ve repeated the hell out of it until the sound of it actually makes your ears bleed a bit, but then a cover comes along that is different enough that it almost feels like the song has been reinvented. That’s the good stuff right there. Because then you get to fall in love with that song all over again, while still feeling like you have diversified your music tastes even just the tiniest bit.
1. Bon Iver covering Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”
If there is a song more heartbreaking than “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” I sure as hell have not heard it. Bonnie’s version is incredible, but Justin Vernon’s version is just a fucking cryfest. Like, great, get the tissues, because you’re about to go on a 6 and a half minute emotional rollercoaster with good ol’ cabin-hailing Bon Iver.
2. Adele covering Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”
I KNOW I AM PUTTING THE SAME SONG TWICE. But! Both of these versions are so wonderful and sad in all the best ways. They both deserve equal footing. Plus, when she sings, “Because I can’t make you love me if you don’t // You can’t make your heart feel something that it won’t” it is… just… too much… *cries* (Like, seriously, I am a little crying right now…)
3. Thirty Seconds To Mars covering Rihanna’s “Stay”
True story: one time I met Jared Leto after a 30STM concert and he put his arm around me. HIS ARM. AROUND. ME. I can still feel the warmth of him next to me. (Just kidding.) (Kind of.) But, really, Jordan Catalano covering “Stay” in the throatiest most beautifully mesmerizing voice is like all my junior high dreams coming true. TAKE ME BACK TO OUR MOMENT, JARED.
4. The 1975 covering One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful”
Sometimes a cover is like sort of better than the original. Many times it’s much worse than the original. Most times it’s just sort of the same, but different. For The 1975? This is indisputably better than the original… by like… A LOT. Get ready to repeat this video until your ears start ringing, because it’s too good.
5. Ed Sheeran covering Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”
Ed Sheeran covering Sam Smith seems a little bit self-masturbatory to me. I mean, dudes, you guys are pretty damn similar. But I don’t know, I didn’t think this cover would work, but it really does. Somehow it just does. Somehow it feels right.
6. Florence Welch covering Drake & Rihanna’s “Take Care”
This is one of those covers that, on paper, seems like a really bad idea. Here’s ethereal songstress Florence Welch taking on a haunting Drake + Rihanna hip hop duet, yet it really works in the most surprisingly fantastic way. Just listen and love it. Sheryl Sandberg this shit and lean the fuck in. It feels good.
7. Sam Smith covering Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know”
Taking on Whitney is ballsy. Just ask anyone on American Idol. Taking on Whitney is usually a big no-no. Just don’t go there. Yet, Sam Smith goes there. He goes there all the way and I’m not mad at it. Not mad at it even one bit.
8. Lorde covering Jeremih’s “Don’t Tell ‘Em”
Lorde, for the love of god, you’re only 18 years old and you’re already way more creative and cool than basically everyone. You were reigning queen of cool before this cover and this just secured your spot for the rest of eternity as Coolest Human.
9. Jessie J covering Rihanna’s “We Found Love”
Full disclosure: “We Found Love” is one of my favorite songs ever. It is genius. Other disclosure: Jessie J is probably my favorite female vocalist. So, her covering “We Found Love” is almost a little too much for me. When I found this cover, I repeated it—not even exaggerating—200 times, at least? Needless to say, this cover is obsession-worthy.
10. Miley Cyrus covering Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness”
The thing that always surprises me about Miley is that she’s actually talented. I don’t say that as disparaging to her, but her general existence in life seems to thwart away the idea that she’s more than her hijinks. But there’s more! She’s talented! I love this cover because it just shows a side of Miley we don’t see very often, which is her artistic, creative side.
11. Ellie Goulding covering Rihanna’s “Only Girl In The World”
Feel like this post is becoming a shameless cornucopia of Rihanna covers. It’s not my fault Rihanna sings sick-ass songs that sound amazing as covers. I just can’t put together a compilation about great pop covers without including the beauty that is Ellie Goulding adding some intense feels into this otherwise upbeat, dance-y song. Like, I feel you, Ellie. I FEEL YOU.