Double Take: Fans of these eight tunes will find plenty to discover from artists offering covers

For many years, covers have been a touchy subject for music fans. Many are scared that covers will ruin the original taste of a song. It’s true, covers are risky, especially when an artist covers a truly great song, and covers that rival the original are few and far between.

However, when executed perfectly, a cover can bring new light on the original song, resulting in greater appreciation of the original artist and an exhibit of artistic talent from the artist that covers it because it takes loads of talent to cover a song well. It is obvious that covers can never top certain original songs, but covers that are done well can be appreciated in a different way than the original because they take on the style of a new artist while keeping the lyrics and melodies of the original songs.

While covers can be a sensitive topic for any music lover and give anxiety to fans of artists who get covered, they can give a great new spin on your favorite song and compliment the original sound. Here are a list of covers that rival or are even better than the original.

Catfish and the Bottlemen 

“Black Skinhead” (Kanye West)

This is another cover where your preference in music would dictate the rivalry of the original hip-hop song versus the Welsh rock band’s semi-acoustic rendition. Despite whether or not you prefer the original to the cover, it is undisputable that the musical genius of Catfish and the Bottlemen is portrayed by their ability to mash three songs from different genres, like the Yeezus hit, The Black Keys’ “Howlin’ For You,” and Kasabian’s “Shoot the Runner.”  Bluesy, distorted, acoustic guitar along with powerful, hollow drums and the unbelievably smooth and debonair vocals of frontman Van McCann take this song into another world. The way the tracks are stitched together is seamless, and the verses that West presents as raps are sung with a grungy twinge by the indie-rocker to give a much more raw sound. I am a Kanye fan. I am also a Catfish and the Bottlemen fan, and this thunderous cover was amazing in the most unexpected way by mashing genres that should generally never be allowed together.

Arctic Monkeys 

“Hold On We’re Going Home” (Drake)

English rock band Arctic Monkeys covered Drake’s hit, and it was anything but disappointing. With fantastic and unnervingly-catchy stick-tapping and snare drum beat leading the bubbly guitar, plucky bass and smooth vocals throughout the song, frontman Alex Turner turns the hip-hop hit into an invincibly cool and rock punctuated song. The obvious difference in style is something that would make this cover unexpected or even make one hesitant to listen; however, Turner’s voice is perfect for the track, and the mood of the cover is much more alluring with the signature grooving rock sound of the wildly popular English four-piece.

San Cisco

“Get Lucky” (Daft Punk feat. Pharrell)

The young Australian indie band brought a much more youthful and fresh sound to the techno dance hit. The song starts out slowly, incorporating electric guitar strums and a bongo rhythm that quickly pick up in the chorus to a quick and nonchalant drum beat.

With a contrasting style to the original, this cover is enjoyable in different ways. If you prefer synthetic beats and techno influence, the original probably holds the top spot. However, if those who prefer more indie and rock influenced music should give this awesome cover a try.

 The Lennings 

“You’re the One That I Want” (John Travolta & Olivia Newton John, Grease)

The Lennings brought their own indie-inspired sound to flip the 1978 hit from Grease 180 degrees. In my opinion, the acoustic rendition is much better than the hit musical song, and it’s almost like The Lennings’ cover is the original, while the original was ruined by the TV entertainment industry. The cover is much more practically “listenable” and smooth and perfect for relaxing. The Lennings bring their own indie vibe to the previously pop tune with soft fluid vocals and guitars that slacken the uptight riffs of the original.


Ball Park Music

“Diane Young” (Vampire Weekend)

“Diane Young” is one of my favorite tracks of all time, so naturally, I was a person who was very hesitant to appreciate this cover. However, Aussie group Ball Park Music was able to keep the energy of the original tune, while also adding their own youthful style as something that could be classified as pleasant, artistic, organized and foot-tapping racket. The cover is jiving, fresh and not as smooth, and has less jazz influence than the original. Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig’s quirky voice distortion, fast paced groove, head-bobbing guitar and saxophone are replaced with a much more raw keyboard, bass and tambourine in the cover, giving off a more grunge sound, rather than the original pumped up rocker sound that landed the original track as No. 11 on Time’s Best Songs of 2013. While I would probably never say this cover is truly better than the original, it certainly gives it a run for it’s money and helps to compliment the original hit tune even more, and the fact that someone else can bring their own style to this song without ruining it is great to see.

Julia Jacklin 

“Someday” (The Strokes)

This is a song that I hold near and dear to my heart, so for me to have to enjoy a cover of this song would take a great artist. I had never heard of Aussie singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin prior to this cover, but she and her band tackle the cover with grace and a sound that can only be described as “wistful.” Jacklin slows down the sound of the original with a steady drum beat and muted guitar for a nostalgic sound. Jacklin’s feathery guitar and longing, tremulous vocals bring out the emotional core of the rock hit, and it is perfectly paired with a male harmony of her drummer. While no cover could top the original sound of The Strokes’ “Someday,” Jacklin is the only artist I have listened to that has come close.

Flume featuring Vince Staples, Kucka, Ngaiire and Vera Blue 

“My Boo” (Ghost Town DJ’s)

Recorded live for Australian radio show Triple J, this cover is a perfect example of a cover that is unquestionably better than the original. The 1995 track finds a new purpose as Flume adds a much more bright and sophisticated sound using electronic drums and cascading melodies. The sound perfectly contrast the romance of Staple’s fresh and laid back verses, and the chorus of cool harmonies from the group of ladies helps bring the piece together to a song that should be included on everyone’s playlists.

James Bay

“If I Ain’t Got You” (Alicia Keys)

Plucky guitar riffs and soulful vocals are what makes this cover worth the listen. The English singer/songwriter lends a husky and more rock styled cover of the R&B hit, giving it an edge that is unparalleled to the original. The guitar puts a perfect spin on the song, and full vocals from Bay give the chorus a new depth, making it much more heavy and indie-influenced than the Alicia Keys record.

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