Cover songs can sometimes be hit or miss. It takes an artist with a true talent to be able to turn a song crafted by another musician and make it into their own. The covers are even more unique when they are so great that they almost surpass the recognition and quality of the first recording of the track. This is not to say that these songs are in any way better than the initial track. But here are a few artists that have managed to make cover songs that are almost as good as the originals!
With his smooth vocals and effortless guitar skills, it’s no wonder why John Mayer is able to masterfully capture the magic of the artists he’s covered. His most famous cover is of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin”, in which he shows off a more acoustic side of the track, giving it a more sentimental feel. The song has become associated as one of Mayer’s signature tracks and he often plays it at his concerts. Some other big tracks he’s covered include Bill Withers’s “Ain’t No Sunshine”, George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”, and Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire”.
In early 2019, Weezer did something incredibly unique for its 12th album; each track listed is a cover of a song dated before the year 2000. Songs on the album include Toto’s “Africa”, TLC’s “No Scrubs”, and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”. There is definitely an alt-rock take on each cover and they match up pretty close to the originals. A bold move for sure by the band but I have been out in stores before where I now hear songs from the album instead of the originals, which is a pretty impressive accomplishment.
If you’ve probably never heard of Japanese Breakfast (aka Michelle Zauner) that is because this alternative solo singer is relatively new to the music scene. I myself had never heard of her until Spotify suggested their cover version of the song “Dreams”, which was initially done by the Cranberries, a band whom I love very much. The song was one I grew up with and I never believed that another performer could do it justice, but after countless listens to the cover I have to say Japanese Breakfast created a version almost as good as the original. Her vocals capture the raw yet powerful effect that the late Dolores O’Riordan had in the track. This will be a cover I have yet to tire from; the sign of a good quality piece of music.
It was from an Extra Gum commercial that I had first heard this cover of “Can’t Help Falling In Love”. The vocals sounded somewhat familiar, and after a quick Google search, I found they belonged to Haley Reinhard, a former American Idol contestant. Taking on Elvis Presley is a beast, and while this song has been covered other times, my favorite version has to be Reinhart’s. Her raspy vocals mixed with a soft vulnerability make me can’t help but fall in love with the cover.
Taron Egerton became a household name when he starred as Elton John, in this summer’s blockbuster hit “Rockman”. But did you know that all of the singing in the movie was done by Egerton himself? Not only must it have been intimidating to play John, but to take on his tracks and make them his own is a whole different ball of whacks. However, Egerton killed each of the covers and while they are not quite as perfect as John’s originals, they are pretty close. My personal favorite that I think showcases his talent to the full extent is his version of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”.
This past April, the famous country duo Brooks and Dunn, released a reboot album, featuring their greatest hits sung by other country artists. One of those covers was of their song “Neon Moon” sung by Kacey Musgraves. Her version sets the song in a more modern setting, with an electronic backbeat, that peps up the song. After comparing the original and her cover side by side, Musgraves was able to capture the same longing and heartbreak after a breakup and puts things into a female’s perspective, which is always appreciated!
The newest cover on our list comes from the country power group “The Highwomen”, which consists of Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires. For the recently released film “The Kitchen” featuring strong females as well, the group covered Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”. To capture the beauty of Stevie Nicks’s vocals is an almost impossible task, but these ladies sure did do just that in their track. Their harmonization of four different voices in the cover adds to the power of the song and makes for music perfection.