There’s nothing quite like a good cover. In the YouTube age, anybody can post a cover and get views. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good cover. The best covers are ones that aren’t karaoke versions but instead opportunities for the artist to add their own flair and style to them. Some genres like jazz are built on standards which essentially are various cover versions of songs. A good cover feels like the original song but ultimately stands on its own. So with that in mind, I thought I would share some of my favourite covers.
NEXT Collective: Marvin’s Room – Originally By Drake
Okay so if it’s not clear already, I’m a sucker for jazz. And I’m especially a sucker for good jazz covers of songs that are seemingly a really far reach out of the genre. This song is no exception. This song came on a Spotify playlist I was listening to a few weeks a go and it was quickly become one of my favourites. NEXT Collective is a jazz ensemble comprised of a bunch of really talented jazz artists. Christian Scott is an incredible jazz trumpeter who creates good music in his own right. But put them together and you get a really lush yet tonally dark vibe. Drake’s original version provides a base for these guys to bounce off of for some really cool improv stuff. The song is still recognizable but it has a swagger to it that is really unique to these guys. The album that this is from is a cover album that they did and it’s really good so if you like what you hear, check out the whole album.
Arctic Monkeys: Just Hold On We’re Going Home – Originally by Drake
I promise you this isn’t just going to be Drake covers but I find that many artists are really able to improve upon what Drake has created and really infuse their own style. But this will be the last one I promise. So the Arctic Monkeys. Rock band from the UK, really popular amongst the ‘hipsters’ I guess. The lead singer, Alex Turner, has a really unique voice that is recognizable the minute you hear it. I discovered this one while browsing the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge YouTube channel. Live Lounge produces some really great and incredible covers from all different artists but this one remains one of the most memorable for me. The Arctic Monkeys vibe is so clear and it adds a sort of swagger and suave feel to the song that I really love.
Robert Glasper: Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box – Originally by Radiohead
Okay I’m back to jazz now. I can’t do a list of covers without mentioning Robert Glasper. It was hard to pick a favourite for him because he does so many amazing covers. I mean his Smells Like Teen Spirit cover is a fave but when I first thought about this post, surprisingly, it was this song that first sprang to my mind. Sonically, Radiohead and jazz may be a bit far apart but he brings them together is such an incredible way. The original has a very synth based sound to it and Glasper brings a musical complexity to it that is able to be illuminated by the simplicity of the instruments. Plus the little piano bit at the beginning emphasized by that bass just… I cant. It’s so so good.
Emeli Sandè: Every Tear Drop Is a Waterfall – Originally by Coldplay
This is also a 1 Mic 1 Take at Capitol Records in LA and it’s so beautiful. The thing I like about this version is how crisp and beautiful her voice is. I mean that’s all it is. Her voice rises and falls so wonderfully and it’s absolutely beautiful. That’s all I need to say about this one. I’ll let her voice do the rest.
P!nk: Girl on Fire – Originally by Alicia Keys
If it’s not clear yet, I love both Alicia Keys and Alecia Moore. Despite what many critics believe, I actually really like Girl on Fire. It’s a good driving and singing at the top of your lungs kind of song. P!nk takes this song and makes this kick ass rock version that takes it to a different level. The thing that I really love about this song and this cover is that it really is doing female empowerment right. Empowerment is so much more than sexual freedom. This song embodies and discusses female strength and power beyond sexuality. P!nk commits to the vocal and really makes you believe that this girl is on FIRE. You can’t run away from it. Plus seeing all these women play this song with her is so great. Seeing women being powerful and bold. I love it.
Amy Winehouse & Tony Bennett: Body & Soul – Popularized by Louis Armstrong
Now you know I can’t have a post about covers and jazz without talking about sweet sweet Amy. It’s a jazz standard which means a lot of people have sang this song before here but the most notable version is by Louis Armstrong. Yet a lot of people have created incredibly notable versions including Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holliday, and Thelonious Monk, among others. But this one remains one of my favourites because it was one of the last songs she ever recorded. I find it fitting that a young woman who just wanted to be a jazz singer finished her far too short career by singing one of the most covered jazz standards in the world with one of the most prolific jazz singers in history. It just makes me smile.
That’s all I’ve got for now! I quite enjoyed writing this and as I was looking up the videos I found even more amazing covers that I love so I think I have to do a part 2. Let me know down in the comments which covers you liked best and share with me some of your favourite covers! I can’t wait to read and listen.
Peace & Harmonies