Covering well-known songs can be tricky. Artists have to decide whether to play it safe or completely reinvent a song they cover. Some covers end up sounding like an off-brand version of the original, while others add something special to the meaning.
These ten artists did an exceptional job of putting their own artistic individuality into these beloved tracks.
Cage The Elephant - “Instant Crush”
On their 2017 album “Unpeeled,” Cage the Elephant recorded acoustic sessions of a collection of their songs, as well as a few covers. Cage the Elephant’s take on the Daft Punk and Julian Casablancas collaboration offers lead singer Matt Shultz’ deep, throaty intonation in place of Julian Casablancas’ electronically-manipulated vocals in the original track. Cage The Elephant’s version further amplifies the story intertwined within the lyrics that tends to get lost in the production-heavy original track.
Soccer Mommy - “I’m On Fire”
Sophie Allison, lead singer of Soccer Mommy, puts her own spin on this 1985 Bruce Springsteen track. Soccer Mommy’s version brings out the raw emotion of the song that can be overlooked in the more upbeat original. The reimagined interpretation fits seamlessly with other tracks in Soccer Mommy’s catalog of dreamy ballads.
Iron and Wine - “Such Great Heights”
Iron and Wine, aka Sam Beam, is known for soft, breathy vocals and somber acoustic ballads. His cover of the poppy track by The Postal Service is no exception. Beam’s version completely changes the feelings associated with the song, emphasizing the yearning, romantic lyrics with his slowed-down take of the fast-paced original. While The Postal Service’s version feels uplifting, Beam’s version is devastatingly beautiful.
Social Distortion - “Ring of Fire”
Social Distortion, a punk-rock band from Southern California, turned Johnny Cash’s classic 1963 track into a perfectly reimagined rocker with their amped-up cover. Lead singer Mike Ness’ distinctive vocals fit so well with the track that it seems like it was initially written to be performed in the style of a classic rock song.
Phoebe Bridgers - “Friday I’m in Love”
Phoebe Bridgers, known for her 2017 debut album “Stranger in the Alps,” as well as her side work in Boygenius and Better Oblivion Community Center, offers an intimate, romantic version of the 1992 track from The Cure. In contrast to the cheery, original version, Bridgers’ take on the track amps up the emotional release with only soft piano accompanying her hopeful, yet melancholic, stripped-back vocals.