Artists have covered each other’s music since the inception of music. It is instinctual; you love a song so much—you have to sing it. A welcome sonic contrast to the everyday civilian struggling to stay on key, hitting the notes in their shower. When artists cover other artists, it just works. They can not only sing the song but also provide different renditions, leaving the listener with a different version of their favorite song or debating with their friends about which artist sang it better. Whether it is posting on YouTube or snippets on social media, there is arguably no downside to a cover. Like the cover? Great, add it to the playlist. Don’t like the cover? Then, listen to the original. Here are some hit songs and our favorite covers.
D’Angelo – Brown Sugar / SiR
SiR, part of the new wave of R&B, lent his vocals to D’Angelo’s ’90s classic, “Brown Sugar.” The title track of D’Angelo’s debut album, Brown Sugar, is often mistaken to be about a woman but is actually an ode to marijuana. SiR doesn’t deviate far from the song’s original sonics, as being able to master D’Angelo’s vocal and harmonic complexities is skill enough. SiR captures those same falsetto riffs and layers his voice as background harmonies. This clip is under a minute and was posted to SiR’s Instagram, leaving fans wanting a full version, hoping for a D’Angelo collaboration, and leaving fire emojis in the comment section.
Tamia – So Into You/ Childish Gambino
In 2015, after releasing his mixtape STN MTN/Kauai, which gave fans a better inkling of his vocal abilities, Childish Gambino covered the quintessential ’90s love song “So Into You” by Tamia. He called it one of his favorite songs, holding memories of girls he’d dated in the past who loved it as well. Gambino kept the endearing nature of the song with his upper register and kept the original pronouns. His vocals were backed mainly by his snaps and Lynette Williams on keys until bass, guitar, and percussion joined him to close out the song.
Drake – Passionfruit/ Paramore
Black people love Paramore, and Black people love Drake. So it was an inevitable pairing. This song, off the 2017 project, More Life, was added to the list of experimental sounds that Drake often taps into. “Passionfruit” has a light, tropical, dance-inducing sound that Hayley glided over with not much change from the original besides substituting Drake’s vocals for her own. Hayley Williams chose a softer sound with her pop-punk vocals on the song and showcased her Drake fandom with a slight mashup of “Hold On, We’re Going Home” at the end.
Jorja Smith – On My Mind/ Miguel
Our R&B rockstar, Miguel, has powerhouse vocals and proves it on his cover of Jorja Smith’s “On My Mind.” This song’s rearrangement was an effortless display of Miguel’s range, from belting out full-sustained notes to falsetto. He slowed down the original tempo and swapped out Preditah’s dance beat for guitar and drum-heavy backing. Blending the grungy instrumental with Miguel’s powerful vocal choices transformed this cover almost into a different song.