A friend of mine from college reached out to me a couple years ago saying that he enjoyed following my blog and was also really into discovering music. Since then, we’ve followed each other’s Spotify playlists and have kept one another abreast of the latest discoveries we’ve come across. Most recently, he sent me a list of his favorite YouTube covers that he had found. I asked him if he wanted to put it together into a list of the 20 Best YouTube Cover Songs he could find, and he delivered a gem. Below is a continuous playlist of his picks for 20 Best YouTube Cover Songs and a couple thoughts about each one. Hit the jump to see the full playlist and each song’s explanation, which often includes links to other masterpieces.
[Songs picked and descriptions written by Greg Hylant – follow his New Music Everyday playlist on Spotify here]
1. #1 Dads – Two Weeks (FKA Twigs ft. Tom Snowdon Cover)
This unexpected take on Robert Pattinson’s girlfriend’s instant classic Two Weeks is what sparked my journey through the bowels of YouTube to find the best covers out there in the first place. It has everything…originality, drop dead gorgeous harmonies, a band name inspired by coffee mugs, and the best white guy dance hands since Shaun Sperling.
2. Asgeir – Heart-Shaped Box (Nirvana Cover)
If you’re wondering why this guy looks like an extra from Vikings, it’s because he basically is. Asgeir is Iceland’s fastest selling artist of all time. 1 in every 10 Icelanders (is that a thing?) owns a copy of his debut album. His voice has a haunting quality befitting of his native landscapes, the home also shared by wildlings and white walkers. It works perfectly on this version of my personal favorite Nirvana track, which was actually written the same year this young man was born. Jesus.
3. Sam Smith – Fast Car (Tracy Chapman Cover)
Sam Smith’s rise has been meteoric. In August 2013, I was lucky enough to catch his first ever show in the US at mercury lounge in NYC. Fast forward a year and a half, and he has an armful of Grammys, sold out runs at Madison Square Garden and Taylor Swift on speed dial. Fast Car is timeless, and people seem to love singing it…like here, here, here
Banks continues to reel us in with her passionate dark pop and she’s now managed to make us swoon with her cover of the Aaliyah hit “Are You That Somebody”. It’s safe to say many of us still adore the great Aaliyah, so it’s always appreciated when someone brings a bit of light into a classic like this one. Banks covers this one with gorgeous simplicity and it works far too well. Time to sit back, listen to this cover and maybe break out Aaliyah jams right afterwards.
I can say with confidence that Frank Ocean has one of my favorite voices that I’ve ever heard. In full transparency, though, I wasn’t quick to hop on the train. It took me a bit of time to fall in love with the crooner. I find that your typical R&B music doesn’t always draw me in right away. I’m one of the few bloggers out there who never went crazy over The Weeknd. When Frank Ocean first crossed my radar, it didn’t really stick with me. It really took Channel Orange to convert me to a forever-fan.
Since then, I’ve heard cover after cover of people trying to recreate his songs and just not doing them the right amount of justice. The notes in “Thinkin Bout You” are hard to hit; it’s easy to hear that in the covers. That song is Frank’s creation and it’s something it seems only can perform flawlessly. That said, I do enjoy listening to the covers to see how people recreate Frank’s masterpieces. Here is a list of the fourteen best and worst Frank Ocean covers. Let me just warn you, there was a lot of face palming and painful listening to get to this. Beware, you’ll likely feel just as uncomfortable as I did while I was sifting through countless covers to get to this final list. (Hit the jump to start listening.)
Covers are an interesting thing. A lot of times, they leave me feeling stupid and worthless as I tell myself I’ve discovered this great new band who instantly put out a classic, only to find it’s a cover. But the silver lining to that feeling is that usually it means the cover was done right. The artist covering the material needs to bring an element of uniqueness to the original song in order to make it a bit of their own, but not a complete ripoff of the maker’s creation. And when done right, it’s a magical moment. Here are ten covers done exceptionally well.
To me, covers that rival the originals are rare. Very rare. Same as my opinion on remixes. I tend to like when the cover artist puts a good amount of their own spin on it, unless they are covering an absolute classic, like a Beatles cover band, or maybe a Journey cover band…in that case, stick to the books, please. But if you’re covering new music, I give you my permission to do your thing. And here are 2 examples of people doing just that, and succeeding.
Kate has added a bit of sadness and perhaps even despair to this song that, in its original form, is an automatic party jam. Amazing how that can work.
As crazy as this girl is, her voice is outstanding. Beautiful acoustic piano in this edition. Sounds like an acapella version of the original. Similar effect that Kate has on Empire Of The Sun. I could definitely put this on my naptime playlist. Cannot say the same for the original.
Thanks to AudioMuffin for the tracks!