Surprising Cover Songs

They say “Don’t judge the book by its cover”. I say “Judge the song by its cover”. For when a certain song gets done by another artist, you can discover a lot more from it esp. when a different version is made. Sometimes, even the worst songs can turn into a good one when done by somebody else. Now, there’s lotsa good remakes or revivals out there but you can still handpick those that are genre-crossing out-of-the-blue surprising cover songs.

Here’s a long list of cover songs that will make you utter .. “How’d that go?”

Let us start with Scottish band Travis in Storytellers covering a song from a pop sensation. Before the performance, an audience even asked “Why did you chose that Britney Spears cover of that “awful” song? It was talking of course by the ever-infamous “Baby One More Time”. (song starts at 1:45)

That was 2003. Fran Healy, the vocalist, is now on solo and still plays the song in acoustics to his concerts. Lily Allen also redid “Womanizer”, as well as All American Rejects and Brit band Franz Ferdinand. 😀

Now let’s go to one of the most recent releases, again with a band from a female song. “Umbrella” has been redone by Mandy Moore, Train, Linkin’ Park and parodied by Vanilla Sky with its matching video. Linkin’ Park always do “Umbrella” quite half-pass. But they do an incredible sincere cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”.

Performers take a breather after the end of a song by being a story-teller or a stand-up comedian.  And one of their ways to be funny is to toy around with a hit song. Ryan Adams used to use Backstreet Boys’ hit “I Want It That Way” 😀 to take a pause. Incubus had plenty of it such as Like A Virgin (Madonna), Bump ‘N Grind (R. Kelly), No Scrubs (TLC) Careless Whisper (George Michael), Milkshake (Kelis) and even Spongbob Squarepants (Theme Song). 😀

This one is totally, totally unexpected… An even weird video to match it. I don’t know what Alanis Morissette is doing. …to be funny, just trying to get attention and be seen again or really mocking the lyrics.

Pop-Jazz singer Michel Buble does an impressive hilarious Michael Jackson impersonation, the hat, the voice, the groin-grabbing and, of course, the Moonwalk to the tuune of “Billie Jean” :D. He also once did Maroon 5’s “This Love” 😀 but he just kept messing it up as he doesn’t completely know the lyrics of the song in the first place. “Billie Jean” has also been suprisingly covered by Incubus, Amanda Palmer, Coldplay, Fall Out Boys and The Civil Wars. 😀

This next song is a topnotcher when it comes to surprising covers. Coldplay covers Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out My Head”. 😀

Lady Gaga then did her rendition of Viva La Vida by Coldplay but kept messing up the lyrics. She even paused before the bridge part to apologize for the mistakes. Alicia Keys also did “Clocks” while Robyn did the most recent Coldplay‘s song “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” AND Alicia Keys’ “Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart”. Swedish electropop artist Robyn also has done “Since You Been Gone” and a horrible, nonetheless surprising, version of “When Doves Cry”.

Since we are now making chainlinks, actually more like a maze, why don’t we go ahead and do nth degree of separation. Let’s start with Beyonce‘s originals. Switchfoot said they chose to cover Crazy in Love because it’s power-packed with energy and … bling! 😀 Snow Patrol also had their own rendition of the same song. Beck also performed a 2003 medley of “Crazy in Love”, “Hot in Here” (Nelly), “Rock Your Body” (Justin Timberlake), “Beautiful” (NERD), “Not Gonna Get US” (t.a..t.u) and a thrown out “Ice Ice Baby”. 😀 He mixed up all of these songs at the end of the medley.  “Halo” was vocally enhanced by Florence + The Machines. “Single Ladies” was once out-of-nowhere done by Jeff Tweedy, lead singer of Wilco. The Fray also loosely covers it. Yup, with the bent wrist and the shaking of the hips. 😀 Sara Bareilles also did it in a finger-snappy version.

Beyonce then did “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon. While Craig David,  Matisyahu, Paramore and Pixie Lott all revived “Use Somebody”. Cee-Lo Green also has once done a Kings of Leon original called “Radioactive”. On the other hand, troubadours Ray Lamontagne and Paulo Nutini have done “Crazy”, a song from Cee-Lo Green’s former group Gnarls BarkleyKelly Clarkson is also surprisingly a fan of Ray Lamontagne. She always sing one her favorite “Shelter”.

Keeping the long chain and loops still together. Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” has been suprisingly remade by a metal punk band, A Day To Remember. Then we can loop the chain back to Robyn, who also did “Since U Been Gone”. Or, loop it back to Kings of Leon because Kelly Clarkson also has done some more quite surprising list of covers including Black Keys “Lies”, The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” and Kings of Leon “Use Somebody” segue to Alanis Morissettes “That I Would Be Good”. Boy, I’m having a headache.

[Sigh] I can go further more, but I’m going to end it with this link. Going back to The Fray, who also did funny version of Hips Don’t Lie” 😀 by Shakira. Shakira is surprisingly a fan of a Mercury Prize Album of the Year Awardee The xx. She often covers their songs ” Islands” and “Crystalised”.


I have plenty of more, but I’m out of breath. What about yours?


Categories: Music, video

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10 replies »

  1. Really, really, REALLY enjoyed this. (Love Sara Bareilles. Had to laugh at the Alanis video — kawawa naman si kababayang Apl, hehe.) Salamat for the research and for putting it together, Rommel. 🙂

  2. Update: 😀

    Paolo Nutini – Cry Me A River (Justin Timberlake original)
    Paolo Nutini – Rehab (Amy Winehouse)
    I already mentioned about his cover of Crazy
    Corinne Bailey Rae – SexyBack (Justin Timberlake original)
    KT Tunstall – Get Your Freak On (Missy Elliott original) — this would have been on the video list if only i found out about it earlier
    Eels – Get Your Freak On (Missy E original)
    Fountains of Wayne – Baby One More Time (Britney Spears original)
    Postal Service – Against All Odds (Phil Collins)
    Aimee Mann – The Scientist (Coldplay)
    Daughtry – Pokerface (Lady Gaga)
    Manic Street Preachers – Umbrella (Rihanna)
    Jamie Cullum – Please Don’t Stop Te Music (Rihanna)

    plenty more to come … hehe

  3. very nice post, really enjoyed listening.
    Some really surprising song in it.
    my favorites
    Postal Service – Against All Odds (Phil Collins) (in your update. )
    and the Poker Face cover of Daughtry


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