A few years ago, when my wife and I were driving through Richfield Springs, New York — between Cooperstown and Utica — “Careless Whisper” came on the radio.
But George Michael wasn’t singing. Andrew Ridgeley was nowhere to be found. (No, you can’t make the jokes about him being nowhere to be found when he was in Wham!)
Because the version we were listening to was a cover by Seether. My wife and I went from “Is that what we think it is?” to “Wow … this is actually pretty good,” to “Who is this?”
I’ve developed something of a fascination with cover songs, a curiosity about singers who try different versions of songs people are already familiar with.
Therefore, I was illogically excited to learn that Sirius has a channel devoted exclusively to covers. Like any other genre of music, there are covers that didn’t need to happen, and others that don’t quite hit the mark — Ace Frehley’s version of “I Wanna Go Back” comes so close — but here are some of the ones I like.
”Hallelujah” — Pentatonix: There are obviously many versions of Leonard Cohen’s classic (and I say Jeff Buckley’s is the best song that will make you feel horrible), but I picked this one because Kirstin Maldonado‘s solo about 1:58 in makes my hair stand on end.
”We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” — Aaron Tveit: His “Moulin Rouge” performance had better land him a Tony or there’s going to be hell to pay, but his concerts of cover songs include this one from Taylor Swift, and you can tell he’s having way too much fun.
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” — Killian Donnelly: Speaking of stage stars who are phenomenal singers, if you watch this video, you’ll be as big a fan of Killian Donnelly as I am. And if you hear him do “Fix You,” you’ll realize the problem with Coldplay isn’t the songs, but the person singing them.
“Rose Garden” — Martina McBride: A Martina McBride album of country standards isn’t exactly stretching, genre-wise, but it’s still great, and “Rose Garden” is the best of the bunch.
“The Sound of Silence” — Disturbed: Did I say something about stretching the genre? When I first added this song (after learning about it because of French figure skaters, of all things), I actually found it weird to hear the original Simon & Garfunkel in a New York City restaurant earlier this year.
“Bad Romance” — Halestorm: Speaking of stepping outside the genre, I give you Lzzy Hale singing Lady Gaga.
“Waterloo” — Hugh Skinner and Lily James: In honor of “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” which I enjoyed more than I ever thought I would.
”Try A Little Tenderness” — cast of “The Commitments”: This is the first West End show I went to with my wife, which is another way of saying it was the show where I learned that Killian Donnelly is awesome.
“Irreplaceable” — Sugarland: My love for all things Jennifer Nettles and Sugarland makes me biased, and I know this may get me sent to a re-education camp somewhere, but give me this over Beyonce’s original any day.
Those are some of my favorite covers. What about yours?
The picture at the top is from Jason Leung on Unsplash.