There are covers, and then there are genre-bending covers, in which artists take a piece of popular culture and reimagine it into a completely different style (whether that style is their own or a totally separate one). These covers can often be as compelling or interesting as the originals and give us a brand new way to experience the songs we love (or give us a way to enjoy a song we didn’t before).
Ed Sheeran and the Roots — “Trap Queen (Acoustic)”
If any song is overplayed in today’s cycle, it is probably the prolific “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap. As tired as we may be of this song, we can’t possibly resist listening to a cover of it by Ed Sheeran, smoothly augmented by the Roots backstage on the set of “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” And it’s a good thing we can’t, because the song — stylized with Sheeran’s gorgeous voice and simple, indie-pop-folk style — sounds just about as perfectly mellifluous as anything can. For an added bonus, relisten to the song at 1.25x speed for a totally different but equally enjoyable experience.
Bastille — “No Angels”
Bastille’s Daniel Smith is known primarily for his amazing live voice and performances of pop hit “Pompeii.” But in a recent performance for “The Sun,” the band played its cover of “No Angels,” which combines the lyrics of the classic “No Scrubs” by TLC with the music of The xx’s “Angels.” It’s basically a dream-pop version of the hip-hop classic but with the benefit of Bastille’s rock influence and Smith’s ethereal vocals.
Ben Howard — “Call Me Maybe”
English singer-songwriter Ben Howard is growing in popularity here in the United States, as he is playing the Greek Theatre here in Berkeley on Oct. 7. His cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit uses string instruments, a minor arrangement and Howard’s signature indie-folk style to put a soft and enjoyable twist on the song.
Postmodern Jukebox — “My Heart Will Go On”
No genre-bending-covers playlist would be complete without a Postmodern Jukebox cover; this playlist could’ve easily been made 50 songs long using only Postmodern Jukebox covers. The group has covered almost every popular song in a wide range of styles. Here, it takes the breathy Celine Dion classic and rejuvenates it into an upbeat, vintage ’50s, “Jackie Wilson” style.
We Came as Romans — “Glad You Came”
In a diametric shift from the other songs on this playlist, We Came as Romans’ cover of the Wanted’s “Glad You Came” is part of “Punk Goes Pop 5,” an oft-released anthology in which punk and hard rock/metal bands cover the year’s most prominent pop songs. So, for everyone who wants to like pop music but has a nagging need for power chords and the occasional screamed vocal, this is the album to listen to.
Contact Imad Pasha at [email protected].