Journaling In January: My Top 6 Favourite Covers

Good evening readers,

I wrote a Journaling In January post at the start of the month about cover versions of songs and my thoughts on them in general (if you haven’t seen that post click here.) I’m a total sucker for a really good cover; I love it when an artist can breathe new life into a song and transform it, whether that be by modifying the arrangement, switching up the vocal style, or completely changing the genre of the song.

It is a hard job to take a track people already know and turn it on its head, to attempt to re-write people’s perceptions of it and make it good. It’s easy to make a bad cover, it’s harder to make one that’s so good it rivals the original.

When I started compiling this list I slightly took for granted how difficult it was going to be, given that there are a lot of covers out there that I like. For that reason I decided not to include covers from TV talent shows – I.E The Voice and The X Factor – as well as the fact that if I did, this list would just go on forever. Instead, I have simply opted for the ones that have stuck in my mind, because they must have made a lasting impression for a reason right?

 

#6 Harder to Breathe  – Anavae and Tides (originally by Maroon 5)

While not a million miles away from the original version, the arrangement of this cover makes the track sound fuller and gives it more dimension. The guitar has also been amped up which gives more of a straight rock feel. This version turns the track into a duet consisting of both male and female vocals, the strength of the two voices complimenting each other brilliantly and working with the instrumental to add light and shade throughout.

 

#5 The Liar and the Lighter – Gabrielle Aplin
(originally by You Me At Six)

This takes the guitar-lead, raw-sounding original and completely transforms it into an understated yet powerful, almost haunting, track. The addition of the piano and high female vocals add a certain poignancy, and the arrangement works to give a whole new emotionality to the lyrics.

 

#4 Wrecking Ball – James Arthur (originally by Miley Cyrus)

This stripped back piano-led version of Cyrus’s hit Wrecking Ball, sees the X Factor winner put his soulful stamp on the UK number 1 single… and what a powerful stamp it is. If you’re not a fan of Miley Cyrus, or the song, I recommend listening to this cover because it may just change your mind.

 

#3 Empty Space – Rogue Re Vera (originally by The Story So Far)

If you follow me on any social media, or if you’re a regular visitor to my blog, then you may know that I’ve been really into this band lately. I actually included this in a previous Tracks I’m Loving post so rather than repeat myself – because what I have to say would be much the same – simply click HERE if you’d like to know why this cover made it into my Top 6.

 

#2 Give Me Love – Demi Lovato (originally by Ed Sheeran)

Simply put, this is a beautiful cover of a great song. The whole thing has a compelling sense of emotional honesty to it. The delicate sounding verses add a sense of vulnerability, while the middle-eight adds a whole new dynamic, beautifully showing off the power-house vocals that Lovato possesses.

 

#1 Uptown Funk – Against the Current ft. Set It Off (originally by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars)

This is my most recent discovery; orchestral pop-rockers Set It Off and fellow pop-rock three piece Against the Current, teamed up for this cover of Uptown Funk – and it’s pretty great. I was dubious at first, I didn’t think I’d ever hear a cover of this song that even came close to the original, but I love the rock edge that these two bands have given it. Chrissy Costanza’s strong and powerful vocals add a whole new vibe to the track, and Set It Off’s Cody Carson is as sassy as ever, his smooth, unique vocals harboring a slight R’n’B twinge. The two complement each other brilliantly and I can’t get enough of it at the moment.

 

Ok so, I’m kind of breaking my own rule here but I couldn’t end this post without mentioning this song somewhere. If you’re a fan of The Voice USA then you may know that ex-Hey Monday frontwoman Cassadee Pope captured the nation’s heart when she won the competition back in 2012. Pope delivered an unrivalled vocal performance on the show each week and sang some amazing covers, but there was one that has always stood out to me more so than most.

Pope’s cover of Country singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert’s emotional ballad Over You completely turned the tides. Praised by all four celebrity coaches for her ability to connect with the lyrics and convey the poignancy of the song, as well as her astounding range, the cover also went on to top the ITunes all-genre chart – and it’s easy to hear why.

This cover gives me chills every time I hear it and I can’t help but get a little teary-eyed. I think that if a track has the ability to have such a strong effect no matter how many times you’ve heard it, it’s definitely a mark of something great.

 

Thank you for reading my Top 6 Covers, and I hope that it maybe inspired you to give some of the songs a try. What do you think of the covers? Are there any covers that you think  I should know about? Do you have a favourite cover that has always stuck in your mind? Let me know in a comment, I’d love to hear what you think.

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Tracks I was Loving (April – May)

Hey everyone, so I’ve done it again…I’ve got quite a few blogs backed up. I have been slacking a little bit recently, but I’ve just graduated from a three year Music Journalism degree so it’s nice to just take some time off and relax without having to worry about anything. However, I do want to get back into things and start posting on the blog more regularly like I have done in the past, now that I have a bit more time. So this is another of my tracks that I was loving through April/May-ish time. The next one will be Tracks I’m Currently Loving, and I also want to do a post on the TV show Nashville, as well as a couple of other things, so keep your eyes peeled. But for now…

 

Gabrielle Aplin – Please Don’t Say You Love Me

 

The second single from Gabrielle Aplin’s highly anticipated debut album English Rain, Please Don’t Say You Love Me, is a delicate guitar driven track. The instrumental and the vocals complement each other brilliantly and the use of a choir during the chorus’ give it a bigger feel. Aplin’s vocals are beautiful, and fluid. She hits every note perfectly without ever sounding too try-hard or pushing it too far, showcasing her range and ability to hit both higher and lower notes effortlessly.

 

Disclosure – What A Waste of Time

 

Not to be confused with the popular electronic dance act, this Oxfordshire based five-piece are a pop-rock powerhouse. This single was available on CD for just £1 when I saw them with Room 94, and it’s definitely a pound well spent. From the outset this track is a playful burst of colour, with a hook that promises to have audiences bouncing along like crazed jack-in-a-boxes. Singer, Tiff’s deep and throaty vocals are great also, sounding strong and hitting the notes on every trill with ease. It’s empowering and is definitely one for when you’re ready to acknowledge ‘what a waste of time that boy can be’, because let’s face it, we’ve all felt like that right? I’d say Disclosure have definitely got it right with this one.

 

Room 94 – Chasing the Summer

 

This track is everything that we’ve come to expect from Room 94; lighthearted, fun and just a little bit cheeky. Although slightly different from their more explosive tracks like You Got It Wrong and Tonight, Chasing The Summer definitely has a more mature and polished sound, but undoubtedly still has that rock edge that we know and love. Simply put, it’s a great summer song, perfect for blasting in the sunshine.

 

Young Kato – Drink, Dance, Play

 

The debut single from pop-indie six piece Young Kato, is a harmonious mix of synths, guitars and unmistakably British-sounding vocals. The track opens with a dreamy synth pattern which allows the guitar to drop in as act as a building point, as the drums, keyboard and vocals come in at once. The gang vocals on the verses would undoubtedly get audiences shouting along, and the vocal harmonies of the chorus give the feel that this song would be most at home with festival crowds. The chorus is infectious; you can’t help but want to dance to it, definitely one that begs to be cranked up to be fully appreciated.

 

5 Seconds of Summer – Heartbreak Girl

 

So, I first came to hear this song when I heard Robbie Coles’ acoustic cover of it on YouTube. After quickly becoming addicted to it, I thought I’d check out the original version. With a sound reminiscent of All Time Low, Heartbreak Girl is a perfect slice of pop/punk music. The guitar driven verses complement the drum heavy chorus, and the vocals are undeniably smooth. The lyrics are great, and with an insanely addictive chorus that will refuse to leave your head for days, what’s not to like?

 

Calvin Harris ft Ellie Goulding – I Need Your Love

 

I’ve realised lately that I’m quite a big fan of Calvin Harris, I like a lot of the tracks that he’s produced so far and this is no exception. This is a great song with an awesome beat, and Ellie Goulding’s vocals are a fantastic fit and excellent as always. Definitely a song that has club/party vibes written all over it. Bring it on.

 

The 1975 – Sex

 

So, I featured The 1975’s recent hit single Chocolate in my last ‘Tracks…’ post and then came across this gem from their 2012 EP of the same name. Unlike the smooth and radio-friendly sound of Chocolate, Sex has more of a punk rock feel to it. Despite it being a little more rough around the edges it’s fun, lively, and the ‘she’s got a boyfriend anyway’ refrain is catchy as hell. A carefree, cheeky song that doesn’t take anything too seriously, yet still has a sting in its tail. Brilliant.

Tracks I was Loving (March – April)

Justin Timberlake – Mirrors

 

Justin Timberlake is back. And this song is a tremendous example of his undeniable talent; proof that he is more than just another shiny pop star. After a four year break from the music scene JT is back with his new album The 2020 Experience, and Mirrors, the second single from the album is a reminder of what he does best. It’s a smooth and poignant love song brimming with emotion. It’s a track that has depth and soul and shows the reason for the longevity of Timberlake’s career. The vocals are a flawless, gliding effortlessly through the lower and higher notes, sounding fluid and utterly mesmerizing. It feels as though this is what we’ve been missing for so long, without perhaps even realising it, but once you listen to this song it definitely feels as though a thirst has been well and truly quenched.

 

The Lumineers – Ho Hey

 

Jumping on the recently popular folk-rock band wagon that has proved very successful for acts like Mumford and Sons and Of Monsters and Men, Colorado based five-some The Lumineers  are also proving to be a big hit with the mainstream. The first single from their debut album shows why. Their first top 5 hit in the US and top 10 in the UK, is a sweet and melodic track. Simple in style, there isn’t much going on; but that needn’t be a bad thing. The lack of complexity doesn’t over complicate the song and let’s it breathe, the result being that it can really shine as opposed to being a thumping assault on the senses. The Ho hey chant is sharp but catchy, with the drums accenting it, and will have audiences shouting along in unison.  The chorus is mellow and soothing and will no doubt lend to it being a massive summer hit on the festival circuit.       

 

Bastille – Pompeii

 

The fourth single from their number one debut album Bad Blood, London-based indie-synth pop quartet Bastille’s track Pompeii is funky, cheery and somewhat haunting. The opening ‘Eh eh oh’ tribal-esque chant is catchy and gives the song an arena-worthy anthemic feel. The lyrics and vocal style are simple, no-frills affairs that give the track more of a punch; it doesn’t need to decorate itself in octave jumping licks and warbling, it’s powerful as it is. The chorus is infectiously bright, and despite the contrasting lyrics like, “how am I going to be an optimist about this?” It’s a hopeful and uplifting track that will never fail to put a smile on your face. And after debuting on Radio One and gaining many airplays since, it doesn’t seem that the band have much to be pessimistic about either.

 

Bruno Mars – When I was your man

 

This sombre track shows that you don’t need a fancy production or countless computerised layers and effects to make great music. Sometimes there is power in simplicity. The second single from Mars’ newest album Unorthodox Jukebox, this melancholic ballad is stripped back and smooth. The accompaniment, comprising of just a piano, feels like a step back in time and lets Mars’ effortless and, as always, impeccable vocals, and the tender lyrics take centre stage. It doesn’t need anything else. There is an enchanting quality in its simplicity; a delicateness that makes you sit-up and pay attention from the moment you hit play. The lack of smoke and mirrors adds to the song’s beauty and showcases the absolute purity of Bruno Mars’ talent. The gentle piano and the pure emotion of the vocals flow together in harmony, and whilst ratcheting up the power at points, the latter never sounds forced. Romanticising the regret after a separation the track is an improbable love song, full of heart and soul and is, as we have come to expect from Bruno Mars: absolutely flawless.

 

The 1975 – Chocolate

 

The 1975 are an emerging alt rock band hailing from Manchester UK.  The band have released three EPs and have gained national airplay after landing the support of both Radio One’s Huw Stevens and Zane Lowe. Their 2013 offering Music For Cars see’s the completion of their EP trilogy, and lead single Chocolate is animated and bouncy with jaunty guitars and a great melody that will no doubt induce head bobbing and a mass clap-along from its listeners in no time. The playful energy and sparkle of this track adds to its catchiness and lends to it being a fun, upbeat ride of indie-pop music despite the lyrics painting a somewhat contrasting picture of outlaws who have “guns hidden under our petticoats.” Nonetheless, it’s a great song that will surely be a massive summer hit, and if this is a sign of things to come 2013 could be a very big year for The 1975.

 

Gabrielle Aplin – Panic Chord

 

Twenty year old Gabrielle Aplin became a chart smash after she sound-tracked last year’s John Lewis Christmas ad with her cover of The Power of Love. Aplin had built up an online following after posting cover videos of popular chart tracks on YouTube. Since her mainstream exposure, she has toured with the likes of Ed Sheeran and played her own sold out shows at London venues like Koko. Panic Chord is the third single from her debut album English Rain, and it’s a little bit more folky than her previous singles but it definitely works, though it does take a few listens to get used to. It’s a bittersweet track about doubts and unrequited love, ‘this meant more to you than it did to me’, which makes it relatable. Aplin’s vocals are melodic and dainty, but she also proves that she can amp up the power; never losing control of her voice. The vocals are just shy of haunting against the sunny sounding chords of the verses, and the chorus is really catchy despite the apologetic vibe to the lyrics. An all round bittersweet but great song, we’d definitely recommend it.

 

Taylor Swift – 22

 

After selling over a million copies in its first week of release, Taylor Swift’s fourth album Red became the fastest selling album in over a decade. The fourth single from the album, 22 see’s Swift well and truly cross over into pop territory. It’s a fun-filled pop smash that is about nothing else but having a good time. This playful track shows hints of conflicting emotions ‘we’re happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way’ but is ultimately carefree; an anthem for the joys of youth. It’s refreshing amongst all the songs about love and heartbreak, and it’s brilliant. Judging by the success of her previous singles Swift shows no signs of stopping anytime soon, and she can now add another great song to her catalogue of hits.

Tracks I’m Loving (February)

Hey everyone, so I know I haven’t done one of these in a while, my drafts folder is backed up with a few of these ‘Tracks I’m Loving’ posts, but I’ve been so busy that I’ve just not got around to posting them.

This one is from February, and I’m not going to go into individual explanations of why I like these tracks like I normally do, because I think you can pretty much tell from the tone of the songs how I was feeling at the time. However, I will say that they’re all beautiful songs and I personally think that they’re all worth a listen.

Jason Mraz – I Won’t Give Up

Keith Urban – Stupid boy

Gabrielle Aplin – The Liar and The Lighter

Taylor Swift – I knew you were trouble

Rascal Flatts – Stand

The one thing I will say about this song is that it’s a beyond beautiful song. I don’t think country music is as popular in the UK as it should be, and this song makes you wonder why not. Its delicate guitar driven verses leave the smooth vocals and poignant lyrics to be the main focus, and the chorus injects a heavy dose of emotion, the drums accentuating the uplifting lyrics. It’s emotive without ever over doing it, the music is never pushed too far and the vocals glide easily with no sign of force, it’s comfortable, and the lyrics are really inspiring and hopeful. Stand.

Elissa Franceschi – All Theese Days



This track is uplifting, and most of all empowering. It shows that even in the midst of a difficult situation there is hope, and shows that you can get through it.

Faith Hill – Cry