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Sometimes the original doesn’t cut it; a look at our favourite covers

Throughout the history of popular music, artists have been releasing their own performances of pre-existing songs. Cover songs can act as a tribute,and reshape the songs in ways that we may not have thought possible. Often times the cover can become more popular than the original. The Gateway takes a look at our favourite cover songs.

“Black History Month”– Metric (made famous by Death From Above 1979)

It takes a great group of musicians to take an alt-punk song best known for its pounding drums and screaming vocals and recreate it using soothing piano chords and silky smooth vocals. Metric took a track draped in the heavy cloak of Death From Above 1979’s signature sound and remade it into a beautifully sad listening experience when they covered “Black History Month.” This cover is a great example of what all covers should aspire to be: an homage to the original track, but also a complete departure from everything that made the original great. The haunting vocals of Emily Haines breath a different kind of life into this track, perfect complementing the piano to bring us a slow but purposeful expression of the pain felt throughout the song. “Black History Month” will go down as one of the most iconic instances of a Canadian band covering another Canadian band, and rightly so. –Jason Timmons

“They’re Red Hot” – Red Hot Chili Peppers (made famous by Robert Johnson)

You would think a song with the name of “They’re Red Hot” would be a match made in heaven for Red Hot Chili Peppers to cover. But, no, you’d be wrong. Robert Johnson’s 1936 blues track is the polar opposite of what comes to mind of when you think of the early 90’s Chili Peppers. However, that did not stop the band for making one of the most wildly original covers of recent memory. The band jacks up the tempo to around a million BPM and proceeds to go bat-shit insane. Anthony Kiedis’ vocals range from just barely coherent to sounding like scat improv on coke. The end result is nothing short of fascinating, as the band’s take breaths new life into this track, albeit new life that is dangerously unstable with a stimulant problem. –Sam Beetham

“Skinny Love”– Birdy (made famous by Bon Iver)

Who else but teenage songstress Birdy, can masterfully mold an already beautiful melody into something even more bone-chillingly magical?  Birdy’s sultry tones enhance her glass-like vocals, forming the song into a fragile masterpiece. If you are beyond sad before listening to this song, you will wind up being even more upset afterwards. Although it is almost impossible to top Bon Iver’s ultra-high register, Birdy’s notes somehow make you miss even your dead goldfish from 5th grade. It is undeniably better than the original, because nothing turns on the feels more than those achy falsettos. –Raylene Lung

“Me and Bobby McGee” –Janis Joplin (made famous by Kris Kristofferson)

The exceptional, late Janis Joplin recorded this song in 1970, shortly before her death by heroin, and it reached the #1 Billboard Top 100’s following her death: her first #1 hit. Originally written by Kris Kristofferson, Joplin’s soul-driven, powerful vocals and pleasan-tly nostalgic instrumentation breathes new life into the song. The famous phrase “I’d trade all of my tomorrow’s for one single yesterday” gives the listener an air of hope, yet profound sadness as this amazing talent with her infectious smile and calming presence left the music scene too early at age 27. She truly owned this song with everything she had, and it poignantly shows.  –Alyssa Demers

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