Making covers and remixes of popular songs is a time-honored tradition in the music industry. Recently, Mary J. Blige released a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “American Skin (41 Shots)” with some help from Kendrick Lamar.
Blige first performed part of the song during her conversation with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on an exclusive Apple Music interview on Sept. 30th. She later released a recorded version featuring Lamar on Oct. 21st. The song has since been taken down, but rumor has it we could see it resurface on Apple Music sometime soon.cq
Springsteen’s original song was inspired by the death of Amadou Diallo, who was shot and killed by four NYPD officers in 1999.
The theme Springsteen sang about in his original song is still relevant today. People of color are still being killed unjustly by officers of the law; it is still dangerous for them to “walk around in their American skin.”
With the release of Blige’s cover of “American Skin (41 Shots),” I was inspired to make a playlist of some of my favorite covers and remixes that I’m listening to right now.
“Thinking Out Loud (Mura Masa Remix)” — Ed Sheeran
I love Mura Masa, and I think the new beat and melody they have added to the song flow perfectly with Ed Sheeran’s vibrant vocals. On the track you can hear both the slow, brooding melodies from songs like “Are U There?” and “Your Bones (Intermission)” and the snappy beats heard on “Firefly.” I found the original song to have been grossly overplayed when it first came out, but this remix is something I don’t get tired of listening to.
“Swimming Pools (Drank)” — DEMAR (Kendrick Lamar Cover)
This cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drank)” is an incredible track that turns an introspective, hardcore rap song into an equally introspective and hardcore ballad. DEMAR keeps the themes of struggling with alcohol and peer pressure from the original song, but switches out the crisp beat of Kendrick’s track for an acoustic version of the song that pulls at the emotions of the listener.
“Sexual Healing” — Kygo Radio Edit — Marvin Gaye
A fresh take on a classic song, Kygo takes Marvin Gaye’s 1982 hit “Sexual Healing” and gives it an upbeat makeover. The remix stays true to the beat of the original song while adding a more modern sound that turns the track into a club hit.
“waves” — remix — Miguel, Kacey Musgraves
Miguel’s song “waves,” off of his 2015 album Wildheart, inspired its very own EP titled Rogue Waves. The EP is made up of five remixes of the Miguel song, including ones by Australian psychedelic rock group Tame Impala and country superstar Kacey Musgraves. Musgraves and Miguel harmonize well throughout the song, adding a vocal element that isn’t really present on the original track. The new beat also gives the song a very different vibe from the original that I actually prefer more.
“Bennie and the Jets” — Miguel, Wale (Elton John Cover)
Another Miguel song, this time with him as the performer in this cover of Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets.” The song actually appears on an Elton John album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (40th Anniversary Celebration), released in 2014. Not much is done to change the song aside from adding in a rap verse from Wale. Miguel stays very true to the vocals, beat and melodies from the original song.
“Love Yourself vs F*CK Yourself” — Yo Preston, Kelly Kiara (Justin Bieber Cover)
This cover of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” was written as a response to the pop star’s hit. Yo Preston and Kelly Kiara rebut Bieber’s sentiments by including an original verse singing about the unfaithful boy in this relationship as opposed to Bieber’s version. Preston and Kiara’s vocals play extremely well off of each other, giving the song another layer that isn’t seen in the original.
“Billie Jean” — The Civil Wars (Michael Jackson Cover)
The fast paced beat and lyrics that characterize Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean are scrapped in The Civil Wars cover. Instead, the duo, comprised of Joy Williams and John Paul White, adds a twang to the classic song as they give it their folk flair.
“No Diggity” — Chet Faker (Blackstreet Cover)
“No Diggity” is a song that has been covered many times by many different artists (one of my personal favorites is Anna Kendrick’s version in the movie Pitch Perfect). Chet Faker’s version of the song appears on his 2012 album Thinking in Textures. Faker takes the original song and gives it an electronic touch up, subbing out the rap and R&B for his own soul-filled take on the 1996 classic.
“Style” — Ryan Adams (Taylor Swift Cover)
This song is not a cover of a Taylor Swift song (I mean, it is, but hear me out). Ryan Adams does something so different and so creative that, aside from the lyrics, this is not the same song. Instead of staying true to the pop genre that the original song lives in, Adams invokes the sounds of ’80’s rock, starting off with a hard drum beat and adding in the powerful guitar rhythm. “Style” actually reminds me a lot of Tears for Fears, specifically their song “Shout.” Adams actually covered Swift’s entire 1989 album, and every song is as innovative and as different from the original as “Style.” Seriously, go check out the entire album, it’s incredible.