Spot the Difference: The freshest covers of our favorite songs
As listeners, one of the most rewarding parts of music is it’s reflective nature: that which shows us parts of ourselves, and validates them. A similar beauty comes with the projective: when artists put their own embellishments into the works that mean a great deal to them.
When we keep in mind both the reflective and projective power of music, they’re no longer just songs. They become proof of the intrinsic value of music. From our “Spot The Difference” covers playlist, here are the most meaningful covers of our favorite songs.
You’re Still The One – Okay Kaya
With the softest and breathiest of a whisper comes the genesis of Okay Kaya’s take on Shania Twain’s classic “You’re Still The One.” Through soft indie vocals and the subtle but deliberate plucks of guitar strings, Kaya gives a new life to a love song for the ages.
Kaya’s version is considerably slower and stripped down compared to Twain’s, giving a more intimate and perhaps more sincere vibe. When background vocals and echoes of “you’re still the one” reverberate, Kaya transforms a country hit into a dreamy lullaby.
Ohio – Katie Pruitt
With the same menacing electric guitar riff that Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young gave us in 1971 following the massacre at Kent State University, Katie Pruitt gives a gliding soprano to the protest song for the ages in “Ohio.”
Written for the four Kent State students slain by the U.S. National Guard during a Vietnam war protest, Pruitt revitalizes a horrible tale of stifled expression and the pursuit of peace.
“Gotta get down to it– soldiers are cutting us down. Should have been done long ago,” Pruitt beckons. “What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground? How can you run when you know?”
Betty – Christian Lee Hutson
A rising force in LA indie music alongside Phoebe Bridgers, Christian Lee Hutson lent his soothing, Elliot Smith-reminiscent vocals to three seemingly unrelated songs on his 2021 EP “The Version Suicides Vol. 1.” Most compelling of these is his take on Taylor Swift’s “betty.”
The backdoor-country harmonicas of Swift’s telling a high-school boy’s plea for forgiveness are traded for stripped-down guitar plucks and hushed vibratos on Hutson’s.
Friday I’m In Love – Phoebe Bridgers
Phoebe Bridgers has become a cover-queen of sorts in the past few years; from Tom Petty’s “It’ll All Work Out” to the Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December,” she’s proven herself to be as talented of a cover artist as she is a singer-songwriter. Perhaps the best example is her take on the Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love.”
In a stripped-down piano version of the 1992 new-wave hit recorded at Spotify Studios in New York, the cover’s emotionally-driven soprano trills could fit snugly anywhere on Bridgers’ debut album “Stranger in the Alps.”
Crazy – Mickey Guyton
Patsy Cline’s hits like “Crazy” changed the course of country music history when they proved that women, too, could be great forces in the genre. Mickey Guyton pays homage in her cover of the country classic in more ways than one as she spearheads another movement: one to shine a light on the surge of Black voices in country music.
Where Cline’s seminal jukebox classic features vinyl crackles and a simple piano riff, Guyton brings a classic melody into the 21st century with more improvised vocals accompanied by 21st century pop-country instrumentation.
Go Your Own Way – The Cranberries
The Cranberries could easily be pegged as the angstier Irish, 1990s response to Fleetwood Mac. The rock instrumentation of the Cranberries’ cover of “Go Your Own Way” parallels closely with that of the original. But the lamenting of Dolores O’Riordan’s signature Irish-accented wails make it new.
Listen to these and more of our favorite covers on our “Spot the Difference” playlist: