Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so they say. When it comes to music, cover songs can either make or break a band. Often times covers undergo great scrutiny for not sounding like the source, or even sounding too much like the source. The classic saying, “the original was better”, is often the base argument for dismissing these cover songs, and more often than not is the death nail for these iterations of classic songs. However, there have been some absolutely draw dropping or stunning covers of radio classics that still seem largely unknown to the public eye. The following is a collection of unique and underrated cover songs by artists you may expect.
1. Drake Bell
You may be familiar with Drake Bell from the 2000s hit Nickelodeon show Drake & Josh, however did you know Drake doesn’t simply just play a musician for TV. Drake Bell is a phenomenally underrated musician with a total of six studio albums under his belt! Alongside his original singles, bell has also provided some very well done covers to his discography! Possibly the most commonly discussed of all of them is his 2018 release of the Lil Pump track, Gucci Gang. Receiving the most back and forth between those who loved the rendition and those who hated it, Gucci Gang is far from Drake Bell’s first, or even best, cover. Appearing on the 2014 album, “Ready, Steady, Go”, is a fantastic cover of Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me”. The track not only serves an amazing recreation of the 1980 smash hit, but also may appear indistinguishable from the original to the casual listener.
2. Ninja Sex Party
Yes, Ninja Sex Party is indeed the legitimate name of this band. Fronted by Danny Sexbang, the act is a two man comedy duo specializing in comedic and novelty music often revolving around mythical or sexual subject matter. That being said, NSP is honestly one of the most talented and creative bands I have had the pleasure to listen to. Managing to be both funny and clever at the same time is one thing but having the musical ability to go from “6969” to a seamless rendition of “Rocket Man” that will make you question who did it better is another. In 2015 NSP decided to change their style for one album by releasing the cheekily named “Under The Covers” which featured all cover songs. The album was such a commercial success and received such great feedback from the fanbase that it spawned two more volumes of “Under The Covers” albums!
3. Postmodern Jukebox
Possibly the most widely known group on this list for their covers, Postmodern Jukebox provide classics with a twist! Featuring 50+ revolving musicians along with multiple extraordinary vocalists, PMJ take some of the most successful, well known, and beloved songs and cover them in the style of swing, jazz, and big band. Not shy of any genre or era, PMJ have covered everything ranging from Radiohead to Macklemore and Britney Spears to Aerosmith. Absolutely everything they have touched turns to transatlantic gold!
Chances are if you grew up in the early 2000s or ever played a Tony Hawk Pro Skater games, you’ve heard Cake. Most famous for their hit singles “The Distance” and “Short Skirt Long Jacket”, Cake seemingly broke out huge and the slowly faded off the radar. While the slow and very verbal style of the band may not be the taste for everyone, Cake has seemingly found the perfect way to use that to their advantage. With covers of such classics as “I Will Survive” and “Paranoid”, Cake has made their stamp on the cover field by incorporating their own original style like no other. Even going into Hank Williams Sir, The tracks may take you by surprise at first or require a minute to adjust to, Cake provides welcome and intriguing versions of classics we know and love.
5. Paul Anka
No need to adjust your screen, you did read that correctly! Paul Anka, known for such classics as “Puppy Love” and “Put Your Head On Y Shoulder” is no stranger to the almighty cover song! Now you may be thinking to yourself, he must’ve covered classics of the time just like Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis did! Well, you would be incorrect! I bet the covers you were thinking of did not involve Nirvana, Oasis, Van Halen or even Soundgarden. That’s right, Paul Anka released his album, Rock Swings, in 2015 featuring swing style renditions of some of the most popular song from the previous two decades.Even if you are not a fan of the swing genre, I encourage you to give it a listen and see for yourself why Paul Anka is one of the absolute geniuses of the art!