Best (So Far) finds the finest first-round covers of the latest pop hits.
To American fans of pop music, Carly Rae Jepsen may seem to have come out of nowhere with her hit “Call Me Maybe.” For Canadian listeners, however, Jepsen has been on the pop radar since placing third on the fifth season of Canadian Idol, and she’s been releasing music there since 2008. It was “Call Me Maybe,” though, that launched her to international stardom.
The song is an undeniable pop hit, but its infectiousness does not necessarily translate to easy covers. The vast majority of takes on the song sound almost identical to the original, making success all the more impressive. Artists either replicate the original in a way that somehow still speaks for itself, or they manage to break free of the song’s dominating bubblegum feel. Here are five that are leading the pack.
1. Kathleen Nguyen
It’s not surprising that, like any pop song, YouTube has been inundated with acoustic covers of “Call Me Maybe.” Nguyen’s is among them, but she manages to bring her own original vocals to it. Where most covers seem to aim at replicating Jepsen’s voice, Nguyen’s is a voice all her own.
2. Paradise Fears
Paradise Fears, while maintaining most of the rhythm and melody of the original, certainly bring the most instrumentality to their cover. Their instruments are essentially what you’d expect from an acoustic band cover – acoustic guitar, piano, tambourine, fiddle – but their use of those instruments demonstrates a depth of prowess beyond the attention they give to the track, with elaborate (though understated) fiddling and fingerpicking.
3. Dave Days, Alex Goot, and Chad Sugg
Undoubtedly the funniest of the bunch, this trio seems to be just as mocking (or self-mocking) of the nerd-pop aesthetic as they are of the bubblegum of Jepsen’s sound. When Days cuts in, the boys establish themselves as something in the vein of Enema of the State era Blink-182, which isn’t necessarily that difficult an accomplishment but is certainly a much appreciated move.
4. Megan & Liz and Max Schneider
Foremost on the register of songs that successfully bring the Bieber is the duo Megan & Liz, joined by Max Schneider. The instrumentation is provided by the videosong staples of ukulele and beatboxing, courtesy of Schneider. The trio trades off the vocals to beautiful effect – the girls alternate and harmonize on the first verse, only for Schneider to awesomely take the reins for the latter half of the song. He brings a bit of grit to the poppiness of both the girls and the song; if this is the result, the three should team up more often.
5. Nick Santino
Delivering the most slowed-down and thoughtful cover is Nick Santino, frontman of A Rocket to the Moon. Santino plays it not like a pop hit, but like a poem; he delivers soft acoustics and sings as though it’s coming not from a memory of the lyrics but from a connection to their meaning.
Check out more from Carly Rae Jepsen at her website.