Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.
In honor of the new Charlie’s Angels movie, directed by Elizabeth Banks, we throwback to the original movie and the lead tune from its soundtrack. Before Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and Lana Del Rey told us not to call them angels, Destiny’s Child informed us that if you “try to control me, boy, you get dismissed.” Before Ella Balinska, Naomi Scott, and Kristen Stewart, we had “Lucy Liu, with my girl, Drew, Cameron D and Destiny.”
This song, despite heavy references to the movie in the intro and throughout, rose to fame beyond the soundtrack. Destiny’s Child even released the song as a single off of their Survivor album, home to other bangers like the title track and “Bootylicious.” There is even an “Independent Women Pt. II” on the album, if you aren’t pumped up enough from just one. Part I was number one on Billboard‘s Hot 100 for 11 weeks, putting it among only three percent of top hits lasting for a double digits number of weeks at the pinnacle.
Fifth Harmony did a Destiny’s Child tribute medley including this jam (pre-Camila Cabello’s departure), and KT Tunstall’s version of this song is superb, but here are three more covers that tell us how “angels get down like that.”
The Elbow version is good.
Danny McEvoy’s version is better.
Shira Z. Carmel’s version is best.
Elbow – Independent Woman (Destiny’s Child cover)
Elbow is a British band, named Best British Group in 2009 and performer of the BBC’s 2012 London Olympics theme. Their cover of “Independent Women,” recorded early on as part of BBC Radio One’s Live Lounge, has become a bit of a cult classic. This is especially true of the version paired with the cats from Rathergood, included here for your enjoyment. From deep brass, to a xylophone, to an accordion, this almost polka-like cover has it all. As much as I enjoy the instrumentation in this cover, I’m missing the lyrics in the verses. It’s essential that I hear “the shoes on my feet, I bought ’em.”
Danny McEvoy – Independent Woman (Destiny’s Child cover)
This video looks unassuming, but Danny McEvoy really captures the spirit of the song. His cover starts out in a laid-back manner, but don’t let this fool you. His guitar strumming patterns accentuate the emphasis points of the lyrics, and his vocals are clear and sonorous. He freestyles a bit with the medley towards the end in the “Charlie’s Angels” portion, but he returns faithfully to the closing chorus. McEvoy does other covers too, sometimes featuring young “Jazzy” Jasmine Thorpe. If you want to keep the girl power playlist going, her earnest version of Katy Perry’s “Hot N’ Cold” while sporting a Lisa Simpson tee will bring you joy.
Shira Z. Carmel – Independent Woman (Destiny’s Child cover)
“Question.” Does this song need to be in English for it still to be a bop? No! I don’t speak Hebrew, but the original song is so ingrained in me that I feel like I don’t even notice the change in language. Shira Z. Carmel is a singer-songwriter from Jerusalem, and this cover is part of her “Take Cover” project: “pop-culture experiment shifting songs in time and space through musical form and language.” Her version has a funky accompaniment that transitions to a salsa-like ambiance yet still radiates the plucky mood of the original. All around the world “all the women, who are independent, throw your hands up at me.”
I’ll close out this post with an honorable mention. This mashup of “Independent Women” and “Wild Thoughts” brings together the greats of Destiny’s Child and Rihanna in a soulful and smooth rendition. Coco has a deep and rich voice that can handle this dynamic duo of songs.