Sep 032021

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20. Andi Kristins – The Edge of Glory

Gaga’s original “Edge of Glory” is a booming behemoth, as manic and massive as Godzilla, the ideal song to soundtrack the most ginormous of firework displays over the biggest stadiums…which is part of what makes Andi Kristens take on the song as entertaining as it is. Kristen’s version is downright demure compared to the original and sounds like a fuzzed up Enya bedroom recording (no, really). It is both endearingly weird and plain ol’ embraceable. – Hope Silverman

19. Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood – Shallow

Country music’s ultimate power couple Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood spent the 2020 Covid lockdowns much like every other musician: performing livestreams and releasing new music. The two reworked the Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper hit from A Star is Born into the ultimate ‘90s-style country power ballad. The pair delivers such powerful vocal fireworks that it’s almost as if Gaga and her songwriting team penned it with Brooks and Yearwood in mind. – Curtis Zimmermann

18. The Morning Pages – Telephone

I’m anticipating your skepticism when you hear “country version of ‘Telephone,'” but give this one a try. The musicianship of the Morning Pages shines through and overshadows the silliness of the video and any preconceptions that an alt-country cover of Lady Gaga must be a joke. This song is a jam from start to finish. The opening slide guitar gives way to a solid southern rock-tinged electric guitar solo, then later an electric piano solo. In the bridge, the band even goes on a little bit of a space odyssey. It’s easy to forget the source material and assume this is an original. In fact, you might find on subsequent listenings of the Gaga version that there’s a little more twang to it than you realized. – Mike Misch

17. Gary Go feat. Mr. Dialysis – Just Dance

Lady Gaga insisted that “Just Dance,” her debut single, was an upbeat song to dance your troubles away to. Nobody told Gary Go. His cover proves far more interested in the problems than the solution. It makes for a mournful few minutes, but somehow it still holds true to the song’s spirit. Lady Gaga certainly recognized Go’s artistry, tweeting out his cover and calling him “my favorite new artist this year.” – Patrick Robbins

16. Mellow Yellow – Applause

This cover’s backing is completely driven by vocal “mmm-hmm”s, with a surprising range for such a simple sound. The percussion is a basic clap. However, don’t read that description to mean that this is a kind of gimmicky a cappella. This version, stripped of all of the electronic sounds, sounds much more ominous than the original. A warning about the price of fame? An homage to the fame monster? The falsetto rounds out the deeper “mmm-hmms,” and, without all the extra bells and whistles of the original, we hear details like the fact that “applause” is actually spelled out at some point. Add this to songs that teach us to spell something. – Sara Stoudt

15. Ahmir – You & I

With over 100 million YouTube views of their soulful renditions of songs by artists ranging from Stevie Wonder and Miley Cyrus to Beyonce and Broadway, lets just say four-man Boston vocal band Ahmir know their way around a cover. They have the uncanny ability of making every song they sing sound as if it has always been ’90s R&B. Gaga’s eternally fabulous glam-highway walkin’, cornfield-piano playin’, demented slow motion Def Leppard style anthem from an alternate universe soundin’ “You & I” is the recipient of an especially fine Ahmir tribute. The group reshapes it into one of those steamrolling over-the-top epics that could play over a movie’s closing credits and end up being more memorable than the film itself. – Hope Silverman

14. Shirley Bassey – I Don’t Know What Love Is

Shirley Bassey (or Dame Shirley Bassey, as she’s known in Britain) holds the distinction of singing not one, but three James Bond theme songs. The Welsh singer’s voice can be heard in opening credits to the classic Goldfinger, the lackluster Diamonds Are Forever and the downright odd Moonraker. She naturally performed her cover of Gaga’s A Star Is Born song “I Don’t Know What Love Is” as if it were a lost Bond theme, heavy on emotion and orchestration. One can almost picture silhouettes of buxom bombshells dancing in the background as Dame Bassey belts out Lady Gaga’s lyrics. – Curtis Zimmermann

13. Red Handed Denial – Telephone

In the same vein as Hydria’s “Aura” (#26), Red Handed Denial turn “Telephone” into an epic slice of symphonic metal. They turns the amps up to 11, ably leaping between clean vocals and judiciously deployed throat-shredding. If you call them in a club, you might want to hold the phone a few inches away from your ear. – Ray Padgett

12. Dolby Panna – Just Dance

I love the electropop energy of the original, but there is room in this world for a lilting folk tune version. This cover proves it. The “red one” call-outs and the call-and-response moments are still there, but they are more echoes than a friend calling to you in the club, emphasizing the isolation that this version hints at. The rhythm of the words is completely changed, yet somehow, even with only the lightest guitar in the background, the song is still completely distinguishable. – Sara Stoudt

11. Greyson Chance – Paparazzi

It’s been over a decade since Greyson Chance went viral with his cover of “Paparazzi.” Sixth-grade talent shows nationwide had to take it up a notch after that performance. It’s still a hall of fame video; the piano playing has the same urgency, Chance’s vocal talent beyond his years continues to impress, and watching a wall of junior high school girls fall in love will never not be entertaining. – Patrick Robbins

The list finished on Page 4.

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