Mar 292024

Run up that hill back to the beginning.

20. FIDLAR — If It Makes You Happy

“I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.” A phrase familiar to parents and teachers. Crow’s biggest song has always had that vibe. Stoner rockers FIDLAR, on the other hand, affect to be angry (even if it is just for show). So they can take a different take on the song, and display that rage (faux or otherwise), featuring mystery singer “Cheryl Kro.” However they have the artistry to temper that anger with a spectacular take on Crow’s video. By matching the tempo for significant sections, they can use Crow’s original visuals, and even when they are screaming at us they can borrow from the original. The whole package is very entertaining. – Mike Tobyn

19. Charlyne Yi — Strong Enough

This is an abbreviated cover, but it still packs an emotional punch comparable to the original. A simple, clipped strumming of an acoustic guitar plays, paired with breathy vocals, layered on top of one another to wax and wane. Towards the end, the vocals imitate a brass instrument, relinquishing the lyrics for a bit, before coming back with the repeated, insistent question. The questioning continues, the guitar dropping out for the final iteration. – Sara Stoudt

18. Flying Pickets — Everyday Is a Winding Road

It isn’t compulsory to like this version, but you have to concede that the doo-wop vocal six-piece from the UK have done something pretty radical with it. Rejecting any existing memory of the song, they kick it all over the shop, ending up with a piece of what might count as ’70s soul music, the Jackson Five even, as sung on a street corner. Which, given Crow got her break as a backing vocalist for Michael Jackson, isn’t so great a stretch after all. Remembered mainly for their cover of “Only You,” the Yazoo song, it is astonishing to see Flying Pickets have actually put out a dozen albums. – Searus Og

17. Carpool — Soak Up the Sun

The opening seems faithful enough to the original, but that first lyrical line gives us a taste of what’s to come. A harsher vocal sound comes, like a growl, from the throat. Carpool leans into the punk side of pop-punk and add their own flair to the song, for example adding specificity to the story (they’re not just watching TV; they make a shout-out to Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Before the last verse, things lighten as some “ba da, ba da” chanting appears amongst the “soak up the sun” urging. Then Carpool takes the song’s enjoy-life optimism a step further and is sure to “tell everyone” to quit their jobs before they sign off. – Sara Stoudt

16. Scary Pockets Feat. Jacob Luttrell — All I Wanna Do

Ryan Herman and Jack Conte’s funkateers Scary Pockets have form, pumping out a daunting number of covers, all transformed into their own high-voltage vibe. Using a variety of other singers, this time it is Jacob Luttrell at the microphone, and, for all his repeating the opening line about L.A., it sounds way more N’Awlins to me, a Meters tight rhythm smoking the room with a disciplined boogie. – Seuras Og

15. IMY2 — If It Makes You Happy

IMY2 is a three-piece pop-rock group from Nashville, Tennessee known for creating covers of popular songs. On this one, the guitar and mellow bass combination perfectly recreates that nostalgic 1990s-indie vibe. But lead singer Annalise Mahanes turns the song on its head by delivering the vocals with a timbre entirely her own. Pure and confident, the verses led seamlessly into the belted choruses. From Mahanes’ velvety lows to her bell-like highs, this version of “If It Makes You Happy” is certainly difficult to resist. – Aleah Fitzwater

14. Ralegh Long and Friends — Tomorrow Never Dies

The theme song to Tomorrow Never Dies is one of the best Bond songs ever. Well, I mean, the original theme song: kd lang’s “Surrender,” which was scrapped at the eleventh hour in favor of a lesser song by a more famous singer. (Not all was lost; lang’s song still played over the end credits.) While Crow’s “Tomorrow Never Dies” contribution may have been a dud, London singer-songwriter-producer Ralegh Long found a way to light the fuse. She slows it down and gives it a funky groove on the ace Bond-themes tribute album A Girl And A Gun. Maybe it’s not so bad after all? Bonus: Another artist also covers “Surrender”! – Jane Callaway

13. Billy Ray Cyrus — Real Gone

The Pixar movie Cars gave us a lot of good tunes, including this song written specifically for the movie by Crow and John Shanks (who also co-wrote Crow’s “Steve McQueen”). It’s a spunky song with, understandably, plenty of driving and car references. Billy Ray Cyrus kicks off his cover with a bad boy grunt and maintains the original’s swagger. Even though there is nothing particularly childish about this song, even this cover found its way to a young audience, featuring on Disneymania 6 and later Country Sings Disney. – Sara Stoudt

12. Molly Tuttle ft. Madison Cunningham — Strong Enough

Molly Tuttle released her cover of “Strong Enough” in 2021 on …but I’d rather be with you, too, an addendum to her 2020 all-covers release …but I’d rather be with you, duetting with Madison Cunningham. Tuttle would go on to win the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album in 2023 and 2024, and Cunningham would win the Grammy in 2023 for Best Folk Album. The cover leans more toward folk than bluegrass, making it more faithful to the original, if a little less produced. Both versions effectively convey the narrator’s disappointment in the relationship at issue, and her yearning for some sign, even a false one, that it has a future. “Strong Enough” is credited to six songwriters, which usually signals a mess—or a homogenized pop confection—but in this case, they made it work. – Jordan Becker

11. Judah & The Lion — Soak Up the Sun

Sheryl Crow’s original came out in 2002 as a response to 9/11 and the bleak national mood that settled in afterwards. Judah & the Lion released their cover on an EP in the fall of 2020: the thick of the global pandemic. They jump right in with the chorus, presented a cappella. The good vibrations of their voices echo the Beach Boys and simpler, happier days. The accompaniment, when it drops in, is stripped down to mandolin, banjo, acoustic guitar and bass. The result is a fresh and refreshingly modest rendition of a summertime favorite, suitable for all weathers and moods. – Tom McDonald


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