Our most recent Best Covers Ever (until tomorrow…) counted down thirty killer Lady Gaga covers. Well, maybe we should have waited another month to tackle Gaga. Ambar Lucid, a buzzy Mexican-Dominican singer-songwriter from New Jersey, just performed a knockout “Poker Face” for Grammy.com as part of their “Reimagined at Home” series covering past Grammy Award winners.
‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.
There was a time in this blog’s lifespan where a shocking percentage of the covers landing in our inbox and RSS feeds were of Lady Gaga songs. It only lasted a couple years, but for a minute there Gaga was doing Beatles numbers. Hell, even relatively minor singles like “Marry the Night” would dominate the covers world for weeks after people heard them.
As Gaga’s entered the Vegas-residency stage of her career, her new songs don’t get covered as often. But even still, there seems to be a respect from other musicians not afforded all her pop-star peers. A Katy Perry chart flop will get ignored. A Gaga chart flop will still likely land a few interesting covers.
Though the songs were never as weird as the outfits were, there was always some unexpected twist for other musicians to play with, from the rolled r’s of “Bad Romance” to the goofy theatricality of “Alejandro” to the best stuttering since “My Generation” (“pa-pa-pa-pokerface,” “stop telephoning me-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh”). Plus, even after a few years in the wilderness, everyone knew any minute she could return with a “Shallow.”
In our list of 30 covers below, all those big hits show up plenty. But even the more recent songs and album cuts make appearances. Lady Gaga’s songs are sturdy enough to remain infectious whether they’re performed as gothic metal or throwback rockabilly. See for yourself below.
The list begins on Page 2.
Adia Victoria – On and On (Erykah Badu cover)
Adia Victoria recorded this powerful Badu cover for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. She said of the time she discovered the song, “I was looking for something that was bigger and deeper and felt more warm than the idea of a Christian God. And I dove into my imagination. And the first time I heard ‘on and on’ it felt like Erykah Badu was waiting for me to be her there.”
To celebrate Lady Gaga’s seminal 2011 album Born this Way turning 10 this year, the album is being re-released with a bonus disc of covers performed by prominent LGBTQIA+ artists. The first track to be released from this bonus disc is Big Freedia’s cover of “Judas,” the second single released from Born this Way.
Amanda Shires – That’s All (Genesis cover)
Our first song kicks off what will be a theme here. A lot of these came out at the very top of the year (or the very end of 2020) to kick a garbage year to the curb and hope for something better. Shires said: “’That’s All’ is a song that I have played a lot on tour. The song defines 2020 for me. It’s a true Covid anthem and I dare you to not dance to my version when you hear it!”
Norwegian indie-pop musician Sondre Lerche has a tradition. At the end of every December, he drops of a cover of one of his favorite pop songs of the preceding year. He’s done Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” He’s done Beyoncé’s “Countdown.” He’s done Ariana Grande’s “Into You.” Last year, he bent the rules for the project’s tenth anniversary by covering three older Britney Spears songs.
This year he returns to – and expands – the tradition, tackling the requisite pop banger (Lady Gaga’s Grande collaboration “Rain on Me”) along with a second new song that’s decidedly not pop at all: Bob Dylan’s “I Contain Multitudes,” which he calls “the greatest Bob Dylan song I’ve ever heard” and has become the go-to song to cover from Dylan’s new album.