I tend to like covers that reinvent the song, showing how the melody, structure, and other aspects of the song can be repurposed for different sounds!
Some of my favorites:
“Say It Ain’t So”. Artist: Akiko Yano. Original: Weezer. I found this cover a few days ago and it’s been all I can think about. I don’t even particularly like the original, but the framing and tone of this cover really get under my braincells. Please listen to it!
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. Artist: DEVO. Original: The Rolling Stones. A total reinvention of the song. Suddenly the slick rock jam is this weird, staggered breakdown.
“Only Girl (In The World)”. Artist: Xiu Xiu. Original: Rihanna. This one is definitely not for everyone. Still, it’s an extremely memorable cover that definitely reinvents the song.
“Bouree”. Artist: Jethro Tull. Original: J.S. Bach. I’m counting this as a cover for reasons I think should be evident; it’s a radical reinterpretation of Bouree in E Minor, from a lute song, to a jazzy, shuffle stepped jam. Nothing not to love here.
“Deluge”. Artists: Jerry Williams, Steve Manns, Collin Clauson, Sam Jewell. Original: Wayne Shorter. Okay, this is an obscure one, but I found this version by chance, and golly, it’s such a cool interpretation! Originally written as a somber, slow song, these players turn it into a rident, speedy one! Totally killer version.
“Turn! Turn! Turn!”. Artist: Papa M (David Pajo). Original: The Byrds. Okay, I’m a sucker for long songs. Sue me. This is also a nice, mellow, relaxing cover that you can just kind of sink into as it goes.
There’s this version of “Birthday” by a woman named Hajime Chitose that I can’t find anywhere online anymore. I found it on a CD at a flea market and fell in love with it. She has a unique voice, but very distinct from Björk’s, and she covers this (kind of disturbing, honestly) song with this softness that is just cuddly.
“Queen Kunta” (a cover of “King Kunta”). Artist: Sudan Archives. Original: Kendrick Lamar. I mean, come on. This cover just kicks ass. It’s just violin and vocals, but that’s all she needs. The loopings are so distinct and slight and her singing of the words and the fucking solo come on it fucking killlllllllsssssssssssssssss PLEASE listen to it
Other songs worth mentioning but I’m not gonna write about and link: “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix (c’mon), “As” by Kimiko Kasai, “Shake It Off” by Screaming Females, “The Model” by Big Black, “Endangered Species” by Esperanza Spalding, “Friends” by Meshell Ndegeocello. Also, that entire Rite of Spring album by The Bad Plus is really good.
There are certainly more but ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh