- "Crazy" by Ray Lamontagne: OK, I loved the Gnarls Barkley original when it came out, and I still do. You can't match the flawless tone and unique sound of Cee Lo's voice. But if you want something totally different that still rocks, listen to Ray Lamontagne's version. His rough, folksy rendition is unexpected and refreshing. I love it.
- "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Jake Shimabukuro: Who can take on Queen, the powerhouse that produced so many hits? In my opinion, Jake Shimabukuro can with this understated ukulele version. It may be slower and completely instrumental, but it's unlike any ukulele song you've heard before. And best of all, this video is a live performance from TED (which I'm going to do a separate post about, because so many people don't know about TED's magic).
- "Imagine" by Eva Cassidy: I've blogged about Eva Cassidy's incredible music many, many times before, but this is the first song of hers I absolutely fell in love with. I know many people like John Lennon's original best (and for good reason), but Eva Cassidy's voice and the simple guitar accompaniment make this song such a gem. Give it a listen; I promise she won't disappoint.
- "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" by Chris Colfer: Let me be clear: I am not a huge Glee fan. I started watching because I liked the music, and now I watch episodes and come away feeling more disappointed than enchanted by their covers (and the sappy, social-agenda-heavy plot line). Anyway, enough about Glee. I do love Kurt's version of the classic Beatles song, which was actually inspired by the Across the Universe cover. And while I do like the movie version, there's something about Chris Colfer's high, clear voice that does this song more justice. I just think the slowed down, more acoustic version is so pretty.
- "Landslide" by The Dixie Chicks: If you were listening to the radio at all in the early 2000s (so weird to say that), you would have heard this song. Yes, it was overplayed, but I love The Dixie Chicks' harmony and Natalie Maines' edgy twang. Dare I say (gasp) I like it better than Stevie Nicks' throaty version? I just think it sounds better with a country twist.
- "Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay" by Sara Bareilles: I love the Otis Redding original, of course, but this chilled-out piano version -- especially with Sara Bareilles' powerful vocals -- is fabulous. I actually made Andrew buy this for me on his smartphone right after I heard it (I still don't have a smartphone and we were driving to Idaho) because I needed it. Just listen to it. Her soulful voice makes the song.
- "Chain of Fools" by Eva Cassidy: I do realize that another of the covers I listed was performed by Eva Cassidy, but you know what? I don't care. Her voice sounds completely different on this song, and she's got enough power to actually take on the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who originally recorded this song. I adore her version. It will make you happy, and her voice will blow you away. Seriously.
- "Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" by Iz: There's probably not a single living person who hasn't heard this beautiful cover, but I had to include it anyway because I listen to it so often. Cheesy fact: When I was visiting my aunt in Hawaii for the first time, we happened to be listening to an Iz CD and it was raining. Just as this song came on, we drove around the corner and the most beautiful rainbow was stretching across the road and the green hills -- so I jumped out of the car to snap a picture. It was surreal, like something straight out of a movie.
- "Rainbow Connection" by Jason Mraz: I promise, it's only a coincidence that these songs both have the word "rainbow" in them. But when someone dares to take on Kermit the Frog and perform his classic (and do it very well), that person should be recognized. Had I been thinking, I'd have added this to last week's "Lullabies" post -- but it works well in my list of covers, too. I just love Jason Mraz's cool, soothing voice on this fun children's song.
I'm sure I missed a ton of great covers, but these are the ones I listen to over and over and never tire of. What are your favorite covers? Any great songs I definitely need to add to my collection?