Admit it, you love cover versions. It’s why you tune into Glee every single week. It’s also why you secretly watch X Factor but whenever anyone walks in, you flick over to The Premiership. Well, prepare to be amazed by some of the best cover versions you’ll hear all year.
Gabrielle Aplin is a 17 year old British singer-songwriter, who has just released her debut record, her Acoustic EP, which contains not only her own songs, but also her take on You Me at Six’s ‘The Liar and the Lighter’, which is a million times better than the original. Aplin has the best voice I’ve heard since Amy Diamond, and is a real breath of fresh air in a stale pop market. She’s kind of like a poppier Laura Marling. Seriously. Go buy the EP (well, after you check out the covers, of course).
10. The Knife – ‘Heartbeats’
People who come on X Factor, and say the wrong original artist when doing a cover always annoy me, but I suppose most people wouldn’t have a clue that this isn’t a Jose Gonzalez original. I’m only forgiving her for this because it’s a damn good cover, and I can’t stand the Jose Gonzalez version.
9. Bruno Mars – ‘Just the Way You Are’
Bubbles. I didn’t even know video cameras could do that. Like the way Glee covered ‘Billionaire’ two weeks back, Gabrielle Aplin is on top of her contemporary R&B. Mars’ original is an upbeat tune, whereas Aplin’s cover is a stripped-back acoustic ballad.
8. Sam Sparro – ‘Black and Gold’
This song really highlights Aplin’s talent as a guitarist as well as a singer. Gorgeous fingerpicking to accompany a beautiful vocal, it’s a fantastic cover of Sam Sparro’s dance-pop original.
7. Counting Crows – ‘Accidentally in Love’
I really agree with her little intro. Shrek makes everything better, including this Counting Crows song. It works in the film, but not as a standalone single. However, it does work here when Gabrielle Aplin is singing it. For some reason it doesn’t seem as cheesy as the original, just cute. I suppose that’s what happens when a 17 year old is singing it rather than a balding dreadlocked man in his forties.
6. Stevie Wonder – ‘Isn’t She Lovely’
Don’t worry, you’ll get used to Aplin’s little chit-chats at the start of the videos. It’s like the introductory bit all chat show hosts do by rounding up the events of the week. I actually find it charming. Makes it all more real. This is a short cover, but Aplin really does it justice, and can really hit the high notes of the chorus.
5. Katy Perry – ‘California Gurls’
At seventeen, Aplin is already clever enough to know that one take is not enough. Unhappy with her original version of Katy Perry’s summer smash ‘California Gurls’, she decided to go back and rework it. It’s a fun track, and this pop feeling remains on Aplin’s stripped-down acoustic cover. Check out when she really gets into her stride around 2:20.
4. The Script – ‘Breakeven’
Aplin is just as at home on piano as she is on guitar, and this breathy cover of the Script’s enormous ballad ‘Breakeven’ is a beautifully restrained version of the heartwreching tune.
3. Kings of Leon – ‘Use Somebody’
The biggest songs are always the hardest to cover. You already had so much exposure to them, that cover versions very rarely do them justice. However, Aplin’s covers always do the original justice. This one is a bit like Pixie Lott’s take on the song. Except for one thing, it’s better.
2. Two Door Cinema Club – ‘Undercover Marytn’
“The most indie song I can find that I actually like”. Proving that not only does Aplin have a great voice, but she has great taste in music too. A wonderful cover of Northern Ireland’s best new band of 2010.
1. The Killers – ‘Mr Brightside’
When Brandon Flowers sings it, it seems upbeat, positive, and anthematic. But when Gabrielle Aplin sings it, you really listen to the lyrics. It’s heartbreaking, and most of all, gorgeous. Absolutely, unbelievably gorgeous. And this is probably a song you’ve already heard dozens/hundreds of times. But you’ve never heard it like this before.
HM. You Me at Six – ‘The Liar and the Lighter’
This is Aplin’s original success story, with over a million hits, but I particularly like this live version at the B-Bar in Plymouth. It’s not the best video of it, but her voice is crystal clear. I was never a huge fan of the original band nor the original song, but Aplin’s is nothing like the original. It’s miles better. Check out the version on her new EP, with the production qualities, it’s just fantastic.