As fans of an artist’s music, listening to familiar songs feels nice. For example, you might listen to great R&B hits from the most successful R&B artists or headbanging to the best rock songs from your favorite rock bands. Yet, it’s equally amazing to hear something completely different from what these artists usually do, as it shows just how talented and versatile they indeed are. BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge allows artists to do exactly that.
The Live Lounge is a segment on the British radio show where artists perform two songs – one of theirs (the one they’re promoting) and another of a different artist’s, which is usually from an artist whose genre is quite different from what they typically do. While some artists upload their covers on popular music platforms, these performances and covers are all available on YouTube.
With that, if you’re ever feeling bored, would want to check out some random videos on the platform, or are just curious about other artists’ takes on hit songs, here are seven best BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge covers:
1. Foxes – Happy
A stark contrast to Pharrell Williams’ original, Foxes turns Happy’s 2013 dance-pop and neo-soul sound into a slow, somber electronic version. Foxes sings Happy’s fun and uplifting lyrics on top of a constant piano melody and soft drumbeats and merges these with sounds (and some lyrics) from Massive Attack’s Teardrop. It might seem too melancholic to fit the taste of some listeners, but the cover’s brilliance lies with the way Foxes manages to transform a dance track into one that tugs on a listener’s heartstrings, earning this cover a spot on the list.
Aligned with the cover’s divergent sound, Foxes approaches Happy as a song that talks about the feelings of pretending to be happy, reinforced by a voiceover that seems to say, “[he] looked happy. Underneath, it just wasn’t that way at all.” The tempo does speed up and gets a bit close to Williams’ song, but the cover ends the same way it starts – cleverly reflecting what being “faux happy” feels like.
2. Kodaline – Latch
Kodaline delivers a stripped-down version of Disclosure’s (feat. Sam Smith) Latch, pouring out the emotions of falling entirely in love differently from how Sam Smith does. It’s almost as if Kodaline is singing more about the desperation and longing that comes with being in love instead of its highs. The members’ amazing vocal harmonies and how they blend their hit song All I Want into their cover (you might get goosebumps like others) make the song feel like their own. With its simplicity, Kodaline’s version is easy to listen to yet still successfully allows the band to connect with you emotionally.
3. Kings of Leon – Dancing on My Own
If the Live Lounge covers had “classics,” certainly, this cover would be a part of that list. Most of those wandering around YouTube looking for song covers have most likely heard Kings of Leon’s cover of Robyn’s Dancing on My Own and might have fallen in love with it. Some might have even heard it first before the original (for some reason). For the latter, it might have come as a shock to listen to Robyn’s original track sounding utterly different from the rock ballad that Kings of Leon turned it into.
Perhaps those who have a particular passion for rock music would rank this song high in their lists, but either way, it’s difficult to deny how well-made this cover is. Much slower than the original, the instruments come together perfectly to accompany Followill’s powerful vocals. Robyn’s Dancing on My Own is already painful, but Kings of Leon takes that pain to a whole new level with this cover.
4. The 1975 – thank u, next
To some, it would be surprising to see this cover belong in a list of top Live Lounge covers, either because so many people didn’t like it (as some YouTube comments have shown) or that this song made it instead of the What Makes You Beautiful cover by the same band. If you agree or weren’t surprised at all, it’s nice to find someone on the same page who thought this cover was an absolute genius. Ariana Grande’s addictive pop goodness is repackaged into a cover in what seems to be a mix of R&B, jazz, and soul.
Reminiscent of The 1975’s If I Believe You and Nothing Revealed/Everything Denied, the bass, drums, piano, and saxophone blend well with Healy as he sings with the choir that sounds insanely good. Maybe it’s the drawn-out ‘thank you’ or how relaxing the cover sounds, but all in all, you can feel your ears get blessed with this cover.
5. Paramore – Passionfruit
Despite the bountiful amount of covers from the Live Lounge, Paramore’s cover of Drake’s Passionfruit remains a favorite of many. Performed in the same year when After Laughter came out (2017), Paramore again leaves listeners astonished with a stripped-down version of Drake’s R&B track mixed with Paramore’s music flavor. The constant beats and guitar plucking make you want to keep searching for and listening to this cover. Besides that, Williams delivers the lyrics with pure emotion while sounding brilliant as always and weaves Drake’s Hold On, We’re Going Home towards the end.
6. Do I Wanna Know – Hozier
There are lots of covers of this Arctic Monkeys classic, and just as much, people have different opinions about each one. Do I Wanna Know, specifically, is well-loved by many to the point that it’s a bit difficult to please avid fans of the band or appreciators of the track (which is pretty fair, honestly). However, despite setting this high standard, Hozier’s cover is a favorite of many.
You can’t deny how absolutely stunning Hozier’s vocal ability and unique vocal tone is, so just from that, you’d know that the cover is terrific. But what seals the deal is how different the cover is from the original – the upbeat rock track transformed into a laid-back cover that draws on the familiar folk and soul sounds you’d hear from other Hozier songs. If the narrator’s emotions are disguised with the fun and catchy music in the original, the calm and slow of Hozier’s version expresses these emotions out in the open. You can even interpret the lyrics differently from the sound itself – from experiencing the anxiousness about the uncertainty of a relationship to the thoughts of someone dealing with a breakup.
7. Hold On, We’re Going Home – Arctic Monkeys
A bit of a combination of the last two songs is a cover of Drake’s Hold On We’re Going Home done by Arctic Monkeys. What is it with brilliant artists making good covers of Drake’s hits? No idea, but they also always sound so good! It’s no different with Arctic Monkeys’ cover as they turn Drake’s R&B, synthpop track to precisely what Arctic Monkeys’ branding sounds like. The drums and bassline are as addicting as most of their songs, and Turner’s iconic vocals complete this brilliant Live Lounge cover.
That’s it for the list of Best Live Lounge covers. Have you listened and found a favorite among them? Perhaps you agree or disagree with some of them? Admittedly, more covers are done by other talented artists that might not have made it to this list, but it’s up to you to explore and find the ones that fascinate you the most. It’s a lot of fun to do so, too!
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