Ranking Drake Covers, from Lykke Li's 'Hold On, We're Going Home' to Florence +The Machine's 'Take Care' and More
Lykke Li covering Drake's "Hold On We're Going Home" has several media outlets excited today, although the song was first performed by the Swedish alt star during 2014. Naturally there's always a bit of interest when one prominent performer covers another from a different genre, but perhaps the homage to the Toronto emcee has piqued our interest even more because covers of hip-hop singles are rare...due to the mistaken idea that regular old vocalists can't convert raps to their style. Even if that were true, Drake makes for a favorable cover subject thanks to his blending of rhythms and melodies throughout. We gathered five Drake covers from various musicians and, uh, celebrities, and ranked them by how well it turned out.
05) "Marvin's Room" by Jonah Hill
Yes, that Jonah Hill. The actor and comedian was the entertainment at VICE's 20th Anniversary party last year, and not just doing what he was most comfortable with: Hill took the stage alongside guitarist Spike Jonze (usually a director during his day job) and performed a very brief, very comedy-laced take on Drake's "Marvin's Room." Hill would later report that he hated being onstage and was peer-pressured by Jonze...it's evident in the way that the actor tries to put off actually rapping for as long as possible while introducing the bit with comedy. He opens the cover by claiming to have been slighted by the actual rapper. "Sent you a panda emoji dawg," he said, describing a probably-fake incident. "I saw that dot-dot-dot," he continued, before noting that the rapper never actually got back to him. We don't feel bad ranking Hill low, as he understands as well as us that rapping was never his thing.
04) "Hold On, We're Going Home" by Lykke Li
Apparently the sudden hype for Li's Drake cover stems from the new treatment that she performed for a feature in Vogue this month. "Lykke Li is a maximalist who presents as a minimalist," writes the fashion magazine of the performance. We're not sure they know what they're talking about, but there's no doubt that the alt-pop vocalist's rendition of the single is all minimalist: The percussion is at minimal volume, leaving a simple synth to accompany Li's mournful vocals. It's those vocals that confuses us most about this performance: Drake, while often brooding, is rather gentle and playing the "good guy" during "Hold On"...almost makes us feel good inside. Li's best moments are at her most bleak, such as last year's "Gunshot," and it doesn't translate here.
03) "Hold On, We're Going Home" by The Arctic Monkeys
This cover might seem surprising, not just because of the obvious difference in musical style between Drake and The Arctic Monkeys, but because the latter rock band has often continued the Oasis tradition of badmouthing things that aren't pure rock 'n' roll. The band's approach to the single probably still justifies the "rock" classification but the group tunes down its sound a whole bunch. Frontman Alex Turner makes a rare appearance without his guitar in this video from BBC Radio 1's "Live Lounge" program, which admittedly makes it all the more fun to watch...let's just say Turner's stage presence is much better when he's got an instrument to work with. His vocals are perfect for the track however: There's little doubt that Drake was trying to turn on the sexy when he recorded this number and those who've seen the Arctic Monkeys live know that sexiness is a vocal quality that Turner excels in.
02) "Take Care" by Florence + The Machine
Apparently Drake is a popular source of inspiration for performers on the "Live Lounge" program, as Florence + The Machine opted to cover the rapper's "Take Care" when it appeared on the show. It's interesting to listen to frontwoman Florence Welch describe the track prior to performing, citing Drake and Rihanna as among her favorite artists. Rihanna certainly makes sense, based on Welch's personal style (but Drake is more surprising). Welch is tasked with handling the parts of both for this rendition however and that proves even more interesting. The vocalist is known for her epic pipes but she doesn't sacrifice any of her capabilities when rehashing Drake's faster, more rhythmic parts, resulting in a product that sounds remarkably different from the original, without bastardizing its original intent.
01) "Take Care" by SoMo
What? Think we're just biased toward "Take Care" as a song? Maybe, but R&B vocalist SoMo does more than just cover the track from Drake's 2011 album. When he says he's covering "Take Care," he actually means he's covering Take Care, the album as a whole. The vocalist gained fame during the early part of the decade by performing medleys comprised of hits from other artists, and his best example was when he took Drake's Take Care and constructed a six-plus minute set that seamlessly combines the rapper's variety of styles, from aforementioned "Take Care" to "Practice," a song that's virtually a cover of Juvenile's "Back That Azz Up." If it seems lame that SoMo became famous by covering other performers, just realize that most of the biggest names in popular music did the same thing...The Beatles and Elvis Presley among them. The performer would release his first LP of original material during 2014, debuting at no. 6 on the Billboard 200.