alternative covers of pop songs, pale waves, girl in red, yungblud, Sofía Valdés
[Photos via: Pale Waves/Brian Griffin, girl in red/Jonathon Kise, Yungblud/Tom Pallant, Sofía Valdés/Spotify]

While we love when artists gift us with never-before-heard songs, there’s just something about a cover that will always get us excited. 

Since the Punk Goes Pop days, scene artists covering pop tracks have been a popular trend, and vice versa. Through unexpected collabs and covers, we’ve discovered mainstream artists who are truly scene kids at heart. And we learn which rock legends can’t get enough of modern pop sensations, such as Billie Eilish and Harry Styles. Alternative artists put just the right spin on pop music that is literally music to our ears. 

Read more: 10 things you never noticed about your favorite emo songs

And it seems like pop covers in the scene are only getting more popular. Remember that full-length covers album Weezer dropped a couple of years back? Or just look at how Miley Cyrus has crowned herself the queen of rock and metal covers. And during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, many artists passed their time in quarantine by delivering totally unexpected covers right from home.

We decided to round up 10 covers of pop hits from alternative artists that encapsulate everything we love about them showing appreciation for their fellow musicians.

“Save Your Tears” – girl in red

Most recently, girl in red transformed the Weeknd’s ’80s-inspired hit “Save Your Tears” into a pop-punk banger. The Norwegian singer got rid of the synth beats from the original and replaced them with gritty guitars and heavy drums. Upon first listen, you might not even realize this track was originally released by the R&B hitmaker and not an alt-pop sensation. 

“Waterfalls” – Death Cab For Cutie

To celebrate the runoff elections in Georgia at the beginning of the year, indie vets Death Cab For Cutie released an entire EP covering songs from bands who originate from the state. It includes the ‘90s R&B classic “Waterfalls” by TLC. Death Cab For Cutie keep the song’s sultry and slow vibe but put a softer edge onto it that goes well with Ben Gibbard’s signature vocals. 

“Chandelier” – Damien Rice

Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice has been in the music business for years but showed a new side when he covered Sia’s “Chandelier” in 2020. The song, which is typically high-energy and anthemic, is transformed into a haunting ballad.

“Circles” – Dashboard Confessional

Post Malone songs have been covered by several bands in the scene, and vice versa—the rapper has proven time and time again that he can sing anything. A favorite of ours is Dashboard Confessionals rendition of “Circles,” which stays true to the original. However, something about the vocal delivery makes it have a twinge of emo, and we love that. 

“Sign Of The Times” – LANY

Who doesn’t love Harry Styles in the year 2021? The pop star is everywhere, so it’s no surprise that artists across genres love to cover his songs. LANY transform the rock track into an electro-pop dream filled with synths, echoing vocals and a dramatic piano moment. 

“drivers license” – jxdn

Olivia Rodrigo‘s debut single “drivers license” not only broke the internet but everyone’s inner teenage heart, too. jxdn gives the song an alt-rock edge on this cover, featuring pop-punk vocals and bombastic guitars. 

“The Sweet Escape” – Sofía Valdés

Post-No Doubt days, Gwen Stefani was ruling the pop charts, particularly with her Akon collab “The Sweet Escape.” Sofía Valdés gives the 2000s throwback a bedroom-pop spin reminiscent of artists such as Clairo. Her sugary-sweet vocals make the catchy song into a romantic ode. 

“22” – Pale Waves

Artists in the scene just have a way with Taylor Swift covers, and the Pale Waves rendition of “22” is no exception. The band make the original bubblegum-pop track into an alt-rock banger, complete with all the atmospheric guitar. 

“Love On The Brain” – Machine Gun Kelly

Machine Gun Kelly proved he can sing anything while releasing daily covers last year from home during quarantine. One of the best is his rendition of Rihanna‘s “Love On The Brain,” which is gritty, dark and, of course, has a little bit of that MGK attitude. 

“Best I Ever Had” – YUNGBLUD

YUNGBLUD is another artist who just knows how to make any cover sound like his own song, even this rendition of Drake’s “Best I Ever Had,” which he mashed up with “Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys. He’s also covered Taylor Swift, Amy Winehouse, Dua Lipa and more, and let’s hope he never stops.

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