Sure, 2016 had plenty of incredible songs delivered by some of music’s biggest names as well as a handful of brilliant ditties from newcomers. But amidst those new releases were a lot of pretty kick-ass redone versions of both new and old tracks, and we’ve rounded up 10 of our favorites from the year.
Sarah Hyland/Boyce Avenue, “Closer”
?The cover gurus and ?Modern Family? star teamed up to create perhaps the most viral cover of 2016, which gave The Chainsmokers‘ chart-topping hit a second wind just as it was starting to dwindle from the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
Panic! At The Disco, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
After covering the Queen classic in concert for quite some time, Brendon Urie and his boys finally got the chance to record their version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” as part of the Suicide Squad? soundtrack. The song might not have quite the same affect as if you were to hear it in person, but the recorded rendition still brings on the chills.
Sturgill Simpson, “In Bloom”
One of the more unrecognizable covers from the year, country rocker Simpson took on Nirvana‘s 1992 single as if he were the original artist to sing it, turning it into a much chiller version.
Childish Gambino, “So Into You”
Donald Glover has championed hip-hop as his rapping alter ego, but when the Atlanta star took on Tamia‘s ’90s R&B slow jam, he showed fans that his voice can also sound smooth as silk.
?Rihanna, “Same Ol’ Mistakes”
Rihanna‘s take on Tame Impala‘s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” was literally a form of flattery, as she simply wanted to cover the song because she loved it — which resulted in a flawless RiRi rendition. It even warranted a shout-out from the OGs of the trippy track: “We’re all really happy with how the song turned out, love it!,” Tame’s frontman Kevin Parker said in a statement to NME.
Calum Scott, “Dancing On My Own”
The British singer revealed the despair of the lyrics to Robyn’s dancey pop hit, turning it into a heartbreakingly slow-tempoed track for his own version. As fun as the original may be, Scott’s painfully truthful cover apparently resonated with Robyn fans and beyond — his cover has more than double the views of Robyn’s recording.
Local Natives, “Ultralight Beam??”
If there’s one type of group to cover a Kanye West song, an indie band isn’t exactly the first to come to mind. But when Local Natives sang the Life of Pablo track while paying a visit to the Spotify Studios in NYC, they proved that wrong.
Dixie Chicks, “Daddy Lessons”
Like many listeners probably caught upon hearing Beyonce’s ?Lemonade?, “Daddy Lessons” definitely has a country undertone — and the Dixie Chicks took that and ran with it when they performed overseas in May. It was clearly an effective cover, as the country trio got to perform the song with Yonce herself on the Country Music Association awards just six months later (and there’s now a single version of the duet).
VÉRITÉ, “Somebody Else”
The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter begins her version of The 1975‘s heartbreaking ballad in similar fashion to the haunting opening that the British rock group provides, but she quickly makes the song her own by giving it a bass-infused pop beat.
Shawn Mendes, “Fake Love”
The most recent addition to the cover bunch, Mendes decided to try adding rap to his resume by covering some Drake in the BBC Live Lounge. Except instead of channeling his fellow Canadian’s swag, Mendes put his soulful heartthrob touch on the track to turn it into a song that could easily be mistaken for a tune that’s heard on his album Illuminate.
Because these three covers were done by the people who had a hand in writting the songs, we couldn’t count them in our official list. But because they’re that good, we couldn’t let them go unmentioned either.
Taylor Swift, “This Is What You Came For”
A somewhat controversial choice after the ghostwriting drama her Nils Sjöberg pseudonym caused with Calvin Harris, Swift added the Rihanna-sung hit to her setlist at the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, in October.
Ed Sheeran, “Love Yourself”
While it was no secret that Sheeran co-penned the No. 1 song with Justin Bieber, the British singer never sang his own version (partially due to his year-long hiatus he was on when the song came out). During what was his first performance in more than a year at a charity event in London, Sheeran decided to give it a go — and said that it may be the only time he’ll ever do so.
@edsheeran performing the song he wrote for @justinbieber pic.twitter.com/oPTif59Hux
— Mike (@miketomlinson) November 30, 2016
Bruno Mars, “All I Ask”
Following an interview where Mars called Adele a “diva” when talking about their songwriting process for one of her 25 heartbreakers, he put his own flair on the track in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge.