Alexandra Villarreal
Updated April 12, 2015

“Without music, life would be a mistake,” Nietzsche is oft quoted as saying. And he was right: Music gives the world a rhythm and a beat as we move along through happiness and hardship. It surrounds us, on the radio and TV, during our morning commutes and at dinner, and every couple of months, a few songs manage to distinguish themselves, whether because they’re innovative, ubiquitous, or both. Funnily enough, we mortals aren’t the only ones who notice when a tune resonates. Pop stars and rock bands listen to the Billboard 100, too. Sometimes, a song is so engaging, so hummable, so darn good — Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” Lorde’s “Royals” — that it inspires other musicians to forgo any feelings of envy or competition and instead pay homage to the classic by making it a little bit their own. Occasionally, this allows for the creation of something even more beautiful, or beautiful in a totally different way. Here are a few cover songs that take the originals to new heights:

Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness” by Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” by London Grammar

Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop” by Ed Sheeran and Passenger

Passenger’s “Let Her Go” by Birdy

Birdy’s “Not About Angels” by Jasmine Thompson

Ed Sheeran’s “Sing” and Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” by Rizzle Kicks

Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” by Maroon 5

Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” by Vance Joy

Vance Joy’s “Riptide” by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” by Imagine Dragons

Arctic Monkeys’ “Do I Wanna Know?” by Chvrches

Lorde’s “Royals” by Jason Derulo

Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” by Paramore

Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” by Sam Smith

[Image via Shutterstock]