2015 in Music: The 25 Best Covers of the Year

2015 in Music
Our 100 Favorite Songs of the Year

Sometimes all you need to appreciate a good song is to hear someone else’s cover of it.

While that’s not usually the case for the classics (s/o to “Torn,” “Lovefool” and “Imagine”), hearing some of these top 20 hits performed by a drastically different and unexpected top 20 artist really gave us a new appreciation for, say, Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean” and Ariana Grande’s “Problem.” In celebration of the songs we know and love, and the ones for which we could use hearing a new perspective, here are the best 25 covers from 2015 in no particular order.

Let’s kick things off with the queen of covers herself, Kelly Clarkson. She did a bangin’ rendition of Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” in June for BBC Radio 1’s live lounge:

Lady Gaga performed 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up” at the 46th Songwriters’ Hall of Fame awards in June, where she was honored with the first-ever Contemporary Icon Award. Rocking it in black-and-gold sunglasses and her bra, Gaga nailed her rendition of the song while Linda Perry, the group’s lead vocalist and songwriter who penned the hit back in 1993, watched in the audience:

Leighton Meester perfectly covered The Cardigans’ 1996 play on repeat over and over hit “Lovefool” for The A.V. Club in June, and ugh, she’s so amazing:

Demi Lovato showed off her incredible vocal range in this cover of Hozier’s smash hit “Take Me to Church,” performed at BBC 1’s Live Lounge in September. It will seriously give you chills:

The One Direction boys covered Natalia Imbruglia’s 1997 smash hit “Torn” at BBC 1’s Live Lounge in November. We’re forever in love with the original, but the boys did it justice:

Hozier covered the ever-catchy pop hit “Problem” by songstress Ariana Grande, and it’s quite amazing:

Selena Gomez did a sexy cover of Magic!‘s 2014 summer banger “Rude” for BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge in September:

Sia’s “Elastic Heart” was covered by punk band All Time Low in the Live Lounge in April, giving her beautiful pop song hit an acoustic treatment:

Ryan Adams1989 cover album was much-hyped and highly-anticipated after he shared some short clips on Instagram back in August. Here’s his dark version of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”:

Father John Misty covered Ryan Adamscover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” in the style of Velvet Underground. Yes, that’s a lot of artistic influences going on and yes, it’s freaking amazing:

Sleater-Kinney’s cover of the B-52’s “Rock Lobster” during their Terminal 5 gig over the weekend (as part of their five-night New York and Brooklyn stay) was incredible and featured a cameo by Carrie Brownstein’s Portlandia co-star Fred Armison.

“Hotline Bling” covers will never get old. Sufjan Stevens’ cover, featuring Gallant, is one of our favorite covers of Drake’s hit. Note the dance moves and all-around cute charm:

Justin Bieber also tried his hand at Drake’s “Hotline Bling” a couple of times, even remixing the original in October:

Brandon Flowers, Sheryl Crow, and Chris Stapleton came together this month to sing “Don’t Let Me Down” for John Lennon’s 75th birthday concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden, making for a very epic performance (even if you watch to only gawk at the swoonworthy Mr. Flowers):

Arguably the only cover of Adele’s “Hello” that will ever matter (because no one else’s will ever come close) is Miss Piggy’s:

Chvrches covered Biebs’ “What Do You Mean” at the Live Lounge in September, and dare we say we love the Scottish trio’s rendition a tad more than the original itself:

Coldplay performed a powerful cover of Lennon’s “Imagine” in the wake of the Paris attacks in mid-November. They were scheduled to perform a show in Los Angeles that weekend, but instead postponed the entire show and played just a short set in tribute to Paris.

Madonna also performed Lennon’s classic song for peace, “Imagine,” earlier this month in Paris as an impromptu street performance in tribute to victims of the November 13 terrorist attacks:

Florence + The Machine paid tribute to the Foo Fighters at Glastonbury over the summer by singing their song, “Times Like These.” Welch was promoted to headliner on that Friday night after Dave Grohl fell off a stage in Sweden and injured his leg, forcing the band to cancel their performance.

The English babes The Vamps covered Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” in the Live Lounge on Nov. 30, and we’re swooning:

Meryl Streep once again proved she could do anything, and sang Queen Gaga’s song “Bad Romance” in her film Ricki And The Flash, in which she plays a badass rock and roll singer-guitarist chasing stardom, but at the expense of her family:

Vic Mensa covered Future’s “Codeine Crazy” at Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago in July, and a couple days later even released a studio version of the song:

Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” was also covered by Imagine Dragons, who performed a mellow rendition at the Live Lounge in February and merged it with the classic song “Stand By Me“:

The Dean Ween Group covered the Eagles of Death Metal’s “I Love You All The Time” after the band gave their first interview since the Paris attacks, and called for other bands to cover the song in a show of solidarity, pledging to donate all of the publishing revenue to The Sweet Stuff Foundation in memory of the victims. My Morning Jacket also performed a cover during their concert at the Beacon Theater.

Miley Cyrus performed a beautiful, piano-accompanied rendition of “Silent Night” during Bill Murray’s A Very Murray Christmas special, which was released on Netflix on Dec. 4.