Toronto’s catchiest cover songs

Drizzy stunned the city with a sleek take on Jackson Browne last week. Here, a collection of the city’s catchiest and craziest recent covers

Drake shows his sensitive side

Drake could release just about anything and Torontonians would gleefully gobble it up. Exhibit A: “Things I Forgot to Do,” a newly leaked cover Jackson Browne’s “These Days.” It’s a collaboration with Babeo Baggins, a member of the obscure Tumblr-born rap collective Barf Troop who somehow became buds with Drizzy. It’s not that the track doesn’t deserve repeat listening—Drake nails his vocal line, making it equal parts sexy and sensitive. It’s just that, well, did anyone really predict Champagne Papi would cover a song written by a guy who sang about spotting girls in flatbed Fords in Winslow, Arizona? So far, videos of the leaked song have been taken down—and swiftly put right back up.


A sombre ballad version of “Sorry”

Drake took a folk classic and turned it into modern pop; local singer-songwriter Peter Katz does the opposite with Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.” The velvet-voiced troubadour dispenses with the tropical percussion and sparkling synths and injects slow guitar progressions, choral chants and all the emotions the Biebs is pretending to feel. At 80 bpm, turns out the song is devastatingly sad.


The instrument you never knew “Lean On” needed

There’s some five-star cultural appropriation going on in Major Lazer, DJ Snake and MØ‘s Bollywood-style video for “Lean On”—a shame, considering the pulsing club anthem is so damn catchy. Luckily, Brampton’s Shobhit Banwait gives the song a shot of Indian percussion that you don’t have to feel icky about.


A dream-pop Kanye cover

Every month in 2016, Stars is releasing a new cover. Their January (Bob Dylan) and March (Colin Vearncombe) tunes were solid, if standard, picks for an emotive indie outfit. February’s choice, a piano-led rendition of Kanye West’s distorted “Street Lights,” was totally unexpected, making it all the more brooding and beautiful.



“Hotline Bling,” performed entirely with phones

Everyone has covered Drake’s Nintendo-beat-backed, meme-generating jingle: Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara, Lights, Kalle Mattson, Bob Dylan (kind of). The most impressive of the bunch is Toronto YouTuber Andrew Huang’s sweetly silly “Hotline Bling,” created completely with iPhone chimes, landline taps and rotary-dial spins.


A clubby Alessia Cara cover

Prodigious Australian producer Flume found worldwide fame with his remixes of Lorde, Sam Smith and Disclosure songs. A couple of weeks ago, he dropped a deep, droning take on Bramptonian Alessia Cara’s anti-social anthem, “Here,” featuring the work of fellow Toronto singer Kai and Perth electronica diva Kučka. It sounds like the soundtrack of a party Cara would hate.


“The Hills” à la Michael Bay

The Weeknd’s shrieking single was ominous enough on its own, but, just in case you’re not scared yet, here’s a 360-degree “The Hills” remix featuring an exploding car, Abel Tesfaye’s eerily blank face and a couple of characteristically intense verses from Eminem.


An effed up Alanis cover by Fucked Up

Jagged Little Pill turned 20 last year, and so hardcore heroes Fucked Up recorded a cover of “All I Really Want” for CBC. We’re betting it’s the angstiest thing Canada has ever produced.


A time machine back to Y2K

Remember Wheatus? For the nine of you who said yes, here’s “Teenage Dirtbag” as ironically (we assume) covered by Toronto glitch-poppers Tokyo Police Club.



A classic from cover kings Dwayne Gretzky

We’d be remiss not to include a tune by Toronto’s excellently named all-cover supergroup Dwayne Gretzky, a mishmash of Arkells, July Talk and Sweet Thing members. You can watch this take on “Blinded By The Light,” recorded live at the Dakota Tavern, from the sweat-free comfort of your own home.


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