Some of our favourite musicians have made use of the festival platform to honour (and in some cases, mock) other artists by covering their songs.
While an artist’s performance at a music festival can include their greatest career-spanning hits to debuting their new, unreleased albums; some of our favourite musicians have sometimes managed to pull quite the surprise during their performances by dropping covers of another musician’s song. Most times, these covers came from a place of tribute, while some other times, they managed to mock the original musician too.
The Sherp picks up the 10 most spectacular covers to ever take place at a music festival.
1. Prince pulls out Radiohead’s Creep at Coachella
There is nothing more satisfying and just than one legendary musician covering another. You can not even begin to imagine the crowd reaction when Multi-instrumentalist genius Prince pulled out a surprise cover of Radiohead’s creep during his Coachella headlining performance of 2008. The rather moody performer, then, blocked his own video of the cover on YouTube, prompting several fans to upload their poor versions of the same. Radiohead on their part are wishing he uploaded the song again, soon.
2. The White Stripes singing Dolly Parton’s Jolene at Glastonbury
Dolly Parton’s cherubic Jolene might give away the demeanour of happiness; but it implies darker themes of insecurity. The rather angsty garage rock duo The White Stripes had a go at the song during their set at Glastonbury 2002. Jack White’s shaky voice has always provided ample opportunity to work with agony, and he did so perfectly with Jolene’s nervous lyrics, as he and Meg White channeled their raw, knuckle smashing aggravation on the music, making it one of the most painfully memorable renditions of the song.
3. Florence + The Machine belt Foo Fighters’ Times Like These for Dave Grohl
Dave Grohl’s leg injury caused his band, Foo Fighters to pull out from being the Headliners at Glastonbury 2015; when the organisers roped in band of the moment Florence + The Machine as replacement headliners. As a tribute to the band they replaced, Florence Welsh belted out Foo Fighters’ Times Like These, but not before dedicating this beautiful message –
We would like to dedicate this next song, to the legend and all-round incredible human being, Dave Grohl. He was so incredibly kind and supportive to us when we were first starting out and we were so sad to hear he broke his leg because we love him so much. And Dave if you are listening..we love you, we all love you! And we hope through the Glastonbury ley lines this gets to you and you feel better…we’re sending you so much love. This one’s for you Dave.
The cover is both goosebump and tear inducing, and from we heard, Dave Grohl shed a mighty number of the latter, upon listening to the dedication. This is what he had to say about the performance –
When we cancelled and they were searching for a replacement I prayed they’d just move them to the top of the bill because they fucking deserve to be there. I was so excited when they announced they would, I emailed Florence to congratulate her. The day after the gig, someone sent me a link to the performance and I cried like a fucking baby. It melted my fucking heart. I am forever indebted to them. It meant so much, you have no idea.
4. Jay Z mocking Noel Gallagher by singing Oasis hit Wonderwall
Rap and hip hop mogul Jay Z’s inclusion in the traditionally rock Glastonbury lineup of 2009 invited severe reactions from all quarters. While his fans from the east were obviously thrilled, rock music fans, in particular, were not very delighted. Adding his two cents to the feud was the rather wordy Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher; who boasts of quite the reputation gained from pissing off many a music geniuses. Calling Jay Z’s inclusion ‘wrong’ for a festival such as Glasto, Noel completely rebuffed the record-breaking producer. As a retort, Jay Z took to the stage strumming a guitar and singing Wonderwall, before leading it to a rap segment, making quite the headline.
5. Kanye rapping to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody
If you thought Jay Z at Glasto 2009 had the poor deal, spare a thought for Kanye West, whose addition as the headliner for Glastonbury 2015 even managed to propel an antagonising petition to recall him from his haters. Unfazed by the obnoxious flag of Kim that an audience member chose to carry, Kanye took to the stage by singing out Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody before progressing on to the set. While Queen fans were horrified, it truly was one unique rendition. To be fair, it was more of a sing along than an actual cover, but it was quite the introduction.
6. Sam Smith paying a tribute to Amy Winehouse at Lollapalooza
If there is one contemporary music icon whose music inspired the works of million, it’s Amy Winehouse, who passed away too young. Crooner and all-round heart touching person Sam Smith has never hid his admiration for the late singer-songstress. He made his love for her all too apparent by rendering her a tribute at Lollapalooza this year. The singer gave one of the most touching, nuanced performances of Amy’s ‘Tears Dry On Their Own’ and the crowd swayed with emotion.
7. One rock band to another : Muse does a Nirvana
One cannot discount the influence that grunge rock group Nirvana had had, not just on rock music in general, but many other generations of rock bands as a whole. In 2014, when alternative rock band Muse were chosen as Coachella headliners, the band went on to perform a cover of one of Nirvana’s most popular songs, Lithium. There was incredible brilliance to be witnessed as Matthew Bellamy lent his grunge vocals to the song; making it one of the best covers of the song to have ever happened.
8. Moon Taxi attempt a David Bowie at Austin City Limits
David Bowie is the king of experimental music extraordinaire; having streamlined a unique sound of pop art to have ever existed, become a cultural icon in more ways than one. When indie-progressive favourites Moon Taxi tried to cover David Bowie’s Fame at Austin City Limits 2015, there was warranted scepticism. Except, the band pulled it off in a truly individualistic style as you would want them to.
9. Everyone’s favourite crooner, Hozier did The Beatles’ Blackbird
Hozier is known for hitting the right wavelength when it comes to soulful rendition. The man’s thin velveteen voice proving the perfect fodder for croons of neanderthal kind. At Life is Beautiful festival, the rather sombre singer hit quite the peppy rendition of The Beatles’ rather demure Blackbird; giving it the chirpy undertone we never knew we wanted. But he walked away proving that he was one of the strongest vocalists we have.
10. The Weeknd surprises his audience with Beyoncé
If there is one combination that is irresistibly seductive, it’s when everyone’s new favourite The Weeknd pulls Bey’s songs, like he did when he belted out Beyoncé’s Drunk in Love at Lollapalooza 2015. It’s safe to say that the crowd went tizzy with excitement, as he put forth quite the pop-synth take of the popular hit.