Big Machine Records
Despite her best efforts to the contrary, Taylor Swift has become better known for her personal life than for her contributions to the musical landscape, but that doesn't mean she isn't the best lyricist of her generation.
These Taylor Swift covers show that songwriting is still her superpower, even if her singles can be overproduced or overtaken by narratives that she would rather be excluded from and never asked to be a part of since 2009.
This 2014 mashup of "Blank Space" and "Style" might be the most famous Taylor Swift cover *ever* thanks to our favorite cat lady sharing the YouTube video on her Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts. Why Taylor had Google+ to begin with is beyond us, but a few days after Christmas, Tay gave Louisa Wendorff and featured artist Devin Dawson the best belated gift off all time when she plastered their video across the interwebs. Five years later, the harmony-laden mashup has over thirty-six million views and counting, and the widespread exposure helped Louisa rack up over 336 thousand followers.
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This cover is more than just a mashup, it's a full-blown medley. Back when Tori Kelly was still a few months away from being signed by Scooter Braun, she collaborated with fellow YouTuber AJ Rafael on this ode to T. Swift, covering "Mine," "You Belong With Me," "Everything Has Changed," "Sparks Fly," "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," and "I Knew You Were Trouble" in a seamless five-minute video. "Taylor Swift Medley" only has two million views, making it surprisingly under-the-radar for one superstar covering another's greatest hits.
Vance Joy basically turned "I Know Places" into a Vance Joy song to celebrate joining the 1989 singer as an opener on her world tour in 2015, but we aren't complaining. The beginning notes sound super similar to "Georgia" before Vance jumps into a hauntingly beautiful rendition of "I Know Places," punctuated by his sexy, silky Australian vocals. The calming cover speaks both to Vance's strong grasp on his personal sound and Taylor's enduring ability to write a poignant ballad even underneath Jack Antonoff's hit-or-miss production.
Look at these fetuses! Long before Camila Cabello would go solo and join Tay on her Reputation World Tour, Fifth Harmony put their twist on the title track from Taylor's fourth studio album, Red. We can guarantee you won't be able to get their riff on the song's chorus out of your head. The quintet performed this cover on the Harmonize America Tour, Neon Lights Tour, and the Worst Kept Secret Tour, but sadly never released an official recording of their arrangement.
Tay herself brought the world's attention to Brooklyn Duo's instrumental cover of "Blank Space," calling it "a song people should walk down the aisle to" in a now-deleted tweet. This full-bodied classical rendition of the single legit brought us to tears, with the cello and piano arrangement bringing a new depth to the song even without its tongue-in-cheek lyrics. If you fell in love with this epic interpretation, the duo recently covered "ME!" on their channel, which is a song that could absolutely benefit from someone removing all of its lyrics.
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Honestly, thank God for the BBC1 Live Lounge. The same series that gave us Shawn Mendes's cover of "Psycho" by Post Malone and Miley Cyrus's "Summertime Sadness" also delivered a smooth, grooving reggae cover of "Shake It Off" by English singer Labrinth. The undeniable beat shifts into a soaring horn section topped only by his R&B-tinged vocals that turns the controversial single into an effortlessly likable, feel-good anthem that blows the thousands of other interpretations of Tay's first pop hit out of the water.
Two Broadway stars and a strings duo can't go wrong. An underrated Swift banger gets the star treatment from Shoshana Bean, best known as the first star to take over the role of Elphaba in Wicked following Idina Menzel's departure, teams up with The Color Purple's Cynthia Erivo for a pitch-perfect gothic anthem. If you haven't heard of Cynthia yet, don't worry — you will. The star is poised for a mainstream film breakthrough, but until then, enjoy her riffing in flawless harmony with another of Broadway's biggest stars to "I Did Something Bad."
At 6.3K YouTube followers, we wouldn't exactly call Carley Hutchinson internet famous, but her polished aesthetic and stripped-down take on "Getaway Car" off of Reputation could have fooled us. Carley doesn't mess much with the source material, but this acoustic cover reminds us how much "Getaway Car" channels the Speak Now-era Taylor, from its country-style central allegory and confessional nature to its simple musicality. Between this take on "Getaway Car" and Taylor's own acoustic reimagining of "Dancing With Our Hands Tied," we have a feeling that the old Taylor isn't dead so much as hiding in plain sight.
Alessia Cara starts her acoustic version of "Bad Blood" at BBC Radio 1's piano sessions with a sung-through reimagining of Kendrick Lamar's featured verse which continues throughout her wonderfully arranged cover, proving time and again that she's cooler than we'll ever be. Alessia performed "Bad Blood" shortly after the release of her debut single, "Here," in 2015, so she was absolutely shook when Taylor dubbed the cover "AMAZING" on her social media. Attention from the track boosted "Here" to the number one position on the Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists chart practically overnight, long before we knew what that year had in store for the 18-year-old artist.
Samantha Harvey currently has nearly two million subscribers on her YouTube channel, but back when she covered "Gorgeous" in November 2017, she had just been signed to Virgin EMI and Capitol Records in the UK and was chilling at about 800,000 followers on the video-sharing site. Samantha turned "Gorgeous" into an alto's dream and slowed down the track as a piano ballad. We're still not thrilled that Taylor decided to rhyme "sad" and "mad" in the bridge, but the single heavily benefitted from nixing the weird dings and other symptoms of over-production. Oh, and in case you thought that was a dig at Jack Antonoff again, let it be known that Swedish pop auteur Max Martin and Shellback were responsible for this one.
Bluegrass cover series Pickin' On was created by CMH Records in the early '90s with the intention of taking the best bluegrass pickers from Nashville and California and making tribute albums to the biggest artists in rock music. After decades of covers, the series has expanded to include bluegrass covers of basically every big-name artist, including two albums filled with Taylor's music. We love this cover of "You're Not Sorry" because it takes a song from when Taylor was still ostensibly country pop and makes it into a twangy, down-home roots classic. Country and bluegrass might not technically be the same, but this is definitely more country than anything Taylor ever released.
Listen on Spotify!
Yet another gift from BBC Radio1, Tom Odell covered "I Knew You Were Trouble" back when he was still a rising star of 2013, and we were six months away from Tom blessing us with Long Way Down. Tom turns "I Knew You Were Trouble" into a legitimately depressing tune. TBH, it's a little yell-y for our taste, but you can't deny the pain in Tom's voice as he emotes through an alt-rock styling of the famously EDM-tinged hit. Have we found our new go-to breakup song?
Former American Idol contestant Rhea Raj has found a second life on YouTube, where she posts covers alongside her self-released originals. Rhea riffs her way through Future's verse like butter, a good indicator of what you can expect from the rest of her rendition. We're all here for her aesthetic, and we'll always stan a tonally-perfect queen in a giant pink coat. The arrangement itself rarely deviated from what you'd expect, but Rhea's vocals are so strong we honestly don't care.
There is a shocking amount of hard rock and metal covers of "...Ready For It?" on the internet, making it hard to choose just one to highlight as the best take on Taylor's Superbowl-ready opener. Fame On Fire's whole purpose in their rock and roll life is to make hardcore versions of popular songs, which might explain why their version of "...Ready For It?" was so damn catchy. It should come as no surprise that screamo isn't exactly our thing, but you've gotta respect lead singer Bryan James Kuznitz's vocals and Alex Roman's inspired drumming. It had us tapping our toes and ready to revisit our middle school headbanging days.
The Stevie Nicks of our generation covered Taylor's debut single for Spotify Singles, explaining on the streaming service's Under Cover podcast that she thinks "Tim McGraw" is one of the best songs ever written. Maggie Rogers's vocals follow almost an entirely different melody than the original chorus, but it's simultaneously entirely Taylor *and* entirely Maggie. Maggie explained that the difference comes from changing the tune to minor and that her cover shows how she finds her roots in the songwriting, then has fun with the production.
YouTube star Leroy Sanchez partnered with Maranda Thomas from Netflix's Canadian musical-drama Lost & Found Music Studios on this cover of Taylor's beloved bonus track "New Romantics." It has all the makings of a viral cover: impeccable editing, acoustic guitars, and a co-ed duo with perfect pitch and a penchant for riffing in harmony. We're obsessed with Maranda's R&B-tinged vocals, and you can hear the emotion in the duo's voices when they sing about all of the bricks that have been thrown their way.