I LOVE COVERS, which is why I was disappointed to have been underwhelmed by Ryan Adams’ cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989. It was fine, I guess, and good for him for working out his feelings through art, or whatever. But it didn’t do a lot for me. There’s just something eminently coverable about her music, though, so much that there’s even a list of her own favorite covers of herself.
Will you like my favorite covers? The ones I like best often bring a new genre into the game (besides “really good a capella singing” and “white people do acoustic rap covers”), but keep enough of a song’s kernel to be recognizable. There can’t be too much irony involved (disqualifying this one), either–you can be self aware, but if you think you’re too cool for your source material normally the cover won’t do it for me. So if that’s what you’re looking for, you probably will enjoy this list of best Taylor Swift covers:
10) Teddie Films – We Are Never Ever Gonna Cook Together – If you only watch one Breaking Bad themed Taylor Swift parody in your life, watch this one.
9) Breaking Conspiracy – Blank Space – A cute pop punk cover! But I mean, everyone covering this song is intentionally mispronouncing “Starbucks lovers” right?
8) We Came As Romans – You Belong With Me – Another cute pop punk cover! I liked pop punk in high school and will always have a weird soft spot for those Pop Goes Punk! compilation albums.
7) Sheep – You Belong With Me – I am like a little in love with this cover but thought it was a little too off-brand for the main list.
6) Postmodern Jukebox
I mean okay, if you’re into covers and weird genre music, you’ve probably already listened to these. It’s kind of their thing. But it’s the thing they do best! This one is my favorite, but also check out Blank Space and Shake It Off.
5) Father John Misty – Welcome to New York
Okay, this is pretty meta, and also Lou Reed appeared to Father John Misty in a dream and told him to delete these covers, but once you put things on the internet they’re there forever, so I’m including them. Plus, since I’m team Rhett Miller, I’m used to ribbing Ryan Adams when it seems like he needs it. Misty released Blank Space as “My reinterpretation of the classic Ryan Adams album 1989,” and added in some Velvet Underground riffs, making it a pretty nice jam. But I’m really into Welcome to New York, which keeps up the Velvet Underground influence, giving you some jangly guitar that you could dance a little to at the club’s indie dance night.
4) Emilie & Ogden – Style
Much like Ryan Adams’ album, Emilie (and her harp, Ogden) explores the melancholy side of Taylor Swift’s pop jams. It’s elegant, and is sort of a meditation on the evergreen heartbreak of the James Dean boy.
3) Diane Rein – Shake It Off
Rein owns this song, basically, playing all the parts to a blue band that you might find in a bar that’s only filled with locals. The bare bones of TSwift are there, but everything else is repackaged, melancholy, and ambling along.
2) Drendge – Bad Blood
This is probably my least favorite Taylor Swift song. But instead of a hyper-real scifi ballad, this song is leading up to a full on brawl, and I’m into that. This kind of makes Bad Blood sound like a Frightened Rabbit track, which is all I could ask for in live.
1) Screaming Females – Shake It Off
This is my ultimate favorite Taylor Swift cover, from the A.V. Club’s Undercover series, and it’s also the inspiration for this list. It’s everything I love in a cover; the song is recognizable, but is so sufficiently twisted that it’s pulled out of its comfort zone. And Marissa Paternoster’s vocals are huge, and King Mike’s bass adds that familiar groove.
Bonus: My favorite cover done by Taylor Swift, Vance Joy’s Riptide, because pop stars doing covers but not flipping the pronouns to make the song straight again is my kryptonite.