10 Cover Songs: When Women Do it Better
August 13, 2019
Why I Want Women to Cover More Songs by Men
Growing up, I loved music just as much as the boys my age, but for some reason, they seemed to be seen as the experts when it came to the music scene. Especially any genera that deviated from mainstream pop.
Boys were in bands, girls were either their girlfriends or “groupies/roadies”. When I finally got the nerve to learn how to play guitar, I had to endure being asked the same dreaded question every damned time I entered the guitar store: “Are you shopping for your boyfriend?”
It was as though the world thought having a dick somehow made you better at playing an instrument and singing songs with important messages. Female artists were largely resigned to solo acts and poppy love songs, while men belted out songs that evoked a range of strong emotions and inspired rebellion. It was the kind of music that moved me most…but I couldn’t completely relate, because it didn’t feel like it was meant for me.
Still, I bought the CDs and memorized my favorite songs, secretly changing the lyrics in my head so they fit my gender and it felt like I was the one singing instead.
Music & Misogyny
Even today, enjoying music written by men feels a little bit like walking through a field full of landmines. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught myself mindlessly singing along with the radio or my playlist when out of the blue I hear myself and suddenly realized the true nature of the sick, misogynistic shit coming out of my mouth. And honestly, the genre of the music makes no difference. One is no better than the other.
There are songs that refer to women as whores and demons for failing to return affections. There are songs that romanticize kidnapping, hurting and even allude to killing women. All wrapped up in a catchy little tune, listeners hardly even notice the messages they are rocketing to the top of the music charts.
While there’s little that I can do about these kinds of songs, what has had an impact on me is the rising number of female artists covering old and new songs written by men. There’s something exciting about this movement. It’s like female artists are cracking a hidden door open for women to step through. We can now fully enter that sacred musical space where music conveys more than messages about falling in love.
We get to hear the sound of rebellion carried on a woman’s trembling vocal cords. And when female artists do remake love songs written (or made popular) by men, we are allowed to experience passion outside of the conventional, heteronormative box that we’ve been forced into for most of our lives.
The following are 10 cover songs by women, that I personally love…and some may (in my opinion) be performed better than the originals. I’ll leave it up to you to form your own conclusion.
10 Cover Songs by Women
Killing in the Name by Sophia Urista (Originally by Rage Against the Machine)
Rage Against the Machine played at one of the first concerts I ever attended. It was one of the most powerful musical experiences I had had up until that day. I remember being crushed by sweaty men moshing on all sides of me. There’s something extra powerful about listening to this song being sung by a talented WOC. I could put this on repeat for hours.
War Pigs by Maya Azucena (Originally by Black Sabbath)
I’ll be honest, I could have cared less about Black Sabbath growing up. I could not relate. This female artist changed everything.
Heart-Shaped Box by Kawehi (Originally by Nirvana)
Oh Nirvana! Like any coming of age story that took place in the ’90s, Nirvana was the soundtrack to my adolescent years. I think it’s safe to say that Cobain would be sufficiently impressed with this cover. This woman has more talent in the tip of her little finger than most artists can ever hope to claim. I really love hearing this song in a woman’s voice.
Wake Up by Sophia Urista (Originally by Rage Against the Machine)
It’s my favorite Rage song…so I have to include it.
In The Air Tonight by Larkin Poe (Originally by Phil Collins)
Oh, Phil, I do love you, but this is something special. I get goosebumps. The original just doesn’t have the same effect.
Across the Universe by Fiona Apple (Originally by the Beatles)
I grew up with the Beatles, but to be fair, this was never one of my favorite songs. Now when Fiona sings it, it’s a whole different story. There’s also something particularly satisfying about watching the video. Fiona stays almost rebelliously calm as men loot and destroy everything around her…timely, don’t you think?
Love Song by Adele (Originally by The Cure)
This is a sexy song. As far as cover songs go, Adele made this one about a billion times sexier than The Cure ever could have.
I’m on Fire by Amy Macdonald (Originally by Bruce Springsteen)
First, before ya’ll freak out, I will admit, this cover song is not better than the original. Still, it’s a pretty great cover. And I love hearing this song in a woman’s voice.
Black Hole Sun by Norah Jones (Original Sound Garden)
This cover song also doesn’t ace the original, but it’s one hell of a moving tribute.
Wicked Game by London Grammar ( Originally by Chris Isaak )
Chris Isaak made the ladies swoon with this one…but so does London Grammar.
Final Note: I do realize that there have been powerful female musicians across time. I’m not denying that. So save your breath (angry little typing fingers) and time. I’m just pointing out that the music industry has been and still is largely controlled by men and is historically misogynistic.