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The 7 wildest, coolest, most beautiful covers of iconic Canadian songs

From k.d. lang and Drake to Carly Rae Jepsen and Leonard Cohen.

From k.d. lang and Drake to Carly Rae Jepsen and Leonard Cohen

Kaia Kater covers K-OS and Donovan Woods covers Alanis Morissette. (Courtesy of the artists)

Some songs know us better than we know ourselves. 

The anthems that echo inside our hearts, like secrets shouted inside an empty cave. The instant classic kind of song that seems sucked from our bones or dreamed in the hives of our minds. Music and lyrics that feel borne in the blueprint of our DNA; songs as maps helping us find our way home.

But there's always more to know — about a song, about ourselves — and that's what's so special about these seven tracks. All are either iconic songs or songs by iconic artists (or both), covered by other Canadian artists whose treatments range from a shift in perspective to total and utter reinvention.

Some of these covers are a fun twist on a familiar story, while others will shake you to your core. All of them are invitations to engage even more deeply with the Canadian music we love.  


Song: "Constant Craving"
Cover artist: JG Ballad (formerly Diamond Rings)
Original artist: k.d. lang

JG Ballad's bouncy, bumpin' cover of k.d. lang's massive breakthrough presents a different kind of sexy yearning — think sleek and self-assured rather than passionate and plaintive — that's faithful to the source material without being servile. This is a club-ready reimagining that's a perfect invitation to contemporary audiences who might not be familiar with the evocative mastery of lang's original.


Song: "Back in Your Head"
Cover artist: Hannah Georgas
Original artist: Tegan and Sara

Hannah Georgas's gorgeous treatment of Tegan and Sara's pop classic is a full reinvention and yet still honours the delicate, spiky genius of the original. Featuring the Weather Station's Tamara Lindeman, "Back in Your Head" sees Georgas take to the piano to evoke a haunting moodiness, a spare and almost sombre take on Tegan and Sara's otherwise hopeful, hyped-up heartbreak anthem. 


Song: "Ironic"
Cover artist: Donovan Woods
Original artist: Alanis Morissette

Donovan Woods' folk-rock cover of Alanis Morissette's classic pop hit is genuine in its love and admiration for the original. This treatment trades the barbed-wire humour of the cover for something a bit more gentle and laid back without sacrificing the emotional whammy of the narrator's final confession about meeting "the man of my dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife."  


Song: "Hotline Bling"
Cover artist: Danielle Andrade
Original artist: Drake

Danielle Andrade's spare and stripped-down cover of Drake's blockbuster single catapulted the young artist into the spotlight. Devoid of any bravado, Andrade's ultra-vulnerable reinvention actually amplifies the narrator's frustration with themselves rather than the unnamed object of the song. 


Song: "Call Me Maybe"
Cover artist: JP Maurice and the Matinee
Original artist: Carly Rae Jepsen

JP Maurice and the Matinee's super fun bluegrass-folk twist on Carly Rae Jepsen's instant pop classic suits the song so incredibly well it seems unfathomable that "Call Me Maybe" hasn't become an Americana cover staple. 


Song: "Crabbuckit"
Cover artist: Kaia Kater
Original artist: K-os

Kaia Kater is a contemporary bluegrass sensation, but she proves she's equally adept at an electro-jazz interpretation of K-os's catchy "Crabbuckit." Kater does tremendous work, paying respects to the original while also setting her version apart as a brilliant standalone creation.


Song: "Show me the Place"
Cover artist: Zaki Ibrahim
Original artist: Leonard Cohen

Zaki Ibrahim's thrilling, soulful rendition of Leonard Cohen's rueful, droning ballad is a masterclass in how to cover a song. Her arrangement is epic, but nothing is as powerful as Ibrahim's delivery; every line vibrates on a different frequency thanks to the sunset hues of her captivating voice.

Follow me on Twitter: @_AndreaWarner