For fans of both mainstream and faith-based music, you don't have to look very hard to find Christian artists covering some of today's most popular hits. In some cases, the cover versions are better than the originals, showcasing the true level of artistry to be found in Christian music.
Here is a list of some of these song. Comment if you have a favorite we missed!
"Photograph" by Jordan Feliz
Ed Sheeran scored accolades for his hit single "Photograph." In an era where sincere ballads are passé in the mainstream, Sheeran defied the norm to satisfy listeners looking for a First Dance song for their wedding. Earlier in the year, Christian sensation Jordan Feliz released a fantastic cover of "Photograph," mirroring Sheeran's raspy vocals. Feliz's cover, included as a bonus track on the deluxe edition of his album Beloved, sounds like the original: acoustic guitar, romantic piano and programmed drums. Listen to the two versions; at first listen, it'll be hard to tell the difference. For more of this sound from Felix, you can pick up his 1 Mic 1 Take EP here.
"City of Stars" by Jason Gray
The musical film La La Land was a nominee for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards. Despite not taking home that honor, La La Land did win six Oscars, including Best Original Song for "City of Stars." The film's lead actors Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone sang the tune as a beautiful duet. Shortly after the Oscars, Christian singer Jason Gray released an acoustic version of "City of Stars." In his version, Gray used a similar arrangement: a piano solo with vocal accompaniment. Gray first released the song on YouTube, and most recently as part of The Acoustic Sessions EP, available on iTunes here.
"Scars To Your Beautiful" by Carrollton
Canada's own Alessia Cara hit a home run with "Scars To Your Beautiful." The piece has an uplifting message of self-worth. In my opinion, the song speaks truth over the impossible standards of the perfect body set by today's mainstream media, a standard which leaves people feeling inadequate because their body doesn't fit what society deems as acceptable. Cara wrote the song based on her own experiences with bullying and hair loss. Christian band Carrollton released a heart-touching cover video of the song. The band wrote on their Facebook page: "As husbands and fathers we love what this song says, we think it's a message that is so relevant to today. We hope you take a moment to give it a listen." To hear more messages Carrollton is passionate about, you can get their new album Everything or Nothinghere.
"Don't Stop Me Now" by Marc Martel
Few voices are as instantly recognizable as that of Freddie Mercury, the late frontman of definitive classic rock group Queen. Mercury's untimely passing left the powerhouse group lacking a frontman. A few years ago, the remaining members of Queen decided to assemble the best musicians they could find for a special tribute tour. Enter Marc Martel--lead singer of Canadian Christian band Downhere and vocalist extraordinaire. His audition for Queen's tribute tour, singing the hit "Somebody to Love," quickly found its way to viral fame. After years imitating Freddie on stage, Martel is primarily back to creating his own music these days, but not without nods to his time in Queen: his upcoming covers EP features a phenomenal take on the classic "Don't Stop Me Now."
"Hunger Strike" by Seventh Day Slumber with Kevin Young of Disciple
"Hunger Strike" is not your typical ballad: it was a defining song in musical history. Did you know that "Hunger Strike" is the first song to feature the vocals of Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam? Did you also know that "Hunger Strike" is a duet between Soundgarden's lead singer, the late Chris Cornell, and Vedder? Temple of the Dog, the band that released "Hunger Strike," consisted of Cornell and the future members of Pearl Jam: Mike McCready, Jeff Lament, Matt Cameron, Stone Goddard and Vedder.
Seventh Day Slumber, along with Disciple's lead singer Kevin Young, sang a "Hunger Strike" cover on the band's five-song EP Redline. Seventh Day Slumber donated all proceeds from "Hunger Strike" to many non-profit organizations with a focus on helping lessen childhood hunger.
"Numb" by Manic Drive
The death of Linkin Park's lead singer Chester Bennington rocked the entire music industry. Many bands and artists, from Skillet to Switchfoot to Brian "Head" Welch, left their condolences for Bennington on social media. Some artists and bands even released covers of Linkin Park's hits. Canadian pop band Manic Drive released a cover of "Numb" on YouTube in memoriam.
"Heavy" by Peter Hollens and Jamie-Grace
Prior to Bennington's passing, pop artist Jamie Grace collaborated with YouTube star Peter Hollens to cover "Heavy," a hit from Linkin Park's last album One More Light. The band themselves even responded, complimenting the vocalists' take on the hit song. Hollens would later release an extra tribute to the singer following his death, featuring a mash-up of hits like "What I've Done," "Shadow of the Day," "Numb," "In the End" and "One More Light."
"Nickelback Medley" by Anthem Lights Anthem Lights impacted the Christian music industry with their self-titled debut in 2011. Originals like "Can't Get Over You" won over listeners. However, their continued rise in the industry was not due to their infectious music. Anthem Lights' claim to fame is their acapella covers of mainstream hits, including Imagine Dragons' "Demons," Taylor Swift's "Wildest Dreams" and Carrie Underwood's "Something in the Water." In recent years, Anthem Lights have moved from singing individual hits to unique medleys and mashups. These mashups usually comprise of an artist's greatest hits. Recently, the quartet released a Hunter Hayes medley--with Hayes singing with them. The quartet also released a well-arranged medley of Nickelback's rock hits: "How You Remind Me," "Photograph," "Far Away" and "Someday." Anthem Lights will be releasing a new album of original recordings, titled Painted Skies, later this month.
"The Living Years" by Newsboys/ "Another Day in Paradise" by Big Daddy Weave
Legendary rock band Genesis has released a myriad of hit albums over the years. Three artists from Genesis-- Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Mike Rutherford--have also achieved success as solo acts. Many songs the artists have released are oriented around social issues, which have caught the attention of Christian artists. In 2008, on their album What Life Would Be Like, Big Daddy Weave covered "Another Day in Paradise," one of Phil Collins' biggest hits. Likewise, Newsboys covered Mike Rutherford's (that is, Mike & the Mechanics) "The Living Years" on their 2013 album Restart. Francesca Battistelli covered Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" on her 2013 album Hundred More Years.
For more Christian artists covering mainstream hits, listen to our Spotify playlist below.
Phill Feltham is a Canadian journalist with over eight years of experience writing and editing content for print and digital media. He specializes in health, fitness, nutrition, travel, and the power grid. He loves music, movies, and, of course, living for Jesus. Highlights of Phill's work can be found on his portfolio site PhillFeltham.com and his official blog, The Weekly Wanderer. Phill lives out his faith with his wife, Jodi, in the Greater Toronto Area.
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