We Ranked The Best Lorde Covers From Good To Epic

Girl loves to put her spin on a classic.

Lorde Covers

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If we’ve learned anything over the last year, it’s that Lorde loves a cover song.

In fact, she always has: if you dig far enough back through YouTube you’ll find her versions of Kings Of Leon’s ‘Use Somebody’, Nirvana’s ‘All Apologies’, The Replacements’ ‘Swingin Party’ and a bunch of Kanye covers including ‘Hold My Liquor’ and ‘Flashing Lights’.

But over the last year her obsession has reached fever pitch. Ella Yelich-O’Connor has performed a new cover song at almost every stop on her Melodrama world tour, which kicked off in September last year — just last weekend she took on Frank Ocean’s 2012 track ‘Lost’ at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound festival.

So it’s worth going back over the last Year Of Our Lorde and seeing which covers stand out from the pack. Here are eight of the best, ranked from worst to best.

#8. Drake — ‘Shot For Me’

When she can, Lorde tends to cover tracks that have a connection to whatever city she’s playing in at the time (she always covers her best mate Kanye West when she’s in Chicago, for example) so it was inevitable that she would pick a Drizzy song for her tour stop in Toronto.

She chose the Take Care cut ‘Shot For Me’, stripping the track down to its bare, piano bones. It’s a nice arrangement, but there’s one problem: whatever way you cut it, ‘Shot For Me’ just isn’t that interesting a song — and you’re left wishing that she’d used the opportunity to take on one of Drake’s bigger and better melodies, like ‘Hold On We’re Going Home’.

Final Score: 6/10 

#7. Phil Collins — ‘In The Air Tonight’

If you were forced to sum up Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’ in one word, you would go with “anticipation”.

We may all leap to replicate the track’s iconic drumming, but what really makes ‘In The Air Tonight’ a masterpiece is the sense of tension and anticipation that Collins builds up throughout the eerie verses. And if there’s any artist that knows how to create an eerie atmosphere, it’s Lorde.

The only downside to Lorde’s fairly faithful rendition is that it fails to blow the lid off that tension. The drums should burst in and blow your ears out, but Lorde’s err on the side of caution — a fatal error. They come with a whimper, when they should be a bang.

Final Score: 6.5/10

#6. Bruce Springsteen — ‘I’m On Fire’

In March 2014, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band opened their Auckland show with a surprise acoustic version of Lorde’s hit ‘Royals’ — a rare contemporary cover by the rockstar.

Lorde finally turned the favour last year, dropping Springsteen’s 1984 classic ‘I’m On Fire’ into her set in Christchurch. It’s another simple arrangement — Lorde’s voice hovers over guitarist Ray Suen’s rumbling electric guitar — but it lends the song an arresting eeriness that isn’t present in the original.

Blending it into her own track ‘400 Lux’ is just the icing on the cake.

Final Score: 7/10

#5. The 1975 — ‘Somebody Else’

Lorde’s take on The 1975’s 2016 track ‘Somebody Else’ is definitely the most faithful to the original of any of her recent covers. Instead of paring the track down, she keeps the arrangement almost identical.

“It was one of my favourite songs [of 2016],” she tells the Paris crowd. “It really influenced Melodrama, it influenced the tones and the colours and the emotions.”

You can see why: with its heady cocktail of heartbreak and longing, ‘Somebody Else’ could have been a Melodrama B-side.

Final Score: 7.5/10 

#4. Robyn — ‘Hang With Me’ (With Tove Styrke)

This isn’t the fist time Lorde’s taken on Robyn’s Bodytalk track ‘Hang With Me’ (she played it a few times with collaborator Jack Antonoff at the end of 2016) but this particular one is, by far, her best rendition.

More than anything, it demonstrates Lorde’s gift for picking tracks that work brilliantly when reworked as ballads. The original ‘Hang With Me’ is built on a classic thudding Robyn beat, but Lorde’s version reduces the instrumentation to a solo piano — which floats under her and Tove Stryke’s gentle vocals.

You might not be able to dance to it, but you can definitely cry your eyes out.

Final Score: 7.5/10 

#3. Carly Rae Jepsen — ‘Run Away With Me’

The idea of reducing ‘Run Away With Me’ to a meek piano ballad is one that strikes fear into the heart of any Carly Rae Jepsen fan. So much of the appeal of the original lies in the galloping chorus, the gloriously overblown instrumentation, the iconic saxophone riff. 

To take the meat off its bones could have spelled disaster, but once again Lorde’s instinct is bang on the money. Accompanied again by Antonoff, she turns Jepsen’s romantic belter into a tender plea.

Final Score: 8/10

#2. St Vincent — New York

There’s not much you can do to improve on St Vincent’s ‘New York’ — which might be the most devastating track Annie Clark has ever written. Lorde’s version doesn’t divert much from the original, simply replacing the piano with an acoustic guitar played by Antonoff, who produced ‘New York’.

The staging between the two artists is wildly intimate — at one point Antonoff shuffles so close to Lorde that he’s practically hitting the microphone with his cap.

It was so intimate in fact, that this was the moment that spawned all those rumours of the two of them dating (they’re not, apparently.)

Regardless, you can definitely see why it crossed everyones minds.

Final Score: 9/10

#1. Martha Wainwright — ‘Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole’

Two days before she took the stage at Montreal’s Osheaga Festival, Lorde’s headlining set at Lollapalooza in Chicago was cut short after three songs after dangerous weather tore through the festival site.

It looked like history would repeat itself at Osheaga, which had been hit by the same weather system that was barrelling across North America. But it held off just enough for Lorde to perform, which was lucky, because it allowed us to witness Lorde’s greatest cover to date.

She took on Montreal native Martha Wainwright’s magnum opus, ‘Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole’, imbuing with just as much hatred and frustration as the original. Her voice even cracks with rage in the chorus.

Coupled with the pouring rain, and a white dress that wouldn’t be out of place in a Kate Bush music video, it made for a truly special moment.

Final Score: The limit does not exist. 

Jules LeFevre is Junkee’s Music Writer. She’s still crying from watching all these videos. Follow her on Twitter.