Which Cover Of Drake’s ‘Passionfruit’ Is The Best? We Investigate

Drake's 2017 hit has been reimagined in A LOT of different ways.

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Were one to make a time capsule for the year 2017, there’s no doubt that a copy of Drake’s ‘Passionfruit’ would go in.

In the 12 months since it came out, ‘Passionfruit’ has become one of Aubrey Graham’s biggest hits to date. And if the variety of artists who’ve stepped up to reinterpret the song is anything to go by, it’s also had a massive widespread appeal.

There’s a myriad ‘Passionfruit’ covers out there — type “Passionfruit cover” into YouTube and you’ll be met with around 374,000 results — to get through them all would take days, maybe even weeks.

It’s worth investigating, however, eight of the most notable covers of Drake’s hit to see who is the best at making you want to keep listening to this motherfuckin’ record. From worst to best, here’s how the grades stack up.

#8. Leroy Sanchez & Will Gittens

These two have chalked up over a million views for this cover, and it’s easy to see the appeal. They’re perfectly capable, reality show-friendly vocalists with strong diction, clarity and more boyish charm than you can poke a stick at. You half expect them to stick a finger in their ears as they sing, or start pointing at the notes Xtina-style.

There’s an artificiality to the performance one just can’t shake, and the vocal runs each takes in lieu of instrumental breaks are total overkill. It sounds perfectly pleasant, but it’s far too quote-unquote “nice” to hold any longer-lasting impact.

Final Grade: D+

#7. J. Fla

Our next cover comes to us from Korea, where Jung-Hwa Kim — aka J. Fla — is a much-celebrated YouTube singing sensation. This cover alone has racked up an impressive four million views — and it’s not even close to being the most popular video on her channel.

Admittedly, one is left wondering if there’s anything more to this than meets the eye after initial viewings. It’s a straightforward, shot-for-shot remake of the song — save for oddly excluding the atonal synth blurts and chopping it down to three minutes.

Kim’s vocals are pleasant, but it’s ultimately a faceless operation.

Final Grade: C+

#6. John Mayer

The king of the guitar face added in an acoustic rendition of the song to a set last year while on tour for his LP The Search for Everything.

He moves the entire arrangement of the song over to a solo guitar (not a guitar solo, thanks) and does what he does best for covers: makes it sound like a John Mayer song. Actually, given it’s about a long distance relationship and things not working out, perhaps it’s closer to a John Mayer song than we may have initially thought.

Not particularly imaginative, but a good effort all the same.

Final Grade: B-

#5. Franz Ferdinand

Performed live as a part of The Strombo Show in Canada, the Scotsmen decided to pay tribute to the hometown king while in Toronto. It’s admittedly a gamble — especially considering Alex Kapranos decided to croon his way through the song not unlike Sinatra or Bacharach.

Credit to the band, however, for exploring ways around taking the computerised arrangement of the original into the live environment. Bob Hardy’s bass playing is exceptional, while Dino Bardot’s addition of a Nile Rodgers-esque guitar strum is a nice touch.

Sure, it’s a little “how do you do, fellow kids,” but endearingly so.

Final Grade: B

#4. Boyce Avenue

White Guy With Acoustic Guitar trio Boyce Avenue have made an entire career out of covering big hits and posting them to their channel. It was inevitable that they’d get around to ‘Passionfruit’, but this is way better than it has any right to be.

Transposing the key up a few steps is a small but substantial change to the song’s arrangement, allowing for Alejandro Mazano’s voice to hit a certain sweet spot.

The arrangement of acoustic, electric and percussion also works surprisingly well — particularly changing the distinctive snare at the end of the eighth bar over to the cajon.

Final Grade: B+

#3. Angus & Julia Stone

The most recent addition to the bunch, the Stone siblings performed the song as part of their appearance on Like A Version just two weeks ago. As they are wont to do, they take on the vocals together to create a dual tonality while their impressive backing band fill out the arrangement with high-end guitar chirp and a warm layer of keyboards.

It’s all lovely, but as the song draws to a close after the second chorus there’s a sense that something’s missing. That’s quickly subsided by the ace up their sleeves: trumpets playing in harmony! What a horny finale.

Final Grade: A-

#2. Mura Masa and Tom Tripp

Another cut from the BBC Live Lounge, Mura Masa is clearly a big Drizzy fan — his previous cover in there was another Drake cut, ‘Controlla’.

Of all the covers, Masa’s easily has the most imaginative re-imagining of the beat itself — there’s loops of harp strums, steel drums, a stronger percussive backbone and a unique undercurrent of synths.

The only slight drawback is the performance from guest vocalist Tom Tripp — while fine, his vocal take feels somewhat phoned in; leading one to believe this could have been a truly top-shelf instrumental. Perhaps that can be arranged next time?

Final Grade: A-

#1. Paramore

For their version in BBC’s Live Lounge, Paramore’s touring ensemble strip back to basics and soften the edges to create something unique. At the centre remains the vocal — Hayley Williams takes Drake’s melody and tweaks it just enough to suit her distinctive voice, truly making this version her own.

The polyrhythmic guitars play glistening arpeggios against a shuffled drum machine beat, adding a heightened sense of dynamics to a song that otherwise drives home an incessant loop. As it stands, this is far and away the most popular cover of ‘Passionfruit’ on YouTube — and deservedly so.

Final Grade: A+

David James Young is a writer and podcaster who spent the better part of an hour listening exclusively to ‘Passionfruit’ for this feature — but probably would have done it anyway. He tweets at @DJYwrites.