From The Beatles to Nirvana: Billie Eilish’s 7 best covers
Time and time again, Billie Eilish proves that she isn’t a one-trick pony nor a one-hit-wonder. Her song ‘bad guy’ may well have been one of the biggest songs of the 2010s but ever since that she has continually made strides both artistically and professionally. As well as being a truly gifted singer and songwriter, she has also been a mainstay of Santa Claus’ ‘nice list’ after consistently standing up for the oppressed, sharing her own personal issues to help others and, in general, being an all-round good person.
That’s all well and good but the reason a huge audience fell in love with the teenager and her music isn’t that she is simply talented — and she certainly is — but because she is unique. Oddly, one of the easiest ways to see this uniqueness come to light is by revisiting some of her searing covers. Eilish has always thrown her weight behind her music no matter the content, and on the covers below she arguably matches the originals. We’ve picked out seven of the best.
Eilish may be one of the more unique artists around musically, but she really shines when covering the songs of others. It may sound like an easy thing to take charge of, a cover, but, in truth, it’s challenging to find the right balance of paying tribute to the source material and putting your own spin on a classic. Doing too much of one will ruin the rendition, and Eilish walks this tightrope with the ease of a trapeze artist.
In fact, it is how she approaches the songs which showcase what kind of artist she truly is. Never one to try and overpower the song with her personality, the singer (usually accompanied by her longtime collaborator and brother Finneas) operates in a magical spot of being clearly appreciative of the material as well as making it her own. It’s the kind of technique and skill which shows that Billie Eilish is certainly here to stay.
Below, we’ve pulled together seven of the singer’s best covers as a way of reminding us all that we’re just living in Billie Eilish’s world.
Billie Eilish best covers:
‘Sunny’ – Bobby Hebb
Performed as part of one of many livestreams that have littered 2020, Eilish took on the classic song ‘Sunny’ from Bobby Hebb and made it a cracker. This event for the World Health Organisation and Global Citizen welcomed Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones as part of the performance, but Eilish stole the show.
Sitting next to her brother and producer Finneas, Eilish takes on the song, ‘Sunny’, which she says “made me feel good and I wanted to make you guys feel good.” It’s a beautiful cover, flecked with the brevity of the situation we’re all in while attempting to offer some warmth and a light at the end of the tunnel. Now that we can see that light, it makes this emotional cover all the more poignant.
‘Yesterday’ – The Beatles
Billie Eilish took on one of the most iconic songs ever written and somehow made it unique and timeless at the same time. The Oscars is a big stage for any performer, but for the teenager, it posed one of her biggest audiences to date. Perhaps with a degree of unwitting foresight, she ditched performing her soon-to-be classic James Bond theme song ‘No Time To Die.’ Instead, Eilish picked up The Beatles and Paul McCartney’s universal anthem ‘Yesterday’ and made it her own.
Alongside her brother Finneas, they sat by the piano as the In Memorium section of the evening began; The Oscars paid tribute to stars of the industry who have passed away since the last awards ceremony including Kobe Bryant, Rip Torn, Doris Day and Peter Mayhew to name a few.
The performance was more than worthy of the occasion, and Eilish’s vocals were as perfectly balanced between raw talent and expert expression as they’ve ever been.
‘Something’ – The Beatles
Continuing to show her affections for the Fab Four, Eilish has also taken on the song that Frank Sinatra called the “greatest love song written in the last 50 years,” the beautiful George Harrison-penned number, ‘Something’. A universal love song, the track is considered one of the band’s best.
Eilish picked the song as part of her recent Apple Music show saying: “I remember listening to this song when I was in love, or whatever, and yeah. This song really, once again, got me. I don’t know. I think that it’s such a well-put song. I think the lyrics say something that I barely hear, and I feel like lots of people are saying something similar, but I feel like only The Beatles could say exactly this.”
The singer paid her respect to one of the foundational stones of pop as we know it today: “It’s such a thing that we feel, it’s such a human feeling. So this is ‘Something’ by The Beatles. Also, everybody knows that The Beatles were the main, probably, pool of music that we listened to growing up. This is one out of basically all of their songs that I loved and adored growing up, but this one really stuck with me.”
‘Bad’ – Michael Jackson
Picking up a controversial artist’s most ironic work is a dangerous game but Eilish’s cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ for Triple J’s feature ‘Like A Version’ is pure attitude and artistic command.
It sees the singer and her brother Finneas deliver a strong, controlled and authoritative performance of what has become an uncomfortable song in 2020. The real beauty of the performance comes from just how far removed it is from the legacy of the song.
The teenager’s vision for the rendition is clearly defined, well played in consideration of her mammoth single ‘bad guy,’ and quite frankly at least a match for the original. An acoustic number it still manages to possess all the modernity of one of Eilish’s own.
‘You Don’t Get Me High Anymore’ – Phantogram
While Eilish has always been happy to pay tribute to the icons of the 20th-century music scene, highlighting her unavoidable musical chops as she does, she has also taken on some more modern covers too. Recorded as part of BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge, Eilish provides one of the standout moments of the series.
“This is one of my favourite songs,” she tells the audience, “and I might bomb it, so here we go,” she says with a wry smile, perhaps knowing that the scenario was never really that likely. Her breathy vocal is perfectly mixed with Finneas’ closed guitar chopping until she breaks clear and raises the pitch a few octaves, proving her range is more impressive than you’d care to admit.
‘Fallin” – Alicia Keys
With R&B goddess, Alicia Keys taking on hosting duties for James Corden’s Late Late Show, the singing credentials of the show jumped up a few notches. When she asked Billie Eilish to join her, they flew up a few more. Naturally, the green-haired singer is a big fan of Keys’ work, anyone her age would have rightly seen the ‘Fallin” singer as an idol. But the extent of her adoration was revealed by Eilish when she shared home footage from a performance of hers at the age of twelve.
The young Eilish on the tape performs a truly remarkable cover of Keys’ aforementioned anthem and delivers a scintillating rendition of the track. Considering she was so young, it’s an astounding piece of footage and perhaps suggests that Eilish’s explosion was always likely to take place at some point or other.
‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ – Nirvana
“My daughters are obsessed with Billie Eilish,” Dave Grohl announced last year “The same thing is happening with her that happened with Nirvana in 1991. People say, ‘Is rock dead?’ When I look at someone like Billie Eilish, rock and roll is not close to dead!” It drew many comparisons between Eilish and Kurt Cobain, and while they may rest on attitude alone, there’s no doubt that she possesses a similar artistic ethos to Cobain.
While she’s not made an official studio cover of Nirvana’s seminal classic, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, this fan-shot footage of her performing the song with her ukulele is a taster of how great it could be. There’s something pure and fragile about the performance majority of which coming from Eilish’s vocal, but also the insistence of the crowd not to let others drown her out. It’s a signifier of Eilish’s