From Mary J To Michael Bublé And…Raven-Symone? 10 Of The Best And Most Side-Eye Worthy Stevie Wonder Covers
As a musical icon who has been around since he was just a 13-year-old with a harmonica, Stevie Wonder has classics for days. And with any icon, eventually, people want to cover your jams. Such was the case with MJ and Prince, whom we covered already, but people have been trying to copy Stevie’s essence since the ’60s. The results have been good, but also sometimes questionable as hell. Here are 10 artists who tried to cover tracks from Stevie’s endless catalog of jams.
John Legend – Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing
If you’ve seen the movie Hitch with Will Smith, then you probably have had the chance to hear this remake. Produced by will.i.am, the track definitely kept the essence of Stevie’s original with all the instrumentals in the back and the piano arrangement. And Legend also did a great job vocally. Still upbeat, still fun. Now if only Legend could have broke out in some impromptu Spanish like Stevie did just to show he knows how to have some fun…
Jodeci – Lately
An oldie but goodie. This might be the best Stevie cover out there, hands down. Possibly even better than the original. The vocals by both K-Ci and JoJo were absolutely insane over the simple piano, and the men were hitting notes that we could only wish for from our male R&B singers of today (Ooooo yeah!). Plus, the cover also spawned the hilarious Martin skit where the title character jumps in to sing about his lady always saying she’s going to go to 7-Eleven for a Big Gulp but never coming back with one.
Macy Gray – Superstition
Citing it as a love letter to Stevie Wonder’s classic Talking Book album, Macy Gray decided to do an entire cover of the album, including trying her hand at the song, “Superstition.” Yikes! Gray already has a very unique voice, but that’s not what I didn’t like about the cover. It’s the fact that the song was taken in more of a slow, jazzy, damn near depressing direction compared to the funk-filled original. Great guitar and drums on here, but er uh…I’ll stick to the original.
Donell Jones – Knocks Me Off My Feet
There have been many people who’ve covered “Knocks Me Off My Feet,” including Tevin Campbell and Luther Vandross, but I think the cover that sticks out most to people is Donell Jones’ take. It’s not exceptional, but there’s something about it that works. He didn’t go over the top in the cover, and it definitely fit the time–1996. With all of that, it was a hit, but were you feeling it?
Mary J. Blige – Overjoyed
“Overjoyed” is actually one of my favorite Stevie songs because of its extraordinary production, so it’s going to be hard for any singers to really impress me with a cover. But Mary J. Blige definitely did her thing with her rendition. With the addition of an extra modern beat, the track sounds very close to the original. I will say though, there were parts during the song where I was hoping Mary was going to put her foot in it and hit some real high, goosebump-causing notes. However, she kept it pretty simple just to pay her respects for the classic. I’ll give it a B…what about you?
Michael Jackson – I Was Made To Love Her
Mike Jack was definitely an artist who had everybody and their mother trying to cover his music later in life, but as a young man, he showed his appreciation for the Stevie Wonder jam, “I Was Made To Love Her.” Before folks were calling it a “remix” of sorts, Michael made a once very upbeat track a more soulful groovy one with the help of a live band and some crooning we’re sure Stevie was proud of. I honestly prefer Stevie’s version because it’s more fun, but this one definitely is a must-hear!
Raven-Symoné – Superstition
I had to do it. “Superstition” is already a pretty funky, dance-worthy track, but imagine someone turning it into an actual pop/dance track. That’s exactly what Symone did when she covered the song for the Haunted Mansion soundtrack in 2003. There’s some auto-tune in the background singing, some synthesizers, keyboard…basically everything you can concoct in a studio. It’s actually not terrible, but I’ll most definitely pass…
Rufus – Maybe Your Baby
Chaka Khan can successfully cover just about anybody’s song and put her foot in it. While still singing with Rufus, the group covered the deep cut from the Talking Book album. Their version maintained the original‘s funk essence thanks to some very dope bass and Chaka’s screams over the track. And kudos to the guitar player who definitely had heads bangin’ (well, at least mine). It’s definitely a great, very funk-tastic cover.
Michael Bublé – You And I
My first introduction to “You and I” was during Good Times when Michael Evans sang it at Thelma’s wedding. It’s definitely a beautiful classic, so when I heard Michael Bublé tried his hand at covering it, I scoffed. I’m not really a fan of the singer, so my expectations weren’t the highest. But man, this guy’s voice is smooth. The cover is still incredibly beautiful, with a jazz sound this time around. And with all the thirsty Bublé fans, he’s made a lot of folks aware of Stevie’s genius who might have been living under a rock.
Donny Hathaway – Superwoman
Talk about a truly talented voice, man. The late Donny Hathaway decided to cover Stevie Wonder’s “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You?).” Vocally, he slayed this whole song from the beginning to the end, covering the track but slowing it down from the original’s usual more uptempo sound. I’m not going to say anybody sounded better than anybody else because, personally, I adore both of their voices. But what do you think of Donny’s mellow-smooth cover?