Covers I Loved in 2016

The Year's 27 Most Powerful Cover Tunes

I am an avid lover and steadfast supporter of cover songs. Any and all kinds of cover songs. Sometimes, they are country tunes being performed by country artists. But other times, I might also fall for a country singer covering a pop song. Or a pop singer covering a country song.

Sometimes, it’s a song that’s been captured on video, like an impromptu backstage jam. And other times, it’s only captured in my memory, like Cole Swindell singing old Clay Walker tunes for me during an interview on his bus.

These are a mix brand new songs and timeless classics, and they come from both rising artists and legends.

These are the 27 covers I loved the most during the past year or so.

Eric Church doing George Jones’ 1999 song “Choices.”

Tim McGraw covering “Rose Garden,” the 1970s Lynn Anderson hit.

I celebrated anyone covering Maddie & Tae’s “Shut Up and Fish,” but especially this quirky rendition from Tegan Marie.

I was never a big Nirvana fan, until I heard Sturgill Simpson do “In Bloom.”

I was never a big Lorde fan either, but hearing Craig Campbell on “Royals” changed my mind.

Jon Pardi singing Randy Travis’ “Deeper Than the Holler,” and talking about how meeting Travis “teared me up a little” kind of tears me up a little, too.

Faith Hill’s “Breathe” got the Danielle Bradbery treatment, and it nearly took my breath away.

LOCASH doing an old TLC song? I wasn’t so sure, until I heard them on “Waterfalls.”

Chris Young has the kind of voice that makes him perfect for covering anything. But especially Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing At All.”

I saw this country rookie Tyler Barham at a house party, and have been obsessed with his covers ever since. Like this one of Jake Owen‘s “Anywhere With You.” And Owen himself is pretty amazing on covers himself. This is him doing “Comfortable” by John Mayer.

Kelsea Ballerini doing Blake Shelton’s “God Gave Me You” with nothing but her voice and a side man on guitar, and then Nashville newcomer Eloise Alterman singing Ballerini’s “Peter Pan.”

Cam on Patsy Cline. Prepare to go “Crazy.”

Kacey Musgraves reaching way back for this Hank Snow cover of “I’ve Been Everywhere.”

This was the first song I heard from Kane Brown, when he covered Chris Janson’s “Buy Me a Boat.” And Brown’s cover of Trace Adkins’ “Every Light in the House Is On” is just as good.

And this was the first time I ever heard Janson playing harmonica, on Johnny Cash’s 1955 “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Brett Young on “Begin Again,” a song I thought I’d only ever love when Taylor Swift was singing it.

Jackie Lee (and his family) blowing the crowd away with Brooks & Dunn’s “Believe.”

After Prince’s death this year, the Dixie Chicks covered his songs while they were on tour. This one, “Nothing Compares 2 U,” was the very best. And meanwhile, Miranda Lambert kept on covering the Dixie Chicks’ “Cowboy Take Me Away.”

Cole Swindell covered a song he wrote for Luke Bryan, “Rollercoaster,” while Sam Hunt covered Swindell’s heartbreaking ballad “You Should Be Here.” Both are outstanding.

Ballerini killed it on Little Big Town‘s “Girl Crush,” while Little Big Town covered Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”

Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” was released about a year ago, so 2016 was packed with covers of the song. This Dylan Scott one was my favorite.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.