With the proliferation of televised singing competitions and the rise of the YouTube superstar, the cover song is now more popular than ever. Fans who shell out for summer concert tours have come to expect more than just the artist's hits — and thankfully, most superstars are happy to oblige. Here are some of the better pop covers from the past couple of months.
Kelly Clarkson's cover of "We Found Love," originally by Rihanna
Kelly Clarkson unveiled one new fan-requested cover on each stop of her 2012 summer tour, sometimes out-performing those who made the songs famous. She took Rihanna's synthy hit into a soulful direction in Virginia Beach.
One Direction's cover of "Use Somebody," originally by Kings of Leon
Those who doubt 1D's vocal talents should check out the lads' interpretation of this 2008 alternative hit, which they took on tour in early 2012. Harry's never been dreamier.
Nelly Furtado's cover of "Feel So Close," originally by Calvin Harris
Furtado's acoustic cover breaks the song down to its sparest elements, revealing a gorgeously written track beneath Harris' bouncy dance beat.
Usher's cover of "Pumped Up Kicks," originally by Foster the People
Usher's best known for churning out club bangers and saucy boner jams, but he can rock out, too. Check him injecting one of the most ubiquitous songs of 2011 with some extra attitude.
Ariana Grande's cover of "Die in Your Arms," originally by Justin Bieber
Ariana Grande's vocal delivery on this sweet-as-sugar cover was so pitch perfect, Justin tweeted a link to the video with the comment, "WOW..u killed it ... Ur voice sounds amazing."
Miley Cyrus' cover of "Lilac Wine," written by James Shelton
Unfortunately, Miley Cyrus' vocal chops are often overshadowed by her celebrity — people forget that she's got real pipes. They're on full display in this mellow rendition, one of several covers Miley recorded in the summer of 2012.
Madonna's cover of "Born This Way," originally by Lady Gaga
Sometimes it's not about the music, it's about the attitude. The Queen of Pop took a swipe at her colleague Lady Gaga at each of her concerts this summer when she incorporated Gaga's self-love chorus into her 1989 hit "Express Yourself," illustrating their sonic similarities.
Adam Lambert's cover of "Is This Love," originally by Bob Marley
American Idol alum Adam may have been relying on a lyrics sheet to get through one of Bob Marley's greatest hits, but you wouldn't have been able to tell from listening to him nail it.
The Wanted's cover of "Iris," originally by Goo Goo Dolls
The Wanted has been perfecting their acoustic cover of "Iris" for a couple of years now, hitting a peak with their April performance for San Diego's Slacker Radio. It's like 1998 all over again.
Katy Perry's cover of "N***as in Paris," originally by Jay-Z and Kanye West
Katy Perry is nothing if not courageous (she is dating John Mayer, after all). The California girl slapped on a Yankees cap to roll through her own candy-coated version of Jay-Z and Kanye West's biggest Watch the Throne hit. Even if we prefer Aziz Ansari's "Emojis in Paris."
Cookie Monster's cover of "Call Me Maybe," originally by Carly Rae Jepsen
The summer's most-covered song was almost old news by the time Cookie Monster got his mittens on it, but he managed to put his own original spin on it with a very important lesson about sharing one's sugar.