Browsing through BBC Radio 1’s rad selection of musical guests is always a pleasure, and the best part of the radio station’s offerings is its exquisite covers. Guests perform their own songs, then one cover, usually a song they’ve never sung publicly before. The covers often feature radically different arrangements of the songs, but it’s also a chance for musicians to pay homage to the songs that inspire them.
So while many BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge covers are excellent, there are a few things that help a cover rise to the best of the best. Sometimes, it’s because an artist is reconsidering an underappreciated work; Lewis Capaldi’s 2022 cover of Britney Spears’s “Everytime” definitely fits that bill. Sometimes a major artist chooses to spotlight a song that’s flown more under the radar, like when Harry Styles covered Wet Leg’s song “Wet Dreams” in 2022 or when Olivia Rodrigo covered Noah Kahan’s “Stick Season” this October. Or, often, an artist puts a totally new genre spin on a hit song that’s already topping the charts, or shows off their vocal range in ways not afforded by their own music.
Ahead, these are some of our favorite BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge covers of all time.
— Additional reporting by Victoria Edel