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Take Cover: Frank Ocean’s ‘Thinkin Bout You’

Rolling Stone’s Jenny Eliscu grades the YouTube stars covering today’s hot songs

Frank Ocean, cover, thinkin bout you, thinking about you

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Frank Ocean attends the Christian Dior Fall/Winter 2013 Ready-to-Wear show as part of Paris Fashion Week on March 1, 2013 in Paris, France. 

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Tori Kelly (and Angie Girl)

YouTube Channel: ToriKelly

At 18, Kelly is already something of a music business vet. She was signed to Interscope in 2007 after a winning performance on the short-lived series America's Most Talented Kid. (She was dropped before she could release an album.) Then, in 2010, she turned up as a contestant on American Idol season nine, but didn’t get past Hollywood week. Perhaps she's ready for a third act: On her YouTube channel, Kelly is deservedly racking up views for both her originals and covers. She does an excellent undersell of Ocean's "Thinkin Bout You," keeping the production both visually and musically sparse – just Kelly on vocals and guitar and her friend Angie providing subtle, solid beatbox accompaniment. Her falsetto is sweet and flawless, as is her earthier register, but it's nice to hear her let it rip near the end, showing off the vocal power she's held at bay elsewhere.

Presentation: B

Performance: A

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Yuna

YouTube Channel: YunaMusicOfficial

It's hard not to immediately fall in love with Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna, and not just because she's effing adorable. Her interpretation of "Thinkin Bout You" feels refreshingly original, as she turns Ocean's R&B heartbreaker into a sea of warm vocal loops with a hypnotic, ethereal flow that sounds like what Feist might have done with the song. The clip is nicely shot, shifting in an out of focus as it rests on both the singer and items around her room, including an OK Computer poster that makes her even more loveable. This is the only song she covers on her YouTube channel, but get stoked: She released her US album via The Fader this spring.

Presentation: A

Performance: A+

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Shakkapella

YouTube Channel: HouseofALT

The London-based musician brings his avowed reggae, Motown and U.K. garage influences to bear on his version of the Ocean tune; the result is a satisfyingly dynamic, vocally expressive version of the song. He shows off cheeky swagger from the get-go on his version of "Thinkin Bout You," replacing Ocean's opening line with, "I was guessing when I said I knew Branson and his family. The first-class Virgin flight was discounted with a voucher…" The rest of it sticks to the script as far as the lyrics, but Shakka's wobbly, dancehall-informed delivery keeps a sense of humor lingering throughout. Worth keeping an eye on the video throughout, to catch Shakka making goofy faces while he's beatboxing.

Presentation: A

Performance: A

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E3 Brothers

YouTube Channel: e3brothers

Eugy, Joe and Henry, a U.K. trio of brothers, give "Thinkin Bout You" a Boyz II Men feel that highlights how much of a classic-sounding slow-jam it really is. They hit a couple rough patches during the falsetto parts and their focus seems to flag a bit near the end, but it's a strong performance overall and worth a listen.

Presentation: B-

Performance: B

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