Rating the Many Covers of Drake's 'Hotline Bling' - Rolling Stone
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Drake Takes: Rating the Many Covers of ‘Hotline Bling’

We weigh in on versions of the smash hit by Sam Smith, Erykah Badu, Alessia Cara and others


Drake performs during Austin City Limits Music Festival in Austin, Texas on October 10th, 2015

Erika Goldring/FilmMagic/Getty

UPDATE: Drake released the sleek "Hotline Bling" video featuring phone sex operators and some charmingly goofy choreography.

Drake released "Hotline Bling" during his Beats 1 OVO Sound radio show at the end of July; since then, the song has become a phenomenon. It instantly eclipsed the rapper's Meek Mill diss track "Charged Up" (which arrived the same day), despite all the hoopla surrounding the Drake-Meek beef. "Hotline Bling" recently climbed to Number Three on the Billboard Hot 100, which makes it Drake's second-biggest pop hit to date. The track is an outlier in the rapper's catalog, a strange blend of an old soul sample — Timmy Thomas's "Why Can't We Live Together," one of the first Seventies hits to employ a drum machine — a gentle Latin pulse and the frenetic drums that have a stranglehold on modern pop. But Drake's lyrics are of a piece with his past work, equal parts jealousy, bitterness and self-indulgence.

In today's pop world, the true measure of a song's impact is how many tributes it inspires — vines, dance routines, covers, memes — and "Hotline Bling" is a runaway success by this standard, as well. The track has spawned numerous alternate renditions and remixes (including Seth Everman's wacky Nintendo-fied take). Interestingly, almost all of the new versions have come from women. More interpretations are sure to roll in, but Rolling Stone rated seven below on a five-star scale.

In This Article: Drake


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