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

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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.

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