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Take Cover: No Doubt’s ‘Settle Down’

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

Gwen Stefani, No doubt, cover, settle down

Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Gwen Stefani of No Doubt performs onstage at The 40th American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 18th, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

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Rakai Whauwhau, Shaquille Paranihi-Ngauma, Takiri Southon

YouTube Channel: Shaquille Paranihi-Ngauma

Three stoner-looking dudes from New Zealand do a modestly filmed performance of the tune, harmonizing over basic acoustic guitar strumming. The whole video has such a chill vibe from the get-go that it's impressive when they start harmonizing and sound like they've clearly practiced plenty. (You can imagine these three busting into a capella jams at parties.) Southon struggles a bit to hit his high notes, but the other two dudes nail their solo parts – Paranihi-Ngauma, especially, with his smooth vocal runs. They don't have very many covers yet, but they do feature a nice rendition of Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles" and I hope there will be more to come.

Presentation: B-

Performance: B+

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Devon Rae Valentin

YouTube Channel: GakkedOutStrategy

"Two days, two videos. That shit cray," Valentin says, disarmingly, at the start of the clip. The young singer-songwriter's series of cover videos – everything from Sam Cooke and the Four Tops to Cranberries and Bush to Bright Eyes and Postal Service – are appealing in large part because Valentin is herself so charming. But, as with this low-key rendition of "Settle Down," it's her sweet, graceful voice that really makes her performance so winning. Unlike most other singers who attempt "Settle Down," Valentin doesn't reach for the song's high-pitched bridge melody, instead transposing it to her natural range with ease. Only complaint: I appreciate that shooting herself up close conveys intimacy – her quiet, effortless singing and light ukulele plucking – but she might try sitting a bit farther back from the webcam.

Presentation: B-

Performance: A

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Edoardo Esposito (Edo Sparks)

YouTube Channel: RobaVecchia

The Italian singer-songwriter (who also plays in a band in Rome called Florida) offers a very strummy, sunny and dignified rendition of the No Doubt song, opening the clip by introducing the tune and saying, "Enjoy," like he's a waiter setting down a plate. Perched on a stool against a plain white background, rarely looking into the camera, Esposito is as unassuming as it gets. Even so, the combination of his Italian accent, a rich vocal tone, and the genuine emotion he imparts to the melody make the song sound like it could be his own composition. Solid work.

Presentation: B+

Performance: B+

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Reid Haggis

YouTube Channel: ReidWorld

Yikes. To the commenter who wrote, "I love your energy," you are a master of diplomacy. Not sure what the self-described 'singer/songwriter, dancer/choreographer, actor & model' is going for here, or why the whole thing is so blurry, but at least Haggis doesn't fail to make an impression. For additional LOLs, check out his video for an original composition called "Yours."

Presentation: D

Performance: F

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YouTube Channel: luseoakfield9

OK, so it's not strictly a cover, but still. In his description of the video, the 18-year-old Canadian addresses No Doubt directly, saying: "This is my first full time listening to . . .  'Settle Down,' so all of my movements are genuine and unrehearsed." He basically just dances pretty dorkily to the song, but with more heartfelt enthusiasm than in a lot of the straight-up cover versions. At one point, his dogs get so amped by his dancing that they jump up and join in as well. Wish he'd shot it so you could see his legs/feet, though.

Presentation: C+

Performance: B