You'll often hear a variety of defamatory epithets when the topic of cover versions is broached. Many can't fathom the idea that someone would be so blasphemous about a cherished cut, others view them as tactless or misguided. Others consider them plain unecessary. True, cover versions are often lambasted, but they're not inherently terrible. In fact, there's some pretty good ones floating around out there. Perhaps not as great as the original – but perhaps we shouldn't be comparing the two so basely.

More often than not, cover songs are done as an homage to the original artist – it's a way telling the world “Hey, I love these guys!” without just gushing in a press release. They tend to be little hidden gems in rarities collections or found as B-sides, or live only, or randomly plopped into the ether. Sometimes – alas, alack etc. – artists build entire careers from them: take Alien Ant Farm for example, who couldn't carve a living outside of their 'Smooth Criminal' single. It's oddly dangerous territory for bands to venture into, but there's always some that come out fighting, spewing sounds that make you question the original's purpose. Well, that might be a bit far; still, they're ruddy fantastic.

These efforts are some of the most impressive covers we've stumbled across in the past few months or so. There's a wide range of reimaginings on offer, from folk versions of Postal Service to reverent ballady takes on Haddaway. Some of these will probably be familiar, but there's hopefully a couple scattered in that'll be a pleasant surprise.

Listen below to our Contemporary Covers playlist.