Androgyny has a long and rich history in both the image and sound of musicians on all points of the gender spectrum. Recently we took a look at gender identity as it pertains to musicians' image, but what about the music itself?

The most obvious way to examine musicians playing with gender identity in their music is to look at cover songs. Men cover originally female songs and women cover originally male songs all the time, but some push gender boundaries more than others. Here are ten songs that follow this logic, and where we think they fit on the gender spectrum.


James Vincent McMorrow: 'Whip My Hair' (Willow Smith cover)

70/30 female

McMorrow comes at this song from a completely different angle. The juxtaposition of the sassy lyrics with the mellow instrumentation makes you laugh, but it also really gets you to listen to the words. It's a song about female empowerment: "Don't let haters get me off my grind/Keep my head up, I know I'll be fine/Keep fighting until I get there/When I'm down and I feel like giving up." And in that way, McMorrow stays true to the original, despite the, well, man-ness.


Bon Iver: 'I Can't Make You Love Me/Nick of Time' (Bonnie Raitt cover)

80/20 male

OMG that falsetto! One of the more beautiful and heart-wrenching songs ever created gets the Bon Iver work-over. And although he hits those high notes with ease, his delivery is still somehow ALL MAN. He flips this iconic tune on its gendered head, and the results are astounding.


Karmin: 'Look at Me Now' (Chris Brown cover)

60/40 female

Stop laughing, I am so serious about this. There is a reason this video had nearly million views. Home girl crushes those verses. I ain't even mad that she's definitely reading off a lyric sheet. Nor am I terribly surprised that their career hasn't quite gotten off the ground in the wake of this cover's success. But let us all appreciate that we can forever enjoy this song without having to look at or listen to Chris Brown.


The Knocks ft. Mandy Lee: 'Midnight City' (M83 cover)

50/50 split

Mandy Lee is now sitting atop the rising MisterWives star with a second gender bending cover under her belt, but this track was what first brought her to my attention. Killer, crushing vocals here, and with a dancier vibe than the original, Mandy and the Knocks supercharge an already solid track.


The Weeknd: 'Drunk in Love' (Beyoncé cover)

90/10 male

His voice is so well suited for this song. With a more laid-back delivery, but somehow the same intensity as the original, The Weeknd expertly revamps my current not-so-guilty-pleasure favourite jam. (Not sorry.) Dubbed a "remix", the song's lyrics were changed to be gender appropriate, but definitely not work appropriate.


Jose Gonzalez: 'Heartbeats' (The Knife cover)

70/30 female

The keyword here is sensitivity. Gonzalez's rendition of the epic track from The Knife brings out the soul of the song from behind all those synths, and lays it bare right in front of your face. This song is about longing, and Gonzalez makes damn sure you know that.


Cat Power: 'Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again' (Bob Dylan cover)

60/40 male

What delightful horns! And Cat Power's husky delivery delivers so close to the same vintage sound Dylan gave it when he originated it.


James Blake: 'A Case of You' (Joni Mitchell cover)

50/50 split

Not too long ago, the 405 powers that be asked us staff writers to write about our favourite covers. I answered with this one without hesitation, so of course I had to include it here. Goddamn this track is pretty.


CHVRCHES: 'Do I Wanna Know?' (Arctic Monkeys cover)

80/20 female

Arctic Monkeys get CHVRCHES-ified in a big way. I wouldn't go so far as to say 'to great effect' because I'm not sure I even like this one. I was such a huge fan of AM, and this almost feels like garage rock sacrilege [enter church/CHVRCHES/sacrilegious joke here]. But you can't deny they've got a style, they're sticking to it, and it's delightfully feminine.


Aretha Franklin: 'Respect' (Otis Redding cover)

100% WOMAN

Enough of this hipster shit, amirite?? The OG gender bending cover turned Otis Redding's tune on its head at the perfect time.

All hail.