“The Man Who Sold the World”…”All Along the Watchtower”…”I Shot the Sheriff”

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but what happens when the imitation surpasses the original? The three songs just listed are more well-known by the artists who covered them (Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Eric Clapton, respectively) than the original composers (David Bowie, Bob Dylan, and Bob Marley).

While this comparison of popularity may not translate when comparing covers of Zelda songs to their original versions, it leaves me wondering: which Zelda covers do you find more enjoyable than the game versions?

I find myself listening to covers from various games in the series a lot, and in some cases, enjoy them at a higher level than their official versions. Here are three examples of covers that I find myself listening to a surprising amount of the time:

  1. “Forest Haven” from The Wind Waker, performed by The Marcus Hedges Trend Orchestra: While I was already receptive to the original version, after listening to this full, diverse sound that the orchestra can recreate from a relatively simple tune, I don’t think I can ever go back. It really takes me to a mystical, mythical place as soon as the percussion kicks in.
  2. “Kaepora Gaebora” from Ocarina of Time, performed by The Greatest Bits: I think the biggest beef I had with this song originally was that it coincided with me having to stop gameplay and listen to an owl tell me what I already knew. I often button-mashed until the end, haphazardly telling the bird that I actually needed him to reiterate everything, further frustrating adolescent Josh. However, the first time I heard this rendition, my feelings on the song completely changed. The “kick & snare” drum pattern utilized, reminiscent of the patterns used in my favorite musical genre, jungle/drum and bass, trapped me immediately.
  3. “Colgera Battle” from Tears of the Kingdom, performed by Kevin Grim: For many, this song is already the undisputed best new tune in Tears of the Kingdom. This version just really takes it to a higher altitude, with choral voices and an extra level of intensity. Whenever I go back and listen to the original version, I acknowledge that it’s good, and then immediately turn back to this one.

There have been many covers and renditions of Zelda songs over the years, exploring the series’ application on different genres, instruments, and time signatures. Which covers stand out to you as your favorites, that you can’t help but love more than the originals? Make some noise in the comments below!

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