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Who is the Hotline King? Ranking the Best (and Worst) Covers of "Hotline Bling"

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Whatever else you want to say about Drake, his skills as a pop songwriter are undeniable. As Lorde puts it, he has a "really creative clever way of saying something really simple," a description used directly in reference to the nigh-inescapable "Hotline Bling." The track has nearly everything you'd expect from a Drake hit -- a catchy, well-produced beat drawing on a previously established musical tradition in an interesting and universally accessible way, a hook that's lyrically impossible to forget, and, of course, a lot of performative sadness and angst about failed relationships.


Like Taylor Swift's 1989, "Hotline Bling" has produced a vast number of cover and remix versions from all sorts of artists, latching onto the simplicity and directness of the hook (with all of the Drake-like feelings it conveys in so few words) to express themselves. Let's look at a few different versions of "Hotline Bling," and mercilessly rank them to determine: Which one is the Hotline King?


7. Stella
Carlos Santana's daughter doesn't do a ton with "Hotline Bling," turning in a relatively straightforward cover that isn't necessarily bad -- it's just unnecessary, and kind of boring. Let's move on.


6. Disclosure and Sam Smith
This one is a bit of a change of pace from the original, but, like Smith's new Bond theme, it's exactly what you would expect from a Sam Smith and Disclosure cover of "Hotline Bling." If that sounds like something you'd be into, check it out! Otherwise... maybe take a nap or read a book instead?


5. Alessia Cara
Given her intensive introspection (and background in Toronto), rising pop star Alessica Cara has quite a bit in common with Drizzy. But her cover of "Hotline Bling" doesn't have much to do with the original -- it's an acoustic jam, tapping into a much different (but still authentic) set of emotions as the original. It's definitely slower and not appropriate for the club, but it certainly has its time and place. 


4. Jadakiss and Nino Man
The existence of a "Thot Line Bling" track, however obnoxious and retrograde, was an inevitability given the ease of rhyming. But we're glad that it was Jadakiss, of all people, who ventured into this sort of lazy territory, because "Thot Line Bling" is pretty fun.


3. Charlie Puth and Kehlani
This one leans hard into Aubrey's sadness, and, even though Charlie Puth is kind of in the Sam Smith "weepy belting" zone, Kehlani's presence (and the stripped-down piano arrangement) vaults it into the top tier of "Hotline Bling"s. If you're going to make a depressing version of an already kind-of depressing pop hit by Drake, you should really go all in, and at that, Puth and Kehlani certainly succeed.


2. Fuego
Not only is the Spanish remix of "Hotline Bling" excellent, imbuing the track with more humanity and genuine emotional pain than the original, it's also by Pitbull collaborator Fuego. And it's even truer to the original's influences.


1. Keyshia Cole
Somehow, the Keyshia Cole version of "Hotline Bling" sounds even crisper and cooler than the Drake version, and its lyrical conceit of redirecting the same narrative from the woman's perspective, reading insecurity and masking of pain into the original (and demonstrating that there are at least two sides to every relationship) is just fantastic. I've been listening to this remix for about a day, and it reveals new layers to how much fun (and how interesting) it is every time. Put down the phone, we've found the "Hotline Bling" queen. 

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