The 5 best covers of Britney Spears’ “Toxic”

(Updated March 2015) There are so many versions of Britney’s “Toxic” that it’s hard to keep up. All of which is a testament to the song writing skills of the talented Cathy Dennis (also famous for writing Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”).

∞ Random Interest Snippet: seven of Cathy Dennis’ compositions have made it to number one in Britain, including Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” (as co-writer).

Whatever you think of Britney and the pop genre in general, “Toxic” is a great song with a sexy melody over a darkly seductive minor chord progression and a lot of talented musicians seem to know it. These, in my opinion, are 5 of the best ‘reworkings’ of Cathy Dennis’ great tune in no particular order.


1. Matthew Mayfield

This dirty southern rock version is raw and ragged with a great male vocal performance and is now one of my favourite cover versions of Toxic.


2. Jayme Dee

Jayme’s vocal arrangement and performance is fantastic; although I was slightly disappointed by the changes to the chords in the chorus – the chromatic descent is one of the most important melodic signatures of the song – ultimately, I think the arrangement suits the style of her version well.


3. Kilot

This version comes pretty far out of leftfield but Turkish band Kilot’s progressive sample-fest is imaginative and chaotic with impressive musicianship on clear display.


4. Jesse & Joy

This chill studio performance made it onto the list for its smooth, laidback quality and mellow, plodding groove.


5. A Static Lullaby

This pop punk thrash version by A Static Lullaby is pretty straightforward but of the rock versions I’ve heard so far, I enjoy this one for its unabashed hedonism and raw, garage ghetto arrangement.


Bonus Extra #6. Nickel Creek

And finally, this folky/bluegrass version by acoustic music trio Nickel Creek is one of my favourites (the sound and video is of a poor quality but it’s good enough to get the idea). Chris Thile‘s performance antics bring it all home!


Honourable Mentions

Melanie Martinez

Her idiosyncratic take on the song is captured in this clip from The Voice – you can hear a cleaner recorded version of the full song here.


ProjECK

One of my favourites of the many jazzy takes on the song that exist.


Yael Naim

French-Israeli singer-songwriter Yael Naim, known for her MacBook Air tune, puts her own stamp on the song with a heartfelt piano version. The recorded version has a darkly slinky arrangement and better sound quality


Mark Ronson

Included for the relatively atypical arrangement; Retro Funk Producer Mark Ronson puts his signature jazzifunkified spin on the proceedings.


TrollfesT

And finally…


There are a couple of surprisingly effective mash-ups too:

Britney Spears vs Linkin Park – Toxic Faint

This mashup works unexpectedly well and Mike Shinoda’s pop-rap fits the style perfectly.


Britney Spears vs B52’s – Toxic Love Shack

Against all odds (one’s a kitschy, alt-pop throwback – the other’s a high-octane, over-produced pop epic) the two songs work together remarkably well! I think the negative comments on youtube may be more from a lack of familiarity with the quirky B52s style; although there are points, as in many mashups, where the melody goes awry from the backing they are minor and could easily be justified as experimental modal diversions.

The points of crossover where the two songs come together musically (e.g. the chorus chromatic riff under: “the love shack is a little old place where we can get together”) are amazingly serendipitous. This one’s high on my list of favourite mash-ups.


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10 responses to “The 5 best covers of Britney Spears’ “Toxic”

  1. Pingback: From the Blogroll: Musicalis Eclectica « At the Lighthouse·

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  3. Check out Cinn, Oh favorite band, “Public” cover of Toxic. While you’re at it, check out their latest single, Heartbeating. My fave…

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