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New Video Stars Finding Success Remaking Old Songs

Viral videos boost new musicians' profiles, attracting big audiences and giving new life to cover tunes

spinner image illustration of a person playing a red guitar
Illustration by Kiersten Essenpreis

Want to hear new versions of your favorite songs? Just head over to YouTube or TikTok, where talented musicians are attracting big audiences with viral videos of cover tunes. Here are some of our favorites.


spinner image Mike Massé seated with a guitar in front of a microphone
Mike Massé's wildly popular cover of Toto’s “Africa” has 17 million views on YouTube.
Spencer Halickman/courtesy musician

Mike Massé

YouTube: @mikemasse

This 53-year-old Coloradan and former public defender had his first viral video in 2010 with a cover of Toto’s “Africa.” The clip, which he performed with Jeff Hall, a deputy district attorney, now has more than 17 million views. He continued to perform and post videos on YouTube with a cover of Dan Fogelberg’s “Leader of the Band” in 2015, which has racked up more than 37 million views. “If you look at YouTube comments — I won’t say this about myself — there are a lot of people who think I’m one of the best singers on the planet. That’s because they’ve heard me do other people’s songs that they love so much, so I just focus on that. I have a playlist of originals, but I don’t think it’s my calling.”


spinner image Nandi Bushell holding two drum sticks with guitars, a keyboard and the words Vic Firth and Signature Sticks behind her
Her version of songs by the Foo Fighters and the Rolling Stones have helped 13-year-old Nandi Bushell make a name for herself.
Courtesy musician

Nandi Bushell

TikTok: @the_nandi_bushell

YouTube: @Nandi_Bushell

This 13-year-old British musician started playing a toy drum kit at 5, with her father accompanying her on guitar. By the time she was 7, videos of her drum covers of hits like Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “Crazy in Love” were garnering views on YouTube and later TikTok. Eventually, she caught the eyes and ears of her heroes. Lenny Kravitz invited her to perform with him at London’s O2 arena. After she posted a cover of the Foo Fighters’ “Everlong,” Dave Grohl accepted her challenge to a virtual drum-off. Among other videos she has posted is a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” as a tribute to the late Charlie Watts. In the clip, Bushell uses a sampler and switches among guitar, bass, percussion, drums and vocals in an amazing display of talent.


Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp

YouTube: @Toyah

This married couple are far more experienced than most YouTube cover artists. Toyah, 65, is a singer and actress who scored eight top 40 hits in the U.K. in the ’80s. Fripp, 77, is a guitarist who founded the legendary progressive rock band King Crimson and has played with the likes of David Bowie and Peter Gabriel. But during the lonely days of the pandemic in 2020, they launched a weekly YouTube cover series called “Sunday Lunch.” “There were a lot of people who were isolating alone, and they really needed someone to just make them laugh,” Toyah says. They don’t just play the songs straight, often dressing up in costumes tied to the song. Their version of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” has racked up 8.5 million views. “We’ll keep going as long as we have ideas,” Wilcox says.


spinner image the three members of Biko's Manna in a room, one of them playing guitar and one singing
The young trio of siblings known as Biko’s Manna have a birthday video to thank for getting them noticed.
Courtesy musician

Biko’s Manna

YouTube and TikTok: @BikosManna 

This trio of South African siblings became viral stars by a fluke. In October 2022, at their grandmother’s birthday party, they started singing and dancing and posted a video clip to TikTok. Encouraged by the positive response, they have since shot videos of cover songs, including the Ben E. King classic “Stand By Me.” Biko Nhlangothi, 17, sings, while her brother Manna 14, plays guitar and brother Mfundo, 9, dances. It has 29.7 million views. The trio plans to “continue sharing their love through music and develop their talents,” says their mother, Ayanda Pyramid. “They saw the power that their talent has and want to use it to change their lives and the lives of their communities. The kids just do what they love and express it as they feel it, and then people respond.”

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