It’s been a decade since Adele released her 2011 masterpiece “Rolling in the Deep,” and it would be an understatement to say that it still holds up. Even now, when those guitar eighth notes start playing, everyone in the room knows it’s time to start belting. The lyrics, the delivery, the passion — everything about “Rolling in the Deep” — off her sophomore album 21 — made it an immediate classic, so much so that musicians of all genres have taken a crack at it.
While it’s certainly likely you’ve heard the original version of this track, you might not have experienced all of the impressive covers celebrated musical acts have performed throughout the years. From Kelly Clarkson to Linkin Park to Aretha Franklin, check out five of Billboard’s favorite covers of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”
With her famously mighty voice, Clarkson was destined to cover “Rolling in the Deep” at some point. Ten years after its release, the day finally came back in June 2021, when the “Stronger” vocalist performed it on The Kelly Clarkson Show during her popular Kellyoke segment. Backed up by her sizzling band Y’all and decorating her vocals with a few outstanding runs, Clarkson’s cover was exactly as good as you’d expect.
Linkin Park’s “Rolling in the Deep” cover goes a different direction from the others on this list, whose powerful approaches more so followed Adele’s lead. At the 2011 iTunes Festival, frontman Chester Bennington eased back on the vocal power and leaned more into the message of the song, his mournful voice highlighting the power of Adele’s lyrics instead. Lit by a green-hued spotlight and backed only by melancholy piano, Bennington’s performance has nearly 50 million views to prove just how epic it is.
Not many male singers can match the vocal power of Adele, but Legend undoubtedly rose to the challenge. With no instruments — just his voice and those of a few backup singers — the “All of Me” musician delivered a crackling, deliciously soulful rendition of one of the beltiest pop songs in the past 15 years.
For worshipers of Jonathan Groff’s character on Glee, this version of “Rolling in the Deep” is forever ingrained in their memories. Jesse St. James’ heated, a cappella duet of the song with Lea Michele’s Rachel Berry marks a momentous occasion when the two former love interests reunite. The lyrics “we could’ve had it all” ring especially true for these two: Had Jesse not enlisted his fellow show choir members to violently (and hilariously) egg Rachel in the school parking lot, the two might just have made their high-school romance work.
Adele got the ultimate seal of approval from the Queen of Soul herself when Aretha Franklin covered “Rolling in the Deep” on The Late Show With David Letterman in 2014. Her rendition — which mashes the anthem up with Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” — also appeared on her 2014 compilation album Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics, and features the powerhouse hitting notes up in the stratosphere. Not bad for a lady who was at that point in her 70s and battling cancer.
soul, classic soul, motown,