Cover versions of songs get a bad rap - understandably, since most of them tend to be cheap, desperate attempts to use nostalgia to shift a few more copies.
I'm going to say something a little controversial, but I actually prefer Florence and the Machine's version of You've Got the Love. The song has only really exploded in the last month or so, and a lot of my fellow members of the Gay Mafia has sniffly dismissed it as 'not as good as the original'. I disagree. I do really like the Candi Staton original, but I have been bewitched by Florence's version since the first time I heard it a couple of months ago.
A major reason why is just the difference in the vocal styles of Candi and Florence. Florence's voice has a grandeur to it, and it gives the song a dissolute yearning quality which changes the emotional texture of the original song.
I also think the song can very obviously work as a metaphor for addiction; not the amped up hankering you get form coke or speed, but the blissed out nothingness of heroin. Think of the following lyrics;
Sometimes it seems that the going is just too rough
And things go wrong no matter what I do
Now and then it seems that life is just too much
But you've got the love I need to see me through
When food is gone you are my daily meal
When friends are gone I know my savior's love is real
Your love is real
This sounds like a very obvious parallel for somebody who is looking for their next fix as a release from the toil and difficulty of their daily life. In this case, love = a drug, something which gives release from having to care or face anything. It was Florence's delivery of the lyric which made me think of this, that distinctive ache that resonates throughout the song gives it a different colour. To me, the love she seeks is not necessarily a healthy thing. It complicates the song and makes it more resonant.
It really is a text book case of making a song feel fresh and vibrant without fundamentally changing the melody. Beautiful stuff.