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Top 10 Cover Songs That Outshine The Original

Spart . . . Comments

Cover songs play a vital role in the music industry. Many bands have been launched on the back of a great cover – going on to perform and record original music. There have also been a number of artists who are already great in their own right who have a hit with a cover song. This list deals with the latter category. If you know of other excellent covers that are better than the original, be sure to mention it in the comments.

10

Joe Strummer
Redemption Song

Original: Bob Marley

One of many covers that The Clash and Strummer did over the years, and also The Clash is also a highly covered band. It was not uncommon in the late 70s and early 80s for English and American bands to cover reggae songs and ‘bring them to the masses’ .

9

Gary Jules
Mad World

Original: Tears for Fears

From the Donnie Darko soundtrack, this cover of the Tears for Fears track is an infinitely better version of the song, and also a perfect piece of music for the dark themes explored in the movie.


8

Happy Mondays
Step on

Original: John Kongos

Classic Ryder take on great rambling dance hall shuffle from South Africa. While the lyric ‘Oh he lied, oooh he’s twistin’ my melon man’ sounded perfectly logical coming from Shaun Ryders Ecstasy fuelled mind, it wasn’t his line.

7

Petshop Boys
Always on my Mind

Original: Brenda Lee

Neil Tennant always had an ear for the sublime hook. And with this cover of Brenda Lee’s 1972 song, that was also covered by Elvis Presley (1972) Wilie Nelson (1982), the Petshop Boys took the song to a UK Number One.

6

Tricky
Black Steel

Original: Public Enemy

An agitated mesh of distorted trip hop layered electronica, growls and most the introduction to the world of the stunning Martina Topley-Bird on lead vocals. Tricky credited Public Enemy with being a massive influence on him, but along with Massive Attack and Portishead, Tricky was massively influential in creating the Bristol Sound, or Trip Hop.

5

They Might Be Giants
Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Original: The Four Lads

A strange piece this one, but every time I hear it, I can’t help but start nodding and tapping my feet. From the hugely underrated album Flood this song by the two Johns was one of their break through hits, alongside Particle Man and Birdhouse in your Soul.


4

Johnny Cash
Hurt

Original: Trent Reznor

Reznor was famously was quoted as saying ‘that song isn’t mine anymore’ and earned Cash a Country Music Award for Single of the Year. The music video for the Cash version features footage from his life.

3

Youth Group
Forever Young

Original: Alphaville

Broke this Sydney band on the world stage when their cover of the German trio Alphavilles 80s hit Forever Young was played on an American soap opera The OC.


2

Nirvana
Man who sold the world

Original: David Bowie

Was played endlessly by MTV following the news of Kurt Cobain’s passing. This cover of the Bowie song from the 1994 Nirvana album Unplugged in New York showed that there was a lot more to Cobain than the howling grunge sound that Nirvana among others had pioneered.

1

Sinead O’Connor
Nothing Compares to you

Original: Prince

Sinead O’Connor had a world wide number one hit in 1990 with this cover of the Prince track originally performed by The Family in 1985. O’Connor’s version is the definitive version, and after the song became a number hit in the US, Australia, Germany and the UK, Prince even began to perform the song at his live shows.

Bonus

Jeff Buckley
Hallelujah

Original: Leonard Cohen

Was always going to make this list, for its break through that it gave Jeff Buckley. Although Cohen’s version is actually more moving, the Buckley cover reached a newer generation that had not heard of Cohen.

Contributor: Spart



  • Arnaud

    With a Little Help from my Friends, by Joe Cocker !!!
    Come on !!!

    • Flash

      Yeah, what a way to butcher a great Beatles song!

  • BlackRainbow

    #10 definitely is a mistake

    Bob Marley version is much better

    • NattyDread

      Yeah!…Nothing beats Bob Marley in his songs…

      • Flash

        I agree, Marley did them best but Clapton’s version of “I shot the Sheriff ” was pretty good.

      • joejoe988

        except chris cornell’s version

  • TMX

    Considering this was presented as a list of cover songs that "far outshine the original" then Hurt being on there is highly debateable – granted I fully expected it to be number one in this list. Yes, Cash's cover is excellent as he makes the song his own, but I can't say that it is far and away better than the original. I don't take issue with anyone saying the Cash version is better as that is where taste comes into play; but far outshining the original? I don't think so, even with Trent Reznor's humbleness aside. I guess I see the argument for including it, but it really should be number 10 given how split opinions are on the matter.

    I'd suggest that the following songs would also make the cut

    -Jose Gonzalez's cover of The Knife's "Heartbeats"
    -Matt Weddle's (Obidiah Parker) Outkast's "Hey Ya!"
    -Turisas' cover of Boney M.'s "Rasputin" (Yes, a folk metal band covering a disco song – check out the videos to both on YouTube)
    -Metallica's cover of Thin Lizzy's "Whiskey in the Jar" (Maybe by virtue of the fact that it really is one of Thin Lizzy's more mediocre songs turned into one of the better songs of the post-thrash era Metallica song)
    -George Thorogood & The Destroyer's cover of John Lee Hooker's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" (And I'm a huge Hooker Fan… errr, that doesn't sound right…"

    I know there may be a lot of disagreement on the last two, but hey, that's the nature of these things.

    • Mrmagistar

      Thin Lizzy’s version of “whisky in the jar” is a cover in itself of a very old irish folk song also covered by the Dubliners

    • Flash

      Manfred Mann’s version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Blinded by The Light” should be at the top of the list!! Th e Manfred version was awesome, while Springsteen’s version sucked big time!

  • MT

    Good list that as usual will invite a lot of comments.

    I think Whitney Houston's cover of Dolly Parton's
    "I Will always Love You" is one of the biggest omissions on this list. It was a hit for Dolly in the 70's but the 90's version by Whitney is one of the biggest hits of all-time.

    • Jane James

      Agreed. Hard to believe that your comment was the only mention of this. Tough list though- impossible to only have 10. I was hoping for a mention of the Cowboy Junkies version of Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane”. Even Lou liked it.

  • Elizabeth

    I pretty much agree with all of them. All of them are really great songs :)

  • thunderchicken

    As far as Hallelujah goes, I think that Rufus Wainwright does a noteworthy job

  • Item 1 is one of my favorite songs – definitely worthy of its place here :)

  • Jman

    This is a good list, but I must ask what about Jimi Hendrix’s cover of “All Along the Watch Tower”?

    • tingham

      Yeah what this guys said

    • archworf

      Upon hearing Jimi’s version, Dylan’s reaction was “THAT’S what it is supposed to sound like!”

  • i personally think that the buckley version is better, but i guess i must be that “new generation”. even though bob dyaln penned all along the watch tower, it’s not a good song. and i adore bobby d.

    elliott smith’s thirteen would be my recommendation for this list.

  • Jono

    Funky Town by Lipps Inc better be on there.

  • Jono

    Oh, it’s not. :(

    (cries to sleep)

  • cheesedrummer

    actually, i think the nin version of ‘Hurt’ was much better.
    just my opinion though.

  • Iain

    The John Cale (ex-Velvet Underground) version of ‘Hallelujah’ is, in my opinion, better than Buckley’s.

    • Lindsay

      I own over 60 covers of “Hallelujah” and John Cale’s version is amazing. I happen to like Jeff Buckley’s version better, but John Cale is a close second. k.d. lang’s version is right up there as well.

  • Anon

    how about Josh groban’s cover of You Raise Me up? he clearly outshines Secret Garden… i can bet no one would expect them as the original singers….

  • Iain

    Here’a a few for further consideration by interested parties.

    ‘Into the Groove(y)’ – Ciccone Youth (aka Sonic Youth)
    ‘I Fought the Law’ – The Clash
    ‘Eight Miles High’ – Husker Du
    ‘Love is all Around’ (Mary Tyler Moore show theme) – Husker Du

  • jljorna

    I actually really love Bowie’s version.

  • kiwiboi

    Interesting list!

    Some of my own thoughts :

    The Clash – I Fought The Law (orig. The Crickets)
    The Sundays – Wild Horses (orig. Rolling Stones)
    Aretha Franklin – Respect (orig. Otis Redding)
    Flying Lizards – Money (orig. Beatles)
    Rita Coolidge – We’re All Alone (orig. Boz Scaggs)

    and, maybe the Shinehead version of Billie Jean (M Jackson); but the original is, in itself, probably untouchable.

    Geez, I could probably think of a hundred…

  • Iain

    For some ‘interesting’ covers, check out Laibach (from Slovenia). They specialise in doing OTT wagnerian metal versions of songs like ‘The Final Countdown’, ‘Live is Life’ by Opus and Queens ‘One Vision’ – (titled ‘Geburt einer Nation’) – that point out the more ‘totalitarian’ aspects of these songs – “One race, one hope, one true decision.”

  • McSquida

    I love both versions of Hallelujah – two of the best interpretations of the same song.

    Mad World is also fantastic; really sets the scene for that movie, and it’s a great song in its own right.

    And as for good covers, nothing can top Ben Folds’ cover of “Bitches ain’t Shit”. It’s unique to hear a rap song of this type sung by a guy who usually sings ballads!

  • I foresee controversy over this list :)

  • Iggy

    Damn, I was hoping to see “Turn the Page”, the version from Metallica on this list. That won an award I believe. Bob Seger was great but the saxaphone part replaced by Kirk Hammet’s screaming guitar riff makes its mark upon the song legacy.

  • TDavis

    Tiny Toons at #5!
    Yay!!!!

  • warrrreagl

    spart, this is a helluva list. Good job! I second kiwiboi’s suggestion to consider Aretha’s “Respect,” but that’s only because I’m an old fart. However, I totally agree with the selection Sinead O’Connor at the top. I once saw a music critic say that Prince wrote the shit out of that song, and Sinead sang the shit out of it.

  • Doodlebug

    NOOOOOOO!
    The NIN version of ‘Hurt’ will always be the better version!

    Ok, maybe I am just a die-hard NIN fan, but still :p I was absolutely struck dumb when I first heard the Cash version; I always enjoy cover versions merely as a means to explore previously unsung interpretations of material. (Some songs however are sacred and should really be left alone – I’m looking at you Madonna you skanky old string bean!)

  • luna1580

    @5 fauxhaux,

    can you tell me where to find the elliott smith version of 13? both that and the garbage version (which is WONDERFUL) where included on a series of mixtapes from a friend started about 10 years go, so lovely, sigh.

    i actually still have a cassette player, just to hear these tapes! but we all know that medium degraded badly over time. all my other music is now cd/mp3/digital etc. the problem is the tape-making friend and i both had/have random collections and it’s often hard to find some of the tracks in any form of stand-alone digital (you know, missing 1 b-side out of many and don’t want to re-buy something for one track when you have the other 10+…..)

    regardless, another excellent list

  • Spart

    I agree with the call on The Clash cover of I fought the law – it was a toss up between that and Redemption Song. I liked the Strummer version of Redemption Song, simply because it was so pared back, and I thought Joe just nailed the intent of the song.

    To others who suggest some of the more Metal covers – not to my taste, so sorry – didn’t get a gurnsey.

  • luna1580

    the original versions of “hurt” and “man who sold the world” and the covers are all at least equally wonderful (as someone who cherishes them all, for different reasons.)

    but the jeff buckley live @ sin-e version of hallelujah is one of the best pieces of western music ever recorded!

    (and i say that as some one who really enjoys leonard cohen.)

  • Iain

    BlackRainbow – definitely agree with you about Redemption Song (and I’m a huge Clash fan)

    TMX – definitely don’t agree with you about ‘Whiskey in the Jar’, although I do like the Metallica version

  • Blackstar

    Bob marley version was way better that’s the only one i disagree with.

  • Englandexpects

    i think muse can’t take my eyes off of you and feeling good should be on this list

  • cheesedrummer

    oh.. for any jazz lovers.

    what about freedom jazz dance by miles davis?

    or elvis’ hound dog…

  • Tim

    “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace Love and Understanding”, by Elvis Costello (orig. Brinsley Schwarz)

    Dittos on Husker Du’s “Eight Miles High” and the Clash’s “I FOught the Law”

  • Iain

    I suppose the phrase ‘far outshines the original’ might be controversial. Perhaps a more nuanced approach would have been to suggest songs where the covers are more famous/popular than the originals – which works for some but not all of the songs on the list. But hey – it’s all good fun!
    P.S – with that in mind here’s a few more
    Tainted Love – Soft Cell (Gloria Jones)- NOT Marilyn Manson
    Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun (Jaques Brel)
    and how about Lulu’s version of ‘The Man Who Sold the World’

  • ZAxel

    I completely agree with 2, 4, 5, and 9. I haven’t heard the others.

  • PirateXxEsque

    Powderfinger did a really (quote) “fucking brilliant (unquote) version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

  • Trigintor

    And nobody didn’t even mention probably the best cover of all times- “All along the watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix!!

  • sarahenity

    Incubus – No Scrubs. Even though it’s only short it’s awesome. Incubus do a lot of fantastic covers.

    And for my Aussie bands,
    Karnivool – Sleeping Satellite
    Birds of Tokyo – Heard it through the Grapevine
    Cog – Open Up

    I’ve got plenty more covers… I’ll get to them later.

  • Suskis

    listen to SEEMAN (Rammstein) covered by Apocalyptica and voiced by Nina Hagen!
    also Spirit in the Sky has been covered wonderfully by both Doctor and the Medics and Bauhaus
    and Rock’n’Roll Nigger (Patti Smith) has been edited to wonder by Trent Reznor

  • romerozombie

    I really don’t think Cash’s version of Hurt outshines the original. Both are incredibly powerful, one really isn’t better than the other.

  • STL Mo

    Intriguing list.

    What do you all think of Tina Turner’s cover of CCR’s “Proud Mary”? Both versions are great. Which is better? (For me, depends on the mood.)

  • STL Mo

    Tommy Dorsey’s “Moonlight Serenade,” which “covers” the 2nd movement of Tchiakovsky’s 5th Symphony?

  • shaj2329

    Number 4, Cash’s version of Hurt has to be one of my most favourite songs along side Seal’s Kiss From A Rose. I have heard the NIN original but yet cannot get Cash’s voice out of my head when I hear the song. I think it was better suited to him, his voice, his style of singing and all the experiences that he had gone through in life. It is a deeply moving, emotional and poignant song made all the more sad and memorable because it was the last video with him and his wife before they both passed on respectively. You can see all of his feelings and emotions in his eyes as he sings.
    Not disputing any NIN fans but this shall forever remain one of the greatest versions of the song ever sang. Cash, truly made it his own.
    R.I.P.

  • romerozombie

    40. shaj2329 – Cash did make it his own and for all the reasons you said, but sit down and listen to the whole of The Downward Spiral album by NIN, the album the song Hurt first appeared on, and you’ll see it in a new light. A darker one.

  • Kyran Wray

    yeah good list, a few of them i even thought were the originals.

  • deepthinker

    Nothing compares to you is one of my favorite songs. If you speak to me while I am listening to that song, you will surely be slapped.

  • Mining

    Where’s All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix?

  • joe cocker “with a little help from my friends” by the beatles.

  • Damo

    ‘All along the Watchtower’ by Jimi Hendrix was awesome, but any half-decent cover of a Bob Dylan song is better than the original. Respect to Dylan for writing the songs but his versions are, for the most part, insipid.

  • Bigwig Rabbit

    Manfred Mann’s version of Blinded By The Light (Bruce Springcheese)

  • thirtytwo

    Johnny Cash did loads of good covers.

    The Mercy Seat (Nick Cave), In My Life (The Beatles), One (U2) are some of my other favourites.

  • onwisconsn

    I think Willie Nelson’s rendition of Always on my Mind ties that of the Petshop Boys

  • LordCalvert

    Pearl Jam – Crazy Mary (Victoria Williams)

  • Ravyn

    I was going to say Marilyn Manson’s cover or Sweet Dreams (Originally by The Eurythmics). But then I thought, they want covers that are way better than the original, and both versions are equally excellent in this case so I guess it doesn’t belong.

    Excellent list and I will agree to almost everything you have. I do prefer NIN-Hurt over Cash-Hurt. And in my opinion Bowie and Nirvana are equally awesome with their version of Man Who Sold the World. But that is my opinion.

  • dantheman

    Unchained melody by the righteous brothers is surely better then the original and I def. Agree with the man who sold the world and I would have liked to have seen Jimi Hendrix.

  • Mortivore

    Mad World! Heck yes. I freakin love that song. It’s nine different kinds of amazing.

  • KMAC

    Great list. I’m here to second that Rufus Wainwright comment. I think his version is just as good as Buckley’s. Smashing Pumpkins do a great version of The Cars’ “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight”

  • DiscHuker

    i’d go with rufus wainwright’s cover of hallelujah. the emotion of his voice is moving.

  • jayjackpot

    i was almost sure that “sweet dreams” by marilyn manson would be on this list.

  • Pengi05

    The only one on this list that I totally disagree with is number 10. You can’t redo Bob Marley….He sings this song with much emotion and the cover of this sounds like the guy is just singing the words but there is no feeling behind it. I guess the only person I am suprised to not see on the list is Marilyn Manson I mean he has covered almost every song known to man but they are always brillant (Sweet Dreams, Tainted Love, Personal Jesus, I put a spell on you) those are just the tip of the ice.

  • AbstractPlain

    Agreed with all except man who sold the world, i find nirvanas version dreary. The Cures ‘Just like Heaven’ being an incredible pop song became something else when Dinosaur Jr covered it, not only my favourite cover but possibly my favourite song ever.

  • chershey

    OMG the Gary Jules version of Mad World blows; it’s all about Tears for Fears!!

  • Freeze

    someone told me that hurt was originally from nine inch nails

  • ajaxkid

    TMBG!!!!!
    Probably one of the most amusing and entertaining bands EVER!!
    Happy Mondays, I did love their cover of “Step On” and I still love to hear it as it reminds me of being young, beautiful and free!
    As for Gary Jules… bah! It’s sooo slow, I feel I’m going backwards! I drift off into a dream when I hear Tears for Fears do it and I “feel” it… I love it so.
    Covers are not bad things, as some will argue. Songs were meant to be sung and enjoyed.
    Different things for different people and “yay!” for that!

  • Jubyduk

    Higher Ground by the Red Hot Chilli Perppers (Stevie Wonder)
    Blinded by the Light by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (Bruce Springsteen)
    Mr Tambourine Man by the Byrds (Bob Dylan)
    Ball of Confusion by Love and Rockets (The Temptations)
    I’m a believer by Smash Mouth (Neil Diamond and then The Monkeys)
    Big Yellow Taxi by the Counting Crows (Joni Mitchell)
    I Heard it Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye (Smokey Robinson)
    Tainted Love by Soft Cell (Gloria Jones)
    Take me to the River by the Talking Heads (Al Green)

    This could go on for dozens more. Suprisingly, I was only familiar with 3 of those on the list… I’ve included some Motown hits but it seems unfair since the label was a hit machine that would record their catalog though multiple talent hoping one or another would stick.

  • robneiderman

    I might get crucified for these, but:
    Dancin’ Days, by Led Zeppelin, covered by Stone Temple Pilots,
    Love Song, by the Cure, covered by (I think) 311,
    Sympathy for the Devil, by the Rolling Stones, covered by Guns ‘n’ Roses.

    For the record, anything by Otis Redding is better when he does it than when it’s covered.

  • Kreachure

    Very nice choices, but it can’t be helped being subjective when it comes to music tastes.

    And many lists like this probably completely overlook some great covers, because they were so great and popular, you didn’t even know they were covers!!!

    – “Respect” by Aretha Franklin (original by Otis Redding)
    – “Twist and shout” by The Beatles (original by Isley Brothers)
    – “La Bamba” by Los Lobos (original by Richie Valens)
    – “Blue Suede Shoes” by Elvis Presley (original by Carl Perkins)

    Now that’s outshining!I’m pretty sure these (and other songs I don’t know are covers) would get the top honors if more people knew they were covers.

  • ringtailroxy

    oh robneiderman… you poor, deluded youth… although those versions are good, the originals cannot be compared to! (or it can just be that the originals heavily influenced my musical tastes and I was so into the Cure in the 80’s)

    great great great list that begs a sequel! also, kudos to using the Tiny Tunes version of Istanbul… I can distinctly remember the first time I saw that when I was a sophomore in high school…

    rtr

  • ligeia

    Yay TMBG!! Love those guys :) One of my favourite covers is the Phish version of Gin and Juice, hehe.

  • jake ryder

    Not a bad list but #10. Nowhere near the power of the Bob Marley original.

  • Skydiver

    kiwiboi, “Money (That’s What I Want” wasn’t originally recorded by The Beatles. It was written by Barry Gordy and originally recorded by Barrett Strong. It was the first major hit for Gordy’s Mowtown.

    It’s certainly one of the most covered songs ever.

    These types of lists are always subjective so there’s no right or wrong. Any “glaring omissions” from this list, likely fell victim to subjective decision making and not because they weren’t good enough to make the cut. Many of these songs are all, at the very least; top 40 hits by these artists. There are probably hundreds of other “B” side recordings that never saw airplay once, and remain an obscure bit of trivia for music nuts like myself. Here’s a few that I feel are better than the original or at least add a dimension that the original artist missed. I’ll bet many of you will be surprised some of these even exist.

    Bad Side of the Moon – April Wine. Written by Bernie Taupin and originally performed by Elton John. The song doesn’t appear on any commercially released John album, other than the B side collection, “Past Masters” and a very obscure album of very early John songs & covers called “Reg Dwight’s Piano Goes ‘Pop'”. In the mid to late 60’s, fledgling record companies were hiring studio musicians to record the hits of the day, and would compile them on albums so people who didn’t want to buy multiple albums to get multiple hits, could buy one album with all the hits. They weren’t the original artists but for a short, profitable time, this didn’t matter. Many artists in their early careers recorded these songs as way to pay the bills; Elton John (Reg Dwight) was one of them.

    Hey Joe – Jimi Hendrix. Many people are unaware that this is indeed a cover because Hendrix’s version is so well-known. The earliest recording of it was by an American band called The Leaves. There is much debate over who the author of this song is as it was once thought to be an American “traditional” song (ironic if you listen to the lyrics) but the copyright was bought and authorship was claimed by the purchaser whose name escapes me.

    Blinded By The Light – Manfred Mann. Originally by Bruce Springsteen. Already mentioned above, but a far better rendition and surprisingly many people think THIS is the original and Springsteen did a less than average cover!

    Feels Like Home – Chantal Kreviazuk. Originally by Randy Newman. Chantal sings this song with more emotion than Randy Newman could muster up if he was on fire.

    Time After Time – Eva Cassidy. I love the Cyndi Lauper version of this song, but this version is so simple and beautiful, you can’t help but love it just as much.

    Cry Me A River – Aerosmith. I would never take anything away from Miss Ella Fitzgerald but Steven Tyler’s torn vocals and painful angst and the fact that this song was written for a woman and is sang by a man makes the irony so sweet, it makes me smile every time I hear it.

    Something to Talk About – Bonnie Raitt. Canadian singer/songwriter Shirley Eikhard does a great version of this song, but Bonnie gave it a life that surpassed Shirley by a country mile.

    Red Red Wine – UB40. Neil Diamond’s version is a bit dry. UB40 added a Reggae zip to it that takes it so far from Diamond’s version, it’s almost a different song.

    Layla – Eric Clapton (Unplugged). I know this isn’t truly a cover because Eric was part of Derek and The Dominoes who did it originally, but the live version is so well done you can’t help but love it a little bit more. The original still has that haunting piano at the end that makes it so timeless.

    I Write The Songs – Barry Manilow. I’m splitting hairs here because David Cassidy (Yes, Keith Partridge!) was the original artist of this song (written by Beach Boy, Bruce Johnson) but recorded it the same year as Manilow. It became one of Manilow’s signature songs and ironically, one of the very few songs he’s know for that he didn’t actually write.

    She Thinks I Still Care – James Taylor. Taylor does a live version of this George Jones classic that takes the song to a whole new level. John Fogerty also did a version of this song but it’s not very good.

    A Groovy Kind of Love – Phil Collins. Originally done by Diane & Annita in 1965, Collins turned a poppy bubblegum song into a nice love song.

    Hit Me Baby One More Time – Travis. This version of the Britney Spears mega-hit is so good, it just has to be fattening!

    I think an interesting spin-off of this list would be one that lists songs re-done by the original artist that is better than their original!

    A couple of suggestions…

    I’m Ready – Bryan Adams. The popular version is a live ‘Unplugged’ track played as a ballad. The original is a guitar driven rock song. I think the ballad is 100 times better.

    About A Girl – Nirvana. The Unplugged version is mystical; Cobain at his very best. It makes the original sound weak and empty.

    Everlong – Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl does an acoustic version of this spectacular song that is even better than his original. The same can be said of an acoustic version Times Like These.

    Nice list… thanks!

  • miki

    the only thing that bugs me is #10. bob marley’s version is much better.

  • Benmark

    I prefer Shinedown’s version of “Simple Man” over the Lynyrd Skynryd version.

  • the_cloaked schemer

    What about “tainted love” by soft cell? though the video was absolutely ridiculous, the 80’s version was so much catchier than the original for some reason.

  • Jayme

    “Zombie”- Miser (The Cranberries) I love both but their both very different

  • djl

    Biggest omission: Mannfred Mann’s Earth Band’s cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Blinded by the Light. Granted The Boss’s version IS better, but was greatly outshined by the cover on the charts.

  • Robo

    I’ve never disagreed with something on this website more than #10 on this list. Wow, what a joke.

  • guy

    like about twenty people said before me…….. jimmy hendrix’s all along the watchtower. als isnt dazed and confused by zeppelin a cover? idk

  • guy

    jimi*

  • smurff

    Well selected list # 1 I like the most.

    Thanks Spart.

  • Zack

    I haven’t read all of these so it might be redundant.

    What about Aretha Franklin’s cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect”? Pretty much one of the biggest anthems of the Motown era. Does it not count because she changed a few words?

  • G Fresh

    I’d say pretty much anything Eva Cassidy touched should be on here, but most notably her covers of “Fields of Gold” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Purportedly, Sting was moved to tears after he heard her version of his song.

  • Tngolferguy

    Two come to my mind

    1)Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World by Isreal Kamakawiwo´le.

    2)Hank William, Jr.’s “The Blues Man” redone by George Jones and Dolly Parton. Fantastic.

  • Freshies

    I don’t see how you can say that a cover is better than the original, for any song. This is wrong, I hate bands that cover songs and act like they should be praised for it. Johny Cash is awesome, he deserved to do what ever he wanted.

    I believe a better title would have been “Songs that where stolen from the original writer and then made more money than the original”.

  • xXTurkinatorXx

    Wheres Disturbed with Land of Confusion??
    I don’t know who made the original but I know it wasn’t them. . .

  • BishopWhiteT

    I’m surpised no one has mentioned Run D.M.C., Walk this way (Aerosmith).

    It may not be any better than (or even as good as) the original, but it’s the song that launched a thousand grillz.

  • holycanoli

    “Respect” pretty much made Aretha Franklin. It’s an Otis Redding tune.

  • Brickhouse

    I thought I’d see Pearl Jam’s “Last Kiss” here… but it could be because I was talking about it last week. And I recall arguing with a die-hard PJ fan who insisted it was an original when it came out. I love PJ and this version is great, very similar to the original, though…

    When I first heard Johnny Cash sing Hurt – I think my heart stopped. I’d say his version and the NIN original are equals because they are so vastly different. I am an NIN fan, so it was an experience to hear Cash sing “my empire of dirt.” Sounded very alien to me.

  • Brickhouse

    “Last Kiss” was originally by Wayne Cochrane and the CC Riders.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Kiss

  • Phillies

    How about Quiet Riot’s “Cum On Feel The Noize?” That’s a great song

    Also, Metallica’s “Turn the Page” cover, though both that and the Bob Marley version are great in their own ways

  • Brickhouse

    BishopWhiteT: Walk This Way was preformed by Run DMC with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry as gues vocals/guitar. I wouldn’t consider that a true cover (great song & video, though!).

  • BB

    Just for the reference of others, the original ‘I Fought The Law’ was by the Bobby Fuller Four.

    My own nominations are Paul Anka lovely swing version of ‘Wonderwall’ (terrible original), Silver Sun’s ‘Too Much, Too Little, Too Late’ and Underworld’s much tighter version of ‘Baker Street’ – I never could stand the sprawling Gerry Rafferty original. There was a terrific cover of ‘Band On The Run’ by the Foo Fighters recently, too.

  • G C

    No “All Along the Watchtower?” That’d be my choice for no. 1.

  • Blogball

    Hey what about that disco song “The Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band.
    Originally Beethoven’s 5th by Beethoven?

    Just kidding everybody :-)

    Good list by the way.

  • Adding one previously not commented, “The Phantom of the Opera” by Nightwish (music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics written by Charles Hart, Richard Stilgoe, Mike Batt). The original Version (with Sarah Brightman) was beautiful, but this one, on a hard/progressive metal tempo, is very, very epic. The amazing soprano voice of Tarja Turunen put this cover on another level.

  • Papavitch

    All great choice, Nirvana is my personal fav. Think of the things they could have done…

    One big gap here though is Marilyn Manson, he’s done so many noteworthy covers, The Beautiful People comes to mind. Nobody sings that song better.

    Otherwise, great list.

  • Connor

    really? joe strummer’s redemption song is better than bob marley? one of the first times an opinion has ever been straight wrong. not to mention that bob wrote that when he knew he was going to die. this song was a closure for him, in which he poured his feelings and beliefs into.

    and no ‘all along the watchtower’?

    i know these kinds of lists are hard to write due to the vast differences in opinions, but i think you could have done a better job

  • BishopWhiteT

    A few others you may not be as aware of, but worth checking out nonetheless…

    Jolene – White Stipes (Dolly Parton)
    Army of Me – Helmet (Bjork)
    Ghost of Tom Joad – Rage Against The Machine (Bruce Springsteen)
    I Got A Feeling – Pearl Jam (the Beatles)
    L.M.L.Y.P – Ween (Prince)
    Black Hole Sun – Cibo Matto (Soundgarden)
    Elanor Rigby – Stanley Jordan (the Beatles)
    Street Spirit (Fade out) – The Darkness (Radiohead)
    Astronomy Domine – Voivod (Pink Floyd)
    Earache My Eye – Soundgarden (Alice Bowie)

    And a couple that should have been considered…

    (Oh) Pretty Woman – Van Halen (Roy Orbison)
    You Really Got Me – Van Halen (the Kinks)
    Anthrax and Public Enemy – Bring The Noise (Public Enemy)
    Pretty much the whole $5.98 ep/$7.98 cd by Metallica, plus countless other covers they did.

  • YogiBarrister

    Check out Cyndi Lauper singing the hell out of this old Gene Pitney chestnut. A friend of mine was the drummer for Blue Angel. It was a crying shame that some hot shot record mogul made her drop them before he would sign her. Seeing her do this song live in a club in New York might just be the highlight of my music watching career.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdzWz0B2j50

  • ABrutalKind

    Iron and Wine – Such Great Heights (The Postal Service)
    while not necessarily better they are both equally amazing in their own ways.

  • Panthea

    Rasputina does kick-ass covers, and I think their “Bad Moon Rising” is the best, for sheer transformative value if nothing else. I love the original, but Rasputina makes it just as eerie and chilling as it should be.

    Their version of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” is pretty awesome too, mainly because the music’s perfect on cellos instead of guitars.

    Also, The Killing Moon’s “You Oughta Know.” Seriously, seriously rocks.

  • Lucky

    The man who sold the world by Nirvana is one of my favorite songs of all time, so kudos on that one – but the Redemption Song cover? You’ve got to be out of your mind.

  • YogiBarrister

    Your parents thought this was the greatest cover song ever.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_59n86U3Dvs
    But if you listen to the Isley Brothers’ version of Twist n Shout, you’ll soon realize it has no place on this list.

  • infallibleangel

    2. thunderchicken – November 17th, 2008 at 1:31 am
    “As far as Hallelujah goes, I think that Rufus Wainwright does a noteworthy job”

    Definitely. Rufus Wainwright’s cover is my favorite, hands down.

  • YogiBarrister

    This one is a rather glaring omission don’t you think? It should be number one seeing how nothing Sinead O’Connor has ever done compares to this.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCwCBh0z3Hs

  • Niels

    Hurt, The Man Who Sold The World & Mad World are my 3 favourite covers of all time.

  • SlickWilly

    Just got to toss my two cents in.

    “Redemption Song” was a poor choice, I thought. Bob’s voice is better and I feel like he puts way more pathos into the song.

    I agree with the rest, but I also think “With a Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker should have been on here. Maybe replaced Redemption Song with it. Overall, good list, though. I love that Tears for Fears song, I could listen to it all day.

  • warrrreagl

    skydiver, it looks like you’ve got another list ready to submit. Do it!

    (but add The Pointer Sisters cover of Springsteen’s “Fire”)

  • YogiBarrister

    Next year will be the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. Is that all? It seems like it happened about a hundred years ago. You gotta believe this classic rendition of a song The Beatles thought so little of, they had Ringo sing it should be on the list.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FMq0iDX1yE

  • MiSaNtHrOpE

    There are a few awesome covers missing, I think:

    -Orgy’s cover of New Order’s Blue Monday. Industrial metal intro and Jay Gordon’s dark, pre-emo, masculine voice. ‘Nuff said
    -Amy Lee’s cover of Korn’s Thoughtless. Her voice is more fitting than Jon’s screaming.

  • kiwiboi

    kiwiboi, Money (That’s What I Want wasn’t originally recorded by The Beatles. It was written by Barry Gordy and originally recorded by Barrett Strong. It was the first major hit for Gordy’s Mowtown.

    Skydiver – interesting; I never knew that. You learn something new every day! And thanks for all the other interesting information.

  • kiwiboi

    Just for the reference of others, the original ‘I Fought The Law’ was by the Bobby Fuller Four.

    BB – you sure about that? The Crickets recorded it first, I think.

  • YogiBarrister

    There is an entire generation of rock music lovers who don’t know that Ten Years After was the best live band of the 60’s. I couldn’t find Sonny Boy Williamson’s version of Good Morning Little School Girl, so I can’t say it wasn’t better than Alvin Lee’s.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1B1r0sTlGpw&feature=related

  • courtney

    What about “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton, but became a bigger hit with Whitney Houston covering it?

  • jes

    rufus wainwright’s hallelujah is the most moving version, in my opinion. i’d at the very least give it an honorable mention.

    also, though i expect this to cause a stir, metallica’s turn the page rocked bob seger’s version. it’s more passionate and the instrumental just doesn’t even compare.

  • Jackie

    NIN’s hurt seems to be more angry than anything else but Johnny Cash’s version is just pure sorrow. I can’t decide which one I like better. Also, in an interview with Lou Reed he said Duran Duran did “Perfect Day” the way he had imagined it but was unable to do. Led Zeppelin did an amazing “When the levee breaks”.

  • Eric

    JOE COCKER!!! With a Little Help from Me’ Friends!!!

  • YogiBarrister

    According to Rankopedia, the top 25 cover songs.For the record, #13, #14, and #24, “Don’t be ridiculous!”
    1. All Along The Watchtower Jimi Hendrix
    2. Twist and Shout The Beatles
    3. Knockin’ On Heavens Door Guns N Roses
    4. Hurt Johnny Cash
    5. Somwhere Over the Rainbow Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
    6. Live And Let Die Guns N Roses
    7. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You Led Zeppelin
    8. The Man Who Sold The World Nirvana
    9. Hound Dog Elvis Presley
    10. Mad World Michael Andrews & Gary Jules
    11. RESPECT Aretha Franklin
    12. I Shot the Sheriff Eric Clapton
    13. You really got me Van Halen
    14. (Oh) Pretty Woman Van Halen
    15. Hey Joe The Jimi Hendrix Experience
    16. While My Guitar Gently Weeps Jeff Healey Band
    17. My Favorite Things John Coltrane
    18. America Yes
    19. In My Life Johnny Cash
    20. Higher Ground Red Hot Chili Peppers
    21. Where Did You Sleep Last Night Nirvana
    22. Love Hurts Nazareth
    23. Last Kiss Pearl Jam
    24. Downtown Train Rod Stewart
    25. Take Me To The River Talking Heads
    Sorry if this is a duplicate

  • Mr. Plow

    Everyone knows the greatest cover of Nothing Compares to You is by Me First and the Gimme Gimmies. j/k

    What about Weezer covering My Veloria by the Pixies?

  • JSchaps

    Why isn’t Cum on Feel the Noize on here? It wasnt originally by Quiet Riot.

  • chelsean fan

    Not a bad list. Personally I would never say that Joe Strummer’s cover of redemption song is better, that may have been Marley’s greatest song he ever wrote. I love the 99 Red Balloons cover by Goldfinger more than Nena’s, and I love HIM’s version of Wicked Game much more than Chris Isaac’s. Also Life is a Highway, I think the Rascal Flatts version is better. Here’s another Best of You by Foo Fighters, better than Prince’s original. Plus Dazed and confused by Led Zeppelin is also a cover

  • caStroY

    When I read the title of the list, I immediately thought Hurt by Johnny Cash.

    I’m surprised to not see any Led Zeppelin on this list. Although they often changed the songs so much, they weren’t like the originals at all, they still had to pay royalties to the original artists. Pretty much anything from their first album and some from their second comes to mind…
    Communication Breakdown, You Shook Me, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You come to mind…

    Also Cocaine or After Midnight, originally by JJ Cale, covered by Eric Clapton and Crossroads which was a cover by Cream.

    Lol, I guess I could make a whole blues list, although Zeppelin would hold a few of the spots on it, so it really would be biased…

    And Black Magic Women covered by Santana
    Blue Suede Shoes and Hound Dog covered by Elvis

    I also see other people have mentioned All Along the Watchtower…

    I better stop now, otherwise I could go on quite a bit, I see how narrowing stuff down to a list of ten really becomes quite difficult…

  • DK

    Kiwiboi: Funny you mentioned UB40 with Red Red Wine (which I didn’t know was a cover too!), as I was going to mention their cover of Elvis Pressley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” which is one of my very favorite songs ever!

    For those mentioning “I will always love you” I think that though it became a bigger hit when Houston covered it, the original is just as good.

    And BishopWhiteT: I was almost irritated teh first time I heard someone say “you have to listen to this cover of Jolene, done by The White Stripes, it’s way better than Dolly!” But then I listened to it, and I agree, it’s flippin amazing!

  • JayArr

    I sure would have liked the list to include BOTH the original and the proffered improvement. This helps in making a more intelligible comparison without having to hunt down the original elsewhere.

    I listened to 5 of the above, and really can’t say I’m impressed in any event. Oh well… maybe next list…

  • Ren

    My favorite cover song is probably either This Is Halloween by Marilyn Manson which was originally from the Nightmare Before Christmas, or I Fought The Law by Green Day.

  • Gimbul

    Black Steel Is great! I need to go diggin’ through the old CDs again.

    Anyway, a few of my favs…

    “Dancing Days” by STP (originally Led Zepelin)
    “Never Let Me Down Again” by Smashing Pumpkins (originally Depeche Mode)
    “Little Wing” by Stevie Ray Vaughan (originally Jimi Hendrix)

    By the way, Reznor’s version of Hurt was better.

  • Buster

    Metallica – Sabbra Cadabbra
    Metallica – Helpless
    Metallica – The Wait
    Metallica – The Prince
    Metallica – Breadfan

    Surprised that Watchtower wasn’t in this list. Even U2’s version is better than Dylans. Although I don’t think anyone can touch NIN’s original version of Hurt even though JC was dying as he sang it.

    My version of Go with the flow should be in this list :P
    http://myspace.com/deltidsharmonisk

  • BooRadley

    “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” is my FAVORITE They Might Be Giants song. I never knew it was a cover!

    My very favorite cover of all time is the George Harrison/Paul Simon version of “Here Comes the Sun” done live on Saturday Night Live. I wish I had a recording of it. It is exquisite!

  • brittney

    Funny, something happened today and it made me think of Mad World and so it’s been stuck in my head for a while now. And I didn’t feel like searching it on youtube OR watching Donnie Darko (greattt movie)…and so here it is for me to listen to. YAY.

  • Realist

    Dear Listverse,

    Please dig a little deeper. Music goes beyond the Billboard Charts.

    Love,
    Anyone Who Knows Anything About Music

  • BooRadley

    Ooooh! I just found it on You Tube.
    George Harrison/Paul Simon “Here Comes the Sun”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAOclgppEXc
    Beautiful.

  • tami

    i’m sure nobody else has heard of it, but thrice did a cover of “send me an angel” which was much, much better than the original. (at least i think so)

  • bigski

    I very much agree with 1-2-4 and 6 the rest i dont disagree with its subjective. If Spart likes them, more power to him/her. Im in love with the Bass player from Tricky though!

  • John

    How about Kill switch engage cover of dio’s Holy diver.

  • imager

    Love Train by Keb Mo far outshines the O’Jays version!

  • krustopia1

    A Perfect Circle’s cover of Imagine.
    The major to minor shift is very effective.
    And the kit.
    It almost makes it sound like a completely different piece.

  • Turd Ferguson

    I think Rufus Wainwright’s Hallelujah is more recognized by the mainstream public, mostly due to the fact that it was used on the Shrek soundtrack

  • puddingpuppet

    RIP Joe Strummer. Such a tragic and early death of an extremely talented and influential figure. He still had so much more to give the world…

  • jccasey

    Last Kiss- Pearl Jam

  • ohiojeannie

    #10 are you kidding?! Bob Marley was the greatest. Anyone else that has ever TRIED to sing this song has never captured the feeling Marley had put into the song.

  • The_Patient

    YES to Buckley.
    No. 10, noone beats Bob Marley Id say. What a legend!!

  • Saruhhh

    A really good one that is only recorded from a live show is Round Here by counting crows but covered by panic at the disco. I think they put more emotion into it. There’s two versions of it. One is with just piano. The piano one makes it really sad, even though it’s a sad song to begin with.
    :]

  • glebarr

    1.Stanley Snail (ex-zappa guitarist Mike Keneally) doing the Yes song Siberian Khatru and doing it better than Yes.
    2. John Goodsall (Brand x) doing Genesis’ Carpet Crawlers-a killer guitar sole
    3.Bela Fleck and the Flecktones doing the Beatles Oh! Darling with an amazing vocal performance from guest John Cowen
    4.Aynsley Lister’s version of Little Wing…I like this better than SRV’s version only because the lyrics are as important as the guitar itself and Aynsley delivers on both fronts.
    5.Roy Buchanan doing Neil Young’s Down by the River
    6.Gov’t Mule doing the Humble Pie tune 30 days in the Hole
    7.Rory Gallagher doing As the Crow Flies by tony Joe White
    8.California guitar Trio doing Bohemian Rhapsody on their live album…totally amazing musicianship
    9.Jimi Hendrix’s version of All along the Watchtower
    10. ….and yes, definately Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah; this song will bring you to tears with it’s stunning beauty and passion.

  • Jessnz

    Jose Gonzalez’s cover of The Knife’s Heartbeats is the best cover I’ve heard in a long time

  • Katie

    OK, I disagree with the Redeption Song cover, and many people have said that no one tops Bob Marley.. but what about Sublime covering Trenchtown Rock (a Marley song)? I love the song, and i LOVE and respect marley, but I have to admit the Sublime version really captures the desire for music that the song is describing. Bradley Knowls voice on that one just echoes in my soul. Anyone out there know what I’m talking about??

    http://www.imeem.com/tag/trenchtown%20rock/

    Check it out for yourself.

  • Csimmons

    Very good list, I would have out in Rage Against The Machine’s cover of Renegades of Funk or Born Of A Broken Man, but very good otherwise

  • Moonbeam

    I hate the Bee Gees’ disco stuff, but Eagle Eye Cherry does a version of “To Love Somebody” that is beautiful. It’s from the soundtrack to “Y Tu Mamà Tambièn” Talk about outshining the original.

  • Csimmons

    my last post edit: sorry about Born Of A Broken Man, had a brain fart thinking it was a cover.

  • stw

    pretty much anything Me First and The Gimme Gimmes does

  • Tim

    Siouxsie & The Banshees’ cover of Dear Prudence. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_Qe8d95vCc Rasputinas’ cover of wish you were here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUxCYgTlBU4

  • elartistamadridista

    Some well-known covers I like:

    Hurricane…Ani Difranco (Dylan)
    I will survive…Cake (Gloria Gaynor)
    Personal Jesus…Marilyn Manson (Depeche Mode)
    Johny and Mary…Placebo (?)
    Mrs. Robinson…Lemonheads
    Across the universe…Fiona Apple (Lennon?)

  • aussie pride

    jeff buckleys version is by far the best its like when you eat 2 pounds of peanuts take a hard rock molton shit that loooks like a giant cracked easter eggg then you spray it with hairspray n light it on fire. halleujuh

  • Yun

    Pretty much the only thing I disagree with here is Willie Nelson, not the Pet Shop Boys, should be credited with the best version of #7.

  • matt

    Worst List ever.

  • Gravy

    i still like the bob marley version of redemption song better, as well as leonard cohen’s version of hallelujah.

  • Alicia

    When I saw this list, I though “All along the watchtower”

  • DK

    @Matt (151): We tend to discourage those types of comments here. If it’s a list you are simply uninterested in, you can skip it & read another. Not every list will be for every reader. If you think it’s the “worst ever” because you disagree with it…well…the intro to the list encouraged people to add their own suggestions in the comments. A comment like yours just looks rude.

  • arkz

    personally i prefer bowies version of man who sold the world its a bit more hypnotic

  • santiago

    Great list, I would include Over the Rainbow by Eva Cassidy. I think it is one of the most beautiful songs ever!

  • DK

    oops! i wanna correct my previous commment, Matt’s comment was 153, not 151…Sorry aussie pride!

  • Stella08

    I have to disagree with Redemption Song. There’s no way anyone’s cover could possibly be better than Marley’s. His version is haunting.

  • Lynn

    I completely disagree about Redemption Song. Nothing is better than the original.

  • j_teether

    I agree with a lot of the other people here that NIN’s Hurt is better. I feel that the original is much more powerful and moving, whereas the Cash version is just very depressing.

  • Antoin

    Bitches Aint Shit by Ben Folds was pretty good was a pretty god cover

  • Mom424

    Great list; all worthy inclusions. My favorite cover has been mentioned – Jolene by Jack White/White Stripes – much preferred to Dolly’s original.

    Another tune, not really a cover, but could be is Bare Naked Ladies/Sarah Maclachlan version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/
    We Three Kings. Too bad it only gets airplay around Christmas.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBHrmDRffyU&feature=related

  • Taylor

    How could you forget Jimi Hendrix’s all along the watch tower
    Orignal Bob Dylan

    SEROUSLY?????

  • mark

    headstones cover of tweeter and the monkey man

  • manicd

    ‘How about Kill switch engage cover of dio’s Holy diver.’

    Granted the cover was alright, it doesn’t even come close to the raw power and feeling in Dio’s voice. You can’t compare it to something down by possibly the best metal voacalist ever.

  • sanasunshine.

    the band a day to remember did a really good cover of kelly clarkson’s song since you’ve been gone.
    i’m not very fond of her, but the cover really does outshine the orginal.

  • sakurakiss

    I really enjoyed this list – I thought it was a really cool idea. I’m not sure this song should be on here, because I’m not sure it really outshines the original and I think a lot of people have never heard it, but I actually prefer The Used/My Chemical Romance cover of “Under Pressure” to the original. Just my opinion though.

  • anon543

    @84. xXTurkinatorXx
    Land of Confusion was originally done by Phil Collins…and I agree the Disturbed version is far superior.

    @133. John
    As a Killswitch & Dio fan I must disagree with you Killswitch’s was so awful Dio probably wished he would die just so he could turn in his grave

  • Precision

    A very high quality list, and I’m sure a very tough one to write considering the number of excellent cover songs out there. The task would have been made even more difficult as the question of what defines a good song is incredibily subjective.

    Personally my favourite song on the list is Hurt, followed closely by The Man Who Sold the World and Mad World.

    Other favourites of mine that aren’t included are All Along the Watchtower by Hendrix (as mentioned by many others), and Frank Sinatra’s cover of The Impossible Dream.

    Well done Spart!

  • jogiff

    DEVO’s cover of “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)?”

    Or their cover of Secret Agent Man?

    Or just about any of their covers.

  • anon543

    Re: Land of Confusion was Genesis which Phil collins was in not him solo…Sorry!!

  • To: luna1580

    if you could hear the song on a video called “lucky 3” on youtube

    also http://www.elliottsmithbsides.com

  • luke

    I personally think Jeffs hallelujah was more moving it’s definately more haunting. Also where is Whitneys I will always love you in my opinion that definately outshines dolly partons original.

  • Kealey

    This cover of Outkasts-Hey ya is pretty effin’ sweet. It gives the song a bit more substance and makes it worth listening to, have a listen and tell me what you think :)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-8nkkOA_AM
    And my bet is all of us could probably sound this good if we all grew beards like this guys.

  • My good God, Spart! What a fabulous list!
    I don’t agree with every choice, I’m sure it’s a generational thing, but I truly love the list.
    So. Here are my comments, for good or for ill:
    10 – Bob Marley’s rendition of Redemption Man is far superior to Joe Strummer. Marley had a visceral connection with the song which was missing in the Joe Strummer version. Strummer’s was okay, and would have done if one had never heard Marley’s original. Not good enough.
    9 – Gary Jules version of Mad World is far better than Tears for Fears! Great choice!
    7 – Pet Shop Boys v. Brenda Lee.
    This is like comparing Tulips to Elephants. It can’t be done.
    No, really. I mean it. It’s not even close.
    Pet Shop Boys do a fine job on a song called Always On My Mind.
    Brenda Lee did a great job on a song called (amazingly enough!) Always On My Mind!
    I prefer the song Brenda Lee sang, but I like the song by Pet Shop Boys, too.
    5 – They Might Be Giants version of (absolutely anything, but in this case) Istanbul (Not Constantinople)is fabulous! I’ve been a major fan of this group since they got together.
    4 – Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt is so much better than Trent Reznor’s I feel bad for Reznor.
    3 – Youth Group does the best version of Forever Young, bar none.
    2 – Bowie does the definitive version of The Man Who Sold The World. Bowie. Not Nirvana. There were some Nirvana songs I liked, but please, Bowie? Nuh huh.
    1 – Yup, Sinead O’Connor can sing anything, anything, better than whoever sang it first. Nothing Compares To You is a tissue fest when she sings it, I saw Prince sing it live and it was ho-hum.
    BONUS – This is a toughy. I like Jeff Buckley’s version better than Leonard Cohen’s, but there are other covers that are nearly as good. All in all, though, I think you chose wisely here.

  • Redemption Song, *NOT* man

  • Lister-Ian

    WOW what a great list of comments!

    I’ll be searching for some songs today!

    The first song I thought of has not been mentioned yet
    (I think)

    Video Killed The Radio Star

    The Buggles covered a band called The Cameras

    Their original is nowhere near The Buggles great version!

  • Cubone

    I would suggest “Love Hurts” by Nazareth.

  • sam

    Pearl Jam – Last Kiss

  • berto

    The White Stripes “Jolene” (original Dolly Parton)
    and Faith No More “War Pigs (original Black Sabbath) are two notable omissions in my mind

  • Profeh

    Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower.” Led Zeppelin, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” Mötley Crüe, “Smoking in the Boys? Room.”

    This list is ludicrous. Clearly created by an age-challenged enemy of Rock and Roll.

  • Profeh

    …and Metallica has never EVER topped any song they’ve covered. They pick damned good songs, that’s the problem. Also, whoever said Watchtower isn’t a good song, I can’t stand still for that. I’d understand if you’d said you didn’t like it, or you thought it wasn’t that good, in other words if you’re going to state an opinion, don’t do it in an offensive flat assertion as though it were proven fact. Many of us consider it a great song, and we have strong reasons for it. Good day, sir.

  • highslime

    I agree that Willie Nelson should’ve gotten credit for “Always On My Mind”. And I prefer NIN’s “Hurt” over Mr. Cash’s.

    My favorite cover on this list is “Man Who Sold The World”. I’ll admit I’ve never heard the original though.

    And in my opinion, a notable omission would have to be Metallica’s version of “Turn the Page” or “Whiskey in the Jar”.

    But as many have said, it’s really a subjective list. For example, I abhor any Marilyn Manson cover ever done. He should have left them alone.

  • highslime

    Oh, and Nirvana did an excellent rendition of “Jesus Don’t Want Me For A Sunbeam”.

  • heatherrr.

    pennywise – land down under !!!!

    i just like how they make a fun song even more fun

    and i’m going to australia in january to study abroad so….anything aussie is especially exciting

  • heatherrr.

    we need a part 2 to this list..for sure

  • Spart

    183 Profeh
    129 Realist

    Not that age challenged – just, as stated earlier, my own choices.

    Not a big fan of metal, and not mad about hip hop, have always been a more attuned to English music, madchester, brixton beats, and trip hop. Having said that, anyone growing up in the 80’s and 90’s had to be aware of Sinead and Nirvana.

    I apologise to the Joe Cocker fans as well, I should have probably taken the list out to 15. His cover of the Beatles is the definative version.

  • KenManiac

    my votes:

    “Satisfaction” by Devo
    “Downtown” by B-52s
    “My Way” by Sid Vicious
    “Jump” by Aztec Camera (yes, the VH song)
    “Ice Dancer” by Flaming Lips (originally by Suicide)
    “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “Too Drunk to Fuck” by Nouvelle Vague
    “Sweet Child Of Mine” by Taken by Trees (on somafm right now!
    there’s many others, not coming to me right now. agree with Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” being superior, which is hard to do as NIN does it so well.

  • Jenna_Bug

    Ok, Mad World by Gary Jules is one of my favorite songs, Donnie Darko is one of my all time favorite movies.

    IMO I think “Turn The Page” was done better as a remake by Metallica than the original by Bob Seger. The original is great, but James Hetfield’s voice is oh so amazing. My favorite band of all time, gotta love Metallica.

  • ViewARandomList…

    i think HURT by JC is on every music list on this site

  • The Tantalizer

    umm… what about Whiskey in the Jar From Metallica, Turn The Page from Metallica, Machine Heads cover’s of Hallowed Be Thy Name and Battery is as good as Iron Maidens and Metallicas… Atreyu’s cover of Bon Jovi’s You Give Love A Bad Name

  • YogiBarrister

    Another glaring oversight: Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin. Another great Kris Kristofferson cover is Sunday Morning Coming Down, a better down in the dumps song than Hurt, IMO.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1E99cWhTTg&feature=related

  • duuude

    uhhh
    hey joe by jimi hendrix?
    original by the leaves?

    one of the biggest songs of the 60s and 70s come on guys

    also the redemption song is wayyyyy better by marley

  • Brian Moo

    You definitively need All Along the Watchtower! It’s THE eclipsing cover all other covers are compared to!

  • Heroajax

    Interesting list, but I have to agree with many of the previous comments.

    Bob’s Redemption Song far outshines the version you selected. So much more passionate and moving than this one.

    Jimi’s version of All All Along the Watchtower is a very notable omission on this list.

    Arguable the greatest cover of all time would have to be Soft Cell’s Tainted Love. It’s consistently ranked in the top 5 of the “one hit wonder” lists. Any cover list should definitly have this song on the list. Whether you like it or not, the impact of this cover on this band and over time can’t be denied. Should have been 1 or 2 imo. :-)

    Interesting though.

  • Heroajax

    Oh, I also have to agree with the NIN supporters. I liked Cash’s version of Hurt, but imo, Trent does it much better regardless of his own comment. I agree that Cash made that song his own version, but I feel Trent’s version and the supporting music is much more moviing (and therefore depressing) than Cash’s solo guitar.

    Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate both versions, but if I have to choose one to listen to, I’ll take NIN’s any day of the week.

  • gracethejackRussell

    All along the Watchtower should be near the top of the list. What a great example of a song which was envisioned in one form and delivered as perfection in another.

  • anon543

    Nirvana also covered “Lake of Fire” which was originally the Meat Puppets which imo was a lot better

  • YogiBarrister

    Vic Chestnutt’s Kick My Ass by Garbage.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIototsr_2M

  • YogiBarrister

    A great song done well, from the soundtrack of the Steal This Movie, a Steve Earle, Sheryl Crow, and Abbie Hoffman mashed up.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjlIEC8tr-A

  • YogiBarrister

    Is it because Bob Dylan is such a great songwriter that he’s cited so frequently in the comments, or is it more an indictment of his singing ability? Here’s another Dylan cover by Leon Russell.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqLx0FliTNg&feature=related

  • good list

  • Ian

    the reel big fish version of take on me is way better than the original by a-ha

  • rebel

    Serj Tankian covers the beatles song “Girl.” Its a must see for any system of a down/ beatles fan
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LYlLu-R3jo

  • imagine

    The original Redemption Song is much better than the Joe Strummer cover. The emotion in Bob Marley’s voice and the sort of hymnal feel that Marley’s accent gave it can’t be replicated.

  • Lynn in Oregon

    It’s already been mentioned, but I want to put my vote in for Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It’s a great song, and his cover (including Wonderful World) plucks at my heartstrings.

    Thanks for a great list that really got the comments flying :)

  • D

    Must agree that Bob Marley’s Redemption song is by far the best version. Hendrix’s “All along the watchtower”, should of definitely made this list as well as Kamakawiwo’oles “somewhere over the rainbow”, that song is ridiculous.

  • Allison

    Good list, but I agree with others that Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” is infinitely better than The Leaves’ original. He turned an incredibly perky song into a much more emotional one. I can’t believe that it was skipped over.

    I agree with most others on the list (except #10) and I get teary-eyed every time I hear Cash’s “Hurt.”

  • Ummm

    Sinead? Really?

    I have to respectfully disagree with that pick.

  • Bex

    While Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt was terrific, you cannot compare it to the original.

    Also, the cover of Mad World is a completely different song and not “infinitely” better at all.

  • k1w1taxi

    Ever Heard of Sutherland Brothers and Quiver? Thought Not. However I bet you have heard of their most famous song – even if you are not keen on the singer. Sailing by Rod Stewart.

    Some other lesser known songs
    Tecumseh Valley Steve Earle (Towns van Zandt original)
    Celluloid Heroes Joan Jett (The Kinks)
    Poor Poor pitiful Me Linda Ronstadt (Warren Zevon)
    Knockin on Heaven’s Door Warren Zevon (Eric Clapton)

    segue
    If you are a Sinead fan have you heard her sing Shores of the Swilly (The version I have is credited to Phil Coulter feat Sinead, but the vocals are all hers) This is definitely a box of tissues song.

    Cheers
    Lee

  • Enoooo

    I also liked the NIN verison of hurt better. But it’s hard to compare the two. Even though they are the same songs, they mean something completely different. The way trent sings the song is so dark. i guess that’s why i’m not a fan of the johnny cash version, it kind of takes away the meaning the song had in the first place.

  • Buster

    Lord Of This World – COC (Black Sabbath)

  • Dionysus

    hey, wheres guns n’ roses’ knocking on heavans door?

  • Seanithan

    Cohen’s version of Hallelujah may be better, but Nina Simone’s cover of Lilac Wine pales in comparison to Buckley’s (and the original pales in comparison to both).

  • Skot

    The late great Eva Cassidy had an impeccable ear for finding the hidden beauty within a song. If she was still living I’m sure many more great songs would have been reinterpreted. Her version of Sting’s “Fields of Gold” is one of the most beautifully performed songs I have ever heard, and to think she was a relative unknown and only found success after she had already died. The brightest stars burn quickest…

  • Simons

    How about the Rap to Rock cover of “Lick me like a Lolypop” by Thrice. That song OWNS, way better than the dumb rap version that was all over the charts.

  • Pingback: Cool Aggregator Top 20 Links()

  • KCMDux88

    Tool’s cover of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” is unbelieveable.

  • Seanithan

    Ah.. and a few contributions of my own.

    Nico – These Days (James Taylor)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1N8GtDkYfQ

    Nirvana – Where Did You Sleep Last Night (Leadbelly)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eN2jYqs8myI

    Iron and Wine – Such Great Heights (Postal Service)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKGHkBComjM

    Mat Weddle of Obadiah Parker – Hey Ya (Outkast)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-8nkkOA_AM

    Orgy – Blue Monday (New Order)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Phnld-XX0tM

    Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine – Down With The Sickness (Disturbed)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhaQlFLXK4c

    Ray Charles & Nina Simone – Baby It’s Cold Outside (Frank Loesser)
    No Video

    Red Hot Chili Peppers – Subterranean Homesick Blues (Bob Dylan)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtPjHG3RSAM

    Rage Against The Machine – Beautiful World (Devo)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFTbvx3Fx_s

  • ali

    it’s not better than the original but it is the best cover version of this song…
    reel big fish – take on me

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HO7sTntruzg

  • YogiBarrister

    For a Beatle’s song this one is relatively mediocre, but the singer’s unique style puts some sparkle into it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPFhtcwwrtU

  • Yondofan12

    Rufus Wainwright does a really good, moving job on “Hallelujah”

  • Matty

    Haven’t seen these yet:

    Nico – These Days (Jackson Browne)
    Guster – Nothing But Flowers (Talking Heads)
    Faith No More – War Pigs (Black Sabbath)
    Allman Bros. – Statesboro Blues (Blind Willie McTell) [and a few others in which ABB blew away the masters…]

    And John Cale’s version of Hallelujah tops both Cohen’s and Buckley’s…sorry, folks.

  • Matty

    and…

    The Pretenders – Stop Your Sobbing (The Kinks)

  • mike

    luna1580 — Elliott’s ‘Thirteen’ is most easily available on the posthumous “New Moon.” Might be on iTunes.

    Two brilliant Jason Falkner covers: Magazine’s “Song from Under the Floorboards” and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” the latter which can be heard here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jP23AtjV2o

  • 213. k1w1taxi: segue, If you are a Sinead fan have you heard her sing Shores of the Swilly (The version I have is credited to Phil Coulter feat Sinead, but the vocals are all hers) This is definitely a box of tissues song.
    ****
    No, kiwitaxi, I haven’t, but that will be remedied by days end!

    I want to second (third, fourth, fifth, whatever…) All Along The Watchower by Jimi Hendrix. Good lord, I saw him perform it live, and I swear, I was astonished everyone in the audience wasn’t electrocuted!

  • YogiBarrister

    Serendipity? I went to YouTube to find The Grateful Dead’s version of ME AND MY UNCLE, instead I discovered this 43 year old clip of Joni Mitchell doing justice to the same song.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp3lJg07u4w

  • YogiBarrister

    I would like to see JaFra adopt a new policy with lists like this. He should do an update that includes a link to notable ommisions. In this case, one candidate, All ALONG THE WATCHTOWER, was cited too many times to count. The list maker gets to decide who to include or exclude, but the barbarians at the gate should also have input for the archives.

  • UCFRoadWarrior

    Great list…probably just too short

    Some other cover songs better than the originals….

    “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” Marvin Gaye …recorded by others previously…Gladys Knight & The Pips had a big hit with this before Marvin Gaye’s version…MGs the best of all

    “Every Time You Go Away” Paul Young …Better than the Hall & Oates original…and Young did quite a few good covers of other soul/R&B songs. Underrated 80’s artist IMO

    “Gloria” Patti Smith …Adding that “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine” verse was priceless…and outshined the Van Morrison/Them original. I would include her cover of “Land of a Thousand Dances” if it wasnt part of a medley from her “Land” song.

    “Anyone Else But You” …Michael Cera/Ellen Page…their version (on the Juno soundtrack) soooo much better than The Moldy Peaches original…Cera/Page took a silly song and made it a sweet love song…not bad for actors not being professional musicians (actually played the instruments on their version)

    I bet others have more songs/covers to add

  • Elizabeth

    Obviously Hilary Duffs song ‘Reach Out’is a better remake of Depeche Mode song, ‘Personal Jesus’!

    OBVIOUSLY >_>

  • lethaldose

    where in the hell was All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix.

  • von

    While I agree with the list on most songs – Trent Reznor’s version felt as poetic as Johnny’s version. I like both equally and I don’t think either of them out did the other.

  • PJMurphy

    Two that haven’t been mentioned so far…

    Nazareth’s version of “This Flight Tonight”, by Joni Mitchell. Far and away better than the original.

    Recorded as early as 1933, and in 1939 by LeadBelly, was a ditty covered in 1977 by Ram Jam called “Black Betty”

    And a few personal faves….

    Holly Cole’s version of “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash

    Angelique Kudjo, Buddy Guy, and Vernon Reid doing “Voodoo Child”

    The Corrs, “Little Wing”

    Almost anything by Dread Zeppelin

    Etta James’ version of “If You Want Me To Stay” by Sly and the Family Stone

    Midge Ure’s version of Jethro Tull’s “Living in the Past”

    No Doubt’s “It’s My Life”, originally by Talk Talk

    The Blues Brothers cover of “She Caught The Katy” by Taj Mahal. Come to think of it, EVERY Blues Brothers cover pretty much blows the doors off the original.

    And, here’s a special treat. Just play it, trust me.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjXN3OLgoqs

  • Lammy

    How could these not make the list:

    1) “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston (orig. Dolly Parton)

    2) “Wind beneath my wings” by Bette Midler (orig. Lou Rawls)

    3) “Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin (orig from the musical Threepenny Opera)

    4) “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers (from a movie called Unchained, I think)

    5) “This ol’ heart of mine” by Rod Stewart and Ronald Isley (orig. The Isley Brothers)

    6) “Respect” by Aretha Franklin (orig. Otis Redding)

  • MDurden

    What about “Along Along The Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix?

  • BDAY55

    Someone likes the ‘sensitive’ songs, no? A little 80’s nostalgia too, huh? Well it is your list, I guess. I think if we put our minds to it we could come up with a better (or more accurate) list.

  • cass

    Kiwiboi: I fought the law is by the Bobby Fuller 4

    And I think maybe a best Bob Dylan covers list is needed to appease all these Hendrix commenters.

  • 4. Jman: This is a good list, but I must ask what about Jimi Hendrix’s cover of “All Along the Watch Tower”?
    233. lethaldose: where in the hell was All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix.
    237. MDurden: What about “Along Along The Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix?
    ****
    lethaldose and MDuren, not only have you obviously *NOT* read ANY of the posts above your own ( for God’s sake MDuren, lethaldose said exactly the same as you only four posts earlier!), but it was first noted at POST NUMBER FOUR!
    Not reading the posts above your own is rude, and defeats the entire point of this site.

  • jogiff

    @ Seanithan #221: Are you kidding? The RAtM cover was f***ing terrible! It’s not really possible to outshine DEVO anyways.

  • ally

    leonard cohen’s version is NOT more moving.

  • FlockO’Seagulls

    Working in a Coal Mine–Devo (Originally Lee Dorsey)

    Everyday–James Taylor (Originally Buddy Holly)

    Oh Girl–John Waite (Originally Chi Lites)

  • Sunshine

    “Got the time” performed by Anthrax is amazing. In fact it is so unbelievably popular by the band that I have no idea who the original is. “Antisocial” is another cover by Anthrax, but it didn’t have as much as an impact. “Got the time” should be in this list.

  • Egg

    Wow, Johnny Cash doing a Reznor? I thought I read that wrong! It turned out so wonderful, no wonder Reznor said that the song didn’t belong to him anymore. The emotion made me all teary, how I love Johnny Cash!

  • Rocky

    Learn something new everyday…I saw the post about I Fought the Law being by The Crickets and I snobbishly thought to myself, “it wasn’t The Crickets, it was Bobby Fuller Four first” so I googled it and sure enough…I have been put in my place. The Jeff Buckley cover of Hallelujah is one of my favorite songs to listen to when I am feeling sad, I listened to it a lot over the summer after I had two deaths in my immediate family. I think my favorite cover has to be Celine Dion’s cover of Shook Me All Night Long. Okay, really in all seriousness, all though it isn’t an actual recorded cover, my favorite cover I have seen is Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison and freaking Prince covering While My Guitar Gently Weeps. It moves me to tears.

  • Nate

    I really liked the Korn cover of “Word Up” by Cameo.

  • jadester

    I think the clarity of buckleys voice mixed with cohens poetry makes for the most moving version. Such a beautiful song, my favorite.

  • Melissa

    While I’m not a big fan of her’s, Britney Spears’ version of My Perogative was much better than Bobby Brown’s. I’m kinda surprised this wasn’t on the list considering how big the song was at the time it came out.

  • Dano

    Tossing Prince’s version of ‘What if God was one of us’ in to the ring.

  • kiwiboi

    I fought the law is by the Bobby Fuller 4

    cass – Sonny Curtis and The Crickets did the original; 6 years prior to the Bobby Fuller 4 :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Fought_the_Law

  • Mining

    More songs:
    Blowing in the Wind by Peter, Paul, and Mary
    Mr. Tambourine Man by The Byrds
    Mighty Quinn by Manfred Mann
    All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix

    All of the originals were done by Bob Dylan

  • Milbond

    Spiderbait’s cover of Black Betty. Roots unknown but cover is of Ram Jam’s version

    Pearl Jam’s cover of Crazy Mary was awesome as all heck.

    Placebo’s version of “I Feel You” by Depeche Mode was equally awesome.

    The Stranglers cover of 96 Tears by “? & the Mysterians” is good

    Also, check out Ministry’s entire album “Cover Up”. It has a very memorable version of Louis Armstrong’s “Wonderful World.”

  • Rob

    @ABrutalKind: I was hoping someone would mention “Such Great Heights”. It almost seems as if the Postal Service version is the cover, not the other way around. Ben Folds made a decent cover of that song, too.

  • hummus

    The only Beatles song I think that the remake was better is “While my guitar gently weeps” preformed by Jeff Healey:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJh3KaIKDAw

  • Joseph de Culver City

    “The Train Kept A Rollin'” by The Yardbirds
    original Tiny Bradshaw or The Rock ‘N Roll Trio
    don’t even mention Areos**t(h)!

  • FATSEXY

    Crap list.

    “I Drove All Night” – Cyndi Lauper (orig. Roy Orbison)
    “Lean on Me” – Club Nouveau (orig. Bill Withers)

    Those two are better covers than anything listed.

    Also, the Tears for Fears version of “Mad World” is multiple times better than the Jules version. I guess because it’s in a Gears of War commercial, that makes it awesome, right?

  • Lamica91

    The Tears For Fears version isn’t nearly as good as the Gary Jules version. He just creates the right mood to go along with the lyrics that Tears For Fears doesn’t have.

    Evergreen Terrace put a hardcore spin on “Mad World” which is really good as well, but in a completely different way

  • Eric Goldin

    How about “Crazy” by Patsy Cline{original by Willie Nelson)?

  • t_man

    I’m partial to System of a Down’s cover of Snowblind (Black Sabbath) and Killswitch Engage’s rendition of Holy Diver (Ronnie James Dio). I don’t know if it would count as a cover but the combination of Run-DMC and Aerosmith for Walk This Way is one of my favorites too.

  • Josh

    I know it’s been beaten to death but to call Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” a glaring omission would be an understatement. It’s my number 1 by far.
    Also, how about “Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon and Garfunkel, covered by the Bangles and “Venus” by The Shocking Blue, covered by Bananarama?

  • YogiBarrister

    Eric, Willie Nelson sold that song to Patsy Cline. I believe she was the first person to record it. Same thing with Patti Smith’s version of “Because the Night”. Bruce Springsteen let her use it after she overheard him working on it in a studio they shared.

  • Paulb

    lol, i think the Hurt by Johnny Cash video has been on atleast 3 differnt lists

  • jasontimmer

    This list has lost all respect for putting Hurt on there. I’m going to see Nine Inch Nails tomorrow (Cedar Rapids) and I’m telling on you.

  • Alycia

    I LOVE Jeff Buckley singing Hallelujah

  • lowtolerance

    @jasontimmer: that’s pretty lame of you. if hearing johnny cash’s version doesn’t give you chills, then you’re not really a nine inch nails fan, in my opinion.

  • downhighway61

    lowtolerance, that’s even lamer. psht. I don’t care for Johnny Cash’s version of it much, and I’m very much a NIN fan.

  • ThePoonerBooner

    Johnny Cash’s version of hurt is not better nor more famous than NINE INCH NAILS’S version.
    First of all, get the artist right dumbass, then actually find out which one gets more radio plays. THen you will find out that your #4 is wrong.

  • bigski

    # 268 quit haten`n. Also your nickname say`s it all bro or sis. Calling people dumbass is extremely rude. Tighten up !

  • slavvers

    has anyone heard the manic street preachers version of umbrella which was originally done by rhianna? it’s brilliant.

  • jasontimmer

    hey, just came back from the NIN concert, Trent was mad that “Hurt” made it on here. He sang it tonight the best I’ve ever heard it.

  • MergedLoki

    Just a few comments.
    1. awesome list. very cool :)
    2. the whole Cash/NIN hurt. yes sorry angsty nails fans. I like NIN But not everyone likes industrial type music. I have plenty of people I know that until they heard Johnny cash’s version of ‘hurt’ on the radio. Never even bothered tolisten to an NIN song (and some thought cash wrote it, although i hear thats pretty common that ppl think it’s cash’s song?).
    3. David bowie has said in interviews that after shows he’ll have some people talk to him and say ‘I didn’t know you covered Nirvana songs’ As Cobains version of man who sold the world is obviously the more well known version lol.

  • daveroy

    I’m glad Cobain killed himself…it saves all the Bowie fans the trouble.

  • Marks

    I’m sorry, but I hate the Gary Jules version of ‘Mad World’ with a passion. Hate it, hate it, hate it. He’s taken a good song and made it into one of the most miserable, depressing funeral marches I’ve ever heard in my life. Awful, just awful.

  • jasontimmer

    MergedLoki- not everyone likes Johnny Cash. I know a lot of people who prefer NIN’s version to cash’s.

  • loop

    Anyone ever heard Kim Larsen’s (Danish rockers) version of “Tangled Up In Blue”? Pretty cool!

  • poopypants

    on redemption song and forever young: agree!

    on black steel: disagree!

    great list overall :D

  • Magda

    I really like the list but I’d like to add:
    1. Chris Cornell – Billie Jean
    2. Janis Joplin – Summertime

    I think the 2nd is the best cover of all times…

  • no

    You’re out of your mind
    Bob marley’s original is mind-blowing, this one sounds like a joke

  • HDW

    No Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower = fail

  • Not having read any posts before posting = fail

  • thejake

    Van Halens covers of the Kinks You Really Got Me Now and Roy Orbisons Pretty Woman?? Why these are not in the list?

  • Profeh

    Segue:
    What, just because a lot of other people have said All Along the Watchtower, now nobody can agree with them? It’s hard to argue convincingly against a list like this, because it’s so subjective, but it strikes me that one way to make a point is precisely what’s been going on with Watchtower; many readers have suggested songs I personally didn’t know about, and which didn’t generate a lot of agreement (though the ones I do know are pretty awesome), but the one which has continued to produce replies is Watchtower. Even if it’s being posted due to incomplete perusal of the comments, I believe it’s still a valid comment, because it’s still the poster’s opinion. Isn’t it? And it’s harder to dismiss a comment when you’ve got so many people insisting on it. The list is, after all, a Top 10, that means it’s based on quality, which in turn depends (in the case of music) largely on taste. Come on, man, if anything is clear here, it’s that the list author wrote a list of his ten personally favorite cover songs. If he hadn’t done so, Watchtower would at least have been on there, that’s why there are so many repeated criticisms of the exclusion.
    …And the posters are, in my opinion, absolutely right about two things: Watchtower should have been on the list, and the list itself is deserving of criticism because of its omission.

  • Ironcross

    Van Halen – You Really Got Me – of course, VH would have probably made your most overrated list, considering they use distortion and have THE BEST guitarist who ever strummed a string.

  • 283. Profeh: I would have included Hendrix rendition of Watchtower. Damn! I saw Jimi doing Watchtower, and it was electric! That’s *my* opinion. I’m simply saying that the list was the opinion of the listmaker who, for reasons unknown to us, did not see fit to include that (or several other worthy) songs.
    Posters can bitch and moan from here to Sunday, but the listmaker had his opinion of what made up the Top 10 in *his* opinion, and nothing we say will change what the list says.
    Anyone, including you, is free to submit a list, and posters are free to bitch and moan because, in their opinion, it doesn’t include their favorites.
    Any opinion list is just that – opinion.
    I have to disagree with you about criticism of another’s opinion of something so subjective as music. I just can’t wrap my head around that. It’s harmless. If it was a discussion on capital punishment, then yeah, criticism is appropriate…maybe…I’d prefer to call it discussion, but we’re talking about a harmless subject, music taste. That just doesn’t warrant criticism.
    Oh. And BTW, I’m a female, a woman. Not a guy.

  • memphis slim

    Check out John Cale’s version of Hallelujah. I’ve never heard better.

  • Steph

    Buckley’s Hallelujah for the win.
    The Living End do an ace version of Tainted Love.

  • Profeh

    Segue:
    Sorry about the “man” thing, then. I wasn’t actually thinking you were male, though, it was more of an interjection. And thanks for putting the discussion into perspective, I guess I needed that…music discussions get me to that point every time, I’m afraid. But mostly, thanks for addressing my post; you’re like one of the “rockstar” posters here, it’s kind of an honor and made my morning.

  • Bob

    A great list of songs. Another one you might be interested in is the song ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ which was performed by Persey Sledge but i think was done better by Eric Burden of The Animals. The original video was removed but here is a ‘sim’ version with the original voice for the Animals

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoSKpXTXCAo

    couldn’t find one off hand for persey sledge but i know it is on there some where.

  • Blue Mikey

    Some good things on here, but Pet Shop Boys and They Might Be Giants? Total throwaways. Best covers ever: Jimi’s “All Along the Watchtower” by acclaim, Aretha’s “Respect” (Otis Redding), and Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” (the original was by Fleetwood Mac, when Peter Green was the leader. He wrote it). Zep’s “You Shook Me” was a cover, and so was the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” (first recorded by a no-name band I forget the name of, but the Beatles were probably covering the Isley Brothers’ cover). For that matter Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” was a cover, although I could argue that Big Mama Thornton’s original is better. Turnabout is fair play for Jimi: Stevie Ray’s version of “Little Wing.” I would include Ok Go’s version of the Pixies’ “Gigantic” long before I would ever get to that They Might Be Giants POS. That song is just a lame ripoff of “Puttin’ On the Ritz” no matter who does it. Odd choice.

    I like the Joe Strummer cover (never heard it before) but I agree with most that the Marley version can’t be topped. However YOU ARE RIGHT, Cash’s “Hurt” outshines NIN’s, even T. Reznor thinks so and has said as much.

    Now I will be thinking of great covers all day….

  • Blue Mikey

    Oh, and how about Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” which was being covered in lots of nightclubs in NYC when Barney Josephson introduced Billie to it. Although that song is a cultural icon and a work of art; maybe it transcends a mere list like this, or transcends the notion of a “cover” altogether.

    But then how about Dooley Wilson’s version of “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca, which had already been a hit for Rudy Vallee and sung by several others when the movie came out in 1942.

    I have to thank you, too–I’ve been looking for that PE cover by Tricky for years! Heard it on the radio a time or three in the ’90s, and never knew who it was. Never found it again until this list. Thanks.

  • 288. Profeh: Thank you for the compliment! I’ll tell you something ,Profeh, I take the trouble to respond in depth to really intelligent posters. You fit the bill. I’m really hoping you become a regular.
    I hope a lot of people posting on this list become regulars. For some reason (well, I know the reasons, but it’s too much to go into right now) music brings out the best in people.

  • Dom

    I really love D’angleo’s cover of ‘cruisin’ as well as John Mayer’s cover of ‘Bold as Love’

  • desed2

    wonderwall – ryan adams

  • wallsk8r

    A good cover is Fall Out Boy’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

    The best cover though, is New Fond Glory doing simple mind’s “(dont you) forget about me.”

  • acar

    What about Respect? Otis REdding sang it first and it launched Aretha Franklin’s career!

  • pelicanpower

    what about

    original – Havana Affair by the Ramones

    vs the new one by the red hot chili peppers

  • MergedLoki

    Alright this is a few posts up. roughly 30 or so but haven’t been on the site to reply. Jasontimmer, i’m aware not everyone likes cash’s version (Hurt). I personally like both of them pretty equally. But I’d have to say that cash’s version is definently the more well known of the two even if it is a cover.

  • Land

    I’m happy Cobain Paid homage to David bowie, another of my Favorite artists, i may be bias, but i prefer the bowie version. either way, it is a very good song.

  • vale

    I think that Juliette Lewis “hardly wait” version in the movie “Strange Days” is far superior to PJ Harveys original

  • TheFruitthatateitself

    Ben Harper’s cover of Sexual Healing!’Nuff said…

  • Tin

    There good but weres Jimi man? Hendrix playing all along the watch tower original by Bob Dylan. Better then number one

  • 302. Tin: There good but weres Jimi man? Hendrix playing all along the watch tower original by Bob Dylan. Better then number one
    ****
    What?
    What?
    Uh, um, what?

  • ducky

    how about Trenchtown Rock by Sublime…originally bob marley.

  • There’s a Bob Marley song on this list and it ISN’T I Shot the Sherrif?
    Turn the Page was not improved by Metallica, Bob Seger nailed it.

    My List:
    Judas Priest – The Green Manalishi (Fleetwood Mac)
    Judas Priest – Diamonds and Rust (Joan Baez)
    Iron Maiden – Cross Eyed Mary (Jethro Tull)

  • Joe Young

    Whoever made this list is retarded. You did not include Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower”? or Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from my Friends” or as someone else pointed out Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”, but you do include a cover by the insipid Happy Mondays?

    Can someone with some actual knowledge of music history make the next music list.

  • Cyn

    https://listverse.com/submissions
    why not submit a list yourself? then you too can experience the joy of having something you’ve put much effort into being torn to shreds by heartless strangers. ;)
    and @ LV ..its ‘retarted’
    ;)

  • Jeff Buckley’s is amazing but so is mad world. GREAT LIST!

  • astraya

    I have no idea where to ask this question. This seems to be the latest pop music list.
    I am teaching a lesson based on “My Way” as sung by Elvis Presley. I can’t make any grammatical sense out of the last verse, and am wondering if anyone knows what it actually means.
    As copied from a website, the lyrics read:
    For what is a man, what has he got
    If not himself, then he has not
    To say the words he truly feels
    And not the words he would reveal
    The record shows … [I understand the rest]

    The lack of punctuation on that website doesn’t help.

    The only sense I can make of the first two lines is that it’s a misprint for:
    For what is a man? What has he got?
    If not himself, then he has *naught* (or nought).

    The second two lines, as they stand, are gramatically incomplete. They need something like “To say the words he truly feels (and not [just] the words [that] he would [chose to] reveal) *is the mark of a true man*”.

    Unless I am mishearing something somewhere. Can anyone help me to understand this?

    Earlier this week I played Sid Vicious’ version at the end of lessons, by way of contrast. After one lesson, my main co-teacher said that a student had asked her “Why is the audience cheering when he’s singing so badly?”, so I had to give her a potted history of punk rock (or the tiny bit of it I know). She then suggested that I should find another version to finish with. Sid wasn’t quite appropriate. I found Robbie Williams, who isn’t anywhere near as much fun.

  • Astraya – to me it reads like this:

    “For what is a man? What has he got? If he [doesn’t have] himself, he [doesn’t have] to say the words he truly feels – and he [doesn’t have to say] the words he would reveal [if he had himself]….”

    Okay – frankly my take on it is probably worse than the original. Sorry.

  • downhighway61

    Cyn, #307 definitely made me laugh. :)

  • Cyn

    downhighway61 –
    :)

  • web design

    I’ve got to disagree with Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt being on this list.

    While it is a great cover, it in no way ‘outshines’ the original.

  • 309. astraya: My Way was originally sung by Frank Sinatra. In Sinatra’s version you could understand both the words and the intentions.
    I went to a lyrics site and copied the lyrics for you, hoping that would be of help.

    (P. Anka, J. Revaux, G. Thibault, C. Frankois) the composers and lyricists

    [Recorded December 30, 1968, Hollywod]

    And now, the end is here
    And so I face the final curtain
    My friend, I’ll say it clear
    I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
    I’ve lived a life that’s full
    I traveled each and ev’ry highway
    And more, much more than this, I did it my way

    Regrets, I’ve had a few
    But then again, too few to mention
    I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
    I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
    And more, much more than this, I did it my way

    Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
    When I bit off more than I could chew
    But through it all, when there was doubt
    I ate it up and spit it out
    I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way

    I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
    I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
    And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
    To think I did all that
    And may I say, not in a shy way,
    “Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way”

    For what is a man, what has he got?
    If not himself, then he has naught
    To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
    The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

    [instrumental]

    Yes, it was my way

  • eeeee

    I was so excited to see Youth Group’s Forever Young on here! So many other bands have covered the song, but not as well as Youth Group.

  • astraya

    segue: Thanks for that. It solves one problem, but the second remains, due mainly to the lack of punctuation. If there is a full stop after “naught”, then “To say … who kneels” is still incomplete (as per my first post about this song). Possibly “naught” carries over to the next line somehow. I can understand “then he has naught to say.”, but then what comes next doesn’t make sense. The only way I can make one sentence out of lines 2 and 3 is “If [he does not have] himself, then he has [nothing] to say [about] the things he truly feels (not [just about] the words of one who kneels)”. That is stretching Anka’s otherwise clear grammar a long way.

    When I was planning this lesson, I listened to the start of the Sinatra version, but I have never been a Sinatra fan and I thought that to Korean high school students he would be even more ancient history than Elvis (even though he died within their lifetime). I found the words I quoted on one website and didn’t continue to look for other versions. I listened closely to Elvis this morning, and he does actually sing “of one who kneels”, but he’s not clear. Of the other versions I used, Sid Vicious sings something completely different (as far as I can tell!) and Robbie Williams repeats part of the first chorus (“Yes, there were times …”).

    At the end of one lesson yesterday I pointed to Robbie in the Albert Hall and said “Nado jogi norae haessoyo” (“I have sung there too”). Either they didn’t understand my Korean or they didn’t believe me.

  • astraya: After a number of listenings (to the Sinatra version), below is what I believe is what is meant by the lyrics.
    I could be wrong, but it makes some kind of sense.

    For what is a man, what has he got?
    If (he is) not himself, then he has naught (nothing)to say, the things he truly feels, and not the words of one who kneels ( in despair or defeat).
    The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

  • k1w1taxi

    My take would be

    For What is A Man, What has he got?
    If (he is) not himself then he has naught (nothing).
    (ie he must be true to himself)
    To say the things he truly feel and not the words of one who kneels (ie Tis better to die on one’s feet than live on one’s knees)
    The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

    Cheers
    Lee

  • Superdan2235

    The Foo Fighters cover of “Little Nikki” by Prince is an excellent rendition. If you haven’t heard it, you should check it out!

  • Polly Odyssey

    Thank you so much for including Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt”. I have listened to both the cover and original and like the cover so much more.

  • ericdraven26

    I love bob marley, enough said

  • grain wetski

    random comments:

    Glad to see someone mentioned Joni Mitchell’s ‘This Flight Tonight’ covered by Nazareth.

    Nirvava’s Bowie cover is good, except for the wrong note he hits starting the extro…

    did anyone mention Downtown Train, covered by Rod Stewart?

  • Paro

    Blue Moon by Billie Holiday! There are so many jazz standards which should be on this list which have been performed remarkably…Amy Winehouse’s I Should Care…Or Angel Eyes by Ella Fitzgerald. Incredible covers

  • Paro

    Also…Sexy Back by Corinne Bailey Rae is fantastic

  • skopi

    My Humps – Alanis Morrissette (Black Eyed Peas) – very funny
    Bitches Ain’t Shit – Ben Folds (Dr Dre) – very funny
    Mad World – Gary Jules (Tears for Fears) – captures the creepiness instead of the anthem that was the original
    John Mayer – Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty)
    Richard Cheese – Baby Got Back (Sir Mixalot) – just funny
    Naked Eyes – Always Something there to remind me (Dionne Warwick) – didn’t know this a remake until recently
    Sheryl Crow – First Cut is the Deepest (Cat Stevens)
    Motley Crue – Smokin in the Boys Room (Brownsville Station)

  • Bob Dylan

    Hey everyone. I’m kinda bummed you’re all saying Jimi Hendrix’s version of my song is better than mine. I mean you’re entitled to your opinion and all, man, but I worked real hard on that you dig? I think you should put that into consideration.

    Thanks everyone.

    – Bobby D

  • shadow

    Hey Bob,
    Not everyone thinks this. Your version ROCKS! Keep up the good work.

  • Nasdagirl

    Jamie Cullum should get a mention, he’s done some really good covers.

    For example:

    Frontin’ – by N.E.R.D
    High and Dry – by Radio Head
    Wind Cries Mary – by Jimi Hendrix
    Catch the Sun – by Doves

  • Dan

    Hm, late addition I know, but some more, not sure if they’re necessarily *better* than the originals, but some are pretty close:

    Air- Seasons in the Sun (original by Jaques Brel)
    Jimi Hendrix- All Along the Watchtower (original by Bob Dylan)
    Heart- Love Reign O’er Me (original by The Who)
    Eric Clapton- Cocaine (original by J.J. Cale)
    The Bangles- Hazy Shade of Winter (original by Simon and Garfunkle)
    Tori Amos- She’s Leaving Home (original by The Beatles)

  • Nick

    I love your site but…..fuck you! David Bowie’s Man Who Sold the World will always, by far, outshine Nirvanas.

  • fabio

    The Youngbloods – Get Together (Original by Kingston Trio 64)

  • jackydoll

    One the most obscure but great covers that I heard is ‘Ms.Jackson’ by the Vines, doing a cover of the OutKast song. It sounds like a dreamy ballad without the rap verses.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcaD54qaJNo

  • whoopee

    remember the flying lizards – money (that’s what i want)?
    And on the subject of doing it better than the beatles, how about joe cocker- with a little help from my friends.

    i will survive – cake
    nelly the elephant – toy dolls
    it’s oh so quiet – bjork

  • Mark

    Led Zeppelin never covered anything directly (with the exception of When The Levee Breaks, but that wouldn’t make it onto this list in my opinion) they did take bits and pieces of previous blues music, but a lot of blues musicians did that. Some more recent bands also do comparable things – most notably I suppose Wolfmother – but a group like Grinspoon or even Metallica deserves a mention on that count. They listen, they modify, (sometimes a lot) they repeat. But Zep’s “plagiarism” is definitely much less subtle.

  • tabmdzz

    really been bothering me lately, but i totally disagree with redemtion song, bob marleys version is much better X10

  • zooran

    Let’s dig a little bit deeper.
    Sweet Jane (Lou Reed) – Cowboy Junkies
    I Can See Clearly Now (Johnny Nash)- Hothouse Flowers
    19th Nervous Breakdown (Rolling Stones)- Jason & The Scorchers
    Baba O’Riley (The Who) – The Waco Brothers
    A Hard Day’s Night (The Beatles) – Hoodoo Gurus
    Stairway To Heaven (Led Zeppelin) – Rodrigo Y Gabriela (instr.)
    Ma Che Colpa Abiamo Noi (The Rokes) – Azra
    …and by the way Black Betty is writen and performed in original Leadbelly

  • zooran

    SEGUE/ASTRAYA
    Song ‘My Way’ was penned and sing french singer Claude Francois. So the version of Frankie Boy is a cover.

  • 337. zooran: Close, but no cigar. Here are the facts…
    “My Way” is a song with lyrics written by Paul Anka and popularized by Frank Sinatra. The melody is based on a French song “Comme d’habitude” composed by Claude François and Jacques Revaux. Anka’s English lyrics are unrelated to the original French by Claude François and Gilles Thibaut and Anka is credited as a co-composer of “My Way” because he largely re-wrote the lyrics of the song.

  • Benzane

    david bowies repetition covered by the au pairs murders the original! so goood!
    funky town by loopus in fabula is best version .

  • zooran

    338.segue:
    Hi! Everything is unquestionable. It doesn’t matter what’s a kind of story in the song, ‘cos nobody can’t translate the words in another languige with same meaning to sing the same song. So, the first one was Claude Francois.
    Anyway, thanks for conversation.

  • Brad

    Would Janis Joplin’s song “Me and Bobby McGee” apply. I’m pretty sure it was a cover, but outshined the original and even became her biggest hit, albeit posthumous.

  • nay

    Redemption song. No, the cover did not outstrip the original. Perhaps for those who have no connection to Jamaica.
    But for those who had real attachment to the song, the place, the time, who know where the government yard is and have had porridge over a fire, this is just another whitey knock off.

  • Cassy

    Also, a good cover…. Karma Police.
    Origionally by Radiohead, I prefer Panic! at the Disco’s cover MUCH better!

  • marjory stewart baxter

    WHOA WHOA WHOA. How could anyone even THINK that Joe Strummer is better than Bob Marley? Bob’s cover was FAR better, not just because it was the original– because it was truly better.

  • kkynl

    I would definitely put Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” cover into this list. (“Torn” belongs to Ednaswap originally.)

  • anon

    ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER

  • anon

    “Me and Bobby McGee”
    original by kris kristofferson

  • B_K

    I love Shindown’s version of Simple Man.

  • Ignacio

    I will not beat dead horses with some covers that have already been mentioned, so I’ll add a few for those who make it all the way down the comment list:

    Beatles: Rock & Roll Music – Chuck Berry
    Twist & Shout – Isley Brothers

    Doors (!): Alabama Song – Kurt Weill

    Whitney Houston: I’m every woman (Chaka Kan)

    10,000 Maniacs: Because the night (Patti Smith)

    Credence CR: Cotton Fields (Huddie Leadbelly)

    Phil Collins: Can’t hurry love (Supremes)

    Billy Idol: Mony Mony (Tommy James & The Shondels)

    Eric Carmen: All by myself (Rachmaninoff Piano Conc. 2)

  • Mike Zickefoose

    A couple covers to consider…
    Nirvana – Lake of Fire (Meat Puppets)
    Guns and Roses – Ain’t It Fun (the Dead Boys)
    Also, this isn’t a cover since its the original artist but I personally think the 1996 version of “i’m not like everybody else” by the kinks is way better than the original 1966 version…also the 80’s version of After Midnight by Eric Clapton is much superior to the earlier 60’s version.

  • Jim Morrison

    how bout’ Disturbed’s version of Land of Confusuion(it’s about equal to the original ) and definatly their verison of Shout 2000(originaly called shout)

  • american born confused desi

    A great compilation of 75 cover songs has been assembled at http://bandra-mumbai.com/People.php for you to listen to.

  • Music Lover

    Love your list but to me 1 obvious missing song: “Respect” by Aretha Franklin. Some more recent covers that bring that something extra to the original version in my opinion:
    White Stripes’ cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”
    Arrica Rose’s cover of the Bee Gee’s “Tragedy”
    Arrica Rose’s cover of Tom Waitts’ “I Hope I Don’t Fall in Love with You”
    Sara Bareilles’ cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire”

  • Rewey

    Sorry to say, but the Sterephonics cover of Nothing Compares To You FAR outshines Sinead O’Connor’s attempt. It is unbelievable…

  • Odd

    I totally agree with Iain. John Cale’ version has far more depth and resonance

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  • Kace Irvine

    I think… Now, Adam Lambert of American Idol outshined both Gary Jules and Tears for Fears. just a though. =))

  • hinkle von dinkle

    what about mr tambourine man by the byrds? and jose gonzales’ version of heartbeats, mainly because the original is so awful anyone could beat it

  • YOU’RE KIDDING!!!

    I’m stunned that nobody even mentioned “Proud Mary” by Ike and Tina. THAT’S how you cover a song. You kick it’s ass.

  • Aaron

    Holy Diver. Remake by Killswitch Engage. Original by Dio

  • payaam

    many great covers mentioned on the list and the comments.

    a well done covered song coming to my mind right now which i can bet many people don’t know about.

    The Great Pretender by Freddy Mercury.

    a brief story of this song’ covers (one of my fav.) :

    The Great Pretender was originally written by the songwriter and producer of the platters in the mid 50s which was a hit of it’s time. it was covered by a singer a few times before the original release by the platters and it still continued to be covered by some artists in the subsequent decades; p.boone, s.cooke, d.parton and etc. covered it. i remember i heard it on a jazz trumpeter album (don’t remember the artist), even heard an odd version by lester bowie. i enjoy almost all of the versions [maybe because of the intrinsic inheritability of the song]. Mercury inherited the song three decades later since the platters in 1987 , arranged differently and sang very proudly which makes me feel proud and exhilarated when you listen to it or watch it’s fantastic video.

  • tt

    the only one i agree with on the list is Nirvana doing Man who sold the world. Outside of that the originals of all of those were much better.
    and i’ll say ‘Nothing compares to you’ is about what and what for both artists…

  • Tiffany

    I agree that Buckley’s version is better than Cohen’s. However, in my opinion Rufus Wainwright’s version is the best. Stay away from that awful version by the winner of American Idol or America’s Got Talent or Britain’s Got Talent or whatever. It is awful. and @ turd ferguson did you know that while Wainwright’s version is on the soundtrack for Shrek that in the actual movie John Cale is the one singing? Interesting.

  • jess

    i cant make you love me-done by allison iraheta on American idol..
    naive- redone by lily allen originally by the kooks unless there was someone before them
    womanizer-lily again, sooo much better than britney spears!
    kids-the kooks, originally by MGMT

  • Ginny

    Season of the Witch – Al Kooper & Stephen Stills (incredible jam session)

  • DesolationDee

    #3 is sooo true.
    Thank you for putting it on here!

  • Puff Adder

    Hello, Hendrix covering “All Along The Watchtower” from Bob Dylan!? Shoulda been # 1. Even Bob would agree.

  • jasperizer

    Couldn’t read the entire comment list in this list,but There’s also Beyonce starring in “Cadillac Records” as Etta James. She has a better voice and artistic performance that Etta.

  • mitchsn

    I think a requirement for this list needs to be that the new cover version had to have done better (charts record sales whatever) than the original or previous verions.

    That being said, Sorry never heard of Tricky’s cover of Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos and No sorry it sucks ass compared to the incomparable Chuck D.

    Also missing from this list.

    Whitney Houston’s cover of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You.

  • one ill b

    john mayer free fallin…. definitely should be up there

  • AJ

    I really don’t like Nirvana’s rendition of The Man Who Sold the World. I think they kinda of ruined the song actually. Having said that I can’t stand Nirvana, and have been a hardcore fan of Bowie for a long-long time.

    I would add Nightwish’s rendition of Over the Hills and Far Away. Not the Led Zep one, it was someone’s song I’d never heard of.

    And Nick Cave’s cover of “Long Black Veil”

  • 21/12/12

    Knocking On Heavens Door, WHERE IS IT ???????

  • therush

    In no way is Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” better than Leonard Cohen’s.

  • b ytfvgybuhnjimk,

    What about Eric Clapton’s cover of Cocaine?! way better than JJ Cale’s version!!!

  • Arthur

    @cheesedrummer (9):
    I totally agree, nin’s version is far better

    Even if you think cash’s version (which is still amazing) is as good or beats nin’s, it does not even compare to nin’s live version. nothing can come close to that

  • cdwmusic34

    I agree with some others in that Rufus Wainwright’s cover of “Hallelujah” is the best. I like the song a lot (although I HATED it in THE WATCHMEN – SHREK was the best use.)

  • metalribz

    Blue Monday – Orgy
    original by: New Order

    best cover ever.

  • frederic

    I always notice how songs by The Clash sound much better when performed by other artists. Says a lot about the quality of their songwriting… The best Clash-cover out there is definitely the Afghan Whigs-version of ‘Lost in the Supermarket’.

    Oh, and why not mention Beatnix’ ‘novelty cover’ of Stairway to Heaven set to the melody of I Want To Hold Your Hand… :-)

  • Ron

    Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” is one of his best.

    A cover I really enjoy no end is Dion’s version of Purple Haze (orig. Jimi Hendrix). It just has such a different feel to it.

  • Elmorris

    This one is by “Los Colorados” an Ukranian band. They play the infamous “Hot & Cold” by Kathy Perry… hot girl, just hot and nothing else. The cover really outshines the original.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1upZz3a-7iM&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

  • Outsdr

    The original version of “Forever Young” will always be the definitive version. No-one else can match those vocals.

  • yup

    what about jimmi hendrix doing the bob dylan “Along the watchtower”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 23trainwrecks

    Hendrix’s Hey Joe and All Along the Watch Tower should be on this list, not to mention the half the songs on Led Zeppelin’s first tow albums.

  • jasperizer

    There are 383 comments(including mine) on this list so I’m sorry if had been mentioned previously by anyone but I listened to the song this evening and felt like it deserved a place on this list
    It’s Tiny dancer by Dave Grohl,original by Elton John
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVUSh6pKYdQ&feature=related

  • @jfrater: (17):
    –ya think man?
    there are just too many good ones and too many varying tastes…[email protected]Trigintor: (35):
    –i almost liked dave matthews version of all along the watchtower better…almost, but tower isnt even the best hendrix cover of a dylan song….that would be ‘like a rolling stone’ (and yes im aware most people loved w tower, i just think it got played out)
    @robneiderman: (65):
    –there was one cover of an otis redding tune that was better…..’shout bama lama’ by the detroit cobras
    –actually the cobras did a number of covers….’oh my lover’ (the chiffons), ‘baby let me hold your hand”(hoagy lands), ‘stupidity'(soloman burke), ‘im laughing at you'(gardinas), ‘cha cha twist’ (brice cofield)…rachael nagy kicks ass…..
    — the white stripes did a few covers..’death letter’ and ‘john the revelator’ (both by son house), isis (dylan)
    –the audiosslave cover of the white stripes ‘7 nation army’
    –tori amos also had some, angie (the stones), 97 bonnie & clyde (eminem), ‘im on fire'(springstein), raining blood (slayer), ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ (judy garland), ‘thank you'(zepplin), too many
    –janes addiction’s version of ‘rock n roll'(velvet undergroud)
    –dave matthews’ version of me&julio (simon), and angels from montgomery(john prine)
    –edwin mccains’ version of romeo&juliet (dire straits)
    –rushs version of ‘not fade away'(buddy holly)
    –tools version of no quarter (zepplin)
    –santanas version of ‘black magic woman’ (fleetwood mac)
    –doors version of alabama song (whisky bar) (kurt weill)
    –creams version of ‘crossroads’ (robert johnson)
    –otis reddings version of (day tripper) (beatles)

    i give up—-way too many contenders

  • jasperizer

    Another one:
    Brooke fraser-sound of silence -original by Simon and Garfunkel (I think this song is brilliant eitherway by whom it’s sung)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BSKuOmswr8

  • 83cab83

    Urge Overkill – Girl you’ll be a woman soon (Neil Diamond)

    Featuring in Pulp Fiction’s soundtrack!!!!!

  • widggman

    I didn't go through each page, but I personally suggest Milow and Ayo Technology. The original is from 50 cents, but the cover is better in every aspect!

  • All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix has to be on this list. It's one of the best cover songs out there.

  • Danzik1

    What about "Pass the douchie to the left hand side"

  • Jeff

    Believe it or not but Dave Clark Five verison of Southern Man almost better then Neil Young's
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3EGQdt0_bA

  • Bonnie

    Tina Turner's Proud Mary. No one knows of the original version, sung by a guy!

  • i know this has probably been mentioned already, but Manson's "Sweet Dreams" should definitely be included..

  • Will

    What about "Don't Stop Believin"? Pretty much everyone did better than Journey, especially Glee.

  • lara

    what about paul durham's cover of hot hot heat! AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!

  • tone
  • John

    AHEM!!!!

    Where the bejesus is jimi hendrix – all along the watchtower! so much better than the original, so much better than nirvana – the man who sold the world.

  • Woyzeck

    Fuck Alexandra Burke. Fuck her in her fucked-up face.

  • kokopelli

    The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps used "Mad World" in their show this year, aptly titled "Mad World." It was brilliant! They also used "Smile" by Charlie Chaplain, and they worked together perfectly. It was a stunning show, both visually and musically.

  • Punty

    Know its been mentioned alot but Im curious as to why you didnt include All Along The Watchtower?
    Is it out of unfamiliarity, forgetfulness, not making top 10 or do you feel it doesnt particularily outshine the orginal?

    I find it close to impossible to believe it could be the latter (or former), and very hard to believe it just doesnt make top 10. Would have thought it would be no1 myself, as the quintessential example of this subject. Would assume it was forgetfulness, but I guess you dont HAVE to like Jimi's version of the song (do believe you will be in a tiny minority).

    Another one I saw someone mentioned was "Me and Bobby McGee" (Janis Joplin). Definitely the superior version of this song.

    I like the fact that Buckley's Hallelujah didnt make the list. I agree that Cohen's version is much more moving.

    • Punty

      Even if you wanted to bother replying, guess its a stretch to think you will see this comment years after the list was posted :P

  • Will Trame

    I have to agree with all the posters who mentioned Jimi Hendrix’s cover of “All Along The Watchtower”. Jimi did a damn good job on that one. A lot of Dylan covers were better than the originals, not to slight Bob. Others such include:

    “My Back Pages” and “Mr Tambourine Man” (the Byrds)

    “It Ain’t Me Babe” (The Turtles)

    “If Not For You” (Olivia Newton-John)

    “The Mighty Quinn” (Manfred Mann)

    Elton John had some good covers with “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and “Pinball Wizard”.

  • Thor

    ELVIS PRESLEY – HOUND DOG (original by Big Mama Thornton)
    DISCUSSION OVER

  • Jay

    The discussion is NEVER over. As soon as you think it's over, somebody says the list is too American and we're off again.

    Could I just mention Steve Free's version of "Walking My Baby Back Home?" It didn't make the charts like his "Siege at Lucasville" or "Teresa's Eyes" but it's a lovely little piece of music.

    And let's not forget that this list doesn't feature ANY covers of the greatest songwriter of all time: Paul McCartney. "Yesterday," Let It Be," "In My Life…" His songs have been recorded thousands of times, but no one has ever done a single one of them any better than than Sir Paul.

  • WEL58Y

    If anyone is still reading these comments, NME.com released the list of the top 10 cover songs yesterday, the list is as follows:
    1. Muse – 'Feeling Good'
    2. The Beatles – 'Twist And Shout'
    3. Johnny Cash – 'Hurt'
    4. Jimi Hendrix – 'Hey Joe'
    5. Nirvana – 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night'
    6. The Clash – 'I Fought The Law'
    7. Jeff Buckley – 'Hallelujah'
    8. Jimi Hendrix – 'All Along The Watchtower'
    9. Marvin Gaye – 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine'
    10. The White Stripes – 'I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself'

  • Jess

    The Ari Hest version of "Hallelujah" is my new favorite.

  • jadestatic

    Greg Laswell remade Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" for My Sister's Keeper soundtrack. It's a beautiful version, and really interesting because it's much slower and melodic, and sung by a man!

  • johnnycoolkids

    jimi hendrix's cover of dylan's all along the watchtower?that seems like an obvious miss here

    • Jay

      Good one, johnny. I also think the Beatles could have been on there once more. John Lennon could have made the list on his own for "Ain't She Sweet?"

      You have to be careful with this stuff, though, as sometimes a group records a song BEFORE the writer does so. In that case, the songwriter is doing a cover of his own song. I think Dylan wrote some that were recorded before he did so. Maybe one or two of the Byrds recordings were like that, but I just can't remember. If one of our many resident musicologists sees this, they'll probably know that.

  • Jay

    OHhhhhh…..myyyy…. I have no words…. everybody watch this and tell me I'm hallucinating.

  • tartaruga

    i disagree with all of these except for jeff buckley and youth group

  • The author talked about quite a few interesting points in this posting. I came across this article by searching Msn and I have to admit that I already subscribed for your site, it is extremely fine :)

  • roguevector

    I'd first like to say that it is technically impossible to have a cover be better than the original, since without the original there would be no cover. Also, taking into consideration the time that the original was produced in compared to the modern cover is not always one sided. With that being said…

    Who the hell thinks that Nirvana did a better version of Man Who Sold the World? I can see the Tears for Fears one because the cover is completely different and it gave the song a new meaning, but Cobain pretty much performed the song just as Bowie wrote it, with half the emotion Bowie put into it.

  • Thedude

    when i saw redemption song on this list, i died a little inside and i puked a little. Shame on you.

  • caj

    Faith No More – Easy (orig. The Commodores)

  • Rahul Sridhar

    Metallica – Turn the page

    Original by: Bob Seger

    Even though Bob’s version of the sond is pretty good, Metallica took it and made it their own. They gave the song the much need heaviness the rhythm needs to go with the lyrics. James Hetfield was destined by god to sing this .. one hell of a song, deserves to be on this list right at the first spot !!

  • Bob Marley

    Cover of Bob Marley doesn’t work…

  • B

    It’s my Life by No Doubt is one I would consider too. I didn’t even know it was a cover, and then I heard the original and thought wtf?

  • SERIOUSLY?! NO MENTION OF JIMI HENDRIX?!

  • Jermaine

    Dinosaur jr’s cover of The Cures “Just like heaven”?

  • otcconan

    How about Van Halen, “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks?

  • Cucuy

    Blinded by the light
    Original Bruce sprinstein
    Remake manford mann

  • Kris

    Adam Lambert beat Gary Jules and Tears for Fears. He nailed Mad World during American Idol.

  • Russell

    I thought tricky was run dmc and I thought maxwell this woman’s work should be on it.

  • What about “when the levee breaks” by led zeppelin (original Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minne)?

  • dylan

    i think sid vicious my way should be on here

  • Joseph

    Boyz’ n’ the Hood- Dynamite Hack

    FAR outshines the original

    • John

      Agreed. I wish I’d thought to put that in my comment.

  • James

    Nice list, only one I disagree with is number five. I prefer the original one by The Four Lads.

  • abbo

    good list, great comments. If any of you are at all interested a while ago I made a cover of a song I grew to hate due to overplay, Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison. I do this with songs I grow to hate to try and find the love for them again by trying to do something new. hope some of you at least enjoy. Take good care all, abbo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3c9hpQU6iY

  • fan

    Nothing outshines prince!! His version is way better.

  • KAZUHIRO

    Natalie Imbruglia’s cover of Ednaswap’s “Torn” isn’t here?

  • Sean

    What about this flight tonight Jonie Mitchell covered by Nazereth.

  • Omar

    Here’s four country hits I can think of:
    1- Freddie Hart wrote Loose Talk and recorded it in 1954, but never hit the charts. Later that year, Carl Smith sang it and topped the country charts and crossed over to the pop charts.
    2- Amanda was recorded by Don Williams and made it at #33 in the charts. Years later, Waylon Jennings recorded it several years later and made it at #1.
    3- Tall, Tall Trees written by George Jones and Roger Miller, both recorded it and they didn’t hit the charts with it. It topped the charts when Alan Jackson sang it.
    4-Folsom Prison Blues, J Cash First sang it as a flip for his song So Doggone Lonesome, that made it at #4. It became a massive hit when he re-released it in 1968.

  • Onlyme

    There is no way that Cash’s version of Hurt is more popular than the original. It sounds like he died mid recording!
    He was so old by the time he started trying to gain publicity by picking random songs by top artists and redoing them one by one, that he sounds like a wheezing old man singing along with his walkman.

  • Steph

    I like how Kurt Cobain can’t even pronounce David Bowie’s name correctly. It certainly is not better than the original. It comes off of a nation mourning over the loser. It had sentimental value at the time that the original never grasped, but it certainly didn’t make it BETTER. I don’t think Cobain conveyed the message of the song like Bowie did, which is understandable, seeing as how he didn’t write it.

  • FreddieTheYeti

    I don’t see Jimi Hendrix’s cover of “All Along The Watchtower.”

    That kicked ass. Though Dylan’s was good, Hendrix’s just brings it to a new level of awesome.

  • fndmntl

    Anyone mentioned Nine Inch Nails cover of Joy Division’s Dead Souls?

  • Bex

    although i dont agree with #4…..(thats just my humble opinion.) i looove johnny cash but wasnt kosher with the Hurt remake. there are alot that deserve a spot in this list! i love how nirvana covered man who sold the world. what a great song, original AND cover. im glad it made the cut :) id like to mention…that im a huge fan of marilyn manson, & i believe his covers turned out great. i wont say sweet dreams as a first choice because thats everyones first choice, although its great, i think his cover of *the ramones: the kkk took my baby away*: —fanf*ckingtastic!!! great job & keep up the awesome work peeps!

  • Miriam

    David Bowie is God. Get real, Nirvana didn’t outshine them, this is bullshit.

  • Kyl

    What about Aretha Franklin’s Respect…….Her version of song became one of the world greatest song in rock history……The male version had been not so popular.

  • Person

    I disagree with the Hurt one.

  • Rod Stewart’s version of the song “All Right Now” by Free should be on this list

  • Martin Holdsworth

    Hooverphonic covering ‘Bigger than us’ by White Lies

  • jerome

    i like the cover but nothing beats bob marley’s original version.

  • VincentV

    what about CHILD IN TIME by deep purple much better than the original It’s A Beautiful Day – Bombay Calling

  • Themikeholmnichols

    What about Our Lady Peace and their cover of Tomorrow Never Knows? It may have only been on The Craft soundtrack but it was great!

  • petet2112

    Well, I have to put my two cents worth on this one. 1). Alien Ant Farm doing Michael Jackson’s, “Smooth Criminal” 2). Rod Stewart doing “All Right Now” by the early 70’s band Free (Paul Rodgers). And a little known one if you can find it The Heavy Metal Band Testament doing there cover of “Nobody’s Fault” by Aerosmith.

  • Jake

    I hate Leonard Cohen’s version of “Hallelujah” Jeff Buckley rocks rthat song

  • johnbgood52

    I’ve never been a fan of grunge, and I stopped watching MTV before it celebrated its second birthday, so this is the first I’ve heard Nirvana’s cover of ‘the Man Who Sold The World.’ No offense, Cobain fans, but for my money it can’t hold a candle to Bowie’s original, let alone surpass it. But then, I confess I’ve never really understood Nirvana’s popularity to begin with (just too old, I guess), so feel free to take my opinion with as large a grain of salt as you please.

    For that matter, while I’ve heard many covers I felt were as good as the original, I’ve heard relatively few I thought were better. Here are a few of them.

    Manfred Mann, Blinded By the Light (Bruce Springsteen), probably already mentioned a dozen times.

    Naked Eyes, Always Something There To Remind Me (Dionne Warwick) Warwick first recorded this song as a demo in 1963, then re-recorded it for full scale release in 1967, after several other artists had already had minor hits with it. It’s been covered many times, but Warwick and Naked Eyes are the standouts.

    Tom Rush, Urge For Goin’ (Joni Mitchell), the only cover of a Joni Mitchell song by a male vocalist that I ever thought succeeded.

    Jeff Beck, People Get Ready (Curtis Mayfield)

    Beck’s guitar and Rod Stewart’s vocals take this one to a new level.

    Jimi Hendrix, All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan), probably also already mentioned a dozen times. If the twenty-somethings I know personally are any indication, may well be the only Hendrix many of them have ever heard.

    Molly Hatchet, Dreams I’ll Never See (The Allman Brothers)

    The Allmans were the only southern rock band I ever cared much for, but Molly Hatchet did them justice.

    Yes, America (Simon & Garfunkel), Every Little Thing (The Beatles), Everydays (Buffalo Springfield)

    I couldn’t decide which of the three I liked the best, so I included all of them.

    I realize all of these examples are fairly old, but then, so am I.

  • I believe this website has some rattling good info for everyone :D. “Anybody who watches three games of football in a row should be declared brain dead.” by Erma Bombeck.

  • Slvdaddy

    Such great heights by iron an wine(original by postal service).

  • I really disappointed that he song “Respect” by Aretha Franklin is not included in the list. That should be included …..Her version outshine the original and even became one of most important songs in rock and roll history.

  • John

    Adam Lambert’s version of “Mad World” could be on this list. Eye&I did an UNBELIEVABLE cover of “Venus in Furs.” Going a more pop angle, Blondie very definitely outshined the original version of “The Tide is High,” Joan Jett’s version of “Crimson & Clover” and the Carpenters redid “Superstar” far better than the original.

  • libharnor

    Dude, All Along the Watchtower… the Hendrix cover, Dylan even said “It overwhelmed me…” great song and amazing cover..

  • Panederp

    How can ‘Red Red Wine’ not be here?

  • Wonnygurl91

    Tina Turner,Proud mary?

  • Dan

    All Along The Watchtower – Hendrix – nuff said.

  • Bama Bhai

    There are some amazing covers done by Klaus Nomi which are not mentioned here.
    like Lightning Strikes and also Can’t Help Falling in Love

  • treybob333

    Definitely agree with the Manfred Mann cover of Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light.” I also think Muse did an outstanding cover of “Feelin’ Good” but it’s been covered by so many people…

  • Adedaz

    UB40’s red red wine cover is much better than the original

  • Name

    Lame list

  • Mark

    Johnny Cash’ s version of “The Mercy Seat” ( original by Nick Cave ) is stunning and mind blowing

  • aDogSmith

    Disappointed not seeing Jimi Hendrix’s covers which hit the top 10 Charts. Hey Joe and All Along the Watchtower are the best covers I’ve ever heard.

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