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Top 10 Genre-Defying Covers

Timothy Hoff . . . Comments

Think of your favorite song. Why is it your favorite? Well, it is probably done by a favorite band and played in a style that suits your tastes. Now, take whatever style that song has and make it the opposite. Weird, huh? That is exactly what the following bands have chosen to do with very popular songs. While these genre-defying songs (for the most part) maintain the lyrics and melodies of the originals, the bands performing them have altered the style so intensely that it is almost an entirely new song. I have included links to the covers, as I assume most of you have heard a majority of the originals. Feel free to leave additions (or subtractions, I suppose) in the comments. Enjoy!



Cover: Sublime (Renamed: Doin’ Time)
Original: George Gershwin’s Opera “Porgy and Bess”

When one thinks of Sublime’s punky-ska feel, the word “opera” doesn’t immediately jump to mind. However, this strange combination provided Brad Nowell with the inspiration to cover the classical George Gershwin opera “Porgy and Bess.” While this is not a cover in the strictest sense of the word, Sublime’s version relies heavily on Herbie Mann’s rendition of Gershwin’s song and also retains the memorable opening lines, “Summertime, and the livin’s easy.”

Interesting Fact: The lyrics for the Sublime song originally began, “Doin’ Time, and the livin’ easy,” but after a small legal scuffle, the lyrics had to be changed in order to use Gershwin’s original melody. Unfortunately, lead singer Brad Nowell died before the song could be re-recorded. As a result, producer Michael Happoldt opens the song despite never singing for Sublime before or after.


I Wear My Sunglasses at Night

Original: Corey Hart
Cover: The Federation

Generally, when one thinks of Canadian musicians these days, Michael Buble comes to mind. 20+ years ago, Corey Hart would have been the best thing out of Canada for music lovers. However, no matter whom you ask, Canadian New Wave music is almost never going to make someone think of West Coast Hip-Hop. But, The Federation saw the possibility for that connection, thought it high time for a Corey Hart revival, and in 2006, they released their version of “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night,” appropriately titled, “I Wear My Stunna Glasses at Night.”


These Boots

Original: Nancy Sinatra
Cover: Megadeth

Megadeth’s lyrics are often related to death, war, addiction and other politically-charged topics. So it came as a surprise to everyone when Nancy Sinatra’s sassy declaration of female independence showed up on a new heavy metal band’s debut album. With a few tweaks of the lyrics and a 180 in instrumentation, Sinatra’s playful tune became what Lee Hazelwood called “a perversion of the original”, and “vile and offensive.” Apparently Megadeth fans and Sinatra fans have at least some common ground, as the album on which this song appeared received overall favorable reviews.


I Melt With You/ Love Song

Original: Modern English/ The Cure
Cover: Jason Mraz/ 311

I have combined these songs because of the similarity in the way they are covered. Both songs come from similar English rock bands. Granted, when I say similar, I mean that they are both English, and can both, at some point in their careers, be put into the New Wave/ Post-Punk categories. However, neither the New Wave influenced sound of “I Melt With You” or the gothic rock (yes, that’s a thing) of the Cure’s “Lovesong” seem like they would appeal to alternative musician Jason Mraz or the reggae-funk stylings of 311, respectively. Both artists covered their songs for the 2004 movie “50 First Dates,” which features almost exclusively 80’s covers in the style of ska or reggae.


Eleanor Rigby

Original: The Beatles
Cover: Realm

The British Invasion sparked a huge influx of rock bands into popular culture and with all these new bands came all their new fans. Fans, in the music industry, means success. It seemed like these Brits held the key to outrageous fortune, and many bands that came from that era remain very popular to this day. Realm proves for us that it wasn’t just the lyrics that captured the hearts and ears of millions. Keeping only the classic words, Realm tried their hand at reproducing a song by The Beatles in their own speed metal way. I’m afraid my bias is showing through here, but I hope you will agree: this is one song that shouldn’t have tried crossing over.


Mood for Love
(1949, 1954)

Cover: Amy Winehouse
Original: James Moody (original solo); King Pleasure (first lyrics)

Although Eddie Jefferson is credited with first putting lyrics to the famous James Moody solo, King Pleasure’s name goes down as the artist who first recorded the song. This song represents the first true example of “vocalese,” a style of jazz singing in which words are put to instrumental parts. Being born of the influence of men so deeply rooted in jazz, the song is certainly striking when turned into the laid-back reggae version, as performed by Amy Winehouse.


Gin & Juice

Original: Snoop Dogg
Cover: The Gourds

Snoop Dogg’s influence can be felt around the popular world. He has a huge number of hits, has connections with Dr. Dre (an honorable mention to this list), and has become a spokesman for everything from decorated headphones to marijuana use. Mr. Dogg has also made numerous appearances in the film world (both in the realms of Hollywood and more adult-oriented entertainment). The Gourds have not. However, for the small bluegrass band from Texas, the relevance of Snoop’s autobiographical rap was too perfect not to cover. For a genre generally known for its talented lyricists, it certainly is a new experience to hear these country men singing about the difficulties of being Snoop D-O-Double G.


Oops, I Did It Again

Original: Britney Spears
Cover: Children of Bodom

What has become the unfortunately appropriate theme song for the once pop-superstar’s life, “Oops, I Did It Again” cemented Britney Spears as the cultural icon of the pop music industry of the Nineties. The song broke the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100 and received various awards for the hundreds of thousands of copies that it sold across the world. Naturally, this enormous success was alluring to a Finnish melodic death metal band looking to break out into the world stage. Although it was some years until the song was released on a full length CD, COB’s cover saw plenty of air-time on the Japanese release of their album “Are You Dead Yet?”


Smells Like Teen Spirit

Original: Nirvana
Cover: Paul Anka

Nirvana’s grungy, alternative sound lends itself perfectly to the early nineties teen anthem. Harsh, distorted guitars, unintelligible lyrics and the generally dirty look of the music video all came together in a uniquely satisfying way. The song makes you want to rise up against the oppressive system and exert your independence. At least, it does when Nirvana plays it. Paul Anka’s swingin’ version of the song just makes you feel a little uncomfortable. It might be his deep, fake tan or obviously uncomfortable demeanor up on stage (his exchange with the audience at the beginning of the video demonstrates this), but something about a nearly 70 year old man crooning out what should be a grunge-rock anthem of unbearable teen angst just doesn’t seem right.


The Star Spangled Banner

Original: Francis Scott Key (Words); John Stafford Smith (Music)
Cover: Jimi Hendrix

The Star Spangled Banner, as it is known today, is the first stanza of a longer poem written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812, and it is accompanied by Smith’s “The Anacreontic Song.” It was adopted as the official anthem of the United States in 1931. When one considers the true origins of the song, Jimi Hendrix’s sui generis (well put, Wikipedia) performance of the US anthem at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, in 1969, instantly becomes even more memorable. There isn’t much that can be said on this performance that the performance itself doesn’t do a better job of showing.

  • Geronimo1618

    Wow, never knew this…interesting list, thanks timjames!

    • kubrick

      who cares what you knew and didn't know

    • bluesman87

      says the pussy with all the lame poems .

    • Trickle

      You never knew what, that singers cover others songs?

  • Molly

    I Heart Listverse!

    • Me too! :)

      • chrom3d

        Me three! thanks for Listverse for saving me from boredom and serving us with very interesting facts!

      • Julius

        WordPress and Intensedebate don't support IPblocking, do they? Otherwise I don't understand how he's still allowed to be here…

        • I have a WordPress blog and as far as I know, IPblocking is impossible.

  • pollita

    Good one(:

  • chrom3d

    well this is an interesting list having Children of Bodom in it, one of my favorite bands but i never liked their cover of oops i did it again, makes them sound mainstream and attention hungry metal dudes..

    • Unfortunately we all sometimes have to demean ourselves for the great good (finances in this case I am sure) :)

    • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

      That's bullshit! COB graced a shitty song with their godliness and made it kind of cool.

      • chrom3d

        I think of it as shit plated with gold but still it's shit inside no matter what coating you put on it..

    • Eye-Licker

      Funny you should say that, considering it is exactly what children of bodom is.

      Laiho is a good guitarist, but unfortunately surrounded by bland, uninspired mediocrity.

  • Cornelius

    Yessss i was hoping the gin and juice cover would be on here. Its really well done

    • kubrick

      snoop dogg should never be covered
      you should be ashamed

  • nick

    what about johnny cash's cover of hurt by nine inch nails? deserves an honorable mention at the very very least

    • True – though we have covered that on a previous list :) Search for Johnny cash.

    • kubrick

      i believe nine inch ails doens't deserve to be on any list
      i mean come on
      industrial rock???
      wtf is that

      • lol

        thats rammstein

    • That was the first song I though of when I read the list's title. :)

    • kevin

      that song should be on a list all by itself. amazing.

    • Amber

      hear hear. As soon as I read the title, I was looking for this song. Very surprised it wasn't included.

  • OutOfBounds

    Good stuff. I wish some songs I actually listen to were on here, but it's always good to see the oh so talent, Mr. Hendrix.

    • kubrick

      and leadbelly

  • The Ramones covering Tom Waits –

    Or…. Tom Waits covering The Ramones –

    • Moonbeam

      kubrick – I think I know you – aren't you that guy, you know the one on my street who always yells at the kids to "GET OFF MY LAWN!!!" ?

  • bluesman87

    FUCK i wish i could listen to this at my office. morbid fascination makes me wanna see that , wrinkled ball bag man sing nirvana . It must sound like shit .

  • My opinion

    Jfrater is a great writer! Unholy shiet is right. The perfect author is jfrater

  • unholy shiet

    Wow finally after like a week of stupid and boring lists we get a good one… Thank you… Also I want to to more paranormal stuff on here.

    • mahala

      way to go at making yourself sound completely empty in the membrane. your comment really made me laugh! thanks!
      "Also I want to to more paranormal stuff on here." LOLOLOLOLOL

  • Dynamite Hack's cover of Eazy E's Boyz n the Hood should be on here! its hilarious to hear a group of white guys sing about living a gangster life in the hood hahaha

    also, RATM's cover of MC5's Kick Out the Jams would be a good addition as well

    • Matt

      Good Call with Dynamite Hack. Easily one of the best covers I've ever heard. Thank you for reminding me of how awesome it is.

  • n7pper

    Don't forget Hayley Williams and New Found Glory covering Bed intruder song

  • mackayles

    Genre-defying?:::shuttering musician::: While I disagree with the title, I enjoyed the list especially 'Gin and Juice'.

  • jsoff91

    20+ years ago, Rush was still the best thing to come out of Canada for music lovers

    • mackayles

      Umm Neil Young? Geddy Lee has one of the most annoying voices in my opinion(Sorry, I know you didn't ask). They're all great musicians though.

      • jsoff91

        Neil Young is definitely one of the great ones and his longevity is a testament to his greatness. However, if I only had a choice of one album, I'd take Moving Pictures or 2112 over Harvest any day

    • Maggot

      Triumph kicks Rush’s ass every day and twice on Sunday. I’m a big Alex Lifeson fan, but I think Rik Emmett is equally talented. Unfortunately, in comparison he is way under-rated and under-appreciated outside of Canada.

      • jsoff91

        Triumph is a very good, underrated band, and Emmett is an outstanding guitarist, but they have no equivalents to Geddy's bass-playing or Neil Peart, who may be the greatest rock drummer (and one of the greatest lyricists) ever to walk the earth

        • Maggot

          Yeah collectively they are better musicians and especially no argument there with regard to Peart, except that in my opinion his writing became more and more self-indulgent to the point of over-kill after 2112. I mean, that’s cool if you like that kind of stuff, but my bias is toward more straight ahead rocking (obviously that’s just a personal taste preference and doesn’t apply to everyone). I think Rush kind of lost some of that harder edge after 2112 as they incorporated more and more synth (and ever-more artsy Peart story-telling) into their sound. Alex’s virtuosity would still shine thru on occasion, but you had to put up with more drek to get to it. Lee’s voice takes some getting used to, but IMO he was best when belting out rockers like Working Man, Fly By Night, Bastille Day, and Temples of Syrinx.

          • jsoff91

            Well, I do enjoy the more straightforward, bluesier rock of their earlier albums (I still maintain that Fly By Night and Anthem are 2 of the best rock songs to come out of that era), but personally I think Peart and Rush were at their best creatively during the span of albums starting with 2112 and ending with Moving Pictures. In my opinion (though not everyone's), they were able to experiment with more complex themes, subject matter and structures like those in Natural Science, the Cygnus X-1 series, etc. without playing down to their audience or sounding pretentious (unlike their colleagues Yes, King Crimson, and the like). Of course, the more progressive stuff isn't for everybody and it really all comes down to personal preference. For me, it was after Moving Pictures when they started experimenting with more synthesizers that they started their decline.

        • Bassbait

          First of all, I wouldn't give Geddy or Peart the honor of greatest at what they do. If we are only counting rock bands, Peart is inferior to Keith Moon in my opinion. Peart is more well-rounded, but Moon did things like nobody else. He really re-invented the way drumming was supposed to be, as shown in songs like "Won't get Fooled Again" or "Young Man Blues". He was CRAZY.

          Also, counting bassists, if we delve into the realm of metal for a second, I can't possibly bring myself to consider Geddy Lee better than Roger Patterson, Tony Choy, Steve Digiorgio, or Eric Langlois. However, since those musicians are all in the realm of Thrash and Death Metal, I'll offer Steve Harris as an excellent example of one of the best bassists around. Still, I HIGHLY recommend that you hear some stuff by Steve Digiorgio, he's an intense bassist, and on the record "Individual Thought Patterns", by Death, he does some AMAZING fretless bass work.

          So ya, maybe Rush is a great band, but seriously, they've been praised to death, and I can't bring myself to actually claim that they are better than other acts, because they are simply too simplistic for me to agree. That said, there are some sick metal bands from Canada, such as Cryptopsy, Gorguts, and Strapping Young Lad, one of the most bizarre and most interesting bands ever.

          • Maggot

            If we are only counting rock bands, Peart is inferior to Keith Moon in my opinion.

            Yeah, Moon is my personal favorite as well, but there’s always going to be the standard three-way debate between those two and Bonham, and a good case can be made for any one of them being “the best”. Just to mix it up, I like to throw Terry Bozzio into the fray…

            I'll offer Steve Harris as an excellent example of one of the best bassists around

            Agreed, Harris is typically one of the first names mentioned when talking bassists (unless it’s Stanley Clarke or something), and deservedly so. Entwistle is often overlooked by those rattling off more recent names. Larry Graham, Bootsy Collins or Flea as well. Not being a fan of death metal, I haven’t listened to Digiorgio. I will check him out on Youtube…thanks for the callout.

    • skipskip1

      Rush is surely one of the best things to come out of Canada full stop!!

  • KabirBhai

    WOW… U R A Real poet like Shake-Spear…
    A Spear in ur backside…

  • Alex

    Ahhh I wanted to see "since u been gone" by A Day to Remember sooooo bad. That's definitely my favorite cover song ever

  • dirtyhead

    Why is Jason Mraz higher on the list than Sublime. No offense but that's whack.

    • timothyjames

      I tried to order them by their fidelity to the original. With Sublime, it is only inspired by Porgy and Bess, not a direct cover.

  • fraterhater

    Ive always loved Johnny Cash's 'Hurt', I think it would suit this list.

  • dub matrix

    Nice to see Sublime and 311 on the list. Not glad 311 got put at the same level as Jason Mraz, they are way better in my opinion.

    • timothyjames

      I would agree, but for the sake of the list, they went together nicely.

  • ModernSwinger

    Where did you sleep last night-nirvana


    Mohagany-pinhead gunpowder

    • bobby

      you're stupid

  • ..,,,,..
    • bobby

      lolol you have no life

    • n7pper

      none of those are good. people, dont waste your time

      • ..,,,,..

        Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

  • Superman

    Boring list

    • brock


  • jau
    a much better cover of these boots

  • astraya

    Once while browsing around Youtube I stumbled across a clip of Nirvana attempting "Seasons in the Sun", made even more unusual by the fact that they'd switched instruments for the occasion. I also found Tori Amos singing "Teen Spirit", but that's not as radical as Paul Anka though. She made it sound like a totally different song. I also also found Alanis Morrisette singing the Black Eyed Peas "My humps", which really did make it a totally different song. Once in a hotel room in Korea I saw a cool-blues rendition of Hotel California with a female singer, but it didn't say who and I've never been able to find out.

    A few years ago a radio station in Australia had a regular segment inviting well-known (mainly Australian, but also some others (?visiting Australia)) singers/groups performing songs way out of their normal style – a hard rocker singing "Dancing Queen", a children's group singing "Long way to the top" and (for the sake of any Aussies or Brits reading this) Rolf Harris singing "I touch myself". Some performers took it seriously, others didn't. Some of the results were bizarre, and others were brilliant.

    • Julius

      Funnily enough Nirvana jamming Seasons in the Sun has more views on youtube than the Westlife or Terry Jacks version combined even though it was never meant as a serious cover…

      • oliveralbq

        speaking of non-serious covers —

        jimmy fallon has a late night talk show, and either did a skit parodying neil young, or did it in a stand-up routine.

        he looked a little like him, sounded like him — singing pants on the ground from that american idol audition last year.

        i don't watch jimmy fallon or american idol, but lucked across that somehow.

        as i was looking for this link to post, i also saw where he had done dexy's midnight runners' come on eileen and another parody cover of neil young, doing will smith, doing the theme to the fresh prince of bel air

    • Triple J's 'Like a Version' is my favourite segment on any radio station I've ever heard! I've heard so many awesome covers on there! I'm sure they've released an album of them.

  • Dilvish

    Bla-bla-bla, YET ANOTHER ameco-centered list… Nothing about Boney nEM or anything other than the continent of N. America. Disgusting.

    • one of the bands is from Finland and Amy Winehouse is from the UK, nice try but you fail :-)

      • Touche :)

        • The Mick

          LOL, i was speed-reading and i read it as ' Douche"…

          • haha that would be my reply to the original commenter :)

    • Julius

      American music is the most popular in the world. You may not like that, but that's the way it is. If you want to do a list about Korean Pop go ahead, do it…..
      Yeah that's what I thought….

      • That is going to hit some raw nerves – but that is because you are right :)

      • jeffthemaori

        Korean pop is entertaining to watch, I find most Korean Tv is entertaining. We get Arirang here in NZ. It's like watching a cartoon/video game/game show only the people are real, what we call girly men they call macho/masculine, and everyone seems to give the same reply when answering a question from the media. I love it!

        • Julius

          I watch some Korean TV, I have a season ticket for so I can watch the biggest Starcraft tournament in the world, the GSL ;-)
          I have nothing against K-Pop I just needed an example^^

  • Julius

    Kurt Cobain would shoot himself in the head again after hearing what Paul Anka's done to this song….
    Whenever I read about covers and nirvana I feel sort of obliged to share this link:
    Not really genre-defining but still awesome.
    Even though I love nirvana I think it's quite amusing how much some people overanalyse their music and especially their lyrics:
    "A lot of times when I write lyrics I write them at the last second because I'm really lazy. And then I find myself having to come up with explanations…."

    • kubrick

      paul anka is sexy hot

  • AnonymousGuest

    This is my favorite list in recent memory! I like all the songs except for Realm's and Paul Anka's cover versions, and I'm picky about my music.

  • mordechaimordechai

    what's that on Paul Anka's face? … polyester resin or what

  • Here's a cover of a different sort – geeks amongst us will love it – in fact everyone should:

    • jroache

      Jeez that brought back memories, seems a little harder then "left, up, right, left, up, right" though.

    • Lifeschool

      Love it, thanks for the link.

  • Bah! I am giving away some entries from the list I am working on relating to covers but here is another one you won't believe – Crazy by Gnarles Barkley as you have never hear it before:

    [youtube mW0B1sipLBI youtube]

    • blake honda

      dude, somebody should make a top 10 super mario theme cover songs. it's totally unrelated to this article but it'll be badass nevertheless.

    • TEX

      I bought my son a theremin kit about three years ago, which I am proud to say he assembled and learned how to play – to a certain extent.
      He teaches “learning impaired”* grade schoolers and decided to take it to class one day – it was an outstanding success, the school is now funding the purchase of several electronic sound device kits for student projects.

      *“learning impaired” – read “kids whose parents didn’t do well in school so have passed on a negative attitude of education to their children”

  • Will Trame

    Let’s not forget Jose Feliciano’s Latin rock cover of the Doors’ “Light My Fire”, which was an interesting genre-hopping experiment. Also in this particular style was Santana’s cover of Peter Green’s “Black Magic Woman”. That track was originally an obscure Fleetwood Mac blues number. I don’t think that such a ground breaking piece such as “Eleanor Rigby” should have been covered. I recall Vanilla Fudge’s cover, shifting the piece from classical to psychedelic progressive, tortorously slowing the song down, stretching it out to eight minutes. Another notable mention would be UB40’s ska/rap cover of Neil Diamond’s “Red Red Wine”. Even though it could be excruciating, I liked Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock version of the National Anthem. Nice savage distortion.

    • Wow – great jazz flute! I like that more than the original by far!

  • Blake Honda

    Since I'm from Hawaii, when Pearl Jam did a cover of Bruddah Iz's song, "Hawaii '78," I was totally spellbound.

  • Kelso

    Bitches Ain’t Shit, covered by Ben Folds!

    • timothyjames

      I was so close to including this, but thought at the last moment that some people might get offended by the title.

  • jeffthemaori

    I just can't wait till Heavy metal bands start doing covers of Justin Bieber songs.

    • n7pper

      no thank you. the mere thought of that kid makes me sick

    • Julius
      • Ryan

        Lol I remember him. I like his videos with metal bands playing happy music better. I just wish he had a different person do the screaming for the heavy versions of the pop songs

  • Erebos

    i'm not sure if anyone has said this yet, but…

    i've seen several different covers of Eleanor Rigby, and honestly the only one i like is by a band called Godhead [youtube li580259YwU youtube]. i've also heard a lot of Britney Spears songs covered by local metal bands that are much better than the Children of Bodem.

    • missmozell

      Say wow. Now I'll have to go cruise youtube for more of this band. I think I have a new favorite.

  • Catish

    Northern Kings I should Be So Lucky. Now _that's_ how you turn a song around !

  • manimoo

    What about the intro to te movie spun?
    it could of easily topped your already awesome list…

  • Pat

    Travis did a version of Britney Spears' "Hit me baby one more time". Who'd have thought that this is actually a good song.

  • kubrick

    thumbs up this if you think i have no life

  • Winston returns

    too American

  • oouchan

    I'm not a fan of cover bands. It feels like they cheated in order to put out a song because they can't come up with one of their own. Most of them suck ass, too…Mostly because the original is way better.
    In some cases the second version is better. Some of the above are like that… Jimi Hendrix's version of the Star Spangled Banner. :)

    Interesting list.

    • TEX

      I agree – many, many covers were included as filler so bands could fulfill their contracts and get their releases done on schedule – they simply didn’t have the talent to write one or two more original songs.
      BUT – I have to admit, I’ve noticed a lot of good covers coming out here lately – take Santanas cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with India.Arie and Yo-Yo Ma – simply awesome – George would smile. (less Yo-Yo)

      • astraya

        Same song, way different performance –

        • TEX

          seen this before – amazing- as a matter of fact it inspired me to look for a uke for my son – until i found out what a quality uke costs!!!
          $300.00 to $1500.00 US – WTF!!!

    • Maggot

      Did you mean to say cover songs, not cover bands? I get the gist of what you’re saying, but I wouldn’t necessarily think the bands on this list weren’t capable of coming up with their own material. But OTOH, your statement “they cheated in order to put out a song because they can't come up with one of their own” could apply to early releases by the Beatles and the Stones, as well? Seems to me though, when an otherwise original band or artist covers someone else’s work, it’s done out of respect, or intended to be an homage of sorts. Or else it’s just a cool song or a favorite that the band members like to play. What I dislike is when some band (typically the more extreme) purposely goes out of their way to take the most nauseating and out-of-genre pop song they can find, like COB’s Britney Spears number for example, just to be “edgy”. There was really no reason for that one, other than for it to be an outlandish parody. It’s gotten to the point of being cliché and boring IMO.

      • oouchan

        I ran that together. Yes…it's bands that do cover songs. It's lazy. Even those that were done by Elvis, The Beatles, Rolling Stones and so forth. Pure laziness.
        Only because almost all they tried to modify or change to suit them. It's not homage. It's garbage. The mangle the song or kill it completely. There are some songs that should never be touched…ever.

        However, I do see that a small few have really done the "pay tribute" to with songs that came before. A few even were better than the original. But for the most part, the new "versions" suck ass.

  • Nerikull

    Great list! RE: #6 – There are several other covers of this song in a metal vein. IMO, the best cover is from Sweden's "Pain" (a solo project of one Mr Pete Tätgren). Stays pretty faithful to the original, just very, very heavy. Godsmack also has a version, IIRC.

    • Julius

      Oh man, thanks for reminding me about Godsmack…I loved Awake but somehow lost my CD and kinda forgot about them…thanks a lot…

  • kubrick

    yo why do my comments keep getting deleted

    • Julius

      Because you're fucking annoying as shit.

    • oouchan

      Because you are a troll.
      Either contribute to the list or nick off.

    • akiraronin

      Because we can't delete you in person…

    • ianz09

      Because we are trying to teach you to get a girlfriend and a job

    • brock

      mine too i guess they are afraid of truth

  • sega

    Insane Clown Posse covers Sly Fox…!

    i dont know which versions gayer but i like the Sly Fox version better.
    i wish they were still around

  • oliveralbq

    genre defying covers.

    tim—overall good
    but the first thing i thought of when i read the title

    raining blood
    cover: tori amos
    original: slayer

    i cant find a link that's worth a shit, but i've seen her do it live a few times, and it's weird. of course, her covering bonnie and clyde '97 by eminem is too.

    • bluesman87

      yeah a link would be cool i wanna see the primal scream "RAINING BLOOOOOOOOOOD from a lacerated sky…….!!)

    • timothyjames

      I was thinking about including Bonnie and Clyde '97, but I didn't want the list to be overloaded with rap songs. I'm glad so many people are mentioning things in the comments though.

      • oliveralbq

        haha — when the comment section comes through strong, sequel list kinda writes itself ;)

  • Joshy

    Janis joplin/ big brother and the holding company does an exact cover of "summertime"… Also a guy named devendra banhart did an amazing cover on jools holland once

    • Maggot

      The Sublime cover probably fits better on this list, but I love Janis’ rendition. It’s one of my favorite songs by her.

  • Joshy

    Also.. Nirvana covers an old blues song on the unplugged named"in the pines" great stuff.

    • Eddie

      Named `Where did you sleep last night`

    • bluesman87

      also known as "Black Girl" and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" – its an american folk song , a little bluesy but i think its strictly considered folk .

      • Joshy

        Yea i consider it bluesey for the fact the leadbelly was one of the more famous performers of the song. In reality it is up to how ther person in particular plays… I have heard electric and accoustic versions of the song before. It is one of those songs that gas been done and redone many different ways… My favorite is the more bluesey type.

  • Joshy
  • Joshy
  • 'nAlan

    Not really exact match for this list's subject but for an interesting genre change in a song cover, consider Erick Clapton covering his own Layla. First version was an electric hard rock anthem. The cover (when I was considerably older) on his Unplugged album was a smokey balad. Both great, but so strikingly different

    • I hate the original Layla, but I love the second version of it.

  • mhillber

    How about Boots (I know on the list for Megadeth) by KMFDM or Lay Lady Lay covered by Ministry.

  • ianthemagnificent

    That version of smells like teen spirit was toe-curlingly butt – clenchingly cringeworthy. I assume Kurt Cobain is turning in his grave.

    Also what about Jose Gonzalez's cover of Heartbeats by The Knife. You couldn't get two more different songs.

  • Fuegogau

    It reminds me of Apocalyptica and their cello cover of Nothing Else Matters.

    • timothyjames

      I should have put them on here. Apocalyptica is great.

    • Rebooted

      They also made an insanely good cover of Bowie's 'Heroes' with German vocals nu Rammstein's Till Lindemann.

  • Joshy

    The doors do a cover of german opera from the 30s. It is a musical cover(not lyrical). I think you may have heard of the alabama song (whiskey bar)

  • gravyleg

    It’s all still modern pop music…hardly genre-defying. those listed above are just publishing houses swapping royalties.

    metal covering classical is genre-defying.

    latin covering new wave is genre-defying.

    ..and plz; ban the word “top” from titles. there’s 7 billion versions of “top” anything lists out there, and they’re all correct.

  • Gray

    the metal band Nevermore covered Simon & Grafunkel's "The Sound Of Silence" on one of their albums. straight bastardization of an awesome tune. Its fucking terrible

  • meetoo31

    Seether – Careless Whisper = Sooooo good!!!

  • lords8n

    Black Sabbath doing Ansley Dunbar's Warning
    Black Sabbath doing Crow's Evil Woman

    • TEX

      It’s Aynsley Dunbar – and you just freaked me out – man I’ve seen him play many times – only as drummer for Zappa’s Mothers of Invention – I would have never tied him to Ozzy.

  • Jamie

    Love the Paul Anka and the Gourds cover, even though I like both of the originals.

  • Strenuous Beebop

    #6: uh… urgh.

  • Diamondback13

    Hmm… Was hoping to see Type-O-Negative's cover of Seals & Croft's "Summer Breeze" on here…

  • Leerrooyy Jenkins!!!

    Oops, i did it agian is covered better by gandolf aka sir ian mckellen

  • jokohama

    what about Ministry covering Rolling stones

  • blutopia

    Very diverse list. I thought the beatle's cover was allright. It wasn"t just the lyrics, it also kept the melody. Any cover of them might encourage younger people to go back and listen to the White album or others and realize what heavy rockers the Beatles were. Also , although not too genre defying is Bowie"s Pinups album. Particularily his cover of Pink Floyd"s See Emily play.

    • caysha

      Though not really genre defying, if you like The Beatles, you should try the beautiful cover of their song 'Real Love' by Regina Spektor. I actually think her version might be prettier :)

  • killborten


  • gigo70

    Was that Mark Kermode playing trumpet in the Paul Anka band?

    It was a desperate cover by Anka, despite Mr Kermode's best efforts on trumpet.

  • Moonbeam

    I never liked the Bee Gees disco stuff, but this cover should have come out first. Even though I hated the original I love the Eagle Eye Cherry version. So maybe you would like a cover if it was better than the hated original if it was good enough to overcome the terrible first version.

  • Sander

    My Top 3:
    Ben Folds: Bitches Ain't Shit
    Johnny Cash: Hurt
    Anything by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

  • Will Trame

    I liked the mention of the Doors’ version of “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)”. They updated a German operatic piece from the 30s to the psychedelic sound of 1967. It was reportedly the song that convinced Elektra president Jac Holzman to sign the band, as it signified to him that they had “depth and intelligence”. Ray Manzarek’s use of the marxophone is what made the tune turn like a transistorized merry-go-round.

    There was a mention of Eric Clapton’s remaking “Layla” as an acoustic piece. I prefer the frenetic electric version, but that’s just my humble opinion.

    Another interesting remake was the Atlanta Rhythm Section’s cover of the Classics IV’s “Spooky”. Originally a soft jazzy ballad, the ARS gave it a bouncy Southern ambience. Even more intriguing is that a few members of the Classics IV became part of the ARS.

    • timothyjames

      Clapton did an accoustic version of Layla for his "Unplugged" album.

  • "a Finnish melodic death metal band looking to break out into the world stage"
    Just because you haven't heard of a band, it doesn't mean that they weren't there before and having a BIG influence all over the world and a big platform. You could just google Children of Bodom and realize that they didn't need that cover, they were mocking Britney Spears, not taking advantage of her

    • timothyjames

      Their previous album, Hate Crew Deathroll, got them some global recognition, but one world tour isn't enough to call them popular all over the world. I would argue that it was with "Are You Dead Yet?" that Children of Bodom really cemented their place as a popular band.

    • Not that you’re going to read this, but as a further point, last year’s “American Idol,” Lee Dewyze, is currently on a world tour, but I would not say he is big.

  • Why that exact song? Richard Cheese only does covers in a jazzy style.

  • Crash

    Pat Boone covering 11 heavy metal songs on his album In A Metal Mood.

  • ironflange

    Rolf Harris – Stairway to Heaven

    Best cover ever.

    • caysha

      This one was originally done (as far as I know) for a TV show called 'The Money Or The Gun) Each week/episode had a different band covering the Stairway To Heaven. Personally I loved the Doug Anthony AllStars + Barry Crocker cover best!

  • Ryan

    Nice list. Some of apocalyptica's stuff would be good also

  • hayley

    I always think of Baysides cover of beautiful girls by Sean Kingston

  • Eddy

    And yet again no Ten Masked Men… You can't say that a cover of Frank Sinatra from a death metal band isn't "genre-defying"…

    Besides that, it's a very nice list, I didn't know of about most of them. I especially liked that cover of Nirvana.

    • timothyjames

      I thought that a heavy metal cover of Nancy Sinatra was close enough ;)

      • Eddy

        Don't get me wrong, what I mean is that they made about five albums FULL of death metal covers of pop, disco, indie rock and other styles totally unrelated to metal at all, even more from death metal, and yet everyone manages to forget/miss them on lists like this…
        It's not that I like death grunts more than clean singing, much on the contrary, I prefer clear singing, there is absolutely no death or black metal among my favorites (though that doesn't mean I never listen to these styles).

        Besides, their cover of Disco Inferno sounded very nice, that rythm sounds nice on a guitar…

  • Woyzeck

    "alternative musician Jason Mraz"


    But seriously, some pretty suspect choices here. Seems like a bit of a wasted opportunity…

  • LLau

    I love Richard Cheese's lounge version of 'Down with the Sickness' by Disturbed. The cover is so good and so different.

  • Cocal

    Have you heard about The Baseballs?
    They make covers of quite new songs, not my favourites but deserve being mentioned.

    • timothyjames

      I haven't. Thanks for mentioning them.

  • murpheyslawyer

    Number 2 should be number 1 and number 1 shouldn't be on this list.

  • Jim

    Summertime by Type O Negative would be better for that tune IMHO.

    • Jim

      Oops Summer Breeze By Type O… should be on the list.

  • TEX

    Interesting question –
    There are some songs I don’t like the original version of because of the style of the singer, or of the band and because they get so much air play that it drives me nuts. For instance I’m not a big fan of Bob Seger. I find his voice irritating and the piano ballad style pretty sucky. But the other day I was listening to an interesting song when it struck me it was an arrangement of a B.S. tune – it never occurred to me what a well written song it was until someone else did it in what I consider a better style than Seger himself ever did.

    On the other hand, the original Kinks song “You Really Got Me” is a classic, close to perfection – and to hear David Lee Roth screeching it out with Van Halen is vomitous. To bring up “You Really Got Me” and have someone say “yeah, that Van Halen song” makes me want to strangle them.

    • Maggot

      the original Kinks song “You Really Got Me” is a classic, close to perfection – and to hear David Lee Roth screeching it out with Van Halen is vomitous.

      “vomitous” – lol, great word! Agree with you on both counts, but it’s worth at least a nod that the “genius” behind VH’s cover (paired with the Eruption intro) is of course Eddie’s guitar pyrotechnics. Their debut album is an influencial classic in its own right for the shredding genre, and their cover of YRGM was a brilliant inclusion IMO. That said, there is no improving on the Kinks…and as I mentioned a few weeks ago in the comments on the similar “Metal Covers of Non-metal Songs” list, that Kinks’ original was heavy metal before there was such a thing, so VH’s version “didn’t count” for that list.

  • Wozzlebee

    Anybody heard the Fever Ray cover of Mercy Street?

  • whimsicalfuckery

    I usually don't comment, but I thought this list really sucked. Why didn't you make 7 into two points? How could you forget NIN/Johnny Cash "Hurt"? Also, I thought that the Realm song was great, Paul Anka was interesting, Sublime is classic and everything else sucked.

  • santa

    Hell Yeah! Megadeth rocks man!

  • mom424

    Excellent list Timothy. Nice variety of choices. Well maybe we could have skipped Paul Anka; I was squirming on his behalf. Amy Winehouse is awesome, whatever she chooses to sing – too bad she's such a train-wreck – although there does appear to be some hope on that front.

    My favorite cover is The White Stripes take on the Dolly Parton tune Jolene. Actually saw them do it on The Late Show when Letterman swapped networks. Been a Jack White fan ever since.

    • timothyjames

      Thanks, Judy! I was squirming too. Even he looked uncomfortable singing it. Overall, just a weird, weird performance.

  • JonB

    What happened to Johnny Cash's cover of Personal Jesus?

  • kokopelli1000

    It's such a shame Amy Winehouse is so messed up, she's so talented.

    • General Tits Von Chodehoffen


  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    Cool list. Glad to see Megadeth and Bodom on here.

  • xilebat

    I doubt few people bent the cover genre as hard as Izzy.

  • Vera Lynn

    Oh the Paul Anka was painful. Mom424 once said on a prior list, "some things just cant be unseen." The same applies here. Some things just cant be unheard.

    • Vera Lynn

      Why would I be thumbed down on this? What I said wasnt offensive.

  • Atheus

    so you want a genre defying cover:
    Chris cornell performing Billy Jean
    [youtube 0xW25VB1Mpw youtube]
    there you have a nice cover that works in a new genre.

    • jbjr

      Anyone say Smooth Criminal (Michael Jackson) by Alien Ant Farm

  • Trish

    Jamie Cullum – Frontin'

  • DanielOrtega

    How 'bout alternative band Cake covering the disco classic by Gloria Gaynor (i like Cake's version a lot)

  • DanielOrtega

    How 'bout Cake's rock version of I Will Survive by Gloria Gayno

  • personally, i think marvin gaye singing the anthem was better[youtube QRvVzaQ6i8A youtube]

  • gsroest

    cake's cover of "i will survive" is amazing
    [youtube 596qaxm-u4o youtube]

  • Epoch

    What about Johnny Cash covering Hurt byNine Inch Nails?!?!?!

  • caysha

    This list was great! I love hearing cover songs – hearing a different interpretation of something familiar is always interesting :)
    A couple of others not mentioned, but worth a look if you like cover songs…
    Iron Man – The Cardigans
    Oops! I Did It Again (Britney Spears) – Richard Thompson
    The Tracks Of My Tears (Smokey Robinson) – Go West and/or Paul Young
    Lay All Your Love On Me (Abba) – Helloween
    Alejandro (Lady Gaga) – All Time Low
    I Can Hear Music (The Beach Boys) – She & Him
    Also, either of the Finn Brothers cover albums – 'She Will Have Her Way', and 'He Will Have His Way' – and the Triple J recordings/albums known as 'Like A Version' that have a range of songs covered live by various alt. bands :D

  • tony

    what about vanilla skys cover of Umbrella?

    waaay better than the original

    • timothyjames

      Do you know of the youtube drummer named Cobus? He does an awesome drum cover of Vanilla Sky's cover.

  • jbjr

    Vanilla Fudge – keep me hangin on – Supremes (I don't know who covered who)
    (Vanilla Fudge version is great)
    The Lemonheads – Mrs. Robinson (Simon and Garfunkel)
    Faith No More – Easy (The Commodores)

  • Will Trame

    Vanilla Fudge covered “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”. Like “Summertime Blues”, “…Hangin’ On” received a number of covers, from Rod Stewart to Kim Wilde.

    As far as Rush goes, as much as I like the band, their work after “Moving Pictures” was too cold and sterile as they put too much emphasis on synthesizers. Fortunately, beginning with “Presto”, “Roll The Bones” and “Counterparts” the keyboard aspect was beginning to be downplayed as Alex Lifeson’s guitar began to reassert its presence.

  • astraya

    Some years ago I went to a jazz performance in the small regional city I was then living in, and a singer I knew sang Summertime as uptempo jazz, which I'd never heard before. After the show I told her rather too harshly that I didn't like it. She said that it was "always" done uptempo. I've only ever heard it as a lullaby.

    At another concert I played Summertime as a handbell solo. (Un)fortunately I don't have a sound file to share with you.

  • plum13sec

    Jimi Hendrix was in another world on acid when he spit out that song fromt he bowels of hell

  • Lifeschool

    Thanks for the link; it's not a very good cover only because Cash sounds like he's about to keel over at any moment – and those top notes will forever elude the poor guy. Kinda funny though.

  • SMTH

    I always like

    Madeleine Peyroux – Between The Bars (Elliot Smith cover)

    [youtube FktNzLg_te4 youtube]

  • Will Trame

    Another noteworthy mention….one that has been seemingly lost to the shadowy mists of time…is Frijid Pink’s version of “House of The Rising Sun”. Their cover was mind bendingly psychedelic (or just plain distorted!) while the Animals’ version was more blues based.

  • TEX

    Now if we could only get them to do this song…

  • Name

    The best part about #2 is that Paul Anka keeps looking at the teleprompter located to his lower-right at the front of the stage.

  • Chris

    Paul Anka Teen Spirit cover may be the best cover song I've ever heard lol.

  • Ben

    in place of number 2 could be any richard cheese song

  • fioni

    Does anyone else think that the verses of britney 'Opps I did it again' cover, sound a teeny tiny bit like the cookie monster?

  • P1t1o

    I cant remember the name of the band but I heard a "Punk" cover of "Leaving on a Jet Plane" which was awesome, and still somehow poignant…

    If anyone happens to know who its by, drop me a reply :)

    • blahah

      probably you heard me first and the gimme gimmes version. punk supergroup who only play covers

  • JB

    Graveworms version of REM losing my religion scared the crap out of me!

  • Jake

    I think I'll check some of these out, maybe using the Great Online Library that is the Interwebs.

  • purplemuskrat

    This is a really interesting list, thanks for posting it! I was a little disappointed not to see Jonathan Coulton's ballad version of "Baby Got Back" though. That's a favorite of mine and definitely a surprising enough sound to go well on this list.

  • Adolph

    rolling-on-the-fucking-floor-laughing-my-fucking-ass-off at #2!

  • lee

    Wow where to begin? I will go with Tori Amos' version of "Smell's Like Teen Spirit". Richard Cheese and The Lounge Against The Machine's version of "Down with the Sickness" (Disturbed) Frente's version of "Open up my heart and let the light shine in" (pebbles and Bambam) for a few.

  • weegmc

    Husker Du cover of the Byrds Eight Miles High

  • Jenni

    I'm surprised that Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails isn't on here. That's by chance one of the best covers I've ever heard…and those two really aren't in the same genre.

  • Lisa

    The Zombies did a great cover of Summertime, too. Check that one out, as well as their takes on Goin Outta My Head, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, and Look of Love.

  • Lisa

    Patti Smith's cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit is interesting if you need something to cleanse the palate after Paul Anka.

  • Canadianguy

    "Corey Hart would have been the best thing out of Canada for music lovers."

    Are you on crack?

  • blahah

    we came as romans – my love

  • santa

    Jason Mraz is hella gay!

  • phil

    Talking metal, heres Blind Witness with a cover of the Backstreet Boys, pretty epic!

  • scooter

    Should've tried Godhead's version of Eleanor Rigby. Paid respect to the original but fully altered it to metal.

  • exo

    Godhead's cover of eleanor rigby is much better then this shit.

  • mophead

    What about HatchetMan’s cover of “Crank Dat Soulja Boy”

  • ArtalTV

    Download Teh Black Eyed Peas – The Time Clip in HQ Direct link

  • Pete

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned Alien Ant Farm – Smooth Criminal

    Not very well know but one of my favorites is the Black Velvet Flag cover of Institutionalized by Suicidal Tendencies

  • Pete

    One more: Pennywise – Stand By Me (it changes tone at about 1:15)

  • sebbo

    For those that like the louder types of music:

    Ten Masked Men – British Death Metal outfit that only do covers of mainstream songs. From James Bond movie themes to "You Spin Me Round" by Dead or Alive. a lot of it is crap, but there are some REALLY good songs to be found there.

    Excrementory Grindfuckers – German grindcore. Extremely funny and well done. Lots of Schlager (german folk) and Europop covers.

  • Name

    what about Leela James cover of Don't Speak by No Doubt?

    Or The Isley Brothers version of summer breeze?

  • AssassinRising

    you should have "mad world" by Evergreen Terrace

  • Alan

    this one should have been in, a metal cover of hank Williams

  • Jonathan

    I am surprised that you don’t have “Sweet Dreams” originally performed by the Eurythmics and covered by Marilyn Manson

  • Ash

    Another one:
    Mad World
    Original: Tear for Fears
    Cover: Gary Jules
    If you listen to both versions, I guarantee you will honestly believe that the original “Mad World” is just some pathetic cover of the Gary Jules’ version!!!!

  • Rosie

    Holy shit, the Eleanor Rigby cover is so terrible. *facepalm

  • theradioman

    i believe “oops i did it again” is a louis armstrong original, not britney spears. britney spears’ cover came about 60 yrs after louis armstrong’s version.

  • theradioman

    i believe “oops i did it again” is a louis armstrong original, not britney spears. britney spears’ cover came about 60 yrs after louis armstrong’s version.

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  • Fiona

    Another great example is Hurt, originally done by Nine Inch Nails, covered by Johnny Cash!

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