30 Cover Songs That Are Better Than The Original

covers

By Sasha Hecht & Caitlin White

Why would an artist ever choose to cover a song? I mean, seriously. Nine times out of ten, their efforts are met with something between "Not bad... but nothing compared to the original" and "This has ruined my favorite song for me forever. I hope you go septic and poison yourself from the inside out with your own feces." Often, cover songs are an attempt by a younger artist to assert their skill level as on par with a classic musician—and usually the two aren't actually equal.

However, there's nothing wrong with a good cover. Sometimes, a cover song can even—gasp—be better than the original. Just because an artist once wrote a song doesn't necessarily mean that they wrote or performed it the best way possible no questions asked forever and ever amen. Here are 30 covers that are better than the originals. Uncross your arms, open your ears, and dealwithit.gif. Some of them might even surprise you.

Click to start the list

  • mos

    of course some are better… jamie cullum’s version of rihanna’s don’t stop the music is wicked and her’s isn’t as good
    john mayer’s version of wait till tomorrow is way better in that it’s a better recording and the performances are better. Some people happen to take an idea and finish it. University students do research and expand on ideas and so do musicians in some cases. I’m a musician and i’ve had good songs that were sort of unfinished or the instrumentation and guitar sounds could have been better. You might as well say that new computers are not as good as the originals or that new airplanes arent as good as the right brothers version

  • Studhoss128

    Jimi Hendrix (Watchtower- Bob Dylan) and Aretha Franklin (Respect-Otis Redding) are still the two best covers of all time. Jack White (Jolene), Nirvana (Man Who Sold the World), Johnny Cash (Hurt), Patti Smith (Because the Night- Springsteen) are all good, but add Mott the Hoople (All the Young Dudes- Bowie), Janis Joplin (Bobby McGee- Kris Kristopherson), Counting Crows (Big Yellow Taxi- Joni Mitchell), Manfred Mann (Blinded by the Light- Springsteen), Linda Ronstant (Love is a Rose- Neil Young), Joe Cocker (Little Help from My Friends- Beatles), Van Halen (Pretty Woman- Roy Orbison), The Who (Summertime Blues- Eddie Cochran), Sheryl Crow- Better than Rod Stewart (First Cut is the Deepest- Cat Stevens), Urge Overkill (Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon- Neil Diamond), Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Rollercoaster- Ohio Players), Eric Clapton (I Shot the Sherriff- Bob Marley), George Thorogood (One Burben, One Scotch, One Beer- John Lee Hooker), Social Distortion (Ring of Fire- Johnny Cash), James Taylor (You Got A Friend- Carole king), Stevie Ray Vaughn (Taxman- Beatles), Bruce Springsteen (Jersey Girl- Tom Wait), Norah Jones (Cry, Cry, Cry- Johnny Cash), Jimmy Cliff (I Can See Clearly- Johnny Mathis), Luka Bloom- Better then Adele (Make You Feel My Love- Bob Dylan). And that is just off the top of my head. Half the songs on the previous list are either obscure or crap.

  • JurassicTimes

    I was glad that Johnny Cash’s cover of NIN’s Hurt was featured. But what about Evanescence’s cover of Nirvana’s Lithium? How about Gary Jules dark and depressing version of T4F’s Mad World? This list was really disappointing.

  • Derek Vigil

    CAKEs cover of Gloria Gaynors ‘I Will Survive’ should be on here tho.

  • Hishmat

    Robyn’s cover of Hyperballad is definitely not better than the Original!!!!

  • conal

    conor maynard’s covers

  • Bigheadd202

    California Dreaming Mamas and Papas cover by Bobby Womack featured in the Film “Fish Tank”

  • Anon

    i really like kate voegele’s cover too

  • Rodriguez

    Knocking on heavens doors Guns n Roses cover

  • anon

    People are giving y’all a lot of flack for this list not realizing or at least not remembering this blog is for exposing lesser-known artists, and the title says nothing about best covers of all time or anything like that

  • anon

    also frank ocean admitted he was queer in “Oldie”, did no one catch that?

  • THE guest

    In “Because the night” Springsteen’s version is not the best cover…10000 Maniacs is actually the best cover of that song

  • HARRIE

    How can you forget the Fugees cover of Killing Me Softly?! One of the besttttt covers of all time!

  • Robert Attard

    Fuck off @ number 1.

  • Robert Attard

    If you’re gonna add Del Rabies to number 1 might as well add Florence & The Machine’s cover of “Addicted to love” in there too.

  • Eric

    Jeff Buckley’s cover of Hallelujah, anyone?? And Lana’s cover of Heart Shaped Box definitely isn’t #1.. it shouldn’t even be #100

  • Harry

    R> STEVIE MOORE Chantilly Lace. Loom it up….you will buy it. You will want to buy it. You will have to have it!

  • AndroidDoctorr

    Hmm. The Man Who Sold the World is the only one I recognize.

  • Gueseppe

    “White Rabbit” -J.A should have stayed untouched, I’m sorry, the remake adds too much pop into the song, the original really captures the time period and the vibes coming off of it were much stronger.

  • SUPERSOAKER

    Luther Vandross’s cover of “House is Not a Home”, LIVE.. during an award ceremony?!!!! C’mon P&P.

  • Joelle Nourse

    Keller Williams covers “A Case of You” so well… and each word is discrete, but not lacking that spontaneous feeling that seems to be so valued in James Blake’s cover…

  • mood
  • freshied

    Naw. GnR best cover was Live and Let Die!!!

  • Drew Brady

    Mad World by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules? Video Killed the Radio Star or She Don’t Use Jelly by Ben Folds Five? Such Great Heights by Iron & Wine? ART THOU KIDDING ME?

  • squiggysmom1

    What good is a cover of the beautiful poetry of Leonard Cohen’s “One of Us Cannot be Wrong” if it is muffled, overly echoed and drowned out with instrumentation? NOT better.

  • http://peachesandcaramel.tumblr.com mudzi mashamba

    Bastilles cover ofno pigeons kills everything here

  • Vincent Fair

    can’t believe cocaine by eric clapton isn’t on here