30 Cover Songs That Are Better Than The Original


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


    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.


    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…

  • 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

  • J

    No. To like all of these…

  • KillerBeeZ

    I got through about 12 of them… they all sound a like … I disagree with the person that posted this. They do not all sound as good or better than the original

  • HBH

    and I wouldn’t reach so far as to say it was better. He certainly wouldn’t have gotten boo’ed off stage with that performance but by no means better. Sounded weak and dead to me. No pun intended.

  • HBH

    That is a great cover. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  • hbh

    No, but it does say better than the original..

  • jada


  • V
  • pip

    those were almost all awful

  • Peter

    Carmen Gomes inc.; I’m on Fire :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cESlSxcBEdo

  • Sainsanaa Shinebayar

    hey gyus here is some awesome cover songs . check this out

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    hey guys here is some awesome cute funny pets . check this out

  • Holly Keef

    I do not know why you even bother writing this. You know that people are not going to have an open mind about this article because people have their mind set. I do believe in freedom of speech but you do know that people are too immature to handle opinion and the only thing that this will do is start arguments/wars. So, why even bother???? Because heven forbit we all RESPECT others opinions or heaven forbid we are all NICE to each other for a change.
    I must be DREAMING.
    One can dream can’t they???

  • alckz

    Good selection! Don’t agree on some of them…depends on personal tastes for sure. My personal faves are sonic youth’s “superstar” and david gray’s “say hello,wave goodbye”

  • JelBee

    bringing our own personal touch to a song whether that’s via the use of an unusual instrument, changing the tempo or inflecting a different meaning through performance is Great music whether it is original or cover.

    Best Music Cover

  • Andrew Cole

    Are you insane? No cover of “Jolene” can ever be as good as the original because only she put the correct emotion into the lyrics.

  • newidol.tv

    You can check out the best cover songs on http://www.newidol.tv

  • Dirk Laguna

    ummmm….Stevie Ray Vaughan “Superstition” (Stevie Wonder) or Bauhaus “Ziggy Stardust” (David Bowie) or Rolling Stones “It’s All Over Now” (Bobby Womack) or The Ramones “California Sun” (Joe Jones)…..