The 105 Best Cover Songs Of All Time

Most Successful Cover Songs

There are countless cover songs, many of which don’t even know that the song is not the original version at all. Cover songs are often a love message to the original performer.

A great musician reperforming a classic song – what could be more exciting? Sometimes a cover version is a faithful rendition, created out of love and respect for the original music. Others turn the original melody entirely on its head and make the song almost unrecognizable, which can excite the listener.

Often cover songs give you a different vibe and show you the complexity of the original in a way you would never have noticed before. Sometimes an artist’s new Performeration makes the song resonate so well with listeners that the cover version surpasses the original. So a dance song becomes a rock ballad and a rap song becomes a Love song.

Occasionally it takes a complete make-over to appeal to a different audience.

One of the most famous and recognizable cover songs of all time is “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails. The song was covered by country singer Johnny Cash, who turned into a gritty country track. It became Johnny Cash’s most famous song, with the cover version far exceeding the popularity of the original.

Many more songs like. B. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” “Nothing Compares 2 U,” “Respect,” and “Tainted Love” eclipsed the original version. Below we would like to present you with the most successful cover songs of all time.

(For each list, we’ve created a Spotify playlist for you with all the songs listed here.)

The best cover songs:

01. Faith No More – Easy (1992), Original: The Commodores (1977)

When the crossover band from San Francisco released the song “Easy” by the Motown group “The Commodores” as a single towards the end of 1992, they had proved years earlier that they could Performer cover songs in style but still in their garb. Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” was the most vivid proof of this.

With “Easy,” they made a caesura in their creative musical process. Up to now, Faith No More has attracted attention mainly to funky and metal-heavy tracks. This cover, which lyrically describes the feelings of a man whose love affair has gone to pieces, is sung by Mike Patton in a resonant and deliberately sloppy way as if he were curing a hangover.

Jim Martin’s pleading guitar solo rounds off this impression. “Easy” became one of the most successful singles for the band.

02. Ugly Kid Joe – The Cat’s In The Cradle (1992), Original: Harry Chapin (1974)

Ugly Kid Joe proves that cover songs can be a band’s best-selling singles. While her compositions are usually more hard-hitting, her Performeration of Harry Chapin’s hit about a father-son relationship proved to be the most commercially profitable single in the USA (#6).

The remarkable thing about their version is not having radically changed the song but embedding its folk structure in a modern rock context.

03. Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower (1967), Original: Bob Dylan (1968)

No sooner had the original been pressed than Jimi Hendrix pounced on this typical folk song from Dylan’s pen, which reached number 20 on the American Billboard charts in the new version. Hendrix created a new song when he almost doubled the playing time with the help of contemporary psychedelic elements and his unmistakable guitar sound.

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Dylan’s accolade followed as he echoed Hendrix’s energetic Performeration in later live versions.

04. Nirvana – The Man Who Sold The World (1994), original: David Bowie (1970)

The Seattle grunge pioneers released an acoustic album at their success. They chose a cover version of David Bowie’s song “The Man Who Sold The World” as a promotional single.

Kurt Cobain delivers the allegorical lines of this track with such a sense of fate that you’d think he wrote this song about the fears of succumbing to multiple personality disorder himself.

05. Johnny Cash – Hurt (2002), Original: Nine Inch Nails (1995)

While many cover songs try to press the original into a new musical context to inflate it, Johnny Cash goes the opposite with his version of Trend Reznor’s song “Hurt.” The instrumentation, which is minimalist by Nine Inch Nails standards, is cut back to vocals, guitar and piano, and the song duration is almost halved.

Johnny Cash was already heavily marked by his illness during the recording of this song, and his voice does not hide this fact. This gives the song an authenticity that covers versions rarely achieved.

06. Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Want To Have Fun (1983), Original: Robert Hazard (1979)

In the early 1980s, a small revolution took place in the world of pop music. Feminist themes, performed by self-confident female Performerers, stormed the charts.

Cyndi Lauper is considered one of the pioneers when she re-purposed the macho lyrics of an unknown song by singer Robert Hazard to tell the song’s perspective from the point of view of a rebellious brat. A snotty video paved the way for a hymn to emancipate girls, making Cyndi Lauper’s later success possible.

07. Santana – Black Magic Woman (1970), Original: Fleetwood Mac (1968)

Carlos Santana is rightly one of the most famous guitarists. He knows how to weld the most diverse musical styles into a unity that bears his typical signature. A successful example is a cover version of the Fleetwood Mac classic “Black Magic Woman.”

In the original, a sustained blues arrangement, Santana’s Performeration fuses jazz, polyrhythmic Latin American music, rock, Gábor Szabó’s instrumental “Gypsy Queen” and a variety of percussion elements into a new song that, amazingly, still strongly recalls the original version and, in this version, becomes a world hit.

08. Fugees – Killing Me Softly With His Song (1995), Original: Lori Lieberman (1971)

When you get right down to it, the Fugees’ version is a cover of a cover. Lori Lieberman performs the song quietly and meaningfully with violins and pian. The Fugees based their version on Roberta Fleck’s Performeration (1972), which breathes new life into this song with lively rhythms and makes it sound lighter and happier overall.

The Fugees then topped this level when they sampled the song with modern hip-hop arrangements and hit the zeitgeist of the time. They were rewarded with “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” reaching #1 in over 20 countries and earning multiple platinum awards.

09. The Beatles – Twist And Shout (1963), Original: The Top Notes (1961)

What would have been the Beatles’ career if they had not covered a lot of songs at the beginning of their career? Their fame increased as a result. The song “Twist And Shout,” where the Fab 4 established their characteristic head shaking during live performances, opened the door to America for them.

John Lennon has had a cold during the recordings, which explains his rough singing, thus containing clear reminiscences of the Rock’n’Roll of that time, while the Top Notes and the Isley Brothers sang the previous versions in the style of a swing band.

10. Roy Buchanan – Hey Joe (1973), Original: Billy Roberts (disputed)

Probably this is the most covered song ever, and in the professional world, it is still not clear to whom the authorship of this blues-rock standard about a fugitive man who has shot his unfaithful wife is to be attributed in the end. Although Jimi Hendrix’s version is considered the ultimate, Roy Buchanan’s cover offers an unimagined feast for the ears, especially in the many live performances, since he presents the vocal part of this song more consistently than Hendrix, flippantly in favor of sprawling guitar solos.

Rarely have guitar strings rebelled more heartbreakingly than under Roy Buchanan’s fingers.

11. Rage Against The Machine – The Ghost Of Tom Joad (1995), Original: Bruce Springsteen (1997)

Rebellion as expression and driving force of their musical work is the doctrine of the Californian crossover revolutionaries. Thus it was not surprising that they covered a song which, referring to a literary character from John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath,” denounces the oppression and impoverishment of the little people.

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While Springsteen quietly delivers his protest in best campfire romance, Rage Against The Machine uncompromisingly fires off guitar riffs and thrashing rhythms. Only the lyrics still remind of the original.

12. Joe Cocker – With A Little Help From My Friends (1968), Original: The Beatles (1967)

It’s an image you never forget: a young, slim, and long-haired Joe Cocker fidgeting in a tie-dyed T-shirt on stage at the famous Woodstock festival, alternately playing air guitar and drums, and screaming his head off. Since that moment, he has his image gone for the rest of his life. He owes it to his intonation of this Beatles classic, which gave him his first number 1 hit.

He sang the song slower but much more powerful than Ringo Starr, finding the perfect balance between soul and hard rock, which is all the more surprising because his version is performed in 3/4 of a waltz, whereas the Beatles chose the classic 4/4 time.

13. Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You (1992), original: Dolly Parton (1974)

It was not only her most tremendous success but also a demonstration of her voice. Whitney Houston’s cover version of a Dolly Parton hit, which she sang as a sustained midtempo country ballad, became a worldwide hit as the theme song for the movie “Bodyguard.” The single reached number 1 in 16 countries. Specifically, she sings about the end of their love affair, but without being able to let go.

She outshines the rather thinly performed original version with her sultry pathos and three-octave voice. Even today, the failure of many candidates of any casting show to Whitney Huston’s version can be followed with relish in relevant video portals.

14. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – I Love Rock And Roll (1981), Original: The Arrows (1975)

Joan Jett fronted one of the first all-female hard rock bands (The Runaways). After their breakup in 1979, she successfully went solo, thanks largely to the hit “I Love Rock And Roll,” which spent seven weeks at #1 in the U.S. and went platinum. The composers of the song had less success a few years earlier.

The single flopped. Although the Arrows felt the song’s hit potential, they played this hard rock number much too timidly. Joan Jett sassily croons the lyrics to a stomping beat, inviting the listener to bawl along to the catchy lines.

15. UB40 – Red Red Wine (1983), Original: Neil Diamond (1967)

For their fourth album, UB40 wanted to record exclusively cover songs. They chose a reggae hit by Jamaican singer Tony Tribe as a reggae band.

However, it had escaped their notice that this version had already been a cover of Neil Diamond’s mournfully sung ballad “Red Red Wine.” U.B. 40 changed the lyrics and underlaid the song with an upbeat reggae rhythm. This proved to be a hit parade song because, in Great Britain and the USA, the song became number 1. Even Neil Diamond recognized the successful sublimation of his music and performed it live with a reggae beat.

Places 16-105 of the best cover songs of all time:

Each song is linked to its music video via the title.

Place: Listen: Performer:
16. Bad Side of the Moon April Wine
Original by: Elton John
17. Nothing Compares 2 U Sinead O’Connor
Original by: The Family
18. Live and Let Die Guns N’ Roses
Original by: Wings
19. Respect Aretha Franklin
Original by: Otis Redding
20. Tainted Love Soft Cell
Original by: Gloria Jones
21. Unchained Melody Lykke Li
Original by: Todd Duncan
22. Do You Wanna Dance The Ramones
Original by: Bobby Freeman
23. I Found A Reason Cat Power
Original by: Velvet Underground
24. Last Kiss Pearl Jam
Original by: J. Frank Wilson
25. You Really Got Me Van Halen
Original by: Kinks
26. What A Wonderful World Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Original by: Louis Armstrong
27. Hound Dog Elvis Presley
Original by: Big Mama Thornton
28. Wonderwall Ryan Adams
Original by: Oasis
29. The Power of Love Celine Dion
Original by: Jennifer Rush
30. No One’s Gonna Love You CeeLo Green
Original from Band of Horses
31. Lake of Fire Nirvana
Original by: Meat Puppets
32. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) Nancy Sinatra
Original by: Cher
33. Lola The Raincoats
Original by: The Kinks
34. Hallelujah Jeff Buckley
Original by: Leonard Cohen
35. How I Could Just Kill A Man Rage Against the Machine
Original by: Cypress Hill
36. Mad World Gary Jules
Original by: Tears for Fears
37. Heartbeats José Gonzalez
Original by: The Knife
38. Just Breathe Willie Nelson
Original by: Pearl Jam
39. I Will Survive Cake
Original by: Gloria Gaynor
40. Proud Mary Ike and Tina Turner
Original by: Creedence Clearwater Revival
41. Not Fade Away The Rolling Stones
Original by: Buddy Holly
42. I Heard It Through the Grapevine The Slits
Original by: Gladys Knight & the Pips
43. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat Beck
Original by: Bob Dylan
44. Silver Springs Lykke Li
Original by: Fleetwood Mac
45. Rhiannon Best Coast
Original by: Fleetwood Mac
46. Lady Marmalade Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink
Original by: Labelle
47. Another Saturday Night Cat Stevens
Original by: Sam Cooke
48. MacArthur Park Donna Summer
Original by: Richard Harris
49. Me and Bobby McGee Janis Joplin
Original by: Kris Kristofferson
50. Don’t Think Twice Dolly Parton
Original by: Bob Dylan
51. Valerie Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse
Original by: The Zutons
52. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? Al Green
Original by: The Bee Gees
53. These Days Nico
Original by: Jackson Browne
54. Mack the Knife Bobby Darin, Louis Armstrong
Original by: Lotta Lenya
55. Same Ol’ Mistakes Rihanna
Original by: Tame Impala
56. Take Me to the River Talking Heads
Original by: Al Green
57. Eleanor Rigby Aretha Franklin
Original by: The Beatles
58. Venus Bananarama
Original by: Shocking Blue
59. My Way Elvis Presley
Original by: Frank Sinatra
60. When You Were Mine Cyndi Lauper
Original by: Prince
61. Car Wash Christina Aguilera
Original by: Rose Royce
62. Blue Sarah McLachlan
Original by: Joni Mitchell
63. When a Man Loves a Woman Bette Midler
Original by: Percy Sledge
64. Rich Girl Gwen Stefani
Original by: Lady Saw
65. I’m on Fire Whitehorse
Original by: Bruce Springsteen
66. Locomotion Grand Funk Railroad
Original by: Little Eva
67. Personal Jesus Johnny Cash
Original by: Depeche Mode
68. Blue Suede Shoes Elvis Presley
Original by: Carl Perkins
69. Ain’t No Cure For Love Jennifer Warnes
Original by: Leonard Cohen
70. I Fought the Law The Clash
Original by: The Bobby Fuller Four
71. Sweet Jane Cowboy Junkies
Original by: The Velvet Underground
72. Suspended in Gaffa Ra Ra Riot
Original by: Kate Bush
73. Mony Mony Billy Idol
Original by: Tommy James
74. Limit To Your Love James Blake
Original by: Feist
75. Smells Like Teen Spirit Tori Amos
Original by: Nirvana
76. Mockingbird Carly Simon & James Taylor
Original by: Inez & Charlie Fox
77. Angel From Montgomery Bonnie Raitt
Original by: John Prine
78. Beyond the Sea Bobby Darin
Original by: Jack Lawrence
79. Because the Night Bruce Springsteen
Original by: Patti Smith
80. Route 66 Depeche Mode
Original by: Nat King Cole
81. Across the Universe Fiona Apple
Original by: The Beatles
82. Time Is On My Side The Rolling Stones
Original by: Irma Thomas
83. Soul Man Blues Brothers
Original by: Sam and Dave
84. I Swear All-4-One
Original by: John Michael Montgomery
85. Black Magic Woman Santana
Original by: Fleetwood Mac
86. This Woman’s Work Maxwell
Original by: Kate Bush
87. It’s My Life No Doubt
Original by: Talk Talk
88. Ceremony Galaxie 500
Original by: New Order
89. Don’t Be Cruel Cheap Trick
Original by: Elvis Presley
90. Hey Joe Jimi Hendrix
Original by: William Moses
91. Sea of Love Honeydrippers
Original by: Phil Phillips
92. American Woman Lenny Kravitz
Original by: The Guess Who
93. Sukiyaki A Taste of Honey
Original by: Kyu Sakamoto
94. California Sun The Ramones
Original by: Joe Jones
95. Crazy in Love Antony and the Johnsons
Original by: Beyoncé
96. Higher Ground Red Hot Chili Peppers
Original by: Stevie Wonder
97. Smooth Criminal Alient Ant Farm
Original by: Michael Jackson
98. Tina Turner
Original by: Al Green
99. Come Together Aerosmith
Original by: The Beatles
100. Funkytown Psuedo Echo
Original by: Lipps Inc.
101. Whiskey in the Jar Metallica
Original by: Thin Lizzie
102. Take My Breath Away Jessica Simpson
Original by: Berlin
103. The Weight Aretha Franklin
Original by: The Band
104. Because The Night 10,000 Maniacs
Original by: Bruce Springsteen
105. This Old Heart Of Mine Rod Stewart
Original by: The Isley Brothers
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Cover Songs Spotify Playlist:

Thus it is clear that – correctly arranged – cover songs can be a decisive building block in the career of any band or musician.

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