It’s a well-established tradition for artists to cover each other’s songs, so let’s take a look at some of the best
By ANGIE CUMMINGS — [email protected]
Covering an already beloved song is a risk that almost every artist takes, whether they are already famous or have just entered the scene. While many covers aren’t anything special, some have truly managed to make something amazing out of someone else’s song. The beauty of a cover is varied, with some surpassing the original and others simply bringing a whole new experience to the song. Today we’ll dive into some of the best covers for your listening pleasure – although this list encompasses a variety of genres and time periods, it’s by no means exhaustive, but rather provides a solid foundation in the world of iconic covers. .
It’s worth saying that this is by no means an objective list of the world’s most iconic covers (although some are included), as this article can be found with a simple Google search. Instead, today I bring you a curated mix of classic covers, essential aural experiences, and some hidden gems from smaller artists (all but one are available on music streaming services). Although I could have easily gone into detail about each song, I’ve picked out the highlights that really deserve special attention.
“Doin’ Time” by Lana Del Rey (2019) (originally by Sublime)
In all honesty, this song is probably one of the main reasons this article even exists. My deepest apologies to Sublime fans, but Lana Del Rey breathed new life into this 1997 hit and made it the song of the summer of 2019. Whatever you think of Lana (I personally have a relationship dryness with it), there’s no denying that this song is basically perfect.
“Same Ol’ Mistakes” by Rihanna (2016) (originally by Tame Impala)
Thank you Rihanna for introducing me to Tame Impala. Superb coverage, everyone agrees.
“Africa” (originally by Toto), “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” (originally by Eurythmics) and “Billie Jean” (originally by Michael Jackson) by Weezer (2019 )
My top three songs from their cover album, “Weezer (Teal Album)” of 2019.
“Bad Religion” (originally by Frank Ocean) and “White Mustang” (originally by Lana del Rey) by Cat Power (2022)
Cat Power’s robust and soulful vocals bring something you didn’t know you needed to these two already beautiful and solemn songs. They’re both from his cover album which came out earlier this year – which itself is a great listen anytime. While her rendition of “Bad Religion” is undoubtedly amazing, “White Mustang” is the one that really stands out for me, spoofing Lana’s much softer original recording.
“I’m A Believer” from Smash-Mouth (2001) (originally by The Monkees)
It comes from “Shrek”, everyone knows it, everyone loves it. Probably more culturally relevant than the original.
“Baby I’m Yours” by Arctic Monkeys (2006) (originally by Barbara Lewis)
Although it’s one of those songs that’s been covered countless times over the years, I’m very fond of what the Arctic Monkeys have done with it.
“All Along The Watch Tower” by Jimi Hendrix (1968) (originally by Bob Dylan)
Apparently it’s not an original Jimi Hendrix song, sorry Bob.
Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love” (2008) (originally by Bob Dylan)
Looks like Bob Dylan made songs for other people to sing. Although I may be known to love listening to Dylan’s hits, his unique twang just can’t compete with Adele’s divine voice singing this beautiful song.
“Mr. Tambourine Man” by The Byrds (1965) (originally by Bob Dylan)
Again, I can’t deny that Dylan is an incredibly talented artist and songwriter, but for most of my life I truly believed that The Byrds owned this song and many other songs by Dylan they took over.
“…Baby One More Time” by The Marias (2019) (originally by Britney Spears)
So different from the (iconic) original, and so incredibly good. You should definitely check this one out if you want to feel cool and independent while listening to a Britney Spears song.
“Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” by Paris Hilton (2006) (originally by Rod Stewart)
This blanket is so fun and perfect that it really makes you feel like a blonde, rich and gorgeous socialite. Paris somehow took a song loved by (usually boring) old people and turned it into an anthem for cool, confident girls who know what they want. Definitely better than the original, that’s for sure.
“Across The Universe” by Fiona Apple (1998) (originally by the Beatles)
We’ve finally reached the covers of The Beatles, possibly the most covered band ever (unverified, just a strong feeling). In my eyes, Fiona Apple wrote this song.
“What Goes On” by Sufjan Stevens (2005) (originally by the Beatles)
Good song, it really sounds like another Sufjan Stevens song.
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” by Al Green (1995) (originally by The Beatles)
If I were the Beatles, I’d be pretty embarrassed if someone sang one of my most famous songs so much better than me…
“Because” by Eliott Smith (2000) (originally by the Beatles)
Just admit that this song is perfect and move on.
“In My Life” by Johnny Cash (2002) (originally by the Beatles)
Again, it must be embarrassing to be the Beatles. Johnny Cash really blew those Brits away with this one.
“I Will” by Allison Krauss (1995) (originally by the Beatles)
In my heart is an old folk song that Allison Krauss found and presented to the world. So incredibly good.
“Oh! Darling” by Florence + The Machine (2009) (originally by the Beatles)
At this point, it probably seems like I hate the Beatles, but it just so happens that some incredibly talented artists have covered their songs, this cover being yet another great example. Thank you Florence.
“Jolene” by Miley Cyrus (2012) (originally by Dolly Parton)
This cover that Miley Cyrus originally did as an acoustic performance on Youtube in 2012 was a foreshadowing of his now-iconic covers of powerful rock and country songs of recent years.
“Break Up With Your Boyfriend” by Lana del Rey (2019) (originally by Ariana Grande)
Unfortunately, it’s the singular cover that’s only available on Youtube. Due to this performance, I would like to formally ask Lana to release a full cover album of Ariana Grande songs only.
“Smooth Criminal” from Glee Cast (2012) (originally by Michael Jackson)
It was a lot of work to keep myself from including a plethora of Glee covers, let alone limiting my favorites to just one. Every bit of tension in the scene between Santana Lopez (played by Naya Rivera) and the repulsive Sebastian Smythe (played by Grant Gustin) is felt in every second of this recording. Sure, it doesn’t top Michael Jackson’s original, but it comes pretty darn close.
Written by: Angie Cummings — [email protected]