March 04, 2006

Covers better than Originals

Sometimes covers of songs are better than the originals, here are some examples:

  • Guns n' Roses – Knockin' On Heaven's Door (Bob Dylan)
  • Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
  • At Vance – Eye of the Tiger (Survivor)
  • Nightwish – Over The Hills And Far Away
  • Sonata Arctica – Two Minds One Soul (Vanishing Point)
  • Sonata Arctica – The Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Middler)

- 70 comments by 6 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. John Cale – Hallelujah, in fact anyone's cover of Hallelujah ever

    04 Mar 2006, 19:12

  2. I'm gonna have to disagree on the first one.
    Bob Dylan == Legend

    04 Mar 2006, 19:20

  3. Mathew Mannion

    John Cale version of Hallelujiah sucks.

    Buckley > Wainwright > Cale > Cohen

    04 Mar 2006, 19:25

  4. John Dale

    Some covers achieve the special feat of nailing the song so completely that people forget that they're covers:-

    • Since you been gone — Rainbow, is a cover of a Russ Ballard song

    • Tainted love — Soft Cell, is a cover of a Gloria Jones song

    • Rocking all over the world — Status Quo, is a cover of a John Fogerty song

    But who thinks of any of those originals now?

    04 Mar 2006, 23:26

  5. Not me.

    05 Mar 2006, 00:06

  6. Nothing compares to you – as sung by Sinead O'conner was originally penned by Prince. Im not sure if he re-released his version of it after Sinead's success or recorded it for the first time subsequently. Safe to say noone really associates him with the song now.

    05 Mar 2006, 00:35

  7. Allan Smith

    "Some covers achieve the special feat of nailing the song so completely that people forget that they're covers"

    Aretha Franklin doing [i]Respect[/i] is another good example.

    05 Mar 2006, 03:15

  8. John Cale version of Hallelujiah sucks.
    Buckley > Wainwright > Cale > Cohen

    Rufus Wainright's version is a cover of the John Cale version, and is obviously no better :-)

    05 Mar 2006, 17:31

  9. I'll get pelted with stuff for this but Tatu's version of 'How Soon Is Now?' is better than the Smiths version as it doesn't feature Morrisey's voice.

    05 Mar 2006, 17:39

  10. The Violent Femmes – Children of the Revolution (T-Rex)
    Jawbox – Cornflake Girl (Tori Amos)

    05 Mar 2006, 17:53

  11. While I agree on most of this, some covers are better, like mxpx – barbie girl and their version of summer of 69 … a joy to behold.

    There are others where the original is by far better like chris isaak – wicked game better than the HIM version, and my jury is still out which versions I prefer out of Bowie vs Nirvana for Man who stole the world, and Johnny Cash vs NIN for Hurt.
    Covers are definitely a good thing though, they give variation to in the main good originals, and can appeal to different tastes too.

    05 Mar 2006, 18:17

  12. Moz

    It's true, sometimes covers become more well known than the originals, good examples being:

    The Clash- I Fought The Law (The Bobby Fuller Four)
    Jimi Hendrix- All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan)
    Jimi Hendrix- Hey Joe (The Leaves did the first recording of it, although it wasn't written by them and was covered loads in the 60's)
    Madness- It Must Be Love (Labi Siffre)
    Numerous blues tunes covered by Led Zeppelin

    Other covers better than the originals in my opinion are:

    The Living End- Tainted Love
    Elbow- Independent Woman
    Marilyn Manson- Sweet Dreams
    Placebo- Bigmouth Strikes Again (sorry Smiths fans…)

    If anyone suggests the Scissor Sisters version of Comfortably Numb was better than the original by Pink Floyd, I shall hunt you down and kill you like a dog. :P

    05 Mar 2006, 18:41

  13. Christopher Rossdale

    Muse – Feeling Good
    Muse – Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You
    Muse – House On The Rising Sun

    05 Mar 2006, 19:21

  14. Moz

    Can't believe I missed the Muse version of Feeling Good off, especially when I used to play in a jazz band who did the Nina Simone version.

    05 Mar 2006, 20:06

  15. Stevie Wonder cover of 'We Can Work It Out' is a million times better than The Beatles' original. Also prefer the Aretha Franklin version of 'Let It Be' (Beatles covers again… maybe the Beatles weren't so great after all!)

    05 Mar 2006, 20:54

  16. I think pretty much every cover that's ever been done of an Elton John song has turned out to be better…

    05 Mar 2006, 21:02

  17. Oh yes – and I guess you could call Deep Purple's "Hush" a cover. What a song.

    05 Mar 2006, 21:05

  18. I also cannot decide if Jimmy Eat World's version of 'Firestarter' is better than the Prodigy's because they are so massively different as to be incomparable, and are both brilliant in their genres.

    05 Mar 2006, 21:07

  19. Allan Smith

    "Stevie Wonder cover of 'We Can Work It Out' is a million times better than The Beatles' original."

    Seconded. Although I was once slaughtered for even daring to suggest as such. I also prefer his 'Blowin' in the wind'

    05 Mar 2006, 21:18

  20. Christopher Rossdale

    I've always liked the President of the United States of America's version of Video Killed the Radio Star more than the Buggles
    Picking up on Hamid's point, Ben Folds' version of Tiny Dancer is pretty amazing

    05 Mar 2006, 21:20

  21. Phil Collins – Can't Stop Loving You (Leo Sayer)

    Good call on the Sinead O Connor one earlier as well – Prince did initially record it on an album I think but it wasn't released as a single. Then Sinead came and made it her own.

    05 Mar 2006, 21:43

  22. I've always liked the President of the United States of America's version of Video Killed the Radio Star more than the Buggles

    Saying that is actually sacreligious

    05 Mar 2006, 22:36

  23. Stuart Coles

    For me, Reel Big Fish's version of Take On Me is better than a-ha's original. Although, covers of the same song can be done very badly, as proved by A1. Ugh.

    05 Mar 2006, 23:03

  24. Christopher Rossdale

    Joe – Heh, maybe so, i do love the Buggles too, but there's more of a kick to the other one.

    05 Mar 2006, 23:40

  25. It's ok, comment 23 was far more sacreligious than yours

    05 Mar 2006, 23:46

  26. Spot on it was more sacreligious! Reel Big Fish??? Don't make me laugh! Awful!

    06 Mar 2006, 00:11

  27. Moz

    Given I don't like the Joy Division original, I prefer the Nouvelle Vague version of Love Will Tear Us Apart. There's some cool lounge covers of various tunes on there.

    06 Mar 2006, 08:43

  28. i prefer the red hot chilli pepper's version of "higher ground" to stevie wonder's

    (although i rate stevie much more than the chilli's….)

    06 Mar 2006, 12:49

  29. Guys,
    no cover of a Smiths song can touch the original. End of conversation. Marr, Rourke, Joyce are just too fuckin great on their intruments to be touched. Plus Marr layers most songs with about 6 guitar tracks. This Charming Man is said to have 12. Placebo and Tatu. Oh please. Not even a conversation. Likewise Morrissey solo is shit at Smiths songs.

    06 Mar 2006, 13:05

  30. oh, and nouvelle vague do good covers of Just Can't Get Enough and Love Will Tear Us Apart, but it no way up there with originals.
    Jeff Buckley probably the best cover version ever because the original is absolutely awful.

    06 Mar 2006, 13:07

  31. Allan Smith

    Otis Redding's cover of Hard Day's Night on his ' Good to Me: Live' album outdoes the Beatles original for me.

    06 Mar 2006, 13:15

  32. In reply to Chris (20), Ben Folds Five's covers of both Video Killed The Radio Star and The Flaming Lips' "She Don't Use Jelly" are better than the original. Well I think so anyway…

    06 Mar 2006, 13:20

  33. Christopher Rossdale

    Yeah, i missed out the Ben Folds of Video killed, it's pretty awesome.
    Vincent will kill me, but the chili peppers do a mean subterranean homesick blues – don't know if it hits the original, but it's worth of mention
    Greenday live cover lulu's shout, that's mighty
    The libertines cover of the coral from their babyshambles sessions also comes close to the originals
    Eels do a truly stunning feeling good
    And david bowie together with the arcade fire better his original version of life on mars

    06 Mar 2006, 13:25

  34. How have we got to comment 33 and no mention of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds – William Shatner

    (only joking…)

    (or am I…)

    06 Mar 2006, 14:10

  35. I have to agree with Nick – no cover of any Dylan song ever can be any better than the original, no matter how good!

    Hallelujah, the most covered song ever (?) was great in all the versions I've heard, maybe Buckely's was my fave.

    I liked RatMs cover of Springsteen's Ghost of Tom Joad, but the original was at least as good for me.

    What about REMs cover of Superman back in the day? I have never actually heard the original, but it can't be any better…

    06 Mar 2006, 15:22

  36. Allan Smith

    I think I read somewhere that 'Yesterday' is the most covered song ever. Or it may be the most popular at karaoke or something.

    06 Mar 2006, 16:14

  37. Many covers (indeed ANY cover of a Dylan song) are better than the original. I interpret the invitation though as identification of the most 'value-added' cover. Therefore it would have to be:

    Jump by Aztec Camera

    The original was SO dire…

    06 Mar 2006, 18:13

  38. Might I suggest "Stairway to Heaven" by Rolf Harris as well?

    06 Mar 2006, 20:50

  39. can i just say that cale rules btw? thank you.

    06 Mar 2006, 22:07

  40. Johnny Cash's version of Hurt, clearly.

    And The Divine Comedy's cover of No One Knows. Because that guitar solo sounds far better on banjo and violin.

    And to continue a theme, Ben Fold's version of Bitches Ain't Shit.

    07 Mar 2006, 00:44

  41. I second Jeff Buckley and Johnny Cash, and y'all left out Iron and Wine's cover of Postal Service's 'such great heights' (currently on an advert for '' I notice) and Ryan Adam's 'wonderwall' far surpasses the original.

    07 Mar 2006, 00:52

  42. Jessica

    "i prefer the red hot chilli pepper's version of "higher ground" to stevie wonder's"

    Noooooo… don't get me wrong, I love the Chili Peppers, but the first time I heard that cover it pained me.

    07 Mar 2006, 08:56

  43. How about Jeff Buckley doing 'Satisfied Mind'?

    I haven't heard the original (apparently it's a bit of a country standard, by Red Hayes and Jack Rhodes), or Bob Dylan's version – anyone know if they're any good?

    07 Mar 2006, 10:05

  44. Bob Dylan's version of Satisfied Mind is very good, and Saved is a very good album musically. Leonard Cohen's version of Hallelujah is miles better than anyone else's. There's a good (true) story about: Bob Dylan said to LC you know I really like Hallelujah, how long did it take you write the lyrics? LC: A year. LC: I really liked I and I, how long did it take you to write the lyrics? BD: 15 minutes.

    A contrast in method!

    Also, The Band's version of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down is miles better than anyone else's.

    Norah Jones' cover of Cold Cold Heart is an excellent cover of the Hank Williams song – not necessarily better, just very different and very good

    07 Mar 2006, 10:11

  45. I've never heard the original, but John Lennon's version of Stand By Me is pretty fine

    07 Mar 2006, 10:15

  46. Stuart Coles

    Straight Outta Compton - Nina Gordon

    Bloggy Link

    07 Mar 2006, 12:03

  47. Allan Smith

    I like the Divine Comedy's take on Noel Coward's I've been to a marvellous party also.

    07 Mar 2006, 12:51

  48. Probably going to get lynched for this one, but I like Van Halen's cover of 'You Really Got Me' better than The Kinks.

    07 Mar 2006, 13:03

  49. Yeah, Heather, I was just bout to whack on a comment about how good Iron & Wine's "Such Great Heights" cover, which I also just saw ont' advert. Iron & Wine on tv advert? What's happening?

    07 Mar 2006, 15:18

  50. Radiohead's cover of Morning Bell by Radiohead.

    07 Mar 2006, 15:25

  51. How about Will Smith's cover of Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" with that Wild Wild West vibe? :-)

    08 Mar 2006, 00:11

  52. Jessica

    "How about Will Smith's cover of Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" with that Wild Wild West vibe? :-)"

    Lets throw in 'Gangsta's Paradise' version of 'Pastime Paradise'... I can only assume you were joking!

    08 Mar 2006, 10:03

  53. Allan Smith

    Personally, I thought 'Will2k' improved 'Rock the casbah' no end…


    The worst was when Blue covered 'Signed, sealed, delivered'. Even worse was that Stevie appeared on it, and therefore approved of it. Good gravy. At least he redeemed himself somewhat by working with Prince more recently.

    08 Mar 2006, 13:08

  54. gangster's paradise kicks the crap out of pastime paradise.
    and i'm not joking.

    08 Mar 2006, 13:41

  55. I'm with Vincent on the 'Gangster's Paradise' thing, it supasses 'Pastime Paradise' because of the lyrics. Both songs are similar yet which one gets remembered?

    However should it count? It's not really a cover, it's a sample in which case we could say things like Madonna's 'Hung Up' is better than the Abba song it samples, even though I don't really think it's a cover. I think the song has to retain the original name and at least one smal part of the original (lyrics, melody line) otherwise it's a remix or a sample and that's a different debate.

    08 Mar 2006, 16:16

  56. Allan Smith

    I'd say Gangster's Paradise is in some no-man's land between cover and sample; the chorus shares the same melody as the original, but changes the odd lyric here and there.

    Is interpolation the right term in this instance? I'm not sure.

    08 Mar 2006, 21:56

  57. dunno bout the term, but mid-way tween sample and cover, yeah.

    09 Mar 2006, 14:31

  58. Stacy

    Ive gotta say that Oasis do a damn good cover of "my generation"!U cant beat the original but Oasis come dangerously close.

    10 Mar 2006, 13:56

  59. J

    The Oasis cover of the Beatles 'I am the Walrus'...much better than the origional.

    10 Mar 2006, 22:27

  60. yes, i am the walrus was a shit song originally.
    My generation…the stuttering makes it, so no, oasis don't come close

    11 Mar 2006, 00:40

  61. Joe Cocker doing
    "With a Little Help From My Fiends"

    11 Mar 2006, 23:22

  62. Sonata Arctica's cover of "I Want Out" by Helloween is a faithful reproduction but benefits from much better vocals, guitar tone and an overall fuller sound.

    Got to be fair though, pretty much every modern power metal cover of an old power metal song sounds better.

    11 Mar 2006, 23:35

  63. Holly Cruise, you're an eejit.

    Morrissey quite likes the Tatu version of 'How Soon Is Now?', though, apparently. I haven't heard it. I HAVE heard the theme to 'charmed', though. It's UNTOUCHABLE. >:\

    Covers better than originals:

    Morrissey – That's Entertainment
    Morrissey – Interesting Drug


    12 Mar 2006, 21:36

  64. Adrian du Plessis

    Allan, I believe, that's right – Yesterday is the most covered song in the pop canon. I think! Despite its tremendous currency, Hallelujah is not even Leonard Cohen's most-covered song ~ there are many more versions of Bird on a/the Wire, and Suzanne among others 'out there'.

    Still, Hallelujah, is passionately loved by audiences and artists alike – and in very different forms. I've come to know the song, and its effect, through working with a Canadian artist, Allison Crowe, whose fans are profoundly moved by the song.

    Allison, at 24, is part of a new generation of singer-songwriters discovering the pop "masters". Being a child of the '60s & '70s myself, I find the confluence delightful. In the sincere hope that you may find some joy in this discovery as well, herewith, some song links:

    Hallelujah ~ (Leonard Cohen)

    A Murder of One ~ (Counting Crows)

    In My Life ~ (Lennon/McCartney)


    21 Mar 2006, 08:42

  65. Kieran M

    I didn't know Joy Divison's 'Love will tear us apart' was a cover, great song, should be on this list, also K.D Lang did a version of Hallelujah on her Canadian covers album, 'Hymns of 49th street', she doesn't really bring anything new to it but it's just a little piece of musical perfection, another one from that album is Helpless, tough call but it may just be better than the original. Loads more but my memory fails me at the moment

    02 Jun 2006, 09:22

  66. I didn't know Joy Divison's 'Love will tear us apart' was a cover

    It's not, it's all their own work.

    02 Jun 2006, 22:21

  67. Winternight Silence

    The cover At Vance – Eye of The Tiger is not the BEST cover version, a spanish band called Dragonslayer did a much better cover. im pretty sure they are Spanish

    12 Sep 2006, 16:21

  68. Jackson Fust

    Placebo & Within Temptations versions of Running up that Hill are both better than the Kate Bush original.
    Iron & Wine’s version of Such Great Heights is definitely not better. It’s a good cover, but it doesnt improve upon the original.
    Probably few people have heard it, but Matt Weddle’s version of Hey Ya makes that song completely different and, in my opinion, far better.

    10 Jan 2007, 04:45

  69. Antonialafantastica

    Yeahhh!!! Dragonslayer did an awesome cover of “Eye of the Tiger” and yes they’re spanish!

    07 May 2007, 09:02

  70. squiff

    Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through The Grapevine

    21 Jun 2007, 15:02

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