Cover songs are a great way for artists to pay homage to other artists they love and respect. Sometimes, covers can surpass the popularity of the original or propel it back into the spotlight. Here are some great cover songs that we love.
Tainted Love – Soft Cell
I actually had no idea this was a cover until I began my research. The original was written and released in 1964 by Gloria Jones. The synth-pop duo Soft Cell then made a cover of it in 1981 that propelled it to popularity. Since then, it has been covered by many artists, but this will always be my favorite version.
Hallelujah – Rufus Wainright
There’s just something magical about Wainright’s cover that has always resonated with me. Okay, maybe it was also the version that played in Shrek. It reminds me of my childhood, sue me! The song was originally written by Leonard Cohen in 1984. It found more popular acclaim by John Cale’s cover which led to a domino effect of covers. The lyrics add a layer of emotion that’s pure genius no matter who sings it, and I think that’s beautiful.
Careless Whisper – Seether
While the George Michaels version of “Careless Whisper” is a classic, Seether’s cover is incredible. It brings a darker rock edge to it that brings the song to a whole other level. Seether had originally covered the song as a joke. They just wanted to give their fans something fun and special. They didn’t realize that the cover they made would actually translate well to rock and get them over 65 million plays on the track on Spotify. It’s now become a common song for them to play live.
Blank Space – I Prevail
In the 2010s, rock bands covering Taylor Swift songs was as common as popcorn at the movies. Some were good, some were corny, and some really elevated the songs. I Prevail’s cover of “Blank Space” is one of those covers. Of course, this cover will never surpass the original, but it’s a great cover for rock fans, even more for metalcore fans. Give it a listen!
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – Britney Spears
Leave it to Britney Spears, the 90s and 2000s princess of pop, to release a catchy, sassy pop cover that adds her own lyrics that relate to her experiences. This is another cover song that holds a special place in my heart because the Oops!...I Did It Again album was in constant rotation in my childhood. The original song was released by The Rolling Stones in 1965. A hit in itself, it went on to get covered by many artists, including Aretha Franklin. Britney Spears’ version is a personal favorite because the song was so perfect for her at the time when the media was always on her tail, always sexualizing her, always put up on a pedestal. Spears made it her own, and it’s a great cover.
I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
This is a cover that a lot of people don’t know is a cover. That’s how big Whitney Houston’s version became. You turn on the radio, and it’s Whitney Houston’s version. But the song wasn’t originally hers. It was actually Dolly Parton’s. If you can believe it, someone was able to outshine Parton. Houston’s rendition takes all the powerful elements of Parton’s and times it by ten. Both versions are great, but Houston’s holds so much power behind the words that I love.
Shape of You – Secrets
As someone who tends to get burnt out on the pop hits that get played constantly (I used to work in retail), it takes a special artist to make me willingly listen to a pop hit. Secrets accomplished that. Don’t get me wrong, Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” is a solid song. I just love it so much more when its covered by Secrets. It helps that they’re one of my favorite artists. Richard Rogers has vocals that can make me like any song. Their version had me first begrudgingly singing along to eventually belting out the lyrics. Check out their version.
Cum on Feel the Noise – Quiet Riot
Yes, in case you didn’t know, one of the most well-known songs from Quiet Riot is actually a cover. The original song was released by the British band Slade in 1973. Little did they know that 10 years after the release that Quiet Riot would cover it and help boost Slade’s record sales. Quiet Riots versions adds a sharper, thrash rock feel to the song, and it’s still a classic today.
Simple Man – Shinedown
Brent Smith of the band Shinedown has a voice that elevates everything the band releases. It can be hard to make a worthy cover when you’re talking about the rock legends Lynard Skynyrd, but Shinedown managed to do it. I think what makes this cover so incredible is Smith’s vocals. Shinedown manages to add even more feeling to the lyrics. It has become a favorite cover for a lot of new age rock fans. I honestly prefer their version over the original.
Halloween – AFI
AFI is a band that has experimented in all kinds of genres but had their start in the punk scene. One of their major influences was The Misfits, so it came as no surprise when they released a cover of “Halloween” by the band. This is another cover that I think elevates the song, and surpasses the original, but that’s just my personal preference. AFI managed to add more edge to it, and Davey Havok’s lyrics are a little more aggressive, which I much prefer for this particular song. I also love the spooky noises they add to the end. It adds a nice extra layer to the song. Take a listen to AFI’s version, and let me know if you agree or disagree.
One song that didn’t make the list but deserves an honorable mention is "Better Now" covered by Blanks.
What cover songs do you love? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by Kristen Petronio