Late last year, Rolling Stone magazine published a list of their top 10 cover songs.
Reading their list inspired me to think about songs that I’ve heard that were actually covers.
Many artists have done them. However, few have really done them well.
The key to a good cover song is taking the original track and changing it to fit the sound of the artist doing the cover.
Otherwise, it just sounds like an attempt to wow a small audience at a karaoke bar.
For those who do it right, a cover song can take on a whole new form and, in some cases, be done better.
Here are my top 10 favorite cover songs that do just that. Enjoy.
10. MØ – Say You’ll Be There
Taking on the task of covering a song as well known as a Spice Girls song is a daunting one. However, M0 (of “Beg For It” fame) does it effortlessly. The song is slowed down a bit and is sonically shifted to a whole new sound. If it weren’t for the familiar catchy lyrics, this song would be unrecognizable. Give it a listen and you’ll hear exactly what I mean.
9. Sleeping at Last – I’m Gonna be (500 Miles)
I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) was originally recorded by The Proclaimers in 1988. The song reached no. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1993. Sleeping at Last, an indie rock band, covered the song for a Spotify Covers Vol. 1 digital release. This cover changes the feel and the sound of the original song completely. The cover moves the song into a deeper, more serious context where the lyrics take a more somber feel. Take a listen.
8. Ellie Goulding – Your Song
Originally done by Elton John, “Your Song” showcases Ellie Goulding’s soft and whimsical vocals that transforms this song and makes it an instant Ellie classic. The slower, more piano driven cover brings out the fragility of the song’s lyrical context and hits you right.in.the.feels. “Your Song” is a perfect representation of an artist taking a song and making it their own.
PS: Goulding’s version of the song saw more worldwide success than it’s original form.
7. DJ Sammy – Heaven
In 1987, Bryan Adams’ original version of this song hit No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. In 2001, a Spanish DJ named DJ Sammy released a dance infused cover of the song and the song re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart peaking at No. 8. The new version of the song is completely different from the original. Heavy beats, electro-pulses and a female lead vocal transformed this song from a soft sweet ballad to a club banger that you can still hear being played in a club on the weekends. DJ Sammy completely changed the sound of this song and it has been embraced by millions of people across the world. Enjoy.
6. Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse – Valerie
Mark Ronson feat the late Amy Winehouse… there is no explanation needed. Enjoy.
5. Florence of the Machine – You’ve Got The Love
Originally sung by Candi Staton in 1986, but then popularized by The Source’s cover of it in 1991, “You’ve Got The Love” is a song that rose into prominence because it was a cover. The song was then redone in 2009 by English alternative rock group Florence + The Machine. The song, though not too far off from the original sound, still takes on the mask of Florence Welsh. With her vocals and charismatic performance of the song, the group makes the track their own. It became one of their bigger hits peaking at No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart in 2009. Take a listen. (Go Gingers!)
4. Birdy – Skinny Love
Indie folk artist Bon Iver’s 2007 debut “Skinny Love” saw little success, but it was part of an impressive set on his debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago. It was not until 4 years later, when English musician Birdy covered the song did the song rise to prominence. The two songs are sonically completely different. It is no doubt that Birdy one-upped Iver on the song. Her version adds so much to the song it is undeniable. Take a listen to the original track here and then have your mind blown by Birdy’s unbelievable remake below.
3. Cascada – Everytime We Touch
The original version of this song was written and sung by Maggie Reilly in 1992. A forgettable song of the time would be propelled into prominence over 10 years later when dance group Cascada covered the song on their debut album Everytime We Touch. Released in 2005, Cascada’s version propelled the group into worldwide success with the song reaching the Top 10 in several different countries. The song even peaked at No. 1 on the US Dance Songs Chart. Personally, this is one of my favorite songs ever. Plus, it makes for some pretty intense cardio workouts! Take a listen and enjoy this song like it is 2005 all over again.
2. Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You
One of the most iconic and well known cover songs of our time comes from the late Whitney Houston. It was originally done by country queen Dolly Parton. Parton’s version saw much success in the world of country music. However, the song was ushered into worldwide success when Houston covered the song in 1992 for The Bodyguard soundtrack, a movie she starred in alongside Kevin Costner. Since, the song has been celebrated for decades following the song. Even after Houston’s untimely death, the song still remains just as iconic as she was.
1. Adele – Make You Feel My Love
IN 1997 Bob Dylan released the original version of this song to which in saw much success. However, it would be just over a decade later that British songstress Adele would redo the song and popularized the tune with a whole new generation of listeners. The two songs are completely different sounding, but Adele’s version wins. Adele’s anything wins, to be honest. Adele’s version even peaked at No. 1 on the UK Indie Pop Chart. Take a listen and hear why Adele’s version of this song is not only a No.1 song, but also my No.1 favorite cover song.