What Are Your Favorite Song Covers of All Time?


A cover, for the purpose of this thread, is any performance of a song not by the original artist! (This may get funky with jazz/classical/folk, but you get what I mean!)

What are your favorite song covers of all time?

What makes it a good cover? Why do you love it?

What do you think makes a cover great?



I tend to like covers that reinvent the song, showing how the melody, structure, and other aspects of the song can be repurposed for different sounds!

Some of my favorites:

Say It Ain’t So”. Artist: Akiko Yano. Original: Weezer. I found this cover a few days ago and it’s been all I can think about. I don’t even particularly like the original, but the framing and tone of this cover really get under my braincells. Please listen to it!

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. Artist: DEVO. Original: The Rolling Stones. A total reinvention of the song. Suddenly the slick rock jam is this weird, staggered breakdown.

“Only Girl (In The World)”. Artist: Xiu Xiu. Original: Rihanna. This one is definitely not for everyone. Still, it’s an extremely memorable cover that definitely reinvents the song.

“Bouree”. Artist: Jethro Tull. Original: J.S. Bach. I’m counting this as a cover for reasons I think should be evident; it’s a radical reinterpretation of Bouree in E Minor, from a lute song, to a jazzy, shuffle stepped jam. Nothing not to love here.

“Deluge”. Artists: Jerry Williams, Steve Manns, Collin Clauson, Sam Jewell. Original: Wayne Shorter. Okay, this is an obscure one, but I found this version by chance, and golly, it’s such a cool interpretation! Originally written as a somber, slow song, these players turn it into a rident, speedy one! Totally killer version.

“Turn! Turn! Turn!”. Artist: Papa M (David Pajo). Original: The Byrds. Okay, I’m a sucker for long songs. Sue me. This is also a nice, mellow, relaxing cover that you can just kind of sink into as it goes.

There’s this version of “Birthday” by a woman named Hajime Chitose that I can’t find anywhere online anymore. I found it on a CD at a flea market and fell in love with it. She has a unique voice, but very distinct from Björk’s, and she covers this (kind of disturbing, honestly) song with this softness that is just cuddly.

“Queen Kunta” (a cover of “King Kunta”). Artist: Sudan Archives. Original: Kendrick Lamar. I mean, come on. This cover just kicks ass. It’s just violin and vocals, but that’s all she needs. The loopings are so distinct and slight and her singing of the words and the fucking solo come on it fucking killlllllllsssssssssssssssss PLEASE listen to it

Other songs worth mentioning but I’m not gonna write about and link: “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix (c’mon), “As” by Kimiko Kasai, “Shake It Off” by Screaming Females, “The Model” by Big Black, “Endangered Species” by Esperanza Spalding, “Friends” by Meshell Ndegeocello. Also, that entire Rite of Spring album by The Bad Plus is really good.

There are certainly more but ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh


I’ve always adored TV On The Radio’s take on Mr. Grieves by the Pixies:

EDIT: Also I’m gonna go obvious but Aretha Franklin covering Otis Redding on Respect. God I love that damn song. Every time it comes on I can’t help but stop what I’m doing to do a little dance.


Oh my god, I loved this cover. Can’t believe I forgot about it. I haven’t thought about it in years… Brilliant.


This funky cover of Also Space Zarathustra will always cause me to giggle when the big horn hit happens.

It’s also one of the best parts of the film Being There with Peter Sellers walking around 70’s DC acting like a doofus.


I really love Stevie Ray Vaughan’s cover of “The Sky is Crying”.


I second the Mr. Grieves cover, it’s so good.

For the longest time I didn’t know that Personal Jesus was originally a Depeche Mode song, I always just thought of the Johnny Cash cover as the true version of the song (they’re both excellent though).

I don’t think it matches up to the original (honestly not many songs do imo) but the Chromatics cover of Running Up That Hill is a really good take on it.


The version of Hurt on that same Johnny Cash album is also so good.

I like Social Distortion’s cover of Don’t think Twice, It’s Alright, and I just heard this great cover on World Cafe this weekend: Angelique Kidjo doing Once in a Lifetime, with this utterly wild fully-on music video, too!


Shirley Bassey doing Light My Fire is pretty good:


I came back to this thread to post exactly that. C’mon!


Frankie Goes to Hollywood is mostly just a easy joke reference for most people, but their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” is somehow faithful to the desperation AND rich production of the original while also turbo-charging it with the hardest of hard-ass drums, a tempo boost and replacing the soaring sax solo with a blazing bass solo. Very earnest and respectful but also a total door-kicker of a song. Bruce Springsteen was the only religion other than Catholicism that was allowed in my house growing up (parents from Jersey) but I kinda think they do it better.


I really love Tricky’s cover of Public Enemy’s “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos”. It kinda seems like a no brainer to make Public Enemy punk, and by a Trip-Hop artist of all people.


I prefer CCR’s long, jammy, version of I Heard It Through The Grapevine over Gaye’s original


Hmmm. I’d be scandalized but I can’t remember the last time I hoid that version.


Reel Big Fish’s cover of Lita Ford’s Kiss Me Deadly is not only my favorite cover but in the top 5 of my favorite songs.


This is a little more than a cover, but man is it better than the original song. It’s yaeji’s “cover” of Passionfruit by Drake. She makes it so much better!


Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” is the most obvious answer possible, but I also love Kesha’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and Anohni’s old “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” as two people pretty much beating Dylan in what is closer to his own game (and I love Dylan to death).

Also big into Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang” and Talking Heads’ “Take Me To The River”.


This cover of Junior Kimbrough’s “Meet Me in the City” by The Black Keys. I still get emotional when I hear it, still get chills. Kimbrough is a blues guitar legend, and it’s just such a loving, soulful rendition of the song by the Black Keys, who, despite gaining pretty huge mainstream popularity with their last few albums, have a very lengthy discography full of them playing the fuck out of some raw, emotional, uncompromising blues music. These tracks are so good that on this tribute album done in honor of Junior, there is a track containing a voicemail from his wife calling the Black Keys’ record label to tell them they’re the only ones who have ever done her husband’s music justice, and that he would be very proud of them if he was alive to hear it. Chokes me up man.


When does a song from a mixtape become a cover?

Erykah Badu’s Dial-a-Freaq is for sure a cover of Uncle Jamm’s Army’s Dial a Freak, right?

What about this?

But what is undeniable is that Lauryn Hill is the undisputed Queen of Hip-Hop Covers