Cover Songs

Lately I have been thinking about cover songs. Some say they are a cop-out for bands that aren’t creative enough to come up with their own material. Others say it is a way to honour a great artist by taking a favourite song and making it your own. I was debating what makes a truly great cover. Surely many aspects as well as personal bias plays a significant role. However, I think it comes down to two main components. A great cover song exists when you believe the artist covering the song actually did it first, or when you know they aren’t the original artist, but with this knowledge you still prefer the new version. Cover songs have existed since bands first started recording, as well as the co-existing controversies surrounding the issue. I personally love a good cover band or song and the following are some of my favourites.

Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse: “Valerie”

CC Mark H. Gremmen on flickr

CC Mark H. Gremmen on flickr

The Cardigans: “Iron Man”

This is one of my favourites and in my opinion one of the most unique cover songs I have ever heard. I am sure there are several Black Sabbath fans who hate the Cardigan’s twist on the song, however, I love how the band takes this extremely masculine song and turn it into a soft and beautiful one. The Cardigans give “Iron Man” a new meaning and perspective.

The White Stripes: “Jolene”

There have been several artists who have covered this famous Dolly Parton hit. The White Stripes version is definitely my favourite.

George Thorogood: “One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer”

This song falls under the category of thinking the covering artist was the original. It wasn’t until further research that I discovered the song was originally written by Rudy Toombs and recorded by Amos Milburn. Every time I hear it I think of road trips and dive bars. With a raw sound, George Thorogood made this song a classic in my books.

Ellie Goulding: “Your Song”

Another beautiful cover of a classic hit. Originally be Elton John, Ellie Goulding makes the song her own and gives me goodsebumps while doing it. This cover falls under the category of knowing it was a cover, but preferring the new version.

CC jaydawsonphoto on flickr

CC jaydawsonphoto on flickr

Ray Lamontagne: “Crazy”

I love Gnarles Barkley’s original hit, but this cover is such a unique take on Crazy that I couldn’t exclude it from my list.

John Mayer: “Free Fallin’ “

Say what you will about John Mayer, but I think he does a great job covering Tom Petty’s great song. He makes it his own, and a turns it into something new and different. I love you Tom Petty but I have to say I think I enjoy this cover better than the original. I’m sure I will take some heat for saying that.

Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Higher Ground”

It is hard to say that the Chili Peppers did the song better than the amazing Stevie Wonder, but this version is such a great cover that made you look twice to realize it was a cover.

I don’t have much to elaborate on these next two covers. These two incredible artists took two classic songs and made them their own.

Jimi Hendrix: “All Along the Watchtower”

CC cvrcak on flickr

CC cvrcak on flickr

Eric Clapton: “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”

The not so good…

There are those covers that are definitely not better than the original, and sometimes hard on the ears. I love Alt-J, but their cover of Disclosure’s “Latch” is a bit of a swing and a miss. They definitely made it their own and really changed the sound of the song, but that’s about the nicest thing I can say about this cover.

CC brinni! on flickr

CC brinni! on flickr


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