Cover songs are not always as good as the original, but sometimes, some covers surpass the original in such a huge way that we forget it’s a cover and not an original. As someone who listens to a whole lot of music, covers are also something that I’m always listening to. Like Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi cover by Counting Crows, and Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love cover by Haley Reinhart are not better but more like admirable covers of their iconic originals. But, here are some covers that are my personal picks which I think are better than the original songs. Some of these are very popular and loved by most people so you may already know them.
The Man Who Sold the World- This is a song written and performed by David Bowie, which is the title track of his third album that was released in 1970. Although I knew that it was a cover, Nirvana’s 1993 performance of this during their MTV Unplugged appearance just made this one of my top favourites of all time. They also later released this on their album MTV Unplugged in New York. David Bowie had said of the performance that he was “simply blown away” when he found out Kurt Cobain was a fan of his work.
Dedicated to the One I Love- This song was written by Lowman Pauling and Ralph Bass which was a hit for the “5” Royales, the Shirelles and the Mamas & the Papas. My favourite is the Mamas & the Papas version. I actually did not know it was not their song originally. The soaring chorus after the whispered first verse just hits differently.
I Will Always Love You- Chances are you know this to be the iconic song by Whitney Houston from her 1992 debut movie The Bodyguard. But that is a cover. This song was originally performed in 1974 by Dolly Parton, as a farewell to her former partner and mentor Porter Wagoner. Whitney Houston’s cover spent 14 weeks at the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 and won the 1994 Grammy Award for Record of the Year and the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Valerie- Amy Wonehouse was a brilliant singer and songwriter and this was the first song of hers that I heard. Valerie was written by English indie rock band The Zutons. The song was released on their second studio album Tired of Hanging Around before it was covered by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse in 2007, and their cover peaked at the number two spot on the UK Singles chart for 19 consecutive weeks.
All Through the Night- This song I was introduced to while watching a show and they played this one in one of the episodes. I remember immediately looking it up. It was the cover performed by Sleeping at Last released in 2014 that I had first heard assuming it to be an original. The original song by Jules Shear, released in 1983 comes nowhere near the cover by Ryan O’Neal.