Personally, I love when an artist or band covers a song. It’s always cool to hear an alternate take on a song. That being said, I’m also a music snob so I have a very high standard for what a “good cover” has to be. Basically my three main points are:
- It has to keep the same vibe as the original (message, feeling, etc)
- Lyrics can’t be changed too much to keep the original in tact
- It has to ride the very thin line of sounding original but also still sound like the song being covered.
I know, I hate myself too.
With my criteria laid out let me share with you five different covers I think are just as good as the original:
5.) 5 Seconds of Summer – Killer Queen
This is actually the song that inspired this post. I heard this cover at a warehouse store of all places. After using Shazam on my phone I figured out this was from a band that is normally associated with mediocre-ish teen pop..but this cover is just perfect to me honestly. They add in a few extra beats that really puts a modern spin on the song but still keeps it sounding right. I recommend.
4.) Natalie Imbruglia – Torn
Yes, the famous song from 1997 is actually a cover..of a cover..sorta. This song just has a really interesting story. Basically it was written by a couple of the band members in Ednaswap but in Swedish and it was called “Burned”. Later that year the two dudes recorded it again but for their American Alternative band Ednaswap. A few years later Natalie Imbruglia broke out with her take on it and that’s the version we all know and love. I like the original for it’s grungy defeated tone, and Natalie’s is more of a bitter sweet kind of feeling you know? It’s almost like you get two sides of the same story when you listen to them back to back.
3.) Nirvana – The Man Who Sold The World
Nirvana’s classic performance from their MTV Unplugged set featured many covers, but this one has always stood out to be personally. Funny enough, I had actually heard this version before Bowie’s. Back in my Limewire days I was just downloading any Nirvana I came across (don’t worry I buy all my music now) and this song has been one of my favorites since. Bowie has even said he loved it, and has mentioned he always wanted to talk with Kurt about the performance. Nirvana’s version is more stripped down, but that somehow adds to it. You can feel Kurt’s raw emotion when singing, and that is what really makes this such a good cover.
2.) Shinedown – Simple Man
Alright I admit this one is a bit more personal on my end, but in the summer of 2010 I had lost my stepfather to cancer. Before he passed he told me he wanted this cover specifically played at his funeral. My first tattoo was even “Simple Man” just written on my forearm. The thing that really sells me on this cover is mainly the modern take (for the time). Honestly it sounds pretty much the same as Skynyrd’s give or take a few extra notes here or there. I personally like Brent Smith’s (Shinedown) voice a bit better than Ronnie Van Zant’s. Feel free to yell at me later for that hot take.
1.)The Jimi Hendrix Experience – All Along The Watchtower
This one has to be the most famous case of a cover being more popular and well received than the original. I love Bob Dylan but I think everyone can agree that Hendrix did it justice. The guitars and loud sound compliment the harsh and uneasy political climate of the time way better than Dylan. Hell, even Bob Dylan thinks the cover is better. He literally said that it was better than his.