The 7 Best Cover Songs List

These days, it seems like not a week goes by without a pop starlet or X Factor wannabe covers a much-loved song. Most covers are, let’s face it, rubbish but now and again a cover hits the headlines for making all the right noises. Sometimes they can even be BETTER than the original.

7. Bruce Springsteen - "Because the Night" (Patti Smith Cover)

For us, the original just pips this one for the ‘best version’ title but this is a pretty good attempt from The Boss. Not many people would try to take on Patti Smith; after all, she’s no messing.

6. The Beatles – Twist and Shout (cover of Isley Brothers) 

Apparently John Lennon was unhappy with his vocals on this, as he’d recorded The Beatles 1963 album Please Please Me in 24 hours, which meant his voice was ruined by the time it came to recording it. We just think its ‘rough’ edges make it stand out more. 

5. The Byrds - Mr Tambourine Man (cover of Bob Dylan) 

Dylan fans, look away now; this version is so much better than the original. Mix a great guitar intro with some top vocals from Roger McGuinn and you have yourself a hit (this reached number one). 

4. The Animals - The House of the Rising Sun (cover of Bob Dylan) 

Whilst this was a cover, The Animals changed pretty much everything from the original, including a change of gender for the protagonist and a new keyboard arrangement. And they never looked back. 

3. Marvin Gaye - Heard It Through The Grapevine (cover of Gladys Knight) 

Initially Gaye had resisted recording this but, with Motown producer Norman Whitfield’s slower tempo compared to the original, it became the bestselling Motown single of the 1960s. Which, considering the strength of Motown at that time, is pretty impressive. 

2. Soft Cell - Tainted Love (cover of Gloria Jones) 

Definitely more of a success that the original, which flopped on release. It was Soft Cell’s only number one single and helped the meteoric rise of synth music in the 1980s. 

1. Johnny Cash - Hurt (cover of Nail Inch Nails) 

Everybody who says this isn’t better than the original is lying. Or just hasn’t yet woken up to the fact it is. Cash’s speciality was to lean on his experience to deliver moving, fraught lyrics than everybody, no matter their circumstances, can relate to. And he more than delivers that here. 

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