“It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.”
I can’t count the number of times my mom told me that growing up. She drilled it into my head. I’ve written about this concept before (see here and here). This post, however, is a slightly different illustration of my mom’s favorite maxim.
So, without further ado–and in no particular order–here are 14 covers that keep the “what”, but improve the “how” of the original song:
1. Charlez360 – “Hold On We’re Going Home” (originally by Drake)
If you like the saxophone, you’ll love this cover. If you don’t like the saxophone, this cover will change that.
2. Parsonsfield – “Let The Mermaids Flirt With Me” (originally by Mississippi John Hurt)
Hopefully won’t be for a while, but, for the record, I’d like this to be played at my funeral.
3. Kula Shaker – “Ballad Of A Thin Man” (originally by Bob Dylan)
The instrumentation and vocals take this Dylan song from good to great.
4. Anya Marina – “Whatever You Like” (originally by T.I.)
If you haven’t heard the original (or don’t remember it) click here and listen to that first. Then listen below and have your mind blown.
5. Punch Brothers – “Heart In A Cage” (originally by The Strokes)
If I rated the originals and covers on this list out of 100, this song would have the highest cover-to-original ratio.
6. Punch Brothers – “Reptilia” (originally by The Strokes)
Can you tell I like the Punch Brothers?
7. Lissie – “Pursuit of Happiness” (originally by Kid Cudi)
Kid Cudi’s version doesn’t cudit for me anymore.
8. Prince, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Dhani Harrison – “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (originally by The Beatles)
Pay attention to Dhani Harrison’s face during Prince’s epic (read: EPIC!) guitar solo. That pretty much sums up my feelings.
9. Gloria Jones – “Tainted Love” (popularized by Soft Cell)
I know, I know. Soft Cell’s version is actually the cover. It’s a crime how few people know about the actual original song though. I’ll use that as an excuse to include Gloria Jones’s version on this list. You’re welcome.
10. David Foster – “Carol of the Bells”
When this comes on the radio in December I drive at least 10 mph faster, slippery roads notwithstanding.
11. Marvin Gaye – “The Star-Spangled Banner”
The best rendering of our National Anthem. Bar none. I only wish I could’ve heard his rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song.
12. Johnny Cash – “Hurt” (originally by Nine Inch Nails)
Incredibly moving and powerful. WARNING: song will provoke tears under the right circumstances.
13. Wilson Pickett & Duane Allman – “Hey Jude” (originally by The Beatles)
I swear I’m not being deliberately controversial. This cover rocks. Hard. Don’t just take my word for it though.
14. Arctic Monkeys – “I Wanna Be Yours” (originally by John Cooper Clarke)
Alex Turner and the Arctic Monkeys put what was originally a poem to music, and completely nail it.
Let me know your favorite covers in the comments!