Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers Bands/Musicians
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Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

List Criteria: No obscure musicians.

Artists who have inspired the best covers include legendary musicians and bands like The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, but this list also includes some lesser known singer-songwriters who's songs have become iconic -- all thanks to someone's brilliant cover of one of their tunes. A good example of this: Tom Waits, whose catalog is stunning, but who might be better known (to mainstream audiences) through cover songs (like Rod Stewart's "Downtown Train"). This list includes a lot of major artists who have inspired phenomenal covers by others in the industry. I've added several videos of these cover songs, where possible. This is a VoteRanked list, meaning the Ranker community sets the bar by voting for favorites. Be sure to cast your vote, and add any artists that you think inspired the best covers.

Occasionally, a cover song will eclipse the original version by a brilliant singer-songwriter in chart popularity. Examples of this include Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded By the Light" (covered by Manfred Mann), Neil Diamond's "Red Red Wine" (covered by UB40), David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" (covered by Nirvana) and Prince's "Nothing Compares to U" (covered by Sinead O'Connor). This doesn't always mean the cover version is better - just that it's more well-known and associated with the cover artist, instead of the original writer.

Great cover songs pay tribute to the original artists who inspired the music, though covers don't always sound like the originals: The song's melody and/or arrangement might be vastly different, like the Lemonhead's punked-out version of Simon & Garfunkel's classic song "Mrs. Robinson" or Chris Cornell's remarkable version of Michael Jackson's iconic song "Billie Jean."

Enjoy this list of incredible artists who have inspired the best covers throughout music history, and be sure to a) vote and b) add anyone I've left off.

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  1. 46
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    Rock music, Britpop, Alternative rock

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    Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

    ; buy
  3. 13
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    Outlaw country, Christian music, Americana

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  4. 18
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    Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

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  5. 26
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    Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

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  6. 33
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    Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

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    Pop music, Worldbeat, Rock music

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  8. 35
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    added by RobinGallego
    New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Thrash metal, Power metal

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    Glam metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

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  10. 49
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    added by Clark Benson
    Rock music, Alternative country, Indie rock Exhibit A

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    added by gurleenkaur1310
    Country pop, Pop music, Rock music

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  12. 15
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    Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

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    Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

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    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

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    added by Mozo
    The Pioneers Reggae, Soul music

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    Christian music, Pop music, Rock music

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    Rock music, Blues, Country blues

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    Blues-rock, Classic rock, Rock music

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    Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

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  20. 9
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    Hip hop music, Doo-wop, Pop music

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    Hip hop music, Pop punk, New Wave

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    added by seanroycee
    Thrash metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

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    Rock music, Grunge, Alternative rock

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    Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

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    added by RobinGallego
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    Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave

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  28. 10
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    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

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    Pop punk, Rock music, Classic Punk

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  30. 40
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    added by ConnieStarnes
    Synthpop, New Wave, Pop music

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  31. 37
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    added by AllyStevensPike
    Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco pop music

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  32. 20
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    Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

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  33. 4
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    Synthpop, Pop music, Spoken word

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  34. 45
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    added by biker terry
    Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music american, blues, roots rock, rock

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    Reggae

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  36. 30
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    added by simkat399
    Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

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  37. 39
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    Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

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  38. 3
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    Music hall, Pop music, Rock music

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    added by Clark Benson
    Chicago blues, Electric blues, Blues

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  40. 34
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    added by RobinGallego
    New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Heavy metal, Hard rock

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    Rock music, Psychedelic pop, Electronic music

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  42. 6
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    added by Clark Benson
    Noise rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

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  43. 21
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    Rock music, Space rock, Experimental rock

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  44. 27
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    Motown Sound, Rock music, Electronic music

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  45. 36
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    added by Clark Benson
    Americana, Swamp pop, Tulsa Sound "After Midnight", "Cocaine", "They Call Me The Breeze", among others

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  46. 16
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    Synthpop, New Wave, Electronic music

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  47. 25
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    Popular music, Pop music, Rock music

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  48. 48
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    added by Lons
    Outsider music, Folk rock, Alternative rock

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    added by Pallknowing1
    Post-metal, Metal, Progressive metal

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