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
    + 28
    - 78

    Rock music, Britpop, Alternative rock

    ) open
  2. 12
    + 220
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    Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

    ) open
  3. 13
    + 148
    - 105

    Outlaw country, Christian music, Americana

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

    ) open
  5. 26
    + 57
    - 69

    Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

    ) open
  6. 31
    + 66
    - 95

    Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

    ) open
  7. 14
    + 119
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    Pop music, Worldbeat, Rock music

    ) open
  8. 35
    + 5
    - 13

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

    ) open
  9. 27
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    - 80

    Glam metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

    ) open
  10. 49
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    - 59

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

    ) open
  11. 43
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    added by gurleenkaur1310 Country pop, Pop music, Rock music

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

    ) open
  13. 29
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    Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

    ) open
  14. 2
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    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

    ) open
  15. 47
    + 17
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    added by Mozo The Pioneers Reggae, Soul music

    ) open
  16. 22
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    Christian music, Pop music, Rock music

    ) open
  17. 19
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    Rock music, Blues, Country blues

    ) open
  18. 17
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    Blues-rock, Classic rock, Rock music

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  19. 23
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    Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

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

    ) open
  21. 5
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    Hip hop music, Pop punk, New Wave

    ) open
  22. 42
    + 31
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    added by seanroycee Thrash metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

    ) open
  23. 33
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    Rock music, Grunge, Alternative rock

    ) open
  24. 38
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    Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

    ) open
  25. 32
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    added by RobinGallego Doom metal, Blues-rock, Power metal

    ) open
  26. 41
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    Hip hop music, Pop punk, Alternative hip hop

    ) open
  27. 7
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    Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave

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

    ) open
  29. 8
    + 117
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    Pop punk, Rock music, Classic Punk

    ) open
  30. 40
    + 24
    - 54

    added by ConnieStarnes Synthpop, New Wave, Pop music

    ) open
  31. 37
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    - 70

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

    ) open
  32. 20
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    Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

    ) open
  33. 3
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    Synthpop, Pop music, Spoken word

    ) open
  34. 44
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    - 45

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

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  35. 11
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    Reggae

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  36. 30
    + 9
    - 8

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

    ) open
  37. 39
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    Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

    ) open
  38. 4
    + 154
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    Music hall, Pop music, Rock music

    ) open
  39. 24
    + 50
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    added by Clark Benson Chicago blues, Electric blues, Blues

    ) open
  40. 34
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    - 13

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

    ) open
  41. 1
    + 193
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    Rock music, Psychedelic pop, Electronic music

    ) open
  42. 6
    + 137
    - 59

    added by Clark Benson Noise rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

    ) open
  43. 21
    + 105
    - 124

    Rock music, Space rock, Experimental rock

    ) open
  44. 28
    + 87
    - 119

    Motown Sound, Rock music, Electronic music

    ) open
  45. 36
    + 33
    - 61

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

    ) open
  46. 16
    + 85
    - 68

    Synthpop, New Wave, Electronic music

    ) open
  47. 25
    + 92
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    Popular music, Pop music, Rock music

    ) open
  48. 48
    + 15
    - 59

    added by Lons Outsider music, Folk rock, Alternative rock

    ) open
  49. 45
    + 23
    - 66

    added by Pallknowing1 Post-metal, Metal, Progressive metal

    ) open
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