Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers Bands/Musicians

Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

By 10k votes 1.1k voters 49k views 61 items tags f p @

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. 1
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    Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Bob Dylan Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

  2. 2
    + 268
    - 131
    David Bowie is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    David Bowie Rock music, Psychedelic pop, Electronic music

  3. 3
    + 300
    - 197

    Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

  4. 4
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    - 107
    The Kinks is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Music hall, Pop music, Rock music

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  5. 5
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    Leonard Cohen is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Synthpop, Pop music, Spoken word

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  6. 6
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    Prince is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Prince Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave

  7. 7
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    The Velvet Underground is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    added by Clark Benson
    The Velvet Underground Noise rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

  8. 8
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    The Clash is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    The Clash Hip hop music, Pop punk, New Wave

  9. 9
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    Ramones is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Pop punk, Rock music, Classic Punk

    ;
  10. 10
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  11. 11
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    Johnny Cash is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Outlaw country, Christian music, Americana

    ;
  12. 12
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    - 86
    James Brown is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    James Brown Hip hop music, Doo-wop, Pop music

  13. 13
    + 204
    - 175
    Jimi Hendrix is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Jimi Hendrix Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

  14. 14
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    Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

    ;
  15. 15
    + 135
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    Simon and Garfunkel is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Simon and Garfunkel Pop music, Worldbeat, Rock music

  16. 16
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    Led Zeppelin is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Led Zeppelin Blues-rock, Classic rock, Rock music

  17. 17
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    Depeche Mode is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Depeche Mode Synthpop, New Wave, Electronic music

  18. 18
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    The Rolling Stones is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    The Rolling Stones Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

  19. 19
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    The Who is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    The Who Popular music, Pop music, Rock music

  20. 20
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    Robert Johnson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Rock music, Blues, Country blues

    ;
  21. 21
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    Pink Floyd is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Pink Floyd Rock music, Space rock, Experimental rock

  22. 22
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    Elvis Presley is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Christian music, Pop music, Rock music

    ;
  23. 23
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    Bee Gees is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

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

  24. 24
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    - 100
    Van Morrison is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

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  25. 25
    + 110
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    Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

  26. 26
    + 60
    - 77

    added by Clark Benson
    Chicago blues, Electric blues, Blues

    ;
  27. 27
    + 105
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    Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Michael Jackson Motown Sound, Rock music, Electronic music

  28. 28
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    Elton John is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    added by edward1111100
    Elton John Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

  29. 29
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    Joni Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

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  30. 30
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    Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

  31. 31
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    added by RobinGallego
    Doom metal, Blues-rock, Power metal

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  32. 32
    + 76
    - 112
    Bruce Springsteen is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

  33. 33
    + 71
    - 105
    Kiss is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Kiss Glam metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

  34. 34
    + 86
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    Nirvana is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Nirvana Rock music, Grunge, Alternative rock

  35. 35
    + 9
    - 11
    Iggy Pop is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    added by punksnotdead
    Iggy Pop Punk blues, Garage rock, Protopunk

  36. 36
    + 18
    - 26

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

    ;
  37. 37
    + 18
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    Carole King is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

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

  38. 38
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    - 9
    AC/DC is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    added by arthur-mann
    AC/DC Blues-rock, Boogie rock, Rock music

  39. 39
    + 8
    - 13

    added by punksnotdead
    Horror punk, Heavy metal, Classic Punk

    ;
  40. 40
    + 5
    - 9

    added by punksnotdead
    Psychobilly, Anarcho-punk, Skate punk

    ;
  41. 41
    + 6
    - 11

    added by punksnotdead
    Rock music, Anarcho-punk, Punk rock

    ;
  42. 42
    + 43
    - 71

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

    ;
  43. 43
    + 4
    - 9
    Yes is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    added by alecorrado2
    Yes Rock music, Experimental rock, Pop rock

  44. 44
    + 5
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    The Stooges is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    added by punksnotdead
    The Stooges Blues-rock, Punk blues, Rock music

  45. 45
    + 4
    - 11

    added by punksnotdead
    Blues-rock, Gothic rock, Rock music

    ;
  46. 46
    + 11
    - 25

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

    ;
  47. 47
    + 44
    - 82
    Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

  48. 48
    + 3
    - 13
    Daft Punk is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    added by Pboy81
    Electronic music, House music, French house

    ;
  49. 49
    + 45
    - 86
    Dolly Parton is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

  50. 50
    + 31
    - 65
    Duran Duran is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers

    added by ConnieStarnes
    Duran Duran Synthpop, New Wave, Pop music

62 +

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