by  9,012 votes 973 voters 48,645 views 60 items tags f p @

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.

Artists Who Have Inspired the Best Covers Bands/Musicians
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  1. 1
    + 234
    - 100

    Rock music, Psychedelic pop, Electronic music

    ;
  2. 2
    + 340
    - 183

    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

    ;
  3. 3
    + 178
    - 79

    Music hall, Pop music, Rock music

    ;
  4. 4
    + 171
    - 74

    Synthpop, Pop music, Spoken word

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  5. 5
    + 150
    - 67

    Hip hop music, Pop punk, New Wave

    ;
  6. 6
    + 154
    - 72

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

    ;
  7. 7
    + 174
    - 98

    Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave

    ;
  8. 8
    + 259
    - 173

    Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

    ;
  9. 9
    + 133
    - 69

    Pop punk, Rock music, Classic Punk

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  10. 10
    + 118
    - 65

    Hip hop music, Doo-wop, Pop music

    ;
  11. 11
    + 153
    - 98
    ; buy now
  12. 12
    + 166
    - 112

    Outlaw country, Christian music, Americana

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  13. 13
    + 109
    - 60

    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

    ;
  14. 14
    + 130
    - 89

    Pop music, Worldbeat, Rock music

    ;
  15. 15
    + 189
    - 155

    Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

    ;
  16. 16
    + 166
    - 155

    Blues-rock, Classic rock, Rock music

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  17. 17
    + 96
    - 80

    Synthpop, New Wave, Electronic music

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  18. 18
    + 87
    - 86

    Rock music, Blues, Country blues

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  19. 19
    + 130
    - 140

    Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

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  20. 20
    + 82
    - 81

    Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

    ;
  21. 21
    + 106
    - 114

    Popular music, Pop music, Rock music

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  22. 22
    + 116
    - 131

    Rock music, Space rock, Experimental rock

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  23. 23
    + 116
    - 132

    Christian music, Pop music, Rock music

    ;
  24. 24
    + 104
    - 117

    Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

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  25. 25
    + 57
    - 58

    added by Clark Benson
    Chicago blues, Electric blues, Blues

    ;
  26. 26
    + 101
    - 125

    Motown Sound, Rock music, Electronic music

    ;
  27. 27
    + 17
    - 12

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

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  28. 28
    + 62
    - 74

    Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

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  29. 29
    + 68
    - 86

    Glam metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

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  30. 30
    + 20
    - 19

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

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  31. 31
    + 86
    - 114

    Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

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  32. 32
    + 82
    - 112

    Rock music, Grunge, Alternative rock

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  33. 33
    + 73
    - 100

    Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

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  34. 34
    + 4
    - 2

    new! & added by arthur-mann
    Blues-rock, Boogie rock, Rock music

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  35. 35
    + 14
    - 17

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

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  36. 36
    + 4
    - 3

    added by punksnotdead
    Punk blues, Garage rock, Protopunk

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  37. 37
    + 4
    - 4

    added by punksnotdead
    Horror punk, Heavy metal, Classic Punk

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  38. 38
    + 3
    - 3

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

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  39. 39
    + 3
    - 3

    added by punksnotdead
    Psychobilly, Anarcho-punk, Skate punk

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  40. 40
    + 3
    - 4

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

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  41. 41
    + 3
    - 4

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

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  42. 42
    + 2
    - 3
    No image

    added by punksnotdead
    Sensational Alex Harvey Band

  43. 43
    + 41
    - 65

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

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  44. 44
    + 1
    - 5

    added by alecorrado2
    Rock music, Experimental rock, Pop rock

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  45. 45
    + 2
    - 8

    added by Pboy81
    Electronic music, House music, French house

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  46. 46
    + 45
    - 77

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

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  47. 47
    + 9
    - 21

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

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  48. 48
    + 44
    - 81

    Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

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  49. 49
    + 41
    - 79

    Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

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  50. 50
    + 27
    - 62

    added by ConnieStarnes
    Synthpop, New Wave, Pop music

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61 +

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