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. 33
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    added by AllyStevensPike Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco pop music

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    Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

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

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

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  5. 35
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    Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

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  6. 17
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    Blues-rock, Classic rock, Rock music

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    Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

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  8. 13
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    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

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    Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

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  10. 19
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    Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

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  11. 27
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    added by Clark Benson Chicago blues, Electric blues, Blues

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  12. 23
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    Christian music, Pop music, Rock music

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  13. 44
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    new! & added by gurleenkaur1310 Country pop, Pop music, Rock music

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    Glam metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

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  15. 14
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    Hip hop music, Doo-wop, Pop music

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    Hip hop music, Pop punk, Alternative hip hop

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  17. 6
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    Hip hop music, Pop punk, New Wave

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    Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave

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    Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

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  20. 28
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    Motown Sound, Rock music, Electronic music

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  21. 3
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    Music hall, Pop music, Rock music

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  22. 4
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    added by Clark Benson Noise rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

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    Outlaw country, Christian music, Americana

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  24. 43
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    added by Lons Outsider music, Folk rock, Alternative rock

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    Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

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  26. 34
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    Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

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  27. 8
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    Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

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  28. 9
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    Pop music, Worldbeat, Rock music

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  29. 11
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    Pop punk, Rock music, Classic Punk

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  30. 25
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    Popular music, Pop music, Rock music

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  31. 41
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    added by Pallknowing1 Post-metal, Metal, Progressive metal

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  32. 12
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    Reggae

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  33. 40
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    added by Mozo The Pioneers Reggae, Soul music

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

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  35. 24
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    Rock music, Blues, Country blues

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    Rock music, Britpop, Alternative rock

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    Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

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    Rock music, Grunge, Alternative rock

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    Rock music, Psychedelic pop, Electronic music

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    Rock music, Space rock, Experimental rock

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  41. 16
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    Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

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    Synthpop, New Wave, Electronic music

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    added by ConnieStarnes Synthpop, New Wave, Pop music

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    Synthpop, Pop music, Spoken word

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    added by seanroycee Thrash metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

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  46. 46 +

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