Musicians Cover Songs That Are Better Than The Originals  

Ann Casano
6.8k votes 801 voters 10.4k views 53 items

List Rules Vote up the covers that definitely outshine the originals.

Everyone loves when a musical artist somehow re-crafts a beloved song with a creative new spin. Covers illustrate the multifaceted nature of music and lyrics. A simple tweak of the melody or alteration of the singing style can create whole new layers of complexity in regards to what a song means - without even changing the lyrics! Sometimes, covers even surpass the originals in terms of popularity and critical acclaim. What are the best cover songs? Help decide below. 

Good cover songs are common, but they don't always outdo the source material. Whether it's old songs covered by new bands or recent hits revamped by contemporary artists, people often show loyalty to original versions. The songs below, however, are an exception. Some of the best cover songs on this list are so universal that most people think that they aren’t covers at all. "Twist and Shout" was not originally recorded by the Beatles and while "Me and Bobby McGee" is heavily associated with the late Janis Joplin, she was not the original writer or recording artist. When artists choose to try their luck with a cover, it can sometimes be a gamble, especially if the band or musician behind the original version is an esteemed figure. However, the below musicians took a risk and it really paid off. 

Which cover songs do you think are better than the originals? Vote up the most impressive songs below! 

1
239 92
Ranker Video
I Love Rock 'n' Roll Original Artist: The Arrows, Cover Artist: Joan Jett 

2
196 76
Ranker Video
All Along the Watchtower Original Artist: Bob Dylan, Cover Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience    

3
246 111
Ranker Video
Hurt Original Artist: Nine Inch Nails, Cover Artist: Johnny Cash  

4
167 62
Ranker Video
Twist and Shout Original Artist: The Top Notes, Cover Artist: The Beatles

5
167 62
Ranker Video
Respect Original Artist: Otis Redding, Cover Artist: Aretha Franklin  

6
249 115
Ranker Video
I Will Always Love You Original Artist: Dolly Parton, Cover Artist: Whitney Houston  

7
115 31
Ranker Video
Georgia on My Mind Original Artist: Frankie Trumbauer and Hoagy Carmichael, Cover Artist: Ray Charles

8
220 104
Ranker Video
Knockin' on Heaven's Door Original Artist: Bob Dylan, Cover Artist: Guns N' Roses  

9
140 52
Ranker Video
Tainted Love Original Artist: Gloria Jones, Cover Artist: Soft Cell  

10
137 52
Ranker Video
Dazed and Confused Original Artist: Jake Holmes, Cover Artist: Led Zeppelin

11
104 33
Ranker Video
Hey Joe Original Artist: The Leaves, Cover Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience   

12
118 43
Ranker Video
Me and Bobby McGee Original Artist: Roger Miller, Cover Artist: Janis Joplin  

13
84 28
Ranker Video
Mustang Sally Original Artist: Sir Mack Rice,  Cover Artist: Wilson Pickett    

14
162 91
Ranker Video
Hallelujah Original Artist: Leonard Cohen, Cover Artist: Jeff Buckley

The Best Rolling Stone Covers

15
107 52
Ranker Video
What a Man Original Artist: Linda Lyndell, Cover Artist: Salt-n-Pepa 

16
92 54
Ranker Video
Nothing Compares 2 U Original Artist: Prince, Cover Artist: Sinéad O'Connor 

17
118 78
Ranker Video
Killing Me Softly Original Artist: Roberta Flack, Cover Artist: The Fugees  

18
60 30
Ranker Video
For Once in My Life Original Artist: Jean DuShon, Cover Artist: Stevie Wonder 

19
73 45
Ranker Video
Take Me to the River Original Artist: Al Green, Cover Artist: Talking Heads  

20
85 58
Ranker Video
Mad World Original Artist: Tears for Fears, Cover Artist: Gary Jules  

21
57 36
Ranker Video
The Tide Is High Original Artist: The Paragons, Cover Artist: Blondie

The All-Time Best Rock Bassists

22
56 35
Ranker Video
I Fought the Law Original Artist: Sonny Curtis, Cover Artist: The Clash

23
73 54
Ranker Video
The Man Who Sold the World Original Artist: David Bowie, Cover Artist: Nirvana  

24
55 38
Ranker Video
Hard To Handle Original Artist: Otis Redding, Cover Artist: The Black Crowes  

25
40 30
Not Fade Away is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Cover Songs That Are Better Than The Originals
Not Fade Away Original Artist: Buddy Holly, Cover Artist: The Rolling Stones

26
40 34
Ranker Video
Downtown Train Original Artist: Tom Waits, Cover Artist: Rod Stewart 

27
76 78
Ranker Video
Proud Mary Original Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cover Artist: Ike and Tina Turner

28
61 63
Ranker Video
With a Little Help From My Friends Original Artist: The Beatles, Cover Artist: Joe Cocker  

Most Bizarre Christmas Covers And Collabs Ever

29
41 40
Ranker Video
Make You Feel My Love Original Artist: Bob Dylan, Cover Artist: Adele 

30
43 43
Ranker Video
Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon Original Artist: Neil Diamond, Cover Artist: Urge Overkill  

31
34 33
Ranker Video
Valerie Original Artist: The Zutons, Cover Artists: Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse  

32
38 39
Ranker Video
How Can You Mend a Broken Heart Original Artist: The Bee Gees, Cover Artist: Al Green 

33
1 0
Ranker Video
Jonathan Lichter added Smooth Criminal Original Artist: Michael Jackson, Cover Artist: Alien Ant Farm

34
1 0
I Woke Up in Love This Morning is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Cover Songs That Are Better Than The Originals
Jonathan Lichter added I Woke Up in Love This Morning Original Artist: The Partridge Family, Cover Artist: Weezer

35
1 0
Africa is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Cover Songs That Are Better Than The Originals
Jonathan Lichter added Africa Original Artist: Toto, Cover Artist: Weezer

The Greatest Songs by One-Hit Wonders

36
52 73
Ranker Video
Turn the Page Original Artist: Bob Seger, Cover Artist: Metallica  

37
60 87
Ranker Video
I Will Survive Original Artist: Gloria Gaynor, Cover Artist: Cake 

38
38 57
Ranker Video
Hallelujah Original Artist: Leonard Cohen, Cover Artist: Brandi Carlile  

39
25 45
Ranker Video
Such Great Heights Original Artist: The Postal Service, Cover Artist: Iron & Wine  

40
18 35
Ranker Video
Both Sides, Now Original Artist: Judy Collins, Cover Artist: Joni Mitchell

41
18 38
Ranker Video
All You Had To Do Was Stay Original Artist: Taylor Swift, Cover Artist: Ryan Adams 

42
28 54
Ranker Video
Wild Horses Original Artist: The Rolling Stones, Cover Artist: Sundays  

Famous Bands That Originally Had Horrible Names

43
13 32
Ranker Video
Angel From Montgomery Original Artist: John Prine, Cover Artist: Dave Matthews Band  

44
17 40
Ranker Video
Turn On Your Lovelight Original Artist: Bobby Bland, Cover Artist: The Grateful Dead  

45
34 74
Ranker Video
Creep Original Artist: Radiohead, Cover Artist: Prince  

46
17 49
Ranker Video
The Needle and the Damage Done Original Artist: Neil Young, Cover Artist: Jewel  

47
12 41
Ranker Video
Tangled Up in Blue Original Artist: Bob Dylan, Cover Artist: The Indigo Girls  

48
47 105
Ranker Video
Billie Jean Original Artist: Michael Jackson, Cover Artist: Chris Cornell  

49
23 62
Ranker Video
Fast Car Original Artist: Tracy Chapman, Cover Artist: Sam Smith 

50
19 55
Ranker Video
Across the Universe Original Artist: The Beatles, Cover Artist: Fiona Apple