When an artist makes a song their own
When artists release a song, they make it their own. I’ve always admired artists and bands who write their own material, but I also appreciate when a band or artist covers a song so well that I like it better than the original release. Here are my favorites and some honorable mentions.
My top 15 favorite cover songs (in order)
1. “Hurt” covered by Johnny Cash
Original release by Nine Inch Nails, written by Trent Reznor. Cash truly captures the meaning of this extremely personal song and makes it his own. The lead singer of NIN Trent Reznor and Cash never got to meet.
2. “The Sound of Silence” covered by Disturbed
Original release by Simon and Garfunkel, written by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. While I like both versions of this song, David Draiman’s vocals are so powerful and haunting that the song gave me chills when I first heard it.
3. “Nothing Compares 2 U” covered by Sinead O’Connor and later covered by Chris Cornell (tie)
Written and originally released by Prince. Let me preface to say that I hate the spelling of the song’s title. O’Connor and Cornell both captured the pain of the song much better than Prince in my opinion.
4. “Let It Go” covered by Hailee Steinfeld
Written and originally released by James Bay. I really like both versions of this breakup song, but I like Hailee’s version a bit more because it’s from a female perspective and she has an amazing voice.
5. “Wicked Game” covered by Stone Sour and later by Theory of a Deadman (tie)
Written and originally released by Chris Isaak. Both covers are equally good and less twangy than the original recording by Isaak.
6. “The First Cut is the Deepest” covered by Sheryl Crow
Written by Cat Stevens and first released by P.P. Arnold. I love Crow’s take on the song.
7. “Hallelujah” covered by the late Jeff Buckley
Written and originally released by Leonard Cohen. Buckley’s version of the song is hauntingly beautiful.
8. “Careless Whisper” covered by Seether
Written and originally released by George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! I’m a huge fan of Seether and love their take on this 80s song.
9. “Lake of Fire” covered by Nirvana
Written by Curt Kirkwood and released by his band Meat Puppets. I love Kurt Cobain’s raw vocals and slower version of the song in this MTV Unplugged performance.
10. “Mad World” covered by Gary Jules
Written by Roland Orzabal and originally released by Tears for Fears. I much prefer the slower version Jules released many years later without the 80s Techno elements.
11. “Patience” covered by Chris Cornell
Written and originally released by Guns N’ Roses. I like Cornell’s rawer, less whistly version much better.
12. “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” covered by Disturbed
Written and originally released by Sting. Nothing against Sting, but Draiman’s vocals take this 90s song (that still sounded like an 80s one) to a new level.
13. “Simple Man” covered by Shinedown
Written by Ronnie Van Zant and Gary Rossington. Originally released by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s a great song, and true loyalists will always prefer the original, but I like the cover because it sounds more passionate.
14. “Whataya Want from Me” covered by Adam Lambert
Written by Pink, Max Martin, and Karl Schuster. Originally recorded by Pink, for her fifth album, but it didn’t make the cut. I love Pink, but Lambert puts more heart into his version.
15. “Stitches” the Shawn Mendes duet version with Hailee Steinfeld
Technically, it’s not a cover, but this is my list, so I wanted to include this other (better) version of a solo Mendes release written by Danny Parker and Teddy Geiger.
Here are a few others that didn’t quite make my top 15.
1. “Wrecking Ball” covered by Christina Grimmie
Written by Maureen McDonald, Stephan Moccio, Wallace Skarbek, David Kim, Lukasz Gottwald, and Henry Walter. Originally released by Miley Cyrus. What can I say? I love Grimmie’s take on the song, and I’m sad that his young singer died too soon.
2. “Boom Clap” covered by Lennon and Maisy Stella
Written by Charlotte Aitchison, Fredrik Berger, Patrik Berger, and Stefan Gräslund. Originally released by Aitchison under her stage name Charlie XCX. I like both versions, but the Stella sisters really kill it with their live performance.
3. “Ordinary World” covered by Adam Lambert
Written and originally released by Duran Duran. I love Lambert’s take on this early 90s song.
4. “Torn” covered by Natalie Imbruglia
Written by Scott Cutler, Anne Preven, and Phil Thornalley. Originally released by Ednaswap. I like Imbruglia’s lighter take on the song that was an unfortunate victim of being overplayed after its release in 1997.
Did I miss one of your favorite covers?
Let me know in the comments!
Thank you for reading,
-Brandi Easterling Collins
Cover Image by upklyak on Freepik