The following list is compiled of artists and bands who have covered songs by other artists. Some of the covers are better than the original, some are equally as beautiful, some are well-known, some are not. For your consideration, and in no particular order, a current list of my favorite cover songs:
1. “Young Blood,” originally performed by The Naked and Famous, covered by Birdy on her studio debut self-entitled album. I really like Jasmine van de Bogaerde’s version—aka Birdy. Though, I also really like Alisa Xayalith’s version, from The Naked and Famous, as well. I’d say that Jasmine’s cover is equally as beautiful. Also worth mentioning are Jasmine’s covers of the following songs (all just as beautiful as the original songs): “1901” originally by Phoenix, “Skinny Love” originally by Bon Iver, “Shelter” originally by The xx, “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” originally by The Postal Service. There are a few more cover songs on this album with only one original song by Jasmine. The first song to get my attention was Jasmine’s cover of “Shelter.” It sounded so familiar, but I was unable to think of who the original artist was. She did a good job of deconstructing the song and making it her own without ruining it.
2. “Get Lucky,” originally performed by Daft Punk, covered by Daughter. By now, the phenomenon of this song should be well-known. Daughter took—I sincerely apologize if I offend anyone—a mediocre song and turned it into something beautiful! I love it when bands and artists can breakdown and dissect a song, such that, very little of the original song—apart from the lyrics—remains. Thus, rendering the song, at first listen, unrecognizable. Daughter’s cover, without a doubt, is better than the original song performed by Daft Punk. Another awesome cover by Daughter, is their cover of “Perth” by Bon Iver infused with “Ready for the Floor” by Hot Chip. It would be awesome if Daughter would cover “Walking on a Dream” by Empire of the Sun. I’m pretty sure Elena’s beautiful and haunting voice can create a stark contrast to this otherwise upbeat and cheerful song.
3. “Against All Odds,” originally performed by Phil Collins, covered by The Postal Service. I’ve never heard the original, though, I’m sure it’s your typical 80s power ballad. The Postal Service covers this song in true Postal Service fashion: complete with vocal filters and heavy electronics. I love the slow and gradual build up of this song. I have no doubt it is better than the original.
4. “Mad World,” originally performed by Tears for Fears, covered by Gary Jules. Again, this is another 80s song that I have not originally heard—other than researching it on YouTube. And, after doing so, I can without a doubt say that Gary Jules’ version is way better than the original. “Mad World” just sounds better done in Gary’s darker version with simple piano chords, and a cello giving the song actual meaning and a very somber effect. It’s quite simply dark and beautiful.
5. “Your Song,” originally performed by Elton John, covered by Ellie Goulding. This is one of those songs that is equally as beautiful as the original, if not more—I’m not too familiar with the original. The reason this song really works: I just really love it when female artists sing about how much they’ll love you in a realistic matter-of-fact manner. Ellie does this in a way that sounds honest and sincere without the cookie cutter over produced sound that comes standard in your typical billboard pop song. The song is kept simple with a piano and a few string instruments adding to the intimacy of it.
6. “Because the Night,” originally performed by Patti Smith, covered by 10,000 Maniacs. This song, I believe, is only available on the MTV Unplugged album and it is such a beautiful song. I’m not really a fan of live recordings, but I will gladly make an exception for this song. I’ve listened to the original Patti Smith version, and, although, Natalie Merchant does a really good job of matching Patti’s vocal style at first, Natalie’s version is better. Natalie’s vocals and the overall arrangement of the 10,000 Maniacs version is a lot cleaner both vocally and musically. And, it was done live!
7. “Beat It,” originally performed by Michael Jackson, covered by Pomplamoose. I’ve never been a fan of Michael Jackson and I’ve never owned any of his music. But I really love Pomplamoose’s cover of this song! They turned a song about walking away, from what would otherwise be a brutal and bloody fight, into a catchy upbeat tune complete with a toy piano and a xylophone! How awesome is that? I love Nataly Dawn’s intense gaze during the making of this song.
8. “Strangelove,” originally performed by Depeche Mode, covered by Bat for Lashes. This song, equally as beautiful as the original, does a great job of staying true to Depeche Mode’s style. Honestly, Depeche Mode was one of the few 80s bands that was ahead of its time, and produced a sound that was unique and timeless. Natasha Kahn—whose voice is so beautiful she can’t sing a bad song—does an excellent cover of this song for a soundtrack release of Gucci’s fragrance: Gucci Guilty for Him.
9. “Zombie,” originally performed by The Cranberries, covered by Miser. This local band from the Dallas-Fort Worth area does an awesome job of covering this intense song by The Cranberries, but add to it their own intensity; making this cover song equally as beautiful as the original. “Zombie” appeared on Miser’s full length 2006 album Colors.
10. “Possession,” originally performed by Sarah McLachlan, covered by Evans Blue. This song originally appeared on the album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy by Sarah McLachlan. It was covered by Evans Blue—with their first and original singer, Kevin Matisyn—on their debut album The Melody and the Energetic Nature of Volume. Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the band would later split up after releasing two albums, and Kevin Matisyn would come to North Texas to become the lead singer for the band Parabelle. The song is done in an Alternative Metal style. It is unique and just as beautiful as the original with a lot more edge and a more powerful punch. Also worth mentioning is Evans Blue’s cover of “Caught a Lite Sneeze” by Tori Amos—also done in an amped up Alternative Metal fashion—which, appears on their second album, The Pursuit Begins When this Portrayal of Life Ends.
There you have it. A current list of some of my favorite cover songs done by some of my favorite bands and artists.
So, do you have a favorite cover song that you find to be just as good if not better than the original?