Top 10 Best Cover Songs of All Time

Steps to making a good cover song: 1) Start with a song that is already good or has potential to be good 2) Improve on the original version or make the song live up to potential and 3) do something special to make the song your own. Whether through better musicianship, vocals, emotion, etc. a great cover version takes the original song and gives it a new life.

This is a collection of the cover songs that were most certainly better the second time through.
The Top Ten
1 All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix (Bob Dylan) All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix (Bob Dylan) Cover Art

He was not a good song writer. At least half the songs he ever did were cover songs. But stage presence and natural talent he is one of the best live acts of all time and the number one talented guitarist. And song Is a good example of that.

Out of the ten songs here, I feel this is hands down the best. No question. There will never be another Jimi Hendrix. He was so amazing and unique.

Jimi took a sketch and made rock symphonic masterpiece. Even Dylan said that Jimi's was THE version of the song (Bob, himself, performs Jimi's version).

How could this not be number one? It has arguable one of the greatest guitar solos of all time and Bob Dylan himself said it was better than his own.

2 Hurt - Johnny Cash (Nine Inch Nails) Hurt - Johnny Cash (Nine Inch Nails) Cover Art

Actually my favorite cover song is Jimi Hendrix's version of 'All along the Watchtower'. But seeing this great piece of art so far down here, I just feel like I have to give it my vote, because it is not only one of the best covers but easily one of the best songs ever recorded. So I think it is a shame to see Johnny Cash's beautiful and unique version of this great song on rank 32 (and I mean by now everybody should know that it is a cover so that is not an excuse)

This has to be #1. It takes on an entirely new meaning than the original, NIN's version is more about the heartbreak of a lost relationship, but Cash turns it into a song about reflecting back at his life as he knows he's nearing the end. Both versions are great in their own way.

What makes this cover so special is that it basically reflected his life right before his death. Reznor even said he knew it wasn't his song anymore once he heard Cash play it. I was originally going for Jimmy Hendrix's All Along The Watchtower but I changed my mind at the last minute.

This song saved my life and is hands-down the greatest cover song ever. It is probably one of if not the best pieces of music ever recorded. Listen yo it when you are so sad and just feel empty. You WILL cry and you will fully appreciate the song.

3 Knockin' on Heavens Door - Guns N Roses (Bob Dylan) Knockin' on Heavens Door - Guns N Roses (Bob Dylan) Cover Art

Gun's and Roses do this song better than anyone, this happens a lot with Dylans songs, a great writer and lyricist with a unique voice but whose songs are oten better with other performers take on them. Gun's and roses version adds a awesome heavy element to this song and make the changes sound amazing! better than any on the above list.

Awesome cover! It should be on the top of the list! In my opinion, this song sounds best when played with an electric guitar. I think the main reason for the success of this song was slash's guitar playing. His solo was just unbelievably amazing!

Guns N Roses had an album called "The Spaghetti Incident? " (An incident that they fought for spaghetti) which this song is included. The song is a great cover and surpassed Bob Dylan's original Knockin' On Heaven's Door.

It has really good guitar solos, and it is much more to my taste than the original, Guns N' Roses turned this bluesy ballad into an awesome power ballad.

4 Respect - Aretha Franklin (Otis Redding) Respect - Aretha Franklin (Otis Redding) Cover Art

This is a cover?! I had no idea! Aretha really knows how to cover songs and make it better than the original!

Wonderful voive carry the song.

5 Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley (Leonard Cohen) Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley (Leonard Cohen) Cover Art

This song will never be such a beautiful masterpiece if Jeff Buckley never covered it. I listened to the original and totally hate it, I can respect Leonard's genius in lyrical composure but the execution of the song is horrible in my opinion. Jeff Buckley ripped apart the song and stripped it down to a pure, simple but nonetheless wonderful work of musical art.

This is such an underrated cover. This is personally one of my favorite covers of all time, showing the true talent behind Jeff's composition. He writes these solos himself, which takes talent guys. Some of my personal favorites are this, Jimi Hendrix's All Along the Watchtower, Heart's Rock and Roll and Guns N' Roses' Knockin' on Heaven's Doors

Once you get to the point where people think that you wrote the song, it's safe to say that the cover was amazing. This cover is monumental and made it the legend it is today.

Jeff Buckley-an amazing performer gone too soon... he could do more with an empty stage and a Fender Telecaster...

6 I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston (Dolly Parton) I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston (Dolly Parton) Cover Art

Even though Whitney's wasn't better (though it was SO close) she brought the song out into the mainstream.

Should be number 1 or at least 2. I know Dolly Parton wrote it but admit it Whitney sang it better

I find it crazy that I'm adding this. Maybe it's because everyone thinks that it was her song.

Way better than the original version!

7 Rolling In the Deep - Linkin Park (Adele) Rolling In the Deep - Linkin Park (Adele) Cover Art

The Best Cover Ever! Although it it is newer than many of the items at the top(at this moment)...

And it is 100 times better than Adele Version of the song...

I Hated this song too much but when Chester Bennington sang it and Mike Shinoda took the piano, it was totally a different experience...

Chester's Voice cannot be compared he's 10 times better than Adele!

Awesome Cover... Linkin Park for Life

Chester's awesome voice and Mike's addictive tunes. Gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it. Linkin Park doesn't do a lot of covers. But when they do, they make it better than the original. Linkin Park ROCKS!

Rumor has it that Adele made a cover of this song.

Chester really blew this song out the competition. Amazing vocals with Shinoda on the piano. It was just beautiful

I love adele, her voice and the way she feels music make me feel it to. The lyrics are deep and meanful. Keep it on Adele, I love you baby!

8 Sweet Dreams - Marilyn Manson (The Eurythmics) Sweet Dreams - Marilyn Manson (The Eurythmics) Cover Art

This is a great cover, Manson really expresses it the way it is supposed to be expressed. The only thing I wonder is, does anybody think he slowed down the riff on Crazy Train on purpose? Or was it just coincidence?

The lyrics are dark and creepy, Marilyn Manson made the song fit the lyrics. Unfortunately it will never get the recognition it deserves because he is Marilyn Manson.

Marilyn Manson gave this song life. If you don't like the way he dresses or acts, close your eyes and listen to the damn music! This song should be in the top 5 covers in any list, NOT 23rd!

The songs lyrics were meant to be creepy but the original isn't creepy sounding, Marilyn Manson changed it to it's true form.

9 Whiskey In The Jar - Metallica (Thin Lizzy) Whiskey In The Jar - Metallica (Thin Lizzy) Cover Art

Metallica just put a new life in this song. And James' solo was just great. What I want to tell is that Metallica popularized this song and just made it monumental like the band itself. Unfortunately this song has a really stupid video. Anyway an all time classic and Metallica just put some of their mind and soul to create a masterpiece.

Just listen to that, awelsome song, better than the original one. They got a Grammy for that song.
This cover is better than the others in the top.

I cannot believe that this song ain't made by them! Perfect!

The worst version of this traditional Irish Song

10 Mr. Tambourine Man - The Byrds (Bob Dylan) Mr. Tambourine Man - The Byrds (Bob Dylan) Cover Art

Bob Dylan, the best songwriter ever, himself said that no one could play this song any better, which was right. This is such an amazing rendition while I'll agree that the other songs on this list are good I just like this one the best. But notice how 3 of the top 4 songs are Dylans covers...

This is definitely the winner here. Killing a Bob Dylan song is hard to do but they did it. Crazy stuff

"Wow, you can even dance to that! " Bob Dylan after hearing the cover

The Newcomers

? And I Love Her - Kurt Cobain (The Beatles)
? All the Things She Said - Poppy (T.A.T.U.) All the Things She Said - Poppy (T.A.T.U.) Cover Art
The Contenders
11 Smooth Criminal - Alien Ant Farm (Michael Jackson) Smooth Criminal - Alien Ant Farm (Michael Jackson) Cover Art

The fact that I didn't hear much good (or bad for that matter) about the original before this came out should say something. They also did this at a time when admitting to liking Michael Jackson was just something you didn't do, which is kinda cool. This version is also better by a mile.

You people are crazy?! Why do you vote for this cover? The original song is MUCH MORE better.

A lot of covers don't deviate much from the original. This one, however, is quite unique.

The video was better for the original, but as far as musical quality goes, AAF nailed it

12 Twist and Shout - The Beatles (Topnotes) Twist and Shout - The Beatles (Topnotes) Cover Art

Most people don't know it's a cover song. That's the ultimate praise to a great cover song. Should be much higher than number 39.

I had no idea it was a cover! I feel a bit bad about that now, but that is definitely a sign that this was a brilliant cover.

The Beatles took an R&B minor hit and made it a rock classic.

I hate I will always love you why is it lower than that song

13 You Really Got Me - Van Halen (The Kinks) You Really Got Me - Van Halen (The Kinks) Cover Art

When Van Halen covers a song they always make it better than the original version of it. And this just owns the kinks version

The original Kinks tune was great - not the sort of tune that gets one-upped much - but the Van Halen cover just blows it away.

The most iconic Rock cover of all-time, hello world its Eddie Van Halen!

Ray Davies even said this version is better than the original.

14 Turn The Page - Metallica (Bob Seager) Turn The Page - Metallica (Bob Seager) Cover Art

Amazing! I was speechless when I fist heard this song. And it took me forever to actually find it, but thanks to Pandora... I finally found it!

One of Metallica's best songs ever! Metallica is my favorite band forever and is a big part of my life and they rock! GO METALLICA! you guys are the best!

Yes even their covers are epic! M/best band ever... this song has a meaningful video and the solo is so cool!

Thanks to Metallica, this now one of my favorite songs of all time

15 You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Man - Rod Stewart (Carole King) You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Man - Rod Stewart (Carole King) Cover Art

Rod makes this his own.
Although this song was writen for a female Rod made it male like no one else can.
So heartfelt, so emotional, so wondefully good...

In this song you can hear exactly why they call Rod Stewart the white man with the black voice.

16 Come On Feel the Noise - Quiet Riot (Slade) Come On Feel the Noise - Quiet Riot (Slade) Cover Art

One of my favorite songs ever. So much better than the original Slade garbage.

Amazing cover should be higher on the list.

I don't know if I would call this a cover

Was this serously not on the list?

17 Dust in the Wind - Sarah Brightman (Kansas) Dust in the Wind - Sarah Brightman (Kansas) Cover Art

When Sarah covers a piece of music, the unique beauty of her voice and the sensitive emotional phrasing she brings to it leave her name forever inscribed on that song.

I actually like Sarah's version better than the original. She's a genius.

18 Hound Dog - Elvis Presley (Willie Mae) Hound Dog - Elvis Presley (Willie Mae) Cover Art

HOW IS THIS NOT HIGHER? Elvis Presley, the king, only at number 25? This is not right.

19 House of the Rising Sun - The Animals (Clarence Ashley) House of the Rising Sun - The Animals (Clarence Ashley) Cover Art

I had no idea this was a cover, I mean, seriously. I also thought Respect was originally by Aretha.

This is by far the best hands down cover song of all time a classic.

This is amazing, I cry every time I hear it

What can I say, unreal

20 Proud Mary - Tina Turner (Creedence Clearwater Revival) Proud Mary - Tina Turner (Creedence Clearwater Revival) Cover Art
21 Man Who Sold The World - Nirvana (David Bowie) Man Who Sold The World - Nirvana (David Bowie) Cover Art

Bowie is my favourite artist. There is nothing that can change that. There is nothing that will make me bad-mouth him. There is nothing that can make me think wrong of him. And yet - I can't help admitting Nirvana transformed this song into something otherworldly, this is one of the most incredible covers of all time, and it deserves recognition - even just by a ranking.

Kurt mentioned "I'm pretty sure I'm going to screw this one up" and maybe because he wasn't looking to make this song "commercial" that it turned such a good cover of the original, I like both versions, and although there are other covers worth mentioningg, I think this one should be in the top ten.

Can't believe this song is way down in this list.. This together with all along the watchtower-Jimi Hendrix are the best cover songs to be ever performed

Definitely better than anything ever done original or cover by Van Halen. Better than anything in spots 5-10 on this list during the time of this writing.

22 Wish - Linkin Park (Nine Inch Nails)

I like their cover of rolling in the deep, but in my opinion this should be higher than that. I've never heard a linkin park song that is heavier than this.
I like both versions of the songs, but this one is amazing

Way better than the original, it has angel voice, with... DEVIL SCREAMS! Chester hit the spot to be the Top 1. To those who likes scream and growls, this is a perfect Semi-death metal cover for you! M/

Really the best cover ever. I don't think the NIN version is so good, but Chester and Linkin Park really makes it have that angry, rough tone that NIN couldn't give.

I heard the NIN version and didn't really like it that much, but then I heard the LP version and it was awesome. Linkin Park rules.

23 Land of Confusion - Disturbed (Genesis) Land of Confusion - Disturbed (Genesis) Cover Art

I voted for Hurt by Johnny Cash but I have to say, that it's silly to vote for a cover when it sounds exactly like the original song. Land of Confusion is a great cover. Especially the guitar solo is epic and on the original it was a little bit boring. But both versions were great.

Why is this song way down here? This is by far the best cover of a song. David Draiman did such an excellent job on the vocals and the rest of the guys matched the instrumentals perfectly!

It's an awesomely EPIC cover, but the genesis version is still better

Could not agree more, this is one of my favorite covers, Johnny Cash cover of Hurt is up there too, Disturbed has other good covers too

24 Dream On - Ronnie James Dio (Aerosmith) Dream On - Ronnie James Dio (Aerosmith) Cover Art

It's Ronnie James Dio on vocals and Yngwie Malmsteen on guitars.

Iconic song, great cover!

Wow this is amazing

25 Live and Let Die - Guns N' Roses (Wings) Live and Let Die - Guns N' Roses (Wings) Cover Art

I've heard this song 100 times! This is the best cover song all time! They change the bored song to a crazy hard rock song! It deserves to be in the top!

Both versions are great in my opinion.

This is Truly a great song. It deseves to be in the top

Should be way higher

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