Best Cover Songs

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)

Bob Dylan sometimes played Hendrix's version on stage, that's gotta mean something!

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.

Absolutely phenominal. Fits into every era. This man was a true genius!

I don't know why I just picked it because it was at the top

V 31 Comments
2 Hurt - Johnny Cash (Nine Inch Nails)

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)

No doubt this song tops the original by a hundred times, johnny cash's final songs were mediocre but this songs stands right with the best of him

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. - AlteredState

Should be #1. Overall a great song. Love both the Nine Inch Nails original and Johnny Cash cover

V 28 Comments
3 Knockin' on Heavens Door - Guns N Roses (Bob Dylan)

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. - Cantonez

much better than 7 covers! this cover is much better than the original song, this is the best GUNS N' ROSES cover ever! - rock2metal

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! - winner333

Best Guns N' Roses song ever!

V 18 Comments
4 Respect - Aretha Franklin (Otis Redding)
5 Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley (Leonard Cohen)

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

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.

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.

What a crap version of the Leonard Cohen song.
With that tiny voice it can never beat the Original. - phr

V 6 Comments
6 Mr. Tambourine Man - The Byrds (Bob Dylan)

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...

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

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

7 Smooth Criminal - Alien Ant Farm (Michael Jackson)

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.

I liked the original song, but AAF made an even better version. - rock2metal

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

No the original is amazing, and it's hard to cover Michael

V 2 Comments
8 Whiskey In The Jar - Metallica (Thin Lizzy)

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.

V 2 Comments
9 You Really Got Me - Van Halen (The Kinks)

When Van Halen covers a song they always make it better than the original version of it. And this just owns the kinks version - rocker1796

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.

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

This is total nonsense.

V 5 Comments
10 Twist and Shout - The Beatles (Topnotes)

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. - sameera62

john lennon recorded this song while he was having a bad cold and that's why this sounds so good! - Mathx

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

V 3 Comments

The Newcomers

? Paranoid - Type O Negative (Black Sabbath)
? Wish You Were Here - Avenged Sevenfold (Pink Floyd)

A perfect cover of the legendary song.

The Contenders

11 Turn The Page - Metallica (Bob Seager)

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! - usmcmike43

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!

Yes even their covers are epic! M/best band ever... this song has a meaningful video and the solo is so cool! - rahulsharma1

Thanks to Metallica, this now one of my favorite songs of all time - Songsta41

12 Sweet Dreams - Marilyn Manson (The Eurythmics)

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.

It won't get recognition because Manson has no talent at all and sucks at music - TheThomasThomas

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

the cover by marilyn manson has so much more soul than the original. respect 4 MM - elitan

My favourite song, I like this more than the original

V 4 Comments
13 Walk This Way - Run-DMC (Aerosmith)

This is not a cover

I thought that it was great when Run DMC and Aerosmith actually joined up to do the song.

Run-DMC's version is awful.

This is not a cover. But it is an awful song

V 1 Comment
14 House of the Rising Sun - The Animals (Clarence Ashley)

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

This is a cover?

15 I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston (Dolly Parton)

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

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

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

Way better than the original version!

V 2 Comments
16 Am I Evil?- Metallica (Diamond Head)

This song brought Diamond Head and the "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" to America's Metalheads' attention. - thethrasher

When you here a great song and associate it with the band that covered it more than the original you often have something special. Jimi did this with Watchtower, and Metallica did it with Am I Evil?

An epic classic, forged by Diamond Head, and perfected by Metallica. Cheers to James Hetfield and the boys!

17 Proud Mary - Tina Turner (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
18 Hound Dog - Elvis Presley (Willie Mae)

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

19 Dust in the Wind - Sarah Brightman (Kansas)

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. - timhatcher

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

No way is it better then the original

20 Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf (Mars Bonfire)

Mars Bonfire was a fictitious name John Kay made up to try to weasel out of a bad contract with their record company at that time. It didn't work, John Kay wrote Born To Be Wild.. Under the pen name "Mars Bonfire"

Steppenwolf made this song famous! Much better than the original in my opinion. - THEMASTER

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List Stats

12,000 votes
626 listings
11 years, 269 days old

Top Remixes (44)

1. Dream On - Ronnie James Dio (Aerosmith)
2. Don't Talk to Strangers - Blind Guardian (Dio)
3. Turn The Page - Metallica (Bob Seager)
Metal_Treasure
1. Respect - Aretha Franklin (Otis Redding)
2. Proud Mary - Tina Turner (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
3. All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix (Bob Dylan)
MarkPH
1. Mr. Tambourine Man - The Byrds (Bob Dylan)
2. Respect - Aretha Franklin (Otis Redding)
3. Walk This Way - Run-DMC (Aerosmith)
queen11

WRemix
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