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!

The Guitar solo alone makes this song deserve the number 1 spot

V 33 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

Coolest cover song ever. - SionicRelations

V 29 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 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

6 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.

Let's hope the hater troll doesn't vote a bad cover above this - 445956

V 7 Comments
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.

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

Metallica has a grammy for that song! - kkkppp

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.

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.

Yuck, Kinks are much better, Van halen are overrated - HumzahJ

V 6 Comments
10 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

The Newcomers

? Raining Blood - Vader
? Dazed and Confused - Led Zeppelin

It was an uncredited cover when it came out and was later credited as a cover, but it is better than the original and one of the best covers ever made - christangrant

The Contenders

11 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
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

In my opinion, he ruined it.

V 5 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 You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Man - Rod Stewart (Carole King)

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

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...

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

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

18 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

19 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

20 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
PSearch List

Recommended Lists

Related Lists

Top 10 Cover Songs Better Than the Original Top 10 Cover Songs that Developed the Original Towards Its Logical and Natural Direction Top Ten Covers of Hit Songs Best Metal Cover Songs Best Cover Songs by Metallica

List Stats

13,000 votes
629 listings
12 years, 26 days old

Top Remixes (44)

1. Dream On - Dio & Malmsteen
2. Come On Feel the Noise - Quiet Riot (Slade)
3. Painkiller - Death (Judas Priest)
1. Dream On - Ronnie James Dio (Aerosmith)
2. Don't Talk to Strangers - Blind Guardian (Dio)
3. Turn The Page - Metallica (Bob Seager)
1. Respect - Aretha Franklin (Otis Redding)
2. Proud Mary - Tina Turner (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
3. All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix (Bob Dylan)

View All 44


All Time Best Cover Songs
Add Post

Error Reporting

See a factual error in these listings? Report it here.