Top Ten Cover Versions that Sound Surprisingly Similar to the Original

Metal_Treasure made a great list about cover versions that sound nothing like the original song. But that made me think: what about cover versions that sound just like the original? To such an extent that the occasional listener would even mistake it for it?

I am aware there will be disagreements, because maybe this or that tiny aspect was changed, and people will say that this very element that was changed is the essence of the song, but the most important thing is that the overall tone is unusually similar.

The Top Ten

1 If I Was Your Girlfriend - TLC

PS: That they are extremely similar needn't mean that they also have the same quality. Some are equally good, some are equally bad, but some come off as uninspired or soulless compared to the original, and with some it may be the other way around. I now added ratings to go with the texts. - Martin_Canine

Originally by Prince.

Apart from the fact that the different genders of the artists completely change the topic of the song (instead of a heterosexual man imagining being the best friend of his love interest we now have a girl wanting to be the best friend of another girl, with lesbian implications, even though she describes herself as "your man") you barely could tell the songs apart. The beats are almost identical, and on both songs you have rough vocals that have a high pitch.

Prince: 5 out of 5
TLC: 5 out of 5 - Martin_Canine

2 Tears In May - Novaspace

Originally by Missing Heart.

I thought I was the only person in the world apart from the former band members that knows that there once was a band called Missing Heart that released this one magnificent new age techno hybrid album "Mystery" that unfortunately was completely ignored and lead to the end of the project. But apparently a techno project called Novaspace stumbled upon this album and covered the song "Tears in May". The instrumental sounds almost completely identical, only the kick is a bit harder on here, and even the singers have an eerily similar voice - the entire atmosphere is the exact same.

Missing Heart: 4 out of 5
Novaspace: 4 out of 5 - Martin_Canine

3 Du Liebst Mich Nicht - LaFee

Originally by Sabrina Setlur.

Sabrins Setlur is one of the pioneers in German rap, as she was already very successful in the 90s, way before the genre became mainstream. Nowadays she is a bit overlooked, but she still is the most successful female German rapper. LaFee now is one of the stars of another movement: German emo, from the mid-to-late 2000s, even though she leaned more towards gothic gimmicks, but combining them with teen angst. For whatever reason she thought it was a good idea to cover Setlur's biggest hit. The flow, instrumental and attitude are much the same - but you can hear LaFee is not used to rapping. She sounds REALLY strained.

Sabrina Setlur: 4 out of 5
LaFee: 2 out of 5 - Martin_Canine

4 Dragostea Din Tei - Haiducii

Originally by O-Zone.

2 years before YouTube existed and brought the Numa Numa dance to the US, "Dragostea Din Tei" managed to conquer some European charts. And not only once: for instance, O-Zone's version peaked at number 1 in the German charts, Haiducii's cover at number two - about a month before. Apart from the voice of the singers, which of course can't be changed, they tried the best to sound exactly the same as the original. Every single track of the original was recreated.

O-Zone: 3 out of 5
Haiducii: 2 out of 5 - Martin_Canine

5 Sex On the Phone - Sex Appeal

Originally by E-Rotic.

Never mind the audio sample, that's a remix.
Both the original and the cover have Lyane Leigh as the lead singer. She first sang in E-Rotic (even when she wasn't an official member anymore), then she founded S.E.X. Appeal. I don't know if the recording of her voice is the same or if she re-recorded it amazingly similar, but the result is it sounds more like an updated remix than a cover.

E-Rotic: 3 out of 5
S.E.X. Appeal: 3 out of 5 - Martin_Canine

6 Open Your Heart - The Birthday Massacre

Originally by Madonna.

I always thought that despite their often hard guitar riffs and nightmarish lyrics The Birthday Massacre sounded much like the 80s. Here's the proof. The entire mixing and the way keyboards and feedback are used is pure 80s nostalgia. The structure is exactly the same. The major difference is only that during the verses the instrumental remains pretty overproduced in a bridge kind of way. I must say the cover is done well and I much like the band, but yeah, Madonna will always deliver the best pop.

Madonna: 5 out of 5
The Birthday Massacre: 3 out of 5 - Martin_Canine

7 Gasolina - Papa A.P.

Originally by Daddy Yankee.

The two artists even both have a word for "father" in their name.
Like with "Dragostea Din Tei", the two versions conquered the European market at the very same time in 2005, and depending on the country, either one was more successful - and in both cases only the original became a hit in America. Also like Dragostea, the entire beatwork and structure was carefully recreated track by track. I can't tell why but A.P.'s version still sounds a bit more cheerful to me and Yankee's more sinister. Papa's version is more like a summer hit, Daddy's more like hip hop. Must be the delivery of the respective rappers, maybe also the sound of the synthesizers used.

Daddy Yankee: 4 out of 5
Papa A.P.: 3 out of 5 - Martin_Canine

8 Stripped - Scooter

Originally by Depeche Mode.

Yeah, I know, there couldn't be groups furthered apart within the same genre. And while Scooter's use of sampling is very creative and even influential to the entire European techno scene, their straightforward cover songs usually suck. Very much. They are cheap sounding recreations on which they are obviously out of their comfort zone. But this one actually works, not to say that it's astounding. The sinister, mystical, robotic tone we know from early electronica record was perfectly captured. Okay, let's talk about the elephant in the room: Baxxter has a German accent, Gaham of course doesn't. But nevertheless, they do have a similar timbre and way of singing.

Depeche Mode: 4 out of 5
Scooter: 4 out of 5 - Martin_Canine

9 If Only You Knew - SWV

Originally by Patti LaBelle. The Sistas With Voices did an amazing job at recreating this classic. - RobertWisdom

10 People Make The World Go 'Round - Michael Jackson

The Contenders

11 Schrei nach Liebe - Die Toten Hosen

Originally by Die Ärzte.

Imagine what it would sound like if in the 2010s Pearl Jam would cover "Smells Like Teen Spirit", Black Sabbath would cover "Smoke on the Water" or the Rolling Stones would cover "Yesterday". Die Ärzte and Die Toten Hosen are both among the most legendary German bands to ever enter the music landscape. They are both punk, but also experimented with other genres, they both have their fair share of both political songs yet also are known for extremely random and tasteless humorous tunes, and they both made songs and albums everybody knows, owns and adores. Also they have both formed in the early 80s as fun groups and expanded towards serious sociocritical territories in the late 80s and early 90s respectively. In 2012, DTH released a cover album to celebrate their 30 year anniversary, and covered Die Ärzte's greatest hit "Schrei nach Liebe", a song that will be found in both any professional top ten list about greatest German songs and also any popular ...more - Martin_Canine

12 Somebody to Love - Marc Martel

Originally by Queen with Freddie on vocals. You can find 2 videos on YouTube:
1) My "Somebody To Love" audition (uploaded by QueenExtravaganza)
2) Queen Extravaganza on American Idol - Somebody to Love (HD)
This is the most mindblowing thing I've ever heard vocal-wise because Marc Martel sounds like Freddie who is the most difficult to replicate!
Marc audition was for a web competition started by Queen members to find a singer for the Queen tribute band named QueenExtravaganza. Of course, Marc Martel won. The 2nd video is already with the tribute band and not solo.
He sounds like Freddie in every Queen song he performs live. Oh, and Marc looks alike Freddie very much.
Please watch the videos. They should be seen and not described. - Metal_Treasure

13 Sad but True - Nickelback

Nickelback performed live this Metallica cover. As a Metallica fan I have to tell you Nickelback sound very close to the original. If you don't see the musicians who play, you can easily conclude this is Metallica (several metal fans I know did it). Chad Krueger morphs his voice and makes it sound very similar to James Hetfield.
YouTube: Nickelback - Sad But True (Metallica cover) - Metal_Treasure

14 Don't Talk to Strangers - Blind Guardian

It is difficult to replicate Dio's incredible voice but Hansi Kürsch nailed the vocals. My jaw dropped when I heard this cover - so close to the original. I knew the original very well and never expected to hear a cover that was made so good. Blind Guardian did a great job to pay tribute to the metal legend Dio and his awesome song. - Metal_Treasure

15 About You Now - Miranda Cosgrove

Originally by Sugababes.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single by the Sugababes is the greatest thing to ever expect from a girl group. Like, they had personality, they wrote the songs themselves and they packaged it all in the best pop pleasure possible. They never charted in the US but somehow Nickelodeon found them and asked Cosgrove to cover it for the iCarly soundtrack. Now, it's not entirely the same: on the Sugababes version, the guitar is way in the background, and synth lines dominate the sound, on the Cosgrove version it's the other way around. But still the structure, tone, vocal delivery, and more cover that up pretty much.

Sugababes: 4 out of 5
Miranda Cosgrove: 4 out of 5 - Martin_Canine

16 One In a Million - Miley Cyrus

Originally by Sandy Mölling.

I have no idea how this happened: Sandy was part of the hugely successful German girl group No Angels that was formed in the first Popstars season. Her solo album however wasn't very successful and was widely panned (it's okay. It's just forgettable, but she sings well and it's solidly written and produced), and it vanished in the depth of forgotten music history. "One in a Million" wasn't even a single. It however became a well known song 3 years later on a global scale when covered for the second season of "Hannah Montana". The HM version is an exact recreation of the original song, only one line including an alcohol reference (which in fact stated she is sober) was altered because someone had to make sure the kids won't find out what alcohol is.

Sandy: 4 out of 5 (it really is the highlight of the album)
Miley Cyrus: 3 out of 5 - Martin_Canine

17 Before the Dawn - Scheepers

A Judas Priest cover by Primal Fear singer Ralf Scheepers. Again, covering a Rob Halford song isn't easy - every metal fan would tell you this. Because Rob Halford's got a stratospheric vocal range and very distinctive voice.
Ralf Scheepers admitted Rob Halford was his vocal idol. Just play the song sample. - Metal_Treasure

18 To Tame a Land - Dream Theater

Originally by Iron Maiden.

Almost note for note. John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess both play the solo on guitar and keyboard respectively. As DT don't have two guitar players. - IronSabbathPriest

19 Help I'm a Fish - Creamy

Originally by Little Trees

Girl group Little Trees only recorded two singles, one of them being the theme song of the animated movie "Help! I'm a Fish". The movie is great fun by the way (if you don't question how the fish managed to develop a full working society in that short period of time). Creamy covered it on their second studio album, and they literally used the exact same instrumental. It's not just re-created, it's sung over the karaoke version. In any version, the song is an awesome example of the sheer fun that is bubblegum dance.

Little Trees: 4 out of 5
Creamy: 4 out of 5 - Martin_Canine

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