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)

He was not a good songwriter. At least half the songs he ever made were cover songs. But when it comes to stage presence and natural talent, he is one of the best live acts of all time and the most talented guitarist. This 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 turned a sketch into a rock symphonic masterpiece. Even Dylan said that Jimi's was THE version of the song. Bob himself performs Jimi's version.

2 Hurt - Johnny Cash (Nine Inch Nails)

One of the best covers of all time. Johnny Cash had a very hard life. He struggled with drugs and alcohol for years. He always gave credit to his wife, June Carter Cash, for turning his life around.

In the video for "Hurt," you can see the pain in Johnny's eyes and hear the hurt in his voice. It's a very beautiful video. His wife died three months after the video was shot, and Johnny Cash died seven months later. Trent Reznor was blown away when he heard Johnny Cash's version of his song. "The Man in Black," as they called Johnny Cash, left this world with a treasure for us to remember him by.

3 Knockin' on Heaven's Door - Guns N' Roses (Bob Dylan)

Guns N' Roses perform this song better than anyone else. This happens a lot with Dylan's songs - a great writer and lyricist with a unique voice, but whose songs are often better with other performers' takes on them. Guns N' Roses' version adds an awesome heavy element to this song and makes the changes sound amazing! It's better than any on the above list.

Awesome cover! It should be at 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!

4 Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley (Leonard Cohen)

This song would never be such a beautiful masterpiece if Jeff Buckley had never covered it. I listened to the original and totally hated it. I can respect Leonard's genius in lyrical composition, but the execution of the song is horrible, in my opinion. Jeff Buckley tore 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 Door.

5 Respect - Aretha Franklin (Otis Redding)

The original song of Respect is pretty good, but Aretha Franklin takes it to another level with her version, overshadowing Otis Redding's song in nearly every way. The saxophone, lyrical messaging, and vocal performance make this song a masterpiece. Respect indeed.

I had no idea this was a cover! It's really good, though. I can't help singing along to this whenever I hear it.

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

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

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

Both versions are good. I don't understand why so many people hate Whitney's cover. Even Dolly likes it.

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

7 Twist and Shout - The Beatles (The Topnotes)

Most people don't know it's a cover song. That's the ultimate praise for a great cover song. It 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 turned it into a rock classic.

8 You Really Got Me - Van Halen (The Kinks)

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.

When Van Halen covers a song, they always make it better than the original version. This one just owns the Kinks' version.

The most iconic rock cover of all time - hello world, it's Eddie Van Halen!

9 To Love You More - Sarah Geronimo (Celine Dion)

I love her every time she sings To Love You More. She has a good voice, like Celine Dion. Go SG!

10 Rolling In the Deep - Linkin Park (Adele)

The best cover ever! Although it is newer than many of the items at the top (at this moment), it is 100 times better than Adele's version of the song.

I hated this song initially, but when Chester Bennington sang it and Mike Shinoda took to the piano, it was a totally 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 give 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!

The Contenders
11 Sweet Dreams - Marilyn Manson (The Eurythmics)

This is a great cover. Manson really expresses it the way it's supposed to be expressed. The only thing I wonder is, did he slow down the riff on Crazy Train on purpose? Or was it just a 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 music! This song should be in the top 5 covers on any list, not 23rd!

12 Whiskey In The Jar - Metallica (Thin Lizzy)

Metallica just breathed new life into this song. James' solo was just great. What I want to say is that Metallica popularized this song and made it monumental, just like the band itself. Unfortunately, this song has a really stupid video. Regardless, it's an all-time classic, and Metallica poured some of their mind and soul into creating a masterpiece.

Just listen to that - awesome 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 wasn't made by them! Perfect!

13 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 released this at a time when admitting to liking Michael Jackson was something you just didn't do, which is kind of cool. This version is also better by a mile.

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

14 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 three of the top four songs are Dylan covers.

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

Bob Dylan is arguably one of the greatest songwriters of all times, but the Byrds really outdid him with their cover.

15 Turn the Page - Metallica (Bob Seger)

Amazing! I was speechless when I first heard this song. 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. They rock! Go Metallica! You guys are the best!

Yes, even their covers are epic! Best band ever. This song has a meaningful video, and the solo is so cool!

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

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

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

17 Proud Mary - Tina Turner (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
18 House of the Rising Sun - The Animals (Clarence Ashley)

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 cover song of all time, hands down.

19 Man Who Sold The World - Nirvana (David Bowie)

Bowie is my favorite artist. Nothing can change that. I will never bad-mouth him, and nothing can make me think ill of him. Yet, I can't help admitting that Nirvana transformed this song into something otherworldly. This is one of the most incredible covers of all time and it deserves recognition, even if it's 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 the song commercial, it turned into such a good cover of the original. I like both versions, and although there are other covers worth mentioning, I think this one should be in the top ten.

20 Am I Evil? - Metallica (Diamond Head)

When you hear a great song and associate it with the band that covered it more than with 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!

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

21 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.

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

22 Live and Let Die - Guns N' Roses (Wings)

I've heard this song 100 times! This is the best cover song of all time! They transformed the boring song into a crazy hard rock song! It deserves to be at the top! Amazing!

Both versions are great, in my opinion.

23 Bad Company - Five Finger Death Punch (Bad Company)

When I first heard this song, it blew my mind, and I wondered, "How the hell did I not hear this version before?" This remake is incredible (in a great way)! Five Finger Death Punch did the song great justice, and Bad Company would be proud of this version.

It needs to be way higher on the list.

One of the best cover songs I have ever heard. Good classic rock song originally. FFDP turned it into a hard-hitting, kick-ass war anthem.

I feel like the cover is better than the original, easily one of my favorite songs.

24 Cum On Feel the Noize - Quiet Riot (Slade)

One of my favorite songs ever. It is so much better than the original Slade version.

Amazing cover. It should be higher on the list.

25 Diamonds and Rust - Judas Priest (Joan Baez)
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