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 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)

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 of "Hurt" you could see the pain in Johhny's eyes and you could hear the hurt in his voice. 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 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.

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)

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 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.

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.

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!

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.

Oh my! This should be even HIGHER at least in the top 5! Guns N' Roses completely changed Bob Dylan's dreary tune into a rock ballad! Slash & Axl at their best!

4 Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley (Leonard Cohen)

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...

5 Respect - Aretha Franklin (Otis Redding)

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

6 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.

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!

7 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.

The Beatles took an R&B minor hit and made it 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 of it. And this just owns the kinks version

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.

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

Celine is at her best, suits her vocal range. I actually thought the song was written and composed for Dion. I have never heard the original, but I can't imagine it surpassing this one.

I love her every. time she sing this TO LOve You MOre, its good voice like celine dion... go SG

10 Rolling In the Deep - Linkin Park (Adele)

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!

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

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.

12 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.

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

Metallica has a grammy for that song!

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 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.

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 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

15 Turn The Page - Metallica (Bob Seager)

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

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

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.

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 hands down cover song of all time a classic.

What can I say, unreal

This is a cover?

19 Am I Evil?- Metallica (Diamond Head)

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!

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

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

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.

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.

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

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 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.

Should be way higher

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 even not hear this version before? " This remake is sick beyond belief (in a great way)! FFDP did the song great justice and Bad Company would be PROUD at 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 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 Come On Feel the Noise - Quiet Riot (Slade)

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

Amazing cover should be higher on the list.

25 Diamonds and Rust - Judas Priest (Joan Baenz)
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