There used to be a time when I snobbishly snorted every time a cover version came on the radio. “Why do people even bother?”, I’d think. “Either the song sucks, then it can not be made better, or it doesn’t suck, then why change it?”
Time passed and I grew wiser. [Though not a lot.] The realisation came gradually. Actually, cover version can do a whole lot. For good songs and for bad songs. They can be funny, they can make the original more complex, or they can just sound good.
Recently, I became a little obsessed with cover versions. Mark Ronson‘s Version, The Baseballs’ Strike! and the BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge feature prominently on my playlist and when I hear of cover versions today, my first reaction is to get excited.
So, therefore I thought I’d share the glory of cover versions that are actually better than the original.
10. Paul Anka – It’s A Sin
Okay, ususally I’m not that much of a Paul Anka fan. But his Rock Swings album is pretty cool. The original is okay (far from being the best song the Pet Shop Boys ever had), but the swing version is just fun.
The Original by the Pet Shop Boys:
Unfortunately, I can’t find a video, but you can listen to it here.
9. The Baseballs – Bleeding Love
I’ve talked about The Baseballs before, a German band who make 50s style cover versions of modern songs. Probably the song where they make the most from the least is Bleeding Love.
The Original by Leona Lewis:
8. Soft Cell – Tainted Love
One of the bands who managed to make the cover so completely their own that most people don’t even know that it is a cover. Though the original isn’t bad.
The Original by Gloria Jones:
Okay, okay, the Eurythmics version is good, and more importantly cult, but Marilyn Manson’s version is a better music-lyrics fit in my opinion. So go bother somebody else.
The Original by the Eurythmics:
6. José González – Heartbeats
José González has a knack for cover versions. [You should also check out his Teardrop version.] But Heartbeats is especially beautiful.
The Original by The Knife:
5. Mark Ronson feat. Daniel Merriweather – Stop Me
Though I love The Smiths dearly, in this case, all the points go to Mark Ronson and Daniel Merriweather who took one of their mediocre songs and made it absolutely awesome.
The Original by The Smiths:
4. Elbow – Independent Women
Okay, who doesn’t love Elbow? You? Do you know them? No? Didn’t think so. ;)
Anyway, here we have the prime example of not only taken a mediocre song and making it better but taking a bad song and making it completely addictive. Have fun (and check out this video as well).
The Original by Destiny’s Child:
No comment needed, I think.
The Original by Britney Spears:
2. Moulin Rouge! – (El Tango de) Roxanne
I might not be completely unbiased here, because for some reason I really don’t like Sting’s voice. But combining Roxanne with a very good Tango rythm (thank you, José Feliciano) and Ewan McGregor‘s singing kills me every time.
The Original by The Police:
1. Johnny Cash – Hurt
Somehow when Johnny Cash sings this song, it seems less emo and more honest than when Trent Reznor sings it (don’t hit me for saying that)! [Trent Reznor scores on the attractiveness meter big time though… if that’s any consolation.]
But in all seriousness, this cover is number one on this list because the original is already really, really, really good. The cover is just a little better. [Maybe it’s also only more poignant because Cash died so shortly after recording it.]
The Original by the Nine Inch Nails: