Music is definitely not what it used to be. Its evolution has been so expansive that just before you can say ‘Hey’, a year has passed and with it the style and mood of music, as well as the evolution of a whole new genre.
It is in understanding this phenomenon that musicians from different eras who have managed to weather time have survived in the era of dog eating dog competition. I don’t think even American Idol Adam Lambert would ever have dreamed of being nominated for a Grammy Award in the same category as Elton John and Leon Russell. The latter have managed to cross the eras with ease because they stayed true to their own styles, yet they reinvented themselves a bit to make sure they kept up.
In order to see specifically who can stay true to their art without much commitment, I tried an experiment.
I started looking for and listening to the ‘Cover-Version’ tracks of ‘Popular Songs’. While the most recent version may be a cover of songs already covered, the deciding factor thereafter became the “folk song version”. The goal was to see how they could take a popular track that has sunk deep within their fans and really try to improve it, while maintaining their own style.
Many established artists have chosen to do the cover version in their original version or style. According to the investigation, most say that they liked the song as it was and did not consider it fair or necessary to change it. They have always wanted to sing it and they did. As fair as it may sound, I felt like it was cliché and the end product was quite Karaoke. As an example of this, there are 3 artists, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, and Jason Donovan (who are actually on my ‘Favorite Artists List’). As much as I would have liked, none of their song covers made it to my BEST COVER SONGS LIST! (As if they cared !!!!!). Ironically, they each have such a unique and distinct vocal and musical style that I thought they would actually bring a new depth to the original song, but that didn’t quite happen.
So to get started, here is my list of the 50 BEST COVER VERSION SONGS.
To get to this list, I made sure to find and listen to each and every track in its entirety, as well as many more that made it to my top 100. I investigated where the background behind their covers of the songs was possible. He already knew most of the original stuff of his own, so it was easy to see how well they stayed true to his own style.
As a reader and music lover, from the list itself, I could better understand where it came from when I compiled it. I have purposely listed this from 1 to 50 instead of 50 counting down to 1, because I would like to recognize the best versions first.
001 U2- Can’t Help Falling In Love (Cover of an ‘Elvis Presley’ classic)
002 Scissors Sister- Comfortably numb (Cover of the ‘Pink Floyd’ classic)
003 Annie Lennox- Whiter Shade of Pale (‘Procol Harum’ hit cover)
004 A-Ha- Crying In The Rain (‘The Everly Brothers’ hit cover)
005 Taken By Trees- Sweet Child O ‘Mine (Cover of the hit’ GUns N ‘Roses’)
006 Siobhan Magnus- Paint It Black (Cover of ‘The Rolling Stones’ classic)
007 Erasure- Take A Chance (Cover of the hit ‘Abba’)
008 Jason Castro- Hallelujah! (Cover of the hit ‘Leonard Cohen’)
009 Alient Ant Farm- Smooth Criminal (Cover of Michael Jackson’s hit)
010 Chantal Kreviazuk- Leaving at a Jet Place (Cover of the hit of ‘John Denver’)
011 Paul Anka- Jump (Cover of the classic ‘Valen Halen’)
012 Gypsy Kings- Hotel California (Cover of ‘The Eagles’ classic)
013 UB40- Can’t Help Falling In Love (Cover of an ‘Elvis Presley’ classic)
014 Atomic Kitten – The Tide Is High (Cover of a hit from ‘Blondie’)
015 Tina Turner- Help! (Cover of the classic ‘The Beatles’)
016 Sinead O ‘Connor-Sacrifice (Cover of an’ Elton John ‘hit)
017 Suggs- Cecelia (Cover of the classic ‘Simon & Garfunkel’)
018 Pet Shop Boys – Always On My Mind (Cover of an ‘Elvis Presley’ classic)
019 Whitney Houston- I will always love you (Cover of the ‘Dolly Parton Classic)
020 No Mercy- D’yer Mak’r (Cover of the hit of ‘Led Zeppelin’)
021 Madonna- American Pie (Don McLean Classic Cover)
022 Susan Boyle- Wild Horses (Cover of the hit of ‘The Rolling Stones’)
023 Green Day- Working Class Hero (Cover of the classic ‘John Lennon’)
024 Roxy Music- Jealous Guy (Cover of the classic ‘John Lennon’)
025 Faith No More – Easy (Cover of the hit ‘Lionel Richie’)
026 Pet Shop Boys – I still haven’t found what I’m looking for (‘U2’ hit cover)
027 Kris Allen- Heartless (Cover of the hit of ‘Kanye West’)
028 Ronan Keating – If Tomorrow Never Comes (‘Garth Brooks’ hit cover)
029 Erasure- Want You (Cover of the hit of ‘Abba’)
030 Fine Young Cannibals – Suspicious Minds (Cover of an ‘Elvis Presley’ Classic)
031 UB40- I Got U Babe (Cover of the classic ‘Sonny & Cher’)
032 Billy Ocean- Long & Winding Road (Cover of the classic of ‘The Beatles’)
033 The Lemonheads- Mrs. Robinson (Cover of the hit of ‘Simon & Garfunkel’)
034 Geri Halliwel – It’s Raining Men (‘The Weather Girls’ hit cover)
035 Garth Brooks- Shameless (‘Billy Joel’ hit cover)
036 Saigon Kick- Space Oddity (‘David Bowie’ hit cover)
037 Bangles- Hazy Shade Of Winter (Cover of the hit of ‘Simon & Garfunkel’)
038 Red Hot Chili Peppers – Higher Ground (‘Stevie Wonder’ hit cover)
039 Gareth Gates – Unchained Melody (Cover of ‘The Righteous Brothers’ Classic)
040 Seether- Careless Whispers (Cover of the hit ‘Wham!’)
041 Bill Medley- Like a woman (Cover of the classic ‘Bob Dylan’)
042 Metallica- You Really Got Me (Cover of the classic from ‘The Kinks’)
043 George Michael- Killer / Papa Was A Rolling Stone (Cover of the Motown classic ‘The Temptations’)
044 Aerosmith- Come Together (Cover of the classic of ‘The Beatles’)
045 Jeff Buckley- Hallelujah! (Cover of the hit ‘Leonard Cohen’)
046 Tom Jones- Kiss (Cover of the hit of ‘Prince & The Revolution’)
047 Mr. Big- Wild World (Cover of the hit of ‘Cat Stevens’)
048 UB40- Red Red Wine (Cover of a song by ‘Neil Diamond’)
049 Limp Bizkit- Behind Blue Eyes (Cover of the classic ‘The Who’)
050 Crystal Bowersox- Me & Bobby McGee (‘Kris Kristofferson’ classic cover)
Now these 50 are not necessarily in the book of best covered songs. Its ‘BEST’ status in ‘my books’ is defined on the basis of a popular song performed by another artist who adapted his own style and created his own interpretation of the single. With it, he not only created a beautiful musical peace, but also respected and paid tribute to the original artist or the successful artist through his own interpretation of the song.