A lot of musicians are famous because they are capable of writing and performing mind-blowing songs, but every now and then an artist comes up who is capable of out-doing the original. Cover songs tend to be some of the hardest songs to make successful. There is a fine line between making the track your own and completely obliterating a classic with your own spin. Here are 10 cover songs by artists who have created versions either up to par or totally surpassing their predecessors.
1. “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana–No offense to David Bowie, but Kurt Cobain just did it better. This cover debuted on MTV’s Unplugged only a couple months before the death of the famous grunge singer and is proof that he deserves all the notoriety he has gained from his music.
2. “Umbrella” by All Time Low–Punk Goes Pop songs are usually hit or miss tracks in my opinion, but this Rihanna cover by All Time Low may just be the best song to come from the series, blowing the original completely out of the water.
3. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Marilyn Manson–Marilyn Manson does a lot of covers, even his name is derived from other people, and he completely owns it. This great macabre version of the 1983 Eurhythmics’ hit is hands down my favorite release from Manson to date.
4. “I Fought the Law” by The Clash–Believe it or not, this is a cover song. In fact it is one of the most covered songs in recorded music. Everyone from Green Day to the Dead Kennedys to the Bobby Fuller Four have performed this track, but it is typically associated with The Clash nowadays.
5. “Take Me to the River” by Talking Heads–This Al Green cover helped popularize the Talking Heads, thus helping to bring art rock into the popular music realm. With the bizarre vocal stylings of David Byrne, “Take Me To The River” is probably just as well-known as TH originals like “Psycho Killer” or “Heaven.”
6. “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” By The Sex Pistols–This track is best known performance-wise for the made-for-TV band, The Monkees, so this punk alternative by The Sex Pistols is probably one of the best ways to shove commercialism in the media’s face. Also, Johnny Rotten has some pretty decent vocals on this track being what it is.
7. “Desolation Row” by My Chemical Romance–Bob Dylan is a phenomenal song writer and MCR does a great job of taking this folky track and making it as Jersey punk as possible. Sounding completely different than the original, this cover was used as one of the main songs for the film adaptation of the graphic novel “Watchmen.”
8. “How You Remind me” by Sum 41–Sum 41 is proof that a Nickelback song can at times sound decent. But the fact that Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley would lose his wife Avril Lavigne to Nickeback’s Chad Kroeger just makes this cover that much stranger.
9. “Wrecking Ball” by Brian Storm and Andrew Baena–I stumbled upon this track on YouTube one day and now refuse to listen to the original because Miley Cyrus should clearly be singing a metal ballad, not a pop song. The fact that this song translates so well into the djent genre is both hilarious and bizarre and I love every second of it.
10. “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” by Travis Barker–Okay, not a full cover, but this drum cover makes this song just so much more hard hitting. Travis Barker is easily one of the greatest modern drummers and this video displays just how skilled and calculated all of his performances are.
Natasha Van Duser
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