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May 3, 2010

Top 16 Favorite Cover Songs

Tags: alien ant farm, , andrew garcia, Boyce Avenue, chris cornell, chris daughtry, david cook, dynamite hack, glen hansard, janis joplin, jason mraz, jeff buckley, jimi hendrix, johnny cash, kris allen, , muse, nirvana, over the rainbow, seether, smashing pumpkins, whitney houston

I’ve always been fascinated with cover songs – when one artist does their version of a song another made famous.

For me, seeking out covers has  exposed me to new songs and artists,  and even new genres of music.  A new slant on an old song shows creativity and artistry, and says as much about the coverer as it does about the coveree.

So I present to you, my Top 16 Cover Songs!

[Notes: Some people say that artists can cover their own songs.  An example being Eric Clapton's unplugged version of "Layla."  While these alternative versions are awesome, they are not covers in my book.  You'll notice some bands you may not be familiar with.  Feel free to look up their versions!  Also, American Idol performances get their own "Honorable Mention" catgory. Glee performances aren't eligible, as are tribute movies, like "I Am Sam" or "Across the Universe." Also, this is my list of my favorites. It's biased. Put your favorites in the comments! And you can look up the original doesn't matter because these versions are so good!]

American Idol Honorable Mentions

“Straight Up” by Andrew Garcia

“Eleanor Rigby” by David Cook

“Hemorrhage” by Chris Daughtry – In my opinion, THE rockstar making performance of his career.

“Heartless” by Kris Allen – Making a Kanye song sound like your own is no easy feat.

And here we go with the Top 16!

16 – “Smooth Criminal” by Alien Ant Farm – Are you OK, Annie????

15 – “Boyz In Tha Hood” by Dynamite Hack – Apologies for the language, but this is pure brilliance.

14 – “Careless Whisper” by Seether

13 – “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

12 – “The Man Who Sold The World” by Nirvana

11 – “Feelin’ Good” by Muse

10 – “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley

9 – “Billie Jean” by Chris Cornell – Raw emotion…incredible.

8 – “All Night Long” by Jason Mraz – One of the most fun songs made even more fun!

7 – “Cry Me A River” by Glen Hansard – Sounds like it was written for his voice.

6 – “All Along The Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix

5 – “Landslide” by Smashing Pumpkins – I LOVE this song and Corgan’s sad voice makes it even better.

4 – “Hurt” by Johnny Cash – A lifetime of pain comes through in this version.

3 – “Umbrella” by Boyce Avenue – Never heard of them? Jump on the bandwagon! I can’t stress the awesomeness of this group any more. Take a listen!

2 – “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin

1 – “Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – The. Best.

Popularity: 36% [?]

  • Woah! Great list. Love the Chris Cornell Billie Jean cover. Very well done!
  • Agree with lots of these!

    RE: "Umbrella" - I cannot stand when Rihanna sings it but I love basically every cover I have ever heard of this song. Check out Marie Digby's version.

    And yay for Jason Mraz, he is my absolute favorite. He does lots and lots of covers.
  • mistykhan
    Great list, Mike!
  • stephmajercik
    Definite yes to Alien Ant Farm! I also like Rascal Flatts version of "Life is a Highway"
  • MattLaCasse
    GAH!!! I was just telling my wife last night how much I hate Rascal Flatts and how much they butchered that song!
  • stephmajercik
    I hear that a lot actually. I think its a fun song and that they did a good job with it. But then again I am a huge Rascal Flatts/country fan as well. :P
  • Justin
    My favorite cover of Umbrella, by the baseballs.

  • MattLaCasse
    The only beef I have with this list is that Dynamite Hack isn't higher on it. Not only is that cover absolutely fantastic, the entire album is arguably one of my favorites over the last 15 years or so. Just pure brilliance.

    Also, Hendrix' cover of "All Along The Watchtower" is so good I always forget it's a cover. Not sure this deserves to have a spot in the Top 16 (as Dan Patrick might say, if you put this in, who are you taking out?) RHCP covered Hendrix' "Fire" at Woodstock in '99 and it's long been one of my favorites. Please pardon Flea's nakedness throughout:

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