Cover Songs That Are As Good If Not Better Than The Originals


It’s always great when you find a song you love. It seems to jam in time with everything else going on around you. Possibly the only thing better is when you hear a song you love redone, and redone well. When it goes wrong you could almost punch somebody for ruining your song. When it goes right you want to hunt that person down and give them a high five (or that could just be me). Either way we’ve put together this list of musicians who got it right and have made covers of songs that are just as good (and in some instances better) than the originals.

Hurt by Johnny Cash

Originally by Nine Inch Nails

The original of this song by NIN was haunting and unsettling in the way it was supposed to as a breakup song, almost making a promise to the listener. This cover by the great Johnny Cash turned the song into a powerful lament and warning.

Bad Moon Rising by Mourning Ritual

Originally by Creedance Clearwater Revival

When John Fogerty originally did this song with CCR it was so upbeat and chipper that I didn’t even realize what the lyrics where saying the first time I listened. The cover by Mourning Ritual made this song creepy (in a good way) and all the sudden I didn’t want to go outside during the bad moon. OH CRAP THERE’S SOMETHING OUT THERE!

The Sound Of Silence by Disturbed

Originally by Simon & Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel made a classic with this song. But my critique of the song was always the lyrics and message of the song were much more powerful than what I got from the original. When Disturbed released their cover I learned two things: first David Draiman is no joke as a vocalist, second was the true potential of this song. The metal band added a level of grit to the song that I’d always thought it lacked.

Hold On I’m Coming by Welshly Arms

Originally by Sam & Dave

I’ve always loved the original of this song. It’s a great love song and in classic mo-town fashion. The revamp by Welshly Arms does a great job of just bringing it a modern rock sound. While the original makes me think a love song, the cover is more a clarion call (which is why I almost got a speeding ticket listening to it while driving, you’ve been warned).

Rocket Man by Maynard James Keenan

Originally by Elton John

This is another where the original was a favorite of mine. When Maynard James Keenan (singer for Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Pucifer) did this cover it did a great a job of giving the song that modern touch while staying very similar in feel of the original. His addition of some more synthetic sounds and the slight distortion to his voice just added to the musical journey of being in space.

I Will Survive by Cake

Originally by Gloria Gaynor

“I Will Survive” is an iconic groovy female empowerment song. That’s right Gloria, you will survive! Kick his lame butt to the curb and move on! Decades later and Cake redid this song and gave it a little edge with some swearing and the electric guitar. Though to be honest the song did not need these things it’s still a great re-imagining of a classic song.


If I Ain’t Got You by James Bay

Originally by Alicia Keys

“If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys was/is a phenomenal R&B love song. It has that solid groove, the brass accompaniment, and of course Alicia Keys vocals. In the words of Lewis Armstrong, “it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing,” and this song had it in spades. But James Bay did an amazing job of moving the song over to the blues genre and keeping that R&B soul, while keeping the song minimal with just his guitar, minimal percussion backup, and his vocals.

Ain’t No Sunshine by John Mayer Trio

Originally by Bill Withers

“Ain’t No Sunshine” is one of my favorite songs of all time. Bill Withers was the best at writing love songs that had a sad twist to them (take “Use Me” or “Better Off Dead”.) This song is a favorite of mine because of the hope it has that the lover will return and rescue him from the plight of being without her, knowing he’d been what had probably driven her away in the first place. So what genre is better to sing this type of song then the blues. And John Mayer Trio makes an incredible cover which has enough soul and swing to rival Bill Withers himself (in my humble opinion.)

Creep by Scott Bradlees Post Modern Jukebox (feat. Hailey Reinhart)

Originally by Radiohead

Growing up this song it was the great embodiment of pubescent awkwardness, and seeing those people that seemed to skip through unscathed. The song was angsty and longing but the cover by Post Modern Jukebox with Hailey Reinhart becomes a beautiful serenade. Plus Hailey Reinhart has incredible vocal talent that can keep that edgy distortion in her voice when she wants to create emotion in the song. The band itself made a phenomenal transposition of the song from a 90’s grunge band to 50’s style crooners piece. Honestly I could have put almost any song this band has done in this playlist but you’ll just have to check out their stuff yourself.

Where is My Mind by Maxence Cyrine

Originally by the Pixies

“Where is My Mind” was another iconic song from the 90’s. The song had a grunge/brit-invasion style and the band itself was incredibly quirky (to say the least). So the cover by Maxence Cyrine becomes an incredible cover for the fact that it’s simply a piano. It’s one of the few covers that I like better than the original, but I imagine if you’d never heard the Pixies do it first you wouldn’t think all that much of it.

Nothing Else Matters by Lissie

Originally by Metallica

Besides being a song many guitarist learn to play early on, “Nothing Else Matters” is a classic Metallica song with strong distortion, excellent lyrics, and the usual growl from James Hetfield. What’s incredible to me about the cover by Lissie is that although it’s a “softer” song (very little distortion to the guitar, and vocalist Lissie Maurus doesn’t have a growl) it still keeps a surprising amount of effect and strength. All in all it’s a solid reincarnation of Metallica.

Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You by Muse

Originally by Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons

The original doo-wop love song by Frankie Valli is another classic love song. Happy, up-beat, and full promises to love forever. What I love about the Muse cover is the energy it adds to the song.