24 Best Song Covers That Are Arguably Better Than The Original

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Music will always be there for us no matter how we are feeling and the best music makes us want to sing along — and this is true for even the most famous artists!

Lucky for us, that often provides some of the best cover songs.

Best Song Covers

In order for a song cover to be good, it has to retain the emotion of the original, but maybe with a more modern twist or sometimes with an acoustic flair.

Here are some of the best song covers arguably better than the original recording that just hit different — and some that we weren’t even aware were covers but can’t think of them sung by anyone else!

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1. “I Will Always Love You” — Whitney Houston

Original Artist: Dolly Parton

Houston popularized this song for the 1992 movie “The Bodyguard,” and it became one of the best-selling singles while also topping the Billboard Hot 100 for fourteen consecutive weeks.

It originally was written by Dolly Parton for her 13th album and was suggested by Houston’s co-star Kevin Costner for her to cover it as a pop ballad for the film.

2. “Respect” — Aretha Franklin

Original Artist: Otis Redding

In 1967, Franklin came out with a song that some might say is one of most empowering songs for women everywhere that told men, "you can have this, but only when you show me respect."

The original version from 1965, however, is not as good, because in this version the singer is demanding his wife show respect as he is the one earning money — not as fun compared to Franklin’s version.

3. “It’s My Life” — No Doubt

Original Artist: Talk Talk

Released along with their Greatest Hits album in 2003, No Doubt’s cover reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 28 weeks and was their 19th single.

This isn’t the first time the song has been covered. The Swedish dance group Gigabyte covered it back in 1995 and gave it a 90s feel, but No Doubt’s version is more popular with the 2000s crowd.

4. “Lady Marmalade” — Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, and Pink

Original Artist: LaBelle

The third cover of this song was the main single from the 2001 film “Moulin Rouge!” and was produced by Missy Elliott, while the original version by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan was written back in 1974 that was later produced for the girl band LaBelle.

Between these two versions, the latter provides a more upbeat song to dance to while also coming off more sultry, but that’s what makes it good.

5. “Valerie” — Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse

Original Artist: The Zutons

Also releasing a live cover around the same time, Winehouse agreed to sing on this version of the cover with a more upbeat style for Ronson’s album “Version” in 2007. What is known as a tune to dance all night to, the original version from 2006 has a more bluesy-rock vibe to it that would fit when the day seems gloomy.

6. “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” — Joan Jett

Original Artist: Arrows

After seeing a performance of the Arrows in 1976 on their weekly UK TV show while in England, Jett recorded her version three years later with members of the Sex Pistols, Steve Jones and Paul Cook to be added as a b-side for her single “You Don’t Own Me”. She then later re-recorded it with her band the Blackhearts and released it in 1981 and it became a U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one single for seven weeks.

7. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” — Cyndi Lauper

Original Artist: Robert Hazard

Lauper released this version as her first single from her debut album “She’s So Unusual.”

The original artist, Robert Hazard, only recorded a demo of it in 1979, but Lauper’s version has become a feminist anthem since its release.

8. “Riptide” — Taylor Swift

Original Artist: Vance Joy

This one was a close call, as Vance Joy’s version has been a very well-received song since its release in 2013. But Swift’s 2014 BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge version, the fourth of eight known covers, gives the song a softer and more bittersweet feeling to a song about coming of age.

9. “Torn” — Natalie Imbruglia

Original Artist: Lis Sørense

One of the many songs that the public didn’t know were covers, Imbruglia released this version as her 1997 debut single. Originally written by Scott Cutler, Anne Preven, and Phil Thornalley in 1993, Torn was re-recorded three times; once by Danish singer Lis Sørense, alternative rock band Ednaswap and then by American-Norwegian singer Trine Rein.

10. “Swingin’ Party” — Lorde

Original Artist: The Replacements

Released initially as a B-side to her second single “Tennis Court” and later in the iTunes Store version of the Love Club EP, Lorde included this version in the extended version of her debut album “Pure Heroine.”

The original version recorded by The Replacements for their 1985 album “Tim” just made sense to cover for Lorde, as it reflects how life is just people going through and putting on a façade, something Lorde had made a point of in her early work.

11. “Twist and Shout” — The Beatles

Original Artist: The Isley Brothers

Another cover that people were surprised was a cover, “Twist and Shout,” was originally written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns (later credited as “Bert Russell”) and was recorded by The Top Notes, but later became a hit with the band The Isley Brothers in 1962. The song then gained more popularity when The Beatles covered it for their first album “Please Please Me.”

12. “Whatta Man” — Salt-N-Pepa

Original Artist: Linda Lyndell

Originally written as “What a Man” by Dave Crawford, it was given to Linda Lyndell in 1968 and reached number 50 on the Billboard R&B chart. Later it was sampled and reinterpreted by Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue in 1993 that is interpreted as a song that celebrates men who care for their families.

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13. “Live And Let Die” — Guns N’ Roses

Original Artist: Paul McCartney and Wings

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Released as a second single from their 1991 album “Use Your Illusion I,” the Guns N’ Roses cover was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1993.

Known as the theme song for the 1973 James Bond film of the same name, the original version was written by Paul McCartney and performed by the British-American rock band Wings.

14. “Heart of Glass” — Miley Cyrus

Original Artist: Blondie

Performed at the 2020 iHeartRadio Music Festival, Cyrus’ cover of “Heart of Glass” gained a lot of attention with fans and others to the point Cyrus released the cover ten days later due to high demand.

Blondie, who wrote and released it as their third single for their third album in 1979, praised Cyrus' cover and stated on social media that she nailed it.

15. “Year 3000” — Jonas Brothers

Original Artist: Busted

Recorded in 2006 for their EP “It’s About Time,” the Jonas Brothers provided a tween anthem that helped boost their popularity after its released.

Most of the younger generation’s childhoods were ruined when it was found that it was actually a cover of the British pop-punk band Busted in 2002, along with notable differences in lyrics between the two ("and your great-great-great-granddaughter is pretty fine" is changed to "doin' fine," "Triple-breasted women swim around town, totally naked" is changed to "girls there, with round hair like Star Wars, float above the floor,” "Everybody bought our seventh album, it had outsold Michael Jackson" is changed to "it had outsold Kelly Clarkson.").

16. "All Along the Watchtower" — Jimi Hendrix

Original Artist: Bob Dylan

After being handed a tape of the original recording, the Jimi Hendrix Experience recorded “All Along the Watchtower” in 1968 and released it as a B-side for “Buring of the Midnight Lamp.”

Originally written by Bob Dylan, the song was written following a motorcycle accident that caused Dylan to stay in his home for 18 months, during which time he spent writing songs.

17. "American Woman" — Lenny Kravitz

Original Artist: The Guess Who

Recorded for the soundtrack of “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” Kravitz included this song in his 1999 reissue of his album “5.”

Compared to the original song written by Canadian rock band The Guess Who in 1970, Kravitz’ version replaced the political themes with more sexual undertones.

18. "Killing Me Softly" — The Fugees

Original Artist: Roberta Flack

Released in 1996, The Fugees along with Lauryn Hill on lead vocals saw major success as the single reached number two on the U.S. airplay chart and won Best R&B Performace by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 1997 Grammy Awards.

The original version of the song was titled “Killing Me Softly with His Song” and was originally written for Lori Lieberman in 1972, but didn't reach popular status until 1973 with Roberta Flack.

19. "Over The Rainbow" — Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

Original Artist: Judy Garland

Sung with a beautiful ukulele medley, Kamakawiwo'ole’s version is known to be paired with moments of overcoming obstacles in life.

What was originally sang as a wish to find a better place by Judy Garland in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,” this cover gives a more peaceful meaning that says “we are now at a time in our life where things are good.”

20. "Proud Mary" — Ike and Tina Turner

Original Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival

The second single off of their 1970 album “Workin’ Together,” this cover by Ike and Tina Turner became one of their most recognizable signature songs. Differing from the original 1969 version by Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Turners' version changed the structure from a mellow, rock sound to a sound that starts off slow but then changes to a fast-paced, “funk-rock vamp.”

21. “Achy Breaky Heart” — Billy Ray Cyrus

Original Artist: The Marcy Brothers

In 1992, Billy Ray Cyrus released this song as his first single from his debut album “Some Give All,” and was met with good success, such as peaking at Number four on the Billboard Hot 100.

Originally written by Don Von Tress, the song was titled “Don’t Tell My Heart” and was sung by The Marcy Brothers in 1991.

22. “Passionfruit” — Paramore

Original Artist: Drake

After covering it on their BBC Radio 1 session, Paramore’s cover of Passionfruit became a staple during touring for their fourth album “After Laughter” and was included in setlists along with performing it during their cruise music festival Parahoy.

Written by Canadian artist Drake, it was released with his mixtape “More Life” and includes vocals from Zoe Kravitz.

23. "The Man Who Sold The World" — Nirvana

Original Artist: David Bowie

After being introduced to the song by Nirvana drummer Chad Channing, Kurt Cobain was surprised that the song was originally sung by David Bowie.

24. “Teenage Dream” — Glee Cast

Original Artist: Katy Perry

Using backup vocals provided by a college male a cappella group The Beelzebubs, this version was used as an introduction to the rival show choir group The Warblers and is one of the most popular covers to come out of the show, as it debuted in the eighth position in the Billboard Hot 100 and remains the third best-selling recording in the show’s history.

Released as the second single off of her third album, Katy Perry wanted to capture what it felt like to be with someone that made her feel so young and free, and her version became her third number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 along with being certified eight times platinum in the U.S.

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Isabell Tenorio is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture, love and relationship topics.