There are times when a cover of a song improves upon an original, or when an artist takes someone else’s song and gives it a unique spin. Here are my 10 favorite cover songs, in no particular order. What are yours?
1) Whitney Houston- I Will Always Love You
This is one of those songs that for me, I always think of the Whitney version before the Dolly version. I must give Ms. Parton credit for writing a beautiful and bittersweet classic, but Whitney owns this song for me. The power and range in her voice perfectly captures the emotion in the song. And then there’s The Bodyguard.
2) Bon Jovi – Hallelujah
I feel a bit bad for Leonard Cohen. He gets little credit for penning this song, while people debate over the merit of its numerous cover versions, from Rufus Wainright’s to Jeff Buckley’s. Bon Jovi’s cover is a favorite of mine, though. I will admit that I can’t be very objective when it comes to Bon Jovi. However, I love Jon’s expressiveness in this version, as well as the combination of violin and piano. While Buckley’s soulful version is much-lauded, I will say I prefer piano to guitar when it comes to this song.
3) Goo Goo Dolls – American Girl
I was introduced to this song by an old friend who was a huge fan of the Goo Goo Dolls – and I much prefer this version to the original Tom Petty song. They bring great energy to the song, and what can I say, I don’t much care for Tom Petty’s voice.
4) Glee – Fire
I am a Bruce Springsteen fan, but I had never heard of this song until it was performed by Will Schuester and April (Matthew Morrison and Kristen Chenoweth) on an episode of Glee. After searching out the original, I’ve decided that this is one of those rare times when I prefer the cover version, which tweaks the lyrics and perfectly fits the characters and scene.
5) Shinedown – Simple Man
It’s hard to live up to the original Lynyrd Skynrd classic, but I think Shinedown frontman Brent Smith’s voice is perfectly suited to this song. He brings just the right balance of rawness and expression to the song and shows both an amazing vocal range and a skill for dynamics. To me this cover is a reminder of Shinedown’s potential and a hint that they are destined for classics themselves.
6) Goo Goo Dolls- Give a Little Bit
Yet another Goo Goo Dolls track – again one I prefer to the ’80s Supertramp original. The upbeat and energetic music and vocals of this version just better capture the cheer and hopefulness of the lyrics for me.
7) Mariah Carey – I’ll Be There
For some Michael’s songs, and those of the Jackson 5, are untouchable. Admittedly this song is a classic, but I think Mariah’s cover did MJ proud.
8) U2 – Everlasting Love
This song was originally made famous by Robert Knight in 1967 and has since been covered by numerous artists uncluding Carl Carlton, Worlds Apart, and Gloria Estefan. U2 truly “made the song their own” with this version, which features energetic guitar work by the Edge and Bono’s characteristic intense and expressive vocals.
9) Lemonheads – Mrs. Robinson
Another original take on a classic song. The Lemonheads took the mellow 1968 Simon & Garfunkel classic and gave it their own high-energy, punkish interpretation.
10) Sinead O’Connor -Nothing Compares 2 U
Another one of those songs that I think of the Sinead cover before the Prince original. No offense to Prince. However, Sinead’s haunting voice makes this song for me. When she reaches the high notes in the chorus, you can feel the melancholy and longing.