HomeAll ListsStaff Profiles

10 Great Cover Songs


We are all in search of those few songs when the artist has perfected the lyrics, rhythm,
and sound.  In order to reach musical perfection all elements of a recording must align.
I have compiled a list of the Top 10 Greatest Cover Songs.

10. Dynamite Hack - Boyz-n-the-Hood
Original Artist: Easy-E

This song was featured on the first solo album released by Easy-E, titled Easy-Duz-It.
Originally written by Ice Cube, the lyrics tell the story of a typical day for Cube.
Dynamite Hack is a group from Texas.  The band got their name from a Caddyshack
reference in which Bill Murray's character is quoted saying "this is some dynamite
hack," when referring to the joint he is smoking.  The band decided to take this
incredibly popular rap hit, slow down the beat, and sing the lyrics.  The satire in this clip
is hilarous.  It paved the way for some other classic covers such as Bitches Ain't Shit by
Ben Folds Five.

9. Faith No More - Easy
Original Artist: Commodores (Lionel Richie)


This song was released by The Commodores in 1977 on the band’s fifth studio album.
The lyrics tell the story of a man who leaves his lover, but instead of being depressed he
titles the break up “easy as a Sunday morning.” Faith No More is a heavy metal band
that was formed in San Francisco during the 80’s.  Lead singer Mike Patton has an
extraordinary vocal range and a unique style, which includes mixing beats with falsetto,
rapping, beat boxing, and rock lyrics.

This is one of the last songs you would ever imagine this band to perform.  It was a risky
marketing decision that subsequently paid off.  With a combination of a Patton’s unique
style and an amazing guitar presence by Jim Martin, this version trumps all others.  It
was released in 1992 and reached #3 on the UK charts.  The video clip was taken from a
live performance on The Tonight Show during the early 90’s. 

8. Ugly Kid Joe - Cat’s in the Cradle

Original Artist: Harry Chapin


This classic single was released on Chapin’s album Verities & Balderdash.  It
topped the U.S. charts in 1974.  It was co-written by Chapin and his wife.
Ugly Kid Joe was an American hard rock band that achieved success in the
early 90’s.  Taking advantage of their blonde hair and Southern California
look, the band seemed to capitalize on Kurt Cobain and the grunge
movement of the time.

Lead singer Whitfield Crane does a great job on this track.  You can hear the
multi-guitar, bass, and drum influence come together.  Ugly Kid Joe’s
version reached #7 on the U.S. and UK charts.  The single sold over 500,000
copies in the U.S.

7. Toots & the Maytals - Take Me Home, Country Roads

Original Artist: John Denver


This song was originally released on John Denver’s 1971 hit album Poems,
Prayers and Promises. It became Denver’s signature song and the University
of West Virginia’s anthem.  “Country Roads” has been performed at every
West Virginia football pre-game rally since 1972. Denver’s performance is
not easily matched, but Toots was up for the challenge.  Toots & the Maytals
are one of the most famous reggae music groups in the world. Originally
from Jamaica, lead singer Frederick Hibbert has a soulful and cheerful
sound to his music.

6. Gary Jules & Michael Andrews - Mad World

Original Artist: Tears for Fears


This song was released in 1982 on Tears for Fears first album The Hurting.  It was a
popular song for the British group and reached the Top 40 in many countries.  The tune
has rather somber lyrics.  Gary Jules & Michael Andrews collaborated on the cover and
it was released on the soundtrack for Donnie Darko.

The duo transformed this song and made it their own.  They stripped it down and got rid
of the quicker pace, various synthesizers, and percussion that Tears for Fears used.  The
song was turned into a ballad that used only a set of piano chords and a cello. This
version was more popular then the original and reached #1 in the UK during 2003.  I
included the original video, which is a great direction and a must see.  Sadly, this song is
so visually compelling that it has become correlated with suicide over the years.

5. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole - Over the Rainbow

Original Artist: Judy Garland


This song was idealized by Judy Garland in the movie The Wizard of Oz.  Garland’s
version of the song is so popular that it was named the #1 song of the century by The
Recording Industry of America.  In 1993, Hawaiian native Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
covered the song on his album Facing Future.  His version of the song has been featured
in many television advertisements, shows, and movies.
With his ukulele, the new sound Israel gave this song is great.  Sadly, Israel died in 1997
after struggling with a life long obesity problem.  He died at age 38 and weighed around
700 pounds.  Israel remains one of the most influential and prized musicians in Hawaii.
His version of Over the Rainbow has a legacy that will not soon be matched.  It has
gained most of its fame after Israel’s death and has become a low-charting best seller.

4. Pearl Jam - Last Kiss

Original Artist: Wayne Cochran & the C.C. Riders’


Wayne Cochran wrote “Last Kiss” in 1962 after an incident in which several
teens were killed in a car accident.  The song did not reach commercial
success until it was covered by J Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers two years
later.  Wilson took the tune to #2 on the charts and earned a gold record.
Pearl Jam's version became their biggest hit single of all time and has been
certified gold.  It reached #2 on the U.S. charts. 
Pearl Jam went back to the
basics for this recording, using only a single drum beat and a simple guitar
riff.  Bassist Jeff Ament is quoted as saying  that it was the minimalist
recording the band has ever done. 

3. The Fugees - Killing me Softly with His Song

Original Artist: Lori Lieberman 


In 1971 Lori Lieberman was the first to record this classic song.  Its lyrics
were inspired by her response to a performance by Don McLean.  It became a
much bigger hit two years later when Roberta Flack covered it.  Flack’s
recording swept the Grammy Awards by winning Song of the Year, Record
of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal.  The Fugees are a New Jersey
based group consisting of lead vocal Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Pras
Michel.  The band blended hip hop, soul, ska, and reggae music.  The
Fugees released a cover of this song on their album The Score.  It was a
massive hit and reached #2 in the U.S. and #1 in the UK.  It was the best
selling single of 1996.

2. Johnny Cash - Hurt

Original Artist: Nine Inch Nails

Click for Original Video

This song was written by front man Trent Reznor and was originally released on the
1994 album The Downward Smile.  Nine Inch Nails is a hard rock group that has been
extremely successful selling more then 30 million records worldwide and winning
multiple Grammy Awards.  While some may not prefer the group’s hard rock theme,
you can’t deny the genius of the lyrics.  Johnny Cash covered this song in 2002, which
was the year before his passing.  Reznor was initially hesitant to lend out his lyrics until
he viewed Cash’s video. Declaring afterwards that “I just lost my girlfriend because that
song is not mine anymore” out of praise for Cash.

1. Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah

Original Artist: Leonard Cohen


Hallelujah is a song originally released on Cohen’s album Various
Positions.  In 1994, singer Jeff Buckley covered the song.  In 2004, his
version was named #259 on Rolling Stones list of the greatest songs of all
time.  It is a great recording and a powerful song.  The lyrics are great and
the song has become a memorial for many, including Jeff Buckley, who
sadly drowned in 1997 after going for a swim in Wolf River Harbor, a
channel of the Mississippi River. Since Buckley’s recording, the song has
received worldwide success and has been featured on the soundtrack of
numerous television shows and movies.  

Honorable Mentions

Youth Group - Forever Young

Original Artist: Alphaville.  “Youth is like diamonds in
the sun, and diamonds are forever young.”

2. Cowboy Junkies - Sweet Jane

Original Artist: Velvet Underground.  This tune just
sounds a bit sexier coming from a female

3. Red Red Wine - UB40

Original Artist: Neil Diamond.  Call it reggae, soul, or
pop, all I know is that it is right on.


4. Snoop Dogg & The Doors - Riders on the Storm

Snoop got in the studio created a beat and mixed his raps
with The Doors classic song.  A must listen for hip hop lovers.


Storm - July 23, 2010

Hell Yeah!  Snoop and Jim:D

Copyright The List Blog-Top 10, All Rights Reserved, Posted May 25, 2009