Miscellaneous Articles

Cover Songs That Are More Popular Than The Original Version

Cover Songs That Are More Popular Than The Original Version

Cover songs are a common phenomenon in the music industry. Sometimes, artists pay tribute to their influences by recording their own versions of songs they admire. Other times, they reinterpret a song in a different genre or style, giving it a new twist. And occasionally, they discover a hidden gem that was overlooked or forgotten by the original artist or the public.

In some cases, a cover song becomes so popular that it eclipses the original version and becomes the definitive one for most listeners They can reach a wider audience, achieve higher chart positions, win more awards, or simply resonate more with the listeners. This can happen for various reasons, such as the cover artist’s popularity, the quality of the production, the timing of the release, or the emotional impact of the performance.

We all love a good cover song, especially when it adds something new or unexpected to the original. Whether it’s because of a different genre, a better vocal performance, or a clever twist, these cover songs managed to outshine their predecessors and make a lasting impression on music history.

Here are some examples of cover songs that became more popular than their originals, and why they succeeded.

“I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston (original by Dolly Parton)

This is probably one of the most famous examples of a cover song that eclipsed the original. Dolly Parton wrote and recorded “I Will Always Love You” in 1973 as a farewell to her mentor and partner Porter Wagoner, who she was leaving to pursue a solo career. The song was a country hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart twice, in 1974 and 1982.

However, it was Whitney Houston’s version that made the song a global phenomenon. Houston recorded “I Will Always Love You” for the soundtrack of her film debut The Bodyguard in 1992, with producer David Foster. She transformed the song from a country ballad to a soulful pop anthem, showcasing her powerful vocals and emotional delivery. The song was a massive success, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks, becoming the best-selling single by a female artist in history, and winning two Grammy Awards.

Houston’s version is widely regarded as one of the greatest songs of all time, and one of the most iconic performances in pop history. Parton herself praised Houston’s rendition, saying “She can have the credit. I just want my cash.”

“Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley (original by Leonard Cohen)

Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is one of the most covered songs ever, with over 300 versions recorded by various artists. The song was first released on Cohen’s 1984 album Various Positions, but it did not receive much attention at the time. It was only after John Cale recorded a cover for a Cohen tribute album in 1991 that the song gained more exposure.

However, it was Jeff Buckley’s version that made “Hallelujah” a modern classic. Buckley recorded his cover for his 1994 album Grace, based on Cale’s arrangement. He added his own touches, such as changing some lyrics and adding a guitar solo. His rendition was haunting and mesmerizing, capturing the spiritual and sexual themes of the song with his angelic voice and delicate guitar playing.

Buckley’s version became widely popular after his tragic death in 1997, and was featured in many films and TV shows. It also inspired many other artists to cover the song, such as Rufus Wainwright, k.d. lang, and Alexandra Burke. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Buckley’s version as number 259 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

“Respect” by Aretha Franklin (original by Otis Redding)

Otis Redding wrote and recorded “Respect” in 1965 as a plea from a man to his woman for recognition and appreciation. The song was a modest hit, reaching number four on the Billboard R&B chart and number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100.

However, it was Aretha Franklin’s version that made “Respect” an anthem of empowerment and civil rights. Franklin recorded her cover in 1967 with producer Jerry Wexler and her sisters Carolyn and Erma as backup singers. She changed some lyrics and added some elements, such as spelling out R-E-S-P-E-C-T and adding the line “Sock it to me”. Her version was a fiery and defiant declaration of self-respect and dignity from a woman to her man.

Franklin’s version was a huge hit, reaching number one on both the Billboard R&B and Hot 100 charts, winning two Grammy Awards, and becoming her signature song. It also became a symbol of the feminist movement and the Black struggle for equality in the 1960s.

“All Along The Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix (original by Bob Dylan)

Bob Dylan wrote and recorded “All Along The Watchtower” in 1967 for his album John Wesley Harding. The song was a cryptic and poetic tale of two characters, the joker and the thief, who witness the chaos and corruption of the world from a watchtower. The song was a minor hit, reaching number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.

However, it was Jimi Hendrix’s version that made “All Along The Watchtower” a rock masterpiece. Hendrix recorded his cover in 1968 with his band The Jimi Hendrix Experience and producer Eddie Kramer. He added his own touches, such as rearranging the verses, changing some lyrics, and adding a guitar intro and outro. His version was a sonic explosion, featuring his virtuosic and innovative guitar playing, his expressive vocals, and his psychedelic sound effects.

Hendrix’s version was a bigger hit, reaching number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and number six on the UK Singles Chart. It also became one of his most acclaimed and influential songs, and one of the greatest guitar songs of all time. Dylan himself was impressed by Hendrix’s rendition, saying “It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent; he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them.”

“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Joan Jett (original by Arrows)

Arrows were a British rock band that recorded “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” in 1975 as a B-side for their single “Broken Down Heart”. The song was a catchy and upbeat tribute to rock music, but it did not receive much attention at the time.

However, it was Joan Jett’s version that made “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” a rock anthem. Jett first heard the song when she saw Arrows perform it on their TV show in 1976. She recorded her own version in 1979 with Steve Jones and Paul Cook from the Sex Pistols, but it was not released until 1981 when she formed her own band The Blackhearts. Her version was a hard-hitting and rebellious statement of her love for rock music and her attitude towards life.

Jett’s version was a huge hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time, and winning two American Music Awards. It also became her signature song and one of the most iconic songs in rock history.

“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor (original by Prince/The Family)

Prince wrote “Nothing Compares 2 U” in 1984 for his side project The Family, a funk band that featured his protégés St. Paul Peterson and Susannah Melvoin. The song was a melancholic and soulful ballad about missing a lover, but it was not released as a single and remained obscure.

However, it was Sinead O’Connor’s version that made “Nothing Compares 2 U” a pop classic. O’Connor recorded her cover in 1990 for her second album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, with producer Nellee Hooper. She changed some lyrics and added some elements, such as an orchestral arrangement and a spoken word section. Her version was an emotional and powerful expression of her heartbreak and loneliness, enhanced by her distinctive voice and shaved head.

O’Connor’s version was a huge hit, topping the charts in many countries, winning three MTV Video Music Awards, and becoming one of the best-selling singles of the 1990s. It also became one of the most memorable songs and videos of all time.

These are just some examples of cover songs that became more popular than their originals. There are many more out there, waiting to be discovered or rediscovered by music lovers. Sometimes, it takes a different artist to bring out the full potential of a song, or to give it a new meaning or relevance for a new generation. And sometimes, it just takes a good ear to recognize a good song when you hear it.

Cover Songs That Are More Popular Than The Original Version. Here are some more examples:

“One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” by George Thorogood And The Destroyers (1977)

The original: A blues song by Amos Milburn (1953) and popularized by John Lee Hooker (1966).

The cover: A hard-rocking medley of three different songs by George Thorogood and his band, featuring his signature slide guitar and raspy voice.

Why it’s better: Thorogood’s version is more energetic, catchy, and humorous than the original, and captures the spirit of a drunken night out.

“Piece Of My Heart” by Big Brother And The Holding Company (1968)

The original: A soul song by Erma Franklin (1967), the sister of Aretha Franklin.

The cover: A psychedelic rock song by Big Brother And The Holding Company, featuring the powerful vocals of Janis Joplin.

Why it’s better: Joplin’s version is more raw, passionate, and emotional than the original, and showcases her incredible range and expression.

“Lake Of Fire” by Nirvana (1994)

The original: A country song by Meat Puppets (1984), an influential alternative rock band.

The cover: A grunge song by Nirvana, recorded live for their MTV Unplugged performance.

Why it’s better: Nirvana’s version is more haunting, dark, and intense than the original, and features Kurt Cobain’s distinctive voice and guitar style.

“Hard To Handle” by The Black Crowes (1990)

The original: A soul song by Otis Redding (1968), one of the most influential singers of all time.

The cover: A rock song by The Black Crowes, a revivalist band inspired by classic rock and blues.

Why it’s better: The Black Crowes’ version is more upbeat, groovy, and fun than the original, and features Chris Robinson’s charismatic vocals and Rich Robinson’s catchy guitar riff.

“Proud Mary” by Ike and Tina Turner (1971)

The original: A rock song by Creedence Clearwater Revival (1969), one of the most successful bands of the late 1960s.

The cover: A soul song by Ike and Tina Turner, a legendary duo known for their dynamic stage presence and turbulent relationship.

Why it’s better: Ike and Tina Turner’s version is more funky, energetic, and soulful than the original, and features Tina Turner’s amazing vocals and dance moves.

“Cocaine” by Eric Clapton (1977)

The original: A blues song by JJ Cale (1976), a respected singer-songwriter and guitarist.

The cover: A rock song by Eric Clapton, one of the most influential guitarists of all time.

Why it’s better: Eric Clapton’s version is more catchy, smooth, and addictive than the original, and features his signature guitar solo and vocals.

“Hurt” by Johnny Cash (2002)

The original: A rock song by Nine Inch Nails (1994), a bleak confession of self-hatred and addiction.

The cover: A country song by Johnny Cash, a poignant reflection on mortality and regret.

Why it’s different: Johnny Cash’s version is more poignant, sincere, and moving than the original, and features his aged voice and simple acoustic guitar. He also changed the lyrics to make them more personal and religious.

“I Fought the Law” by The Clash (1979)

The original: A rockabilly song by The Crickets (1959), the band that backed Buddy Holly.

The cover: A punk rock song by The Clash, one of the most influential bands of the genre.

Why it’s better: The Clash’s version is more rebellious, energetic, and catchy than the original, and features their distinctive sound and attitude.

“Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia (1997)

The original: A rock song by Ednaswap (1995), an alternative rock band from Los Angeles.

The cover: A pop song by Natalie Imbruglia, an Australian singer and actress.

Why it’s better: Natalie Imbruglia’s version is more catchy, emotional, and relatable than the original, and features her sweet voice and the memorable video.

“Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley (1956)

The original: A blues song by Big Mama Thornton (1953), a sassy rebuke to a cheating lover.

The cover: A rock and roll song by Elvis Presley, a playful taunt to a lazy lover.

Why it’s different: Elvis Presley’s version is more energetic, fun, and catchy than the original, and features his hip-swaying performance and rockabilly style. He also changed the lyrics to make them more humorous and less explicit.

“Twist And Shout” by The Beatles (1963)

The original: A rhythm and blues song by The Top Notes (1961), an upbeat invitation to dance.

The cover: A rock and roll song by The Beatles, an energetic celebration of dance.

Why it’s different: The Beatles’ version is more lively, loud, and infectious than the original, and features John Lennon’s raspy vocals and the band’s harmonies. They also changed the lyrics to make them catchier and more memorable.

Cover Songs That Are More Popular Than The Original Version

Some cover songs are successful in the same genre because they bring a new voice, a new interpretation, or a new appeal to the original song. Here are some examples of cover songs that were successful in the same genre:

“With A Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker (1968)

The original: A pop-rock song by The Beatles (1967), a cheerful tune sung by Ringo Starr.

The cover: A blues-rock song by Joe Cocker, a soulful rendition sung with his raspy voice.

Why it’s similar: Joe Cocker’s version is still a pop-rock song, but with more blues and soul influences. He also kept the basic melody and structure of the song, but added some improvisations and variations.

“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye (1968)

The original: A soul song by Gladys Knight & The Pips (1967), a fast-paced and upbeat version of the Motown classic.

The cover: A soul song by Marvin Gaye, a slow and sensual version of the Motown classic.

Why it’s similar: Marvin Gaye’s version is still a soul song, but with more funk and psychedelic elements. He also kept the lyrics and the chorus of the song, but changed the tempo and the mood.

“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Guns N’ Roses (1990)

The original: A folk-rock song by Bob Dylan (1973), a simple and poignant ballad from the soundtrack of Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid.

The cover: A hard rock song by Guns N’ Roses, a powerful and epic anthem from the soundtrack of Days Of Thunder.

Why it’s similar: Guns N’ Roses’ version is still a rock song, but with more distortion and aggression. They also kept the lyrics and the melody of the song, but added some guitar solos and vocal harmonies.

“Smooth Criminal” by Alien Ant Farm (2001)

The original: A pop-funk song by Michael Jackson (1987), a catchy and danceable hit from his album Bad.

The cover: A pop-punk song by Alien Ant Farm, a playful and energetic tribute to the King of Pop.

Why it’s similar: Alien Ant Farm’s version is still a pop-funk song, but with more punk and rock influences. They also kept the lyrics and the chorus of the song, but changed the instrumentation and the style.

“Valerie” by Amy Winehouse (2007)

The original: A indie-pop song by The Zutons (2006), a quirky and catchy tune from their album Tired Of Hanging Around.

The cover: A soul-pop song by Amy Winehouse, a smooth and sultry version produced by Mark Ronson.

Why it’s similar: Amy Winehouse’s version is still a pop song, but with more soul and jazz influences. She also kept the lyrics and the melody of the song, but changed the arrangement and the tone.

Cover Songs That Are More Popular Than The Original Version

Related Posts