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10 Best Cover Songs According to the Discogs Community

This list of incredible cover songs features music reimagined by Devo, John Coltrane, and Nirvana.

Since the earliest days of radio, the cover song has played a huge role in the way we experience music. Up until the late 1960s, professional songwriters and cover songs were responsible for much of the material that was being released. The success of groups like The Beatles and The Beach Boys helped usher in a new era where bands focused more on original music, but the cover song has remained a sonic fixture as musicians forever reimagine others’ works. 

Many artists have scored massive hits because they repackaged a more obscure song for mass consumption. Other artists have sparked spirited conversations about musical influences or which version of a song is the definitive one. In some cases, fans will side with the cover, as artists put a fresh twist on a classic or use the latest recording technology to elevate a song and give it new life. 

That’s why Discogs decided to pose the question: What cover is better than the original song?

By asking social media fans on Facebook, X / Twitter, and Instagram, and compiling the answers with the most “like” reactions, this list of the best cover songs was completely decided upon by the Discogs Community.

Dive into the list of best cover songs below and make sure to weigh in on Facebook, X / Twitter, or Instagram as Discogs continues to ask the community for music recommendations.

10. “Always On My Mind”
by Pet Shop Boys

Always On My Mind
Pet Shop Boys
Electronic, Pop, Synth-pop
Vinyl, 7″, Single, 45 RPM

First recorded in 1972 by Brenda Lee, cover versions of “Always On My Mind” by Elvis Presley, John Wesley Ryles, and Willie Nelson all became top 20 country hits. When performing at an event honoring Elvis on the 10th anniversary of his death, the Pet Shop Boys covered “Always On My Mind” and the response was so positive that they decided to record it as a single. Their hi-NRG/dance-pop take on the track has inspired many fans to declare it as the best version of the iconic song.

9. “Valerie”
by Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse

Soul, Jazz, Pop
Mark Ronson
Jazz, Rock, Pop, Jazz-Funk
2 x Vinyl, Album, Reissue

The original version of this song was released in 2006 by UK indie rock group The Zutons. Once the song climbed the charts, it caught the ear of Amy Winehouse, even though she famously only listened to older music. Winehouse was invited to collaborate with Mark Ronson on a retro-inspired cover version of a modern song and she suggested “Valerie.” At first, Ronson couldn’t quite hear her voice singing the song in his head. Luckily, she tried it in the studio and proved that a soul and jazz interpretation of the song could take “Valerie” to new heights.

8. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
by Devo

New Wave
Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
Rock, New Wave
Vinyl, Album, Limited Edition, Reissue

The Devo version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is so different from the original Rolling Stones version that the band was told that they needed Mick Jagger’s blessing before they could include the song on their debut album. The band met with Jagger and once the stoic singer got up and started doing his iconic rooster strut, Devo knew that their spastic yet robotic new wave rendition of the song was destined for greatness. By embracing the power of the music video early on and performing the single on Saturday Night Live, Devo went from being big in the Midwest to attracting large crowds all over the United States.

7. “My Favorite Things”
by John Coltrane

My Favorite Things
John Coltrane
Jazz, Hard Bop, Modal
Vinyl, Album, Reissue, Remastered, Deluxe Edition

“My Favorite Things” was originally written for the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. John Coltrane released a 14-minute version in E minor on an album of the same name in 1961. An edited version went on to become a radio hit and the song became a bonafide modal jazz classic. Beyond the warm fan reception the song has received over the years, Coltrane himself described his eastern-influenced interpretation of “My Favorite Things” as his favorite piece that he ever recorded.

6. “Tainted Love”
by Soft Cell

Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret
Soft Cell
Electronic, Synth-pop, New Wave
Vinyl, Album, Reissue

Originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964, “Tainted Love” experienced a resurgence in the UK’s Northern soul club scene of the early 1970s. In 1976, Jones recorded another version with Marc Bolan as producer, but the song failed to chart. Marc Almond came across the song as it made its way through the clubs and his band Soft Cell began to perform the song live. The Soft Cell version features a different key, slower tempo, and use of synthesizers and rhythm machines. The moody synth-pop reimagining became a monumental hit and made Soft Cell a worldwide sensation.

5. “Hallelujah”
by Jeff Buckley

Alternative Rock
Jeff Buckley
Vinyl, Reissue

Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is a masterpiece, but the song didn’t receive wider attention until years after its release. John Cale’s cover in 1991 helped the song reach new audiences and this version inspired Jeff Buckley to put his own spin on it. Cohen’s poetic lyrics and idea that different types of hallelujahs exist have led to different interpretations of the song, with Buckley’s being one of the most sorrowful and sensual. The Buckley version continues to be so universally acclaimed that the Library Of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry in 2014.

4. “Hurt”
by Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash’s final albums were full of cover songs, but none were as impactful as his take on the classic Nine Inch Nails track “Hurt.” The song is regarded as one of Nine Inch Nails’ finest achievements and Trent Reznor was skeptical when first asked about Cash covering the deeply personal song. Once he spent more time with the cover and saw the heart-wrenching music video, Reznor realized how sincere and powerful Cash’s acoustic version was — so much so that he said “that song isn’t mine anymore.”

3. “Nothing Compares 2 U”
by Sinéad O’Connor

Alternative Rock, Pop

Prince wrote “Nothing Compares 2 U” for The Family, a band that released one album on Paisley Park Records in 1985. Eclipsed by the other material that Prince was writing and releasing at the time, the song and the album it appeared on never really took off. When Sinéad O’Connor decided to cover the song on her sophomore album, it became an international hit. With a new arrangement in the key of F major, O’Connor made the song her own and will forever be remembered for the ethereal beauty of “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

2. “The Man Who Sold The World”
by Nirvana

Alternative Rock
MTV Unplugged In New York
Vinyl, Reissue, Remastered, 180g

David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World” reached a whole new generation when Nirvana performed it during their MTV Unplugged performance in 1993. Even with incredible performances of the song over the years, the song wasn’t considered an essential Bowie track at the time. Nirvana’s stripped-down version was full of heart and its haunting feel was later heightened by the tragic death of Kurt Cobain. Now, the song stands as one of Bowie’s and Nirvana’s best.

1. “All Along The Watchtower”
by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Electric Ladyland
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Rock, Blues Rock, Psychedelic Rock
2 x Vinyl, Album, Reissue, Remastered

Initially released by Bob Dylan in 1967, it’s the Jimi Hendrix Experience cover version that has become the most recognizable rendition of “All Along The Watchtower.” Hendrix was a big Dylan fan and covered multiple songs of his during his career, but “All Along The Watchtower” is the best example of him taking a song and transforming it. The reinterpretation is full of intoxicating guitar solos and an urgency that complements the song’s bleak lyrics. Dylan himself was so moved by the Hendrix version that he has pulled influence from it for his own live performances.


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