The best cover versions can truly reinvent a song — sometimes so much so that they become the definitive recordings. One of the greatest modern-day soul ballads, as written by… Black Sabbath? Sure enough, the Ozzy ballad proved the perfect vehicle for the soul singer Charles Bradley to eulogise his mother and generally pour his heart out. It would later be used to convey a different kind of change, on the animated TV series about puberty, Big Mouth. Nobody gave more soul to this oft-recorded Jackson Browne tune than Gregg Allman on his solo debut album, Laid Back. In turn, Browne gave Allman all the world-weariness he ever needed from a lyric. For their self-titled debut album, Chrissie Hynde and producer Nick Lowe give a great Kinks obscurity the Spector-type treatment it deserved in the first place. Plenty of people fell in love with both the cover and Hynde herself, including Ray Davies. Los Lobos gave it a personalised touch by adding the traditional Mexican flourish at the end.
Fall Out Boy - Beat It (Michael Jackson)
Best cover songs of all time ranked
At best it could be transformative, lifting both artist and label into the spotlight. Across four top lists in , Treble made a deep dive into how modern covers albums explored past artists and songs. We also limited musicians to one performance slot each in our countdown, although you may notice certain original artists, sources, and songs showing up multiple times—a testament to their timelessness and versatility. Even without considering some big names you might otherwise expect to find here, live bootlegs, radio-show one-offs, parodies and YouTube home-studio clips, we still managed to wade through and vote on hundreds of well-known and obscure covers. You can hear almost all of those in the embedded Spotify playlist. From gender-switched contexts and wild reinterpretations to faithful renditions and star-powered exposure, descriptions of our essential cover songs—and links to their originals—follow below. Let the debate begin. Originally released in Born to Dance , Penned by the prolifically talented Cole Porter, the track earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Song in , and would go on to become a top ten hit for the Four Seasons some 30 years later. Recording for the cover reportedly took 22 takes to perfect, and it shows.
Marilyn Manson - Sweet Dreams (Eurythmics)
When you hear the lyrics, "I fought the law and the law won," which artist comes to mind? If you're musically inclined, a certain English punk-rock band likely pops into your head. And the crunchy guitar riffs and raw power of "American Woman" probably conjure the image of a flashy rock star and his Flying V guitar. But get this, neither tune was written by the artist you associate the song with. They are just masterful takes on someone else's work. To see how your music knowledge stacks up, we've gathered the 50 best cover songs of all time. Be honest, how many did you think were originals? And for more great music trivia, check out 50 Songs Turning 50 This Year.