The Top 100 Cover Songs

Top 100 Cover Songs

top 100 cover songs Blur90. Blur, “Maggie May” (1992)

Originally released by Rod Stewart, 1971

Known best for the upbeat rock anthem “Song 2,” Blur met in the middle on their version of Rod Stewart’s love ballad to a girl named Maggie, sounding a heck of a lot like the musical child of The Beatles and Wilco. Originally recorded for a British charity compilation called Ruby Trax, the band brought it into their catalog as a B-side for Modern Life is Rubbish single “Chemical World.” – Virginia Croft


top 100 cover songs Sufjan89. Sufjan Stevens, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” (2006)

Traditional, recordings exist at least since 1922

Before he became archdiocese of death, or a neon electro dance maestro, or even a 50 states cheerleader, Sufjan Stevens was a humble choir boy. In 2001 Stevens began releasing traditional Christmas music, and “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is the crown jewel of the collection. Armed with nothing but a banjo and his transcendent voice, Sufjan conjures up the ghosts of precious blood with humility and grace. – Wesley Whitacre


88-100088. 1,000 Homo DJs, “Supernaut” (1990)

Originally released by Black Sabbath, 1970

1,000 Homo DJs was originally conceived as an outtake outlet for The Land of Rape and Honey, but the Ministry side project is most notably remembered for its hyper-inflated version of Black Sabbath’s “Supernaut,” a highlight of Sabbath’s Vol. 4. The cover spins a delightfully late-’80s take on this favorite of Frank Zappa and John Bonham, filled with hints of the industrial rock path Ministry were set to pave. It’s not just an homage to Black Sabbath’s original recording, but an almost wistful reflection of rock music’s psychedelic subculture in the 1970s. – Patrick Pilch


top 100 cover songs Sid Vicious87. Sid Vicious, “My Way” (1978)

Originally released by Claude François, 1967

It’s tempting to cast this off as a trite emblem of punk contempt and junkie-death cliché. But, God help us, it worked, especially juxtaposed with Frank Sinatra’s definitive, vainglorious version. Vicious’ selective lyric substitutions (“I killed a cat!”) are chuckle-bait, and anything that pissed off “My Way” songwriter Paul Anka can’t be all that bad. – Paul Pearson


top 100 cover songs Sixpence86. Sixpence None The Richer, “There She Goes” (1997)

Originally released by The La’s, 1988

Sixpence None the Richer’s take on “There She Goes” was a superb cover choice for their buoyantly optimistic self-titled breakout. While Sixpence hardly stray from The Las’ original composition, their version is just as enjoyable, recorded more as a complement rather than a reinterpretation. It’s charming and inviting, a bright surprise epilogue that wraps up the band’s third LP on a quintessentially sunny note. – Patrick Pilch


top 100 cover songs MS MR85. MS MR, “Dance Yrself Clean” (2013)

Originally released by LCD Soundsystem, 2010

LCD Soundsystem’s original is nine minutes of winding, muted stream-of-consciousness. MS MR make several changes, ultimately for the better. They let Lizzy Plapinger’s vocals drive the track, they make very few cuts (if any) to the lyrics, smooth down the electronic breakdown in the middle, and include fewer instrumental breaks and shorter pauses between verses. All of these tweaks make for a compact and masterful pop rendition of “Dance Yrself Clean.” – Paula Chew


84-concrete84. Concrete Blonde, “Everybody Knows” (1990)

Originally released by Leonard Cohen, 1988

These Hollywood college-rockers transform Leonard Cohen’s poetic death march for society at large (from his immortal I’m Your Man) into something that shimmers and howls, yet feels significantly more personal. It fit perfectly into the film soundtrack for Pump Up the Volume, where high school students used music to help face futures they felt were uncertain at best, unhappy at worst. – Adam Blyweiss


83-clapton83. Eric Clapton, “Cocaine” (1977)

Originally released by J.J. Cale, 1976

The differences between J.J. Cale’s “Cocaine” and Eric Clapton’s take of the song are subtle, but Clapton’s is the definitive version, an understated blues number with a pretty versatile message. When Clapton first recorded it, it was an earnest paean to the drug; now that he’s clean, it’s a sarcastic anti-coke anthem. Both approaches work, which is a testament to the song’s enduring simplicity.– Sam Prickett


82-manson82. Marilyn Manson, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” (1995)

Originally released by Eurythmics (1983)

If you can’t do a song better than the original version, then give it enough of a spin to make it your own. This is the approach Marilyn Manson and his namesake band take here. Vocally he is no Annie Lennox, so he compensated with a creepy croon to turn the sweetness of Eurythmics’ dream into more of a nightmare. This song from their Smells Like Children EP vaulted the band into the spotlight of MTV, setting them up for further success upon the release of the next year’s Antichrist Superstar. – Wil Lewellyn


top 100 cover songs Quiet Riot81. Quiet Riot, “Cum On Feel the Noize” (1983)

Originally released by Slade, 1973

“Cum On Feel the Noize” is likely the only Quiet Riot record to ever cross most listeners’ radar. Personally, I was surprised to learn that their most well-known track was a cover at all (and also that it’s not a sex thing, but I’m still not entirely convinced of that). Its release did British band Slade a favor by boosting their stateside sales 10 years after their release of the track. The popularity of Quiet Riot’s version has long endured past the original’s, replacing the clapping and stadium chants with harder drum beats and a quicker tempo. – Paula Chew

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View Comments (15)
  • Congratulations to this compilation. It’s one of the best list that has been made ever. Thank you for posting it. We love covers and we have a blog in Portuguese called “1001 Covers” (https://www.1001covers.com.br). We have never thought Sloop John B is actually an adaptation of traditional song. Thanks again!

  • Are you serious? Willy Nelson’s Georgia on My Mind over Ray Charles
    version? Yeah Right

    Speaking of Ray Charles, in 1962 he made an album called “Modern Sounds
    of Country Music” This album was a masterpiece and should be part of
    anyone that knows and loves music’s collection.

    From that album was Ray’s cover of the Don Gibson song “I Can’t Stop
    Loving You.” Ray’s arrangement of that tune, which was the
    flip side of Gibson’s hit “Oh Lonesome Me” stood atop the Pop, R&B
    and Country Chart’s for most of the Summer of 1962, and was the
    #2 song on the Billboard Chart for that entire year.

    That’s why they called Ray “The Genius”. He took a tune and totally
    transformed it into something better and made it his own way
    before Buckley, Hendrix and Cash did, and it reached a wider
    array of audiences than them. He did it first and better than anyone.

    How a can you have a Top 100 Cover list without Ray Charles?
    Your panel put a lot of time and effort into this list, but missed
    the boat by omitting Brother Ray.

    Speaking of cover songs. Another gem by Don Gibson “Sweet Dreams”
    lent itself well as a cover. First by the great Patsy Cline, then the guitar
    Instrumental by Roy Buchanon from “The Departed.” And if you
    really are a conniseur of great covers check out the R &B version
    by Mighty Sam McClain. That’s 3 diverse great covers of one tune.

    Nobody is a bigger Beatles fan than me, and from everything I’ve read
    “Yesterday” is the most covered song by the most artists of all time.
    With that said I never heard 3 versions as diverse and great as the
    above mentioned versions of Don Gibson’s “Sweet Dreams”.

    You guys are good, but you got a long ways to go to be great.

    • I’m surprised they didn’t put maxwells version of Kate bush’s song a woman’s work. Instead they put running up that hill by Kate Bush covered by placebo. I also thought the same thing about not putting Ray Charles version up. Another cover that’s awesome is Leone Russell’s a song for you just about everyone’s covered it Ray Charles, Michael buble, R. Kell, willie Nelson etc etc. But the best cover of that song is Donny Hathaway blows it out the water. But yea this list is a little suspect if you ask me.

  • Adding to my previous reply, I want to suggest some really (IMO) good covers that deserve a place amongst the 100 best ones…
    My way (Frank Sinatra covering the Claude Francois song)
    Beyond the sea (Bobby Darin covering the Charles Trenet song)
    I got rhythm (the Gene Kelly version, after the original one in Girl Crazy)
    Gloria (the Doors cover of the THEM song)
    Only you (covered by Yazoo)
    Satisfaction (covered by Cat Power)
    Sea of love (covered by Cat Power)
    Big in Japan (covered by Ane Brun)
    Stand by me (covered by Florence and the machine)
    Caruso (the Lucio Dalla song covered by Sabina Sciubba)
    Llorando (Crying by Roy Orbison, covered by Rebekka Del Rio)
    Thank you (the Led Zeppelin song, covered by Lizz Wright)
    50 ways to leave your lover (covered by Tok Tok Tok)
    In a manner of speaking (covered by Nouvelle Vague)
    Everybody hurts (covered by The Corrs)
    I will survive (covered by the Puppini sisters)
    Because the night (covered by 10,000 maniacs)
    Piece of my heart (covered by Janis Joplin, but also by Beverley Knight)
    Me and Bobby McGee (covered by Janis Joplin)
    Tainted love (covered by Imelda May)
    You’re the one that I want (covered by Beautiful South)
    Don’t you worry ’bout a thing (covered by Incognito)
    Crazy (covered by Alanis Morissette)
    I got you babe (covered by UB40 and Chrissie Hynde)
    Spirit in the Sky (covered by Doctor and the medics)
    To love somebody (covered by Janis Joplin but also Lizz Wright)
    Oye como va (covered by Santana)
    Video killed the radio star (covered by the Buggles)
    Let’s stick toghether (covered by Brian Ferry)
    You can leave your hat on (covered by Joe Cocker)
    Suzie Q (covered by Greedence Clearwater Revival)
    California Dreamin’ (covered by Mamas and Papas)
    One step beyond (covered by Madness)
    It must be love (covered my Madness)
    Yeh yeh (covered by Matt Bianco)
    Superstition (covered by Stevie Ray Vaughan)
    She (Charles Aznavour song covered by Elvis Costello)

    And here is a playlist of songs that were made known by their cover versions, in their original version:
    https://open.spotify.com/user/ilianna1968/playlist/1tPKceB51kdKggU0TzHQoo?si=fEHYX9X8Q3arWrMB2iF-Hw

    Have fun !

  • Not true about I Heard It Through The Grapevine. The Miracles recorded the first version & Gaye the first cover. He pleaded with Berry Gordy to release it as a single but Gordy instead had Glady’s Knight & The Pips record it and release it as the first commercially available recording of the song

  • I don’t see the Fairy Godmother’s cover of “Holding Out for a Hero” from Shrek 2 and I’m kind of dissapointed.

  • Just glad Pet Shop Boys not on that list . I’ve seen it ranked no.1 on some lists , which is a crime in my eyes . Totally ruined a passionate love song , and turned it into an emotionless dirge . You know the song I mean .

  • I’m frankly shocked that absolutely no top lists have Elton John’s cover of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds on it. It’s a cover that Lennon himself said was better than the original. Was a top ten hit in the UK, and #1 in the US. Why is it so overlooked?

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