Each week on Tuesday in October, we have been releasing a list of 10 cover songs that are arguably “better than the original” from each of our staff members on the blog and podcast network. Let us know if you agree with our selections!
Here is my list and very first contribution to the blog! Woo! Narrowing down to 10 songs was difficult, because I really had to stop and ask myself what makes a cover “better” than the original to me?
Firestarter, Jimmy Eat World covering Prodigy
My favorite band covering a song I find completely insufferable in its original form. Listen to the whole 6 minutes; it doesn’t disappoint.
XO, John Mayer covering Beyoncé
Love JM’s somewhat unexpected take on what I consider to be Queen B’s best song. The harmonica really makes it.
Stay (I Missed You), New Found Glory covering Lisa Loeb
My favorite of NFG’s tracks on From the Screen to Your Stereo II, the second of their two cover albums of songs from motion pictures. Lisa Loeb does join in for the vocals, but I decided it still qualifies as a cover. I couldn’t remember what 90’s movie the original was from, but I love this pop-punk take on it.
The First Cut is the Deepest, Rod Stewart covering P.P. Arnold and/or Cat Stevens…depending who you ask?
One of my favorite “wait, that’s a cover? No way!” songs. Rod Stewart’s version > Sheryl Crow’s and certainly better than the original. No contest.
The Only One, Kevin Devine covering Manchester Orchestra
A great track from a split EP where KD covers MO and vice versa. You may have heard my first appearance on the podcast where I gush about Kevin Devine. He’s got so many great covers, but this is is one I can truly say tops the original.
Heroes, Janelle Manoé covering David Bowie
Typically covers of classics for commercials don’t match up to their originals at all, but this version absolutely rocks. Thank you, Pepsi.
Close to Me, The Get Up Kids covering The Cure
Speaking of people covering Bowie, The Get Up Kids cover “Suffragette City” on the same album as this Cure cover. There’s nostalgia to this one, admittedly. I love the original but there’s just something about this version and Matt Pryor’s voice that I just adore. This spot on the list was almost taken by Dinosaur Jr.’s version of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”, which is equally excellent, but the original of that one is just too good.
Stay, Thirty Seconds to Mars covering Rihanna
This song really shows off Jared Leto’s voice in ways I don’t believe Thirty Seconds to Mars other songs have, based on what I have heard. This version feels incredibly personal, while Rihanna’s version kind of loses me when Mikky Ekko’s vocals come in.
Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis, Neko Case covering Tom Waits
What can I say other than “whoa”? A surprisingly chilling take on this kind of kookie song. Not the best fit for a Christmas Party jam mix, but it absolutely belongs on this list.
Valerie, Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson covering The Zutons
Mostly because I just had to include it. When people meet me, they occasionally sing a line or two from this (or other “Valerie” songs) and then it’s stuck in my head all afternoon. Amy turned this so-so original into something truly memorable. I love the story that Mark Ronson asked Amy what indie song she might want to cover with him for his album and she chose it because it was a song they played all the time at a local pub she went to and she sung it in the shower.
I like to imagine that most awesome covers are born out of shower- solos and neverending earworms.