Cover versions can be a delicate task. Do you simply copy a song or make it totally your own? Every artist has attempted a cover version of some kind during their career, and we've picked the times where they arguably improved up on the original:. Eva Cassidy covered many songs throughout her far too short life and career, but arguably her greatest was this beautiful version of an already-brilliant Fleetwood Mac song.
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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.
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.
In popular music , a cover version , remake , cover song , revival , or simply cover , is a new performance or recording by someone other than the original artist or composer of a previously recorded song. The term "cover" goes back decades when cover version originally described a rival version of a tune recorded to compete with the recently released original version. The Chicago Tribune described the term in "trade jargon meaning to record a tune that looks like a potential hit on someone else's label". Both crossed over to the popular Hit Parade and had numerous hit versions. In fact, one of the principal objects of publishing sheet music was to have a composition performed by as many artists as possible. In previous generations, some artists made very successful careers of presenting revivals or reworkings of once-popular tunes, even out of doing contemporary cover versions of current hits. Musicians now play what they call "cover versions" the reworking, updating or interpretation of songs as a tribute to the original performer or group.