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COVER SONGS

GREAT RENDITIONS
SHOCKING RENDITIONS

Music Speaks Louder looks at 10 cover songs that have done well and 5 that have not. A cover song is a new performance or recording by someone other than the original artist or composer of a previously recorded, commercially released song

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Written by Michael Oshust

There are some songs that you don’t truly appreciate until another artist takes it on and makes it their own. 

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JIMI HENDRIX

All Along The Watchtower

Original: Bob Dylan

Hendrix’s rowdier, and louder version was recorded for the Electric Ladyland album.

 

The Hendrix version became a Top 20 single. British magazine Total Guitar named it top of the list of the greatest cover versions of all time.

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DISTURBED

Sounds of Silence

Original: Paul Simon

Disturbed released a cover version of "The Sound of Silence" and it hit number one on the Billboard Hard Rock Digital Songs and on the Mainstream Rock charts. As of September 2017, the single had sold over 1.5 million digital downloads.

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SHINEDOWN

Simple Man

Original: Lynyrd Skynyrd

 

The song is the last track on side one of Lynyrd Skynyrd's debut album (Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd). In May 2003, Shinedown released their debut album "Leave a Whisper" with a recording of Simple Man on it.

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JOHNNY CASH

Hurt

Original: Nine Inch Nails

Johnny Cash released American IV: The Man Comes Around in November 2002. In the video Cash glimpses his own mortality.

His wife, June Carter Cash, died six months after the album was released, and Cash himself passed away four moths later.

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ARETHA FRANKLIN

Respect

Original: Otis Redding

Aretha Franklin made this song an anthem. Franklin, a powerhouse vocalist and presence herself, sings a brand new hook in the chorus, spelling out R-E-S-P-E-C-T and inciting her audiences to “find out what it means to me.” 

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WHITNEY HOUSTON

I Will Always Love You

Original: Dolly Parton

"I Will Always Love You" was already a successful single by the time Whitney Houston recorded a new arrangement of the song for The Bodyguard soundtrack. It was her co-star Kevin Costner who suggested "I Will Always Love You" to music executives.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, as of 2009, the single had sold 4,591,000 copies, 

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RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS

Higher Ground

Original: Stevie Wonder

"Higher Ground" is a funk song written by Stevie Wonder which first appeared on his 1973 album Innervisions.

 

In 1989 Red Hot Chili Peppers released the song as a single from their fourth studio album Mother's Milk.

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METALLICA

Turn The Page

Original: Bob Seger

The song was released by Bob Seger in 1973 on his Back in '72 album. Metallica included the song on their 1998 Garage Inc. album where it reached No.1 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart for 11 weeks.

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NIRVANA

The Man Who Sold The World

Original: David Bowie

Nirvana performed the David Bowie song during their MTV Unplugged performance which was released as an album.

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NATALIE IMBRUGLIA

Torn

Original: Ednaswap

Torn was written by Scott Cutler, Anne Preven and Phil Thornalley in 1993 and recorded by Cutler and Preven's American alternative rock band Ednaswap in 1995. The 1997 Natalie Imbruglia version peaked at number one on singles charts worldwide.

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ARTISTS FOR HAITI

We Are The World

Original: U.S.A. For Africa

The orginal was penned by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson and featured the A-List of musical geniuses reciting their lines with both humble passion and vocal distinction.

 

The Hendrix version became a Top 20 single. British magazine Total Guitar named it top of the list of the greatest cover versions of all time.

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Mötley Crüe

Like A Virgin

Original: Madonna

Mötley Crüe recorded their metal rendition of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” for the Mötley Crüe biopic The Dirt. 

 

Nikki Sixx explained how the Madonna cover went from a “bad but pretty funny idea” to recording it with the band. 

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MADONNA

American Pie

Original: Don McLean

The single was released in 2000 from her Music album. The album itself featured some of Madonna’s strongest mid—period material. 

She removed about half the verses to the song and what remained was really flat and lifeless.

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SHERYL CROW

Sweet Child O’ Mine

Original: Guns 'N Roses

 

The song is on the Adam Sandler Big Daddy soundtrack.

Sheryl Crow recorded a cover of "Sweet Child O' Mine" for the soundtrack and fans really disliked the version. 

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MAROON 5

Three Little Birds

Original: Bob Marley

Bob Marley's Three Little Birds is a timeless classic.

Maroon 5 did not do any justice to the Bob Marley classic - period.

 

The recording was done as a part of Japanese company Hyundai’s campaign for the 2017 FIFA World Cup to be held in Russia.

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MARIAH CAREY

Bringin' On the Heartbreak

Original: Def Leppard

Mariah Carey cited the original song as one of her favorites when she was growing up, and said that she first came up with the idea of covering it when listening to Def Leppard's album 'Vault' during the album photo shoot for her album Charmbracelet. "I said, You know what? I could do this my own way"

Allmusic stated "isn't even covered all that well."

Honourable Mentions

Train (with Kenny G)      - Careless Whisper

        recorded in 2018.

Celine Dion                    - You Shook Me All Night Long

        recorded for the Las Vegas Divas video & album

From the regrettable to the baffling, the following artists have recorded versions of the songs that are less popular than the original artist.