Just like movie remakes, cover songs can be really tricky. Some are fantastic while some are truly god awful that should have never even considered “paying homage” to the original. But when they nail it, oh boy is it something special. Look at the remakes of John Carpenter’s The Thing or Dawn Of The Dead, films that took elements of the original and created something new and exciting. Films like these got me thinking, “What are some of my favorite cover songs? What are songs that payed homage to a classic while creating something original?” So I put together five cover songs that I feel met these requirements for your enjoyment. Head on below for my 5 Great Cover Songs!
Marilyn Manson – “Sweet Dreams” (Originally written/performed by The Eurythmics
Alright, this one was tough for me to put on here as I’m actually, in all honesty, sick and tired of this song. I’ve heard it so many times that I’m beginning to fall under the delusion that the original is actually the cover song.
Still, I have to admit that this song is a fantastic example of taking an original and giving it a whole new spin. While the original was dancey and upbeat, Manson’s version became something sinister, something evil. Sweet Dreams never sounded more like a nightmare.
Johnny Cash – “Hurt” (Originally written/performed by Nine Inch Nails)
Probably one of the most famous and most popular cover songs of the 21st century, Cash’s take on “Hurt” is almost like an opposite of what Manson did with “Sweet Dreams”. Whereas the Nine Inch Nails version was eerie and almost phantasmagoric, Cash brought a melancholia and emotional pain that touched my heart in ways that other songs have only wished they could.
Also, you should check out this astonishing cover done by South Korean singer Youn Sun Nah.
Tool – “No Quarter” (Originally written/performed by Led Zeppelin
Covering Led Zeppelin is a difficult task as the group’s fanbase is rather rabid and defensive. But when a band as inventive and boundary-challenging as Tool takes aim at a track, it’s pretty hard to find faults. Paying great respect to the original, the prog rock/metal giants also added in their own flourishes and their own tone, creating something epic and gorgeous.
Opeth – “Would?” (Originally written/performed by Alice In Chains)
While it doesn’t sound drastically different (let’s be honest, it’s nearly identical), Opeth’s take on one of my absolute favorite Alice In Chains songs is more polished and simply cleaner. It removed the grime and grunge (hehe) of the original and created an almost liquid-like flow to the song.
Scala & Kolacny Brothers – “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Originally written/performed by Nirvana)
I’ve said it before and I have no problem saying it again: I hate Nirvana. They come on the radio, I change the channel. It’s that simple. “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? Can’t stand it for the life of me. I really hate hearing that song.
But then this cover came along and simply blew me away. Talk about taking a song and giving it a whole new spin. Everyone knows the iconic original song and its heavy, dirty attitude. But this takes the song and makes it a gorgeous, sublime, emotional piece of art.
Alright readers, what are some of your favorite cover songs? Let me know in the comments below!