Playlist: Cover Songs Are Sometimes Better Than the Original

Between Glee and American Idol we hear different arrangements of well known songs on a weekly basis. Sometimes artists completely reinvent a hit song  like Hugo turning Jay-Z’s  “99 Problems” into an alt-country jam or Ryan Adams turning Oasis‘ rockin’ “Wonderwall” into an achingly painful acoustic plea. THIS is where the magic lies.

FYI, I intentionally chose rare covers you may not be familiar with already to expand your mind and ears!

Playlist of Amazing Cover Songs

99 Problems – Hugo (original by Jay-Z)
One – Aimee Mann (original by Harry Nillson)
Sealion Woman – Feist (original by Nina Simone)
Baby One More Time – Travis (original by Britney Spears)
Wonderwall – Ryan Adams (original by Oasis)
Sea Of Love – Cat Power (original by Phil Phillips)
The Future – Teddy Thompson (original by Leonard Cohen)
Bad Things (True Blood theme) – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (original by Jace Everett)
Black & Gold – Ellie Goulding (original by Sam Sparro)
Rolling in the Deep – John Legend (original by Adele)
Shelter – Kelly Clarkson (original by Ray LaMontagne)
Crazy – Ray LaMontagne (original by Gnarls Barkley)
Toxic – Stevie Ann (original by Britney Spears)
Jolene – The White Stripes (original by Dolly Parton)
Like I Love You – Bell X1 (original by Justin Timberlake)
King of Pain – Alanis Morissette (original by The Police)
I Wanna Hold Your Hand – Glee / Chris Colfer (original by The Beatles)

Listen to the entire playlist here!

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Jess is a pop culture junkie living in New York City. She enjoys endless debates about The L Word, Howard Stern, new techy gadgets, DVR, exploring the labyrinth of the Lesbian Internet, memoirs, working out, sushi, making lists, artsy things, anything Lady Gaga touches, traveling, puppies, and nyc in the fall. Find her on Twitter @jessxnyc or via email.

Jess has written 240 articles for us.


    • yes, i specifically chose covers which aren’t totally obvious like Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” which has been already heard to death :)

  1. the “like I love you” cover is THE BEST.

    also, no tori amos? because in my book she is allowed to cover almost everything. ;)

  2. I remember I found Alanis Morissette’s cover of King of Pain on Napster waaaay back in the day. Love the crap out of that one.

  3. Ooh, good music gives me shivers! :]

    Another better-than-the-original cover:

    Give a Little Bit – The Goo Goo Dolls (original by Supertramp)

  4. Brian Fallon’s (of Gaslight Anthem) cover of Kelly Clarkson’s “I Do Not Hook Up.” No, seriously.

    My favorite cover of all time is Rufio’s version of “Like A Prayer,” because I am perpetually a 15 year-old who loves pop-punk.

  5. I love the Lori McKenna cover of Fake Plastic Trees. As well as Cloud Control’s cover of Pursuit of Happiness and Dia Frampton’s covers so I can’t choose just one.

  6. You Drive Me Crazy by Dolly Parton (originall by Fine Young Cannibals)

    Toxic by Yael Naim

    • yes, Amy hit it with that version.

      This morning I heard a newly released track–Amy Winehouse Featuring Nas called Like Smoke. Man, I miss her.

    • Valerie, ohhh, that is such a good cover. Amy nailed it so well with that one….

      I love her version of ’round Midnight, I know it has been done many times, but not like she sings it…

  7. I am thoroughly enjoying all of these covers. I love an artist who can completely remake a song and make it even more awesome(or newly awesome if it sucked in its original incarnation).

    Also, Alanis Morissette’s cover of “My Humps” is hilarious and amazing. If you haven’t seen that video, go watch it, now.

  8. This playlist is immense! Kudos.

    To it I think I would add:

    Umbrella (Rhianna) – Tegan and Sara. Though I don’t think they’ve properly recorded it. More’s the pity.

    Happiness is a Warm Gun (The Beatles) – Tori Amos

    Heart it Races (Architecture in Helsinki) – Dr. Dog

    Limit to Your Love (Feist) – James Blake

    Crystalised (The xx) – Gorillaz

    The Mercy Seat (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds) – Johnny Cash. I would definitely add this. To everything. Always. It’s spectacular.

  9. HEARTBEATS by Jose Gonzalez (Originally by The Knife) love, love, LOVE the song and the cover. I’m not sure which I love more.

  10. I love a good cover!

    When You Were Mine – Ani DiFranco
    Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
    Higher Ground – Red Hot Chili Peppers
    Catch Me – The Bandits
    All Along the Watchtower – from the Battlestar Galactica Soundtrack
    Gloomy Sunday – Billie Holiday
    Fast Car – Christian Kane
    Too Fast for Love – The Donnas
    My Generation – Green Day
    She Hangs Out – The Groovie Ghoulies
    The Peace – hAngry & Angry
    Pepper Keibu – Morning Musume
    Somebody Wants to Love You – The Mr. T Experience
    Stand By Me – Pennywise
    Big Yellow Taxi – Pinhead Gunpowder
    Running Up That Hill – Placebo
    20th Century Boy – Placebo
    You Don’t Own Me – Rasputina
    Shiroi Iro wa Koibito no Iro – W (Double You)

  11. It probably won’t mean anything to anyone, but Owl Eyes’ cover of Pumped Up Kicks is the best cover this year.

  12. I have an addiction to covers. Seriously, my friends make fun of me because I love Jenny Owen Young’s Hot in Herre so much.

    I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You (Black Kids) – Kate Nash
    It’s sung in a British accent! And has lesbian overtones! What could be better than that?

    Pursuit of Happiness (Kid Cudi) – Lissie

    Call Your Girlfriend – Allison Weiss

  13. yay for this post! awesome choices. One of my favorite covers has always been Sara Quinn’s version of Dancing in the Dark

  14. Well done, Jessica. I love Ray Lamontagne, but had never heard that cover of “Crazy.” Awesome! Here’s some more…

    – Greg Laswell – Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper)
    – Greg Laswell – Your Ghost (Kristin Hersh)
    – Jose Gonzalez – Hand on Your Heart (Kylie Minogue)
    – Ingrid Michaelson – Creep (Radiohead)
    – Age of Rockets – Boats & Birds (Gregory & The Hawk)
    – Andrew Belle – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Gentiles?)
    – Eva Cassidy – Fields of Gold (Sting)
    – The Doves – Blackbird (The Beatles)
    – William Fitzsimmons – King of WIshful Thinking (Go West)
    – Daughter Darling – Colorblind (Counting Crows)
    – Damian Rice & Lisa Hannigan – Get The Party Started (Pink)
    – Imogen Heap – Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
    – Dave Matthews Band – Long Black Veil (Lefty Frizzell)
    – Glen Hansard – Everytime (Britney Spears)
    – Ingrid Michaelson – Parachute (Cheryl Cole)
    – John Mayer – Free Falling (Tom Petty)

    To be continued…

  15. “Crazy in Love” has been covered by Snow Patrol and it’s AMAZING.

    Also The Golden Filter’s cover of “Hardest Button to Button” by The White Stripes.

  16. Love a good covers playlist! I have a few additions:

    The Real Slim Shady – Kate Miller-Heidke (Eminem)
    Crazy – Katie Noonan (Gnarls Barkley)
    Fields of Gold – Eva Cassidy (Sting)
    Maggie’s Farm – Rage Against the Machine (Bob Dylan)

    Triple J radio in Australia has a series of live covers called Like a Version – most of them are pretty awesome.

  17. Janelle Monae does a wonderful cover of “I Want You Back”,originally by the Jackson 5, duh. And Janelle Monae is always relevant to Autostraddle’s interests.

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