TOP 5 | Cover Songs that Outshine the Originals

Thomas Burns Scully 09/29/17

A classic song is a classic song. Untouchable. Awesome. Or is it?

All of the songs on this list today were considered classics, and then someone came along and made them even more mind-blowing. Great musicians started these fires, but then legends poured on the gasoline and took them to the next level. Here are five covers of songs that outshine the originals.


Roll Over Beethoven - Electric Light Orchestra

Roll Over Beethoven is a rock and roll standard, heralding the coming of rock music, and youthfully shoving aside the fuddy-duddy old people who only listen to lame old classical music. It was written and originally performed by the legendary Chuck Berry, and covered by many other greats, but the Electric Light Orchestra's version takes a rock and roll staple and turns is into a mind-blowing symphony. Mixing in snatches of actual Beethoven, violin solos, and space-age synth, this track will make you believe in aliens. It's that good.
Original:

Cover:

iTunes | Spotify | Twitter


Are Friends Electric? - The Dead Weather

Originally recorded by Tubeway Army and written by their frontman Gary Numan, this synth-pop/new wave hit was a trip in 1979, and hinted at notes of bleak futuristic psychedelia. It aged in to retrodom fairly quickly, as a lot of early synth-heavy music did. Flash forward to 2009. Jack White bundles a hastily assembled, currently nameless band in to a recording studio. He picks a song for them to cover that none of them know. It is Are Friends Electric? They rock out, and enjoy it so much that they decide to record more. And tour. And thus the Dead Weather was formed. This cover was so good, it created, arguably, Jack White's greatest supergroup. It takes the original and puts it through an industrial mincer. The guitars are crunchy, the synth is textured purple, and the drums are cacophonous. This cover is delicious.

Original:

Cover:

iTunes | Spotify | Twitter


While My Guitar Gently Weeps - Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Well… Prince, really)

The Beatles put out way more than their fair share of classics, and they have had plenty of terrific covers over the years to boot, but after you hear this live version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, it's hard to listen to the original again. Recorded at George Harrison's 2004 induction in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, this cover features Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison (George's son), and Prince. For the first half of the song it's a pretty by the numbers cover, then suddenly Prince lets loose on the guitar and the whole world catches on fire. He hits lick after lick perfectly, throws in a phaser, falls backwards in to the crowd, gets pushed back on stage, and then at the end throws his guitar in to the air… and it never lands. We can only assume it died and went to guitar heaven. A place we all one day hope to go.

Original:

Cover:

iTunes | Spotify | Twitter


The Muppet Show Theme - OK Go

The Muppets are iconic, and have done their fair share of musical covers themselves (Fun fact, their greatest hit Mahna Mahna is a cover). Their theme tune is remembered by all who watched as a heralder of joy and whimsy. So when OK Go covered it on 2011's 'The Green Album' (a collection of Muppet songs covered by popular artists), no one was expecting them to top it for its levels of fun. But people were wrong. OK Go take it in so many directions. They are by turns dark and moody, trippy and electronic, gargantuosly epic, and sometimes just pure rock and roll. It kicks off the album in apocalyptic style. Independently of The Green Album, it's a great pump up jam. No one would ever expect a cover of a kids TV show theme to be this kickass… but it is. Try not to smile when the guitar solo kicks in.

Original:

Cover:

iTunes | Spotify | Twitter


Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - Santa Esmeralda

This song goes through a three-fold evolution. It was originally recorded by Nina Simone in 1964. The Animals picked it up a year later and re-recorded it, speeding up the tempo. Both versions had a sad, reverential tone. Excellent pieces of music, but could they go further? Jump twelve years ahead and enter Santa Esmeralda. They take The Animals' arrangement, douse it in alcohol and light a match. Adding in flamenco guitar and disco rhythms, a horn section, and every bell and whistle you can think of. You're left with a smoldering good time. This version of the song is so epic, it underscores the climactic sword-fight from Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1. Nuff said.

Original:

Cover:

iTunes | Spotify | Web

Thomas Burns Scully is a PopDust contributor, and also an award-winning actor, playwright, and musician. In his spare time he writes and designs escape rooms. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter

POP⚡ DUST | Read More...

'Wonder Woman', 'Beauty and the Beast' and outrage film marketing

Eddie Izzard: transgender, hilarious, and heartbreaking

'Pop Punk High', a pop punk musical comedy? Um... yes please!