Since Utah Live Bands owns & books the best cover bands around, we thought it fitting to do a post ranking the best and/or most memorable covers of all time. Some will be old, some will be new; some will be ridiculous, and some will be fantastic & musical. So without further adieu, here the top 14 covers (by bands & soloists) of all time:
William Shatner — Rocketman
I actually had to return and add this one in… How silly of me. I’ve never seen a more deep and compelling rendition of an Elton John song 🙂 My favorite part about his clip is how the audience isn’t sure if he’s being serious or not. I’m convinced that the majority of them do. It’s not really a song, so I put it at number 14. Take it away Mr. Shatner:
Fiona Apple – Sally’s Song
This song comes from the genius of Danny Elfman—Tim Burton’s go-to guy for all things creepy and mystical. Not only does he make incredible scores for movies (Men in Black, Spiderman, Beetlejuice, and pretty much any Tim Burton film you’ve seen), he also has an incredible singing voice and is the emotional voice of Jack Skellinton in “Nightmare Before Christmas.” Fiona Apple fits in perfectly with Danny’s creepy but mystifying style with this cover of a ‘Nightmare…” song:
Gary Jule’s – Mad World
This cover became ridiculously famous when it was used on the movie Donnie Darko. This Tears for Fears remake is just another example of how we LOVE taking pseudo-obscure songs and turning them into creepy & ethereal covers.
Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah
This is the ultimate cover, simply because it seems to be a cover of a cover of a cover. This song came back into popularity (for the 4th or 5th time) for our generation as Rufus Wainwright’s version was used in the movie Shrek. This captivating rendition takes it to another level as Jeff Buckley covers Rufus Wainwright, covers John Cale, Covers Leonard Cohen…
Cardigans/Tom Jones – Burning down the house
Remember when I mentioned “Ridiculous?” This little gem is far from the best cover of all time, but it is certainly one of the most memorable. First of all, the Cardigans & Tom Jones? Really? Who thought THAT was a killer combination? When push comes to shove, there is just something about this cover that weasels its way into your mind and you’ll never forget it… much to your shagrin:
Cake – I Will Survive
Now I have to specify, this isn’t my favorite cover in the world, but I know lots of people who would disagree with me, so much so that here it is. Cake takes this song and definitely turns it into their own, cake-y style. Complete with trumpet & their signature “who cares” vocals.
IZ – Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World
A DOUBLE cover! You’d have to be living under a rock to not have heard this song in the last decade. The wedding & cover band industry is littered with brides requesting this rendition for their first dances. And who can blame them? There is a reason IZ is the most revered and popular Hawaiian artist of all time (even in death- Rest In Peace Israel Kamakawiwoʻole):
Wilson Pickett – Mustang Sally
Sorry to say, but this song would not be a song to remember without Mr. Pickett. Originally written and performed by Mack Rice in 1965, the Wilson Pickett version is played by cover bands all over the world; partly because it’s so soulful & mostly because it’s so easy to play J
Life is a Highway – Rascal Flatts
Catchy? Yes… Overplayed? Most definitely…. Memorable? Ummm, yeah, that too. Whether it’s your thing or not, Rascal Flatts makes this song rock! There is really no listening to the Tom Cochrane original, because “that is not the song I heard on CARS!”
UB40 – Red Red Wine
This band certainly knows how to pump out a good cover. Hey, who doesn’t want to listen to Reggae covers of … EVERYTHING? I personally think the Temptations cover, “The Way you Do the Things You Do” is catchier, but there is no denying that Red Red Wine is the most popular song about getting Classy-Drunk (Thank you Neil Diamond)
Lauryn Hill – Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You
This was one of my favorite CD purchases of all-time. Lauryn Hill is not only one a killer Hip-Hop rapper, but she has a fantastic voice! When she was with the Fugees, they made a cover that was probably more famous (Killing Me Softly), but you know what? I don’t really care; this one’s better. Now all it needs is a couple of boys to add their signature tag lines: “One time, one time!”
Ike & Tina Turner – Proud Mary
As a musician, there are a few songs in your trick-bag that will almost always get people shakin’. The CCR original is kinda slow… and long, but you can always count on Tina to start off “nice & easy” and tease you for the build. At least in Utah, party bands learn that nothing rocks a party like Tina.
Johnny Cash – Hurt
This is number one on most peoples countdowns, and I would have to say, it really is an incredible cover. There is just something about the performance & lyrics. It’s almost as if Johnny wrote it himself. I think more country artists should hire heavy-metal rockers to write their lyrics. It also adds meaning and impact to the song knowing about Johnny Cash’s life and the fact that he died shortly after making this video.
And the number one most memorable cover song of all time………**Drum Roll**
Aretha Franklin – Respect
I didn’t even know this was an Otis Redding Song. So even though you gotta give props to its original… I’m sorry Otis, dead or not, this is no longer your song. Aretha OWNS it:
Covers bands, cover songs, we will never be satisfied with our original artists. And for those of you who are dying for more…. This last one I dub, the future best cover of all time:
– This article was written by Stephen Tobian, manager at Utah Live Bands