Best Cover Tune Ever

I love this.

A close second for the best cover tune ever would be this one by Andrew Paul Woodworth:



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

I seem to remember hearing Richard Thompson do a cover of "Hit Me Baby One More Time" on an NPR interview (Morning Edition or Saturday) a few years back. Brilliant stuff.

Sent by JD | 1:56 PM | 1-10-2008

There are lots in this "genre"... my favorite is Jonathan Coulton's homage to Sir Mix-a-lot:

Sent by Nick | 5:43 PM | 1-10-2008

These are spectacular. In the same vein, Glen Hansard covers JT's "Cry Me A River" on Even Better Than the Real Thing Vol. 1. Hansard's songwriting is brilliant, but his smart and passionate live performance is his trademark, and his arrangement here captures all the energy of Timberlake's heavily produced track with only an acoustic guitar and his own voice. Like Weddle's cover above, and like all the best pop covers, the irony is that there is no irony in their performance. They respect the artists who made these songs famous, and then they make them their own. Absolutely beautiful.

Sent by Mark Maxwell | 6:14 PM | 1-10-2008

This cover is one of my favorites. It is really "crazy."

Sent by Evan Strouss | 10:18 PM | 1-10-2008

I really like Lou Barlow doing Ratt's "Round n Round" -

Sent by Pablo | 8:18 AM | 1-11-2008

Richard Thompson doing Britney Spear's "Oops, I Did It Again" was very clever.

It may not be the best, but I remember one of the first "crazy" (but good) covers I heard was the Austin Lounge Lizard's with their bluegrass version of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon".

Sent by Tina | 12:10 PM | 1-11-2008

I heard this Mat Weddle cover awhile back -- I'm pretty sure his band is from Scottsdale, AZ (I am from Phoenix) but still have yet to see him live. I'm glad you linked to this!

Sent by Leanne | 2:14 PM | 1-11-2008

if you loved hey ya...

Sent by Nathan | 3:06 PM | 1-11-2008

Cowboy Junkies "The Trinity Session" probably holds the record for highest total of greatest total of amazing covers on a single LP. Let's see we "Blue Moon revisited (song for Elvis)", I assume you can guess the origional artist; "I'm so lonesome I could cry" by country legend Hank Williams; "Sweet Jane" by The Velvet underground; to close it out there's Patsy Cline's "walkin' after midnight".

The story behind the album is one anyone should read as well if they dont know it. Truly amazing

Sent by Devin(shire) | 8:57 PM | 1-11-2008

I gotta put a quick word in for Tori Amos covering Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Sent by Tom | 5:36 PM | 1-13-2008

This is my current favorite

Sent by Steven Kimmi | 2:36 AM | 1-14-2008

My bad for misnaming the Brittney Spears song. I was distracted by the news of her latest escapades.

Anyway a few years back Killdozer released a 7" box set of covers entitles "For Lady's Only." I remember a version of "Sweet Home Alabama" that opened my eyes to the potential of the cover. Brilliant stuff

Sent by JD | 9:49 AM | 1-14-2008

I would have to say Mike Flowers Pops for Oasis' Wonderwall. They even had people believing for awhile it was the original.

Sent by Rob M | 2:02 PM | 1-17-2008

White Stripes covering "Jolene" - absolutely blew me away:

Sent by Andrew | 7:17 PM | 1-17-2008

Definitely Gary Jules' cover of Mad World by Tears for Fears. One of my all time favorites.

Sent by Sam B. | 2:57 PM | 1-18-2008

Kathryn Williams' stripped down chambermusic version of Pavement's Spit on a Stranger
Los Lobos doing Timi Yuro's It'll Never Be Over For Me, what a vocal performance...
Jane Birkin's spooky rendering of Tom Waits' Alice
Neal Casal's take on The Faces' Debris
M. Ward's Let's Dance makes you forget it was ever on MTV
Caetano Veloso's Wait Until Tomorrow
Flaming Lips' (Just Like) Starting Over
Rufus Wainwright's cabaret Everybody Knows (L Cohen)
Will Oldham doing Springsteen's Thunder Road!!

Sent by David Puente | 4:47 PM | 1-18-2008

If you can track it down, FATIMA MANSIONS did a cover version of Bryan Adams' Everything I do (I do for you). They managed to turn one of the most saccharine love songs into an evil sounding tune. Now that's an achievement.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela do only acoustic instrumentals, but their cover versions of the Metallica songs, ORION, and ONE are excellent, as well as a great version of STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN by Led Zeppelin.

Since he was mentioned above, i'll also mention Glen Hansard & Colm MacConIomaire of the Frames cover version of Brittney Spears' "EVERYTIME", from the charity album Even Better Than The Real Thing (vol2). Really nicely done.

And another Irish act, Albert Niland did an excellent acoustic version of "Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush! He's also done covers of "Sign of The Times" by Prince, and "Up the Junction" by Squeeze.

Nouvelle Vague did some nice covers too, in particular "In a Manner of Speaking"
I'll have to check my ipod and see what others I can find.

Sent by Gear??id O'Sullivan | 7:09 PM | 1-18-2008

I'm still a huge fan of Against All Odds, the postal service cover.

Sent by Snitty | 8:36 AM | 1-19-2008

Hey Ya must be a really great song to cover. But I must admit that I like Michael Bernard Fitzgerald's version better.

Robin and Bob: You've got to check out this amazingly funky singer-songwriter from Calgary, Alberta. He put out two really killer albums last year.

Sent by addie | 12:43 AM | 1-21-2008

Radiohead doing "Nobody Does It Better", Arctic Monkeys doing "Diamonds Are Forever", Travis doing "Hit Me Baby One More Time", Ted Leo doing "Since U Been Gone", Magic Numbers doing "Crazy In Love", Alanis doing "My Humps"...

Sent by Carlos R. Pastrana | 4:23 PM | 1-21-2008

Many excellent votes for the best cover... My measure for cover greatness is "How big do your cojones have to be?" And my winner for that one is Natalie Merchant doing "Space Oddity." It has to be the biggest reach with the biggest success I've known in a cover effort.

Sent by William Reid | 7:57 PM | 1-21-2008

The Steven Malkmus songs on the "I'm Not There" soundtrack are pretty amazing. I can't really respond to William Reid's comments since I've never heard that version, but Natalie Merchant generally makes me want to swallow poison and jam sharp objects into my ear canal.

Sent by Craig | 11:10 AM | 1-24-2008

Check out Jason Webley. He does a great cover of "Hey Ya" on the accordion.

Sent by sk | 1:34 PM | 1-25-2008

It's a coincidence that you posted this blog, as I was recently blown away by The Polyphonic Spree's version of "Lithium" by Nirvana - I first heard it about a year ago and was so impressed with the way they had completely re-interpreted it. I was 16 when Nevermind came out and was completely into the grunge music scene, and I feel like the Polyphonic's version is like the "grown up version" for those of those that have aged somewhat since those times. Definitely my favourite cover version of all time

Sent by Tracy | 3:27 PM | 1-25-2008

The Puppini Sisters' covers of Wuthering Heights and Heart of Glass bend your head a bit - good for dinner parties, to play and then sit back and watch your guests drift a bit as they struggle to place the song...

Sent by Laura | 5:13 AM | 1-27-2008

I can't believe no one else has mentioned it, but I feel like Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's cover of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" has to rank in the top 3 of all cover songs. Nothing can move me quite as much as the opening notes played on Brudda Iz's ukulele. You have to believe Arlen, Harburg and Thiele and Armstrong would all be smiling at Iz's interpretation of their songs.

Another of my favorite covers is "Hurt" by Johnny Cash. (Covering Nine Inch Nails). Johnny took that song and made it his own. It's probably the saddest song I've ever heard.

If you want to go the other direction and discuss worst cover songs ever it would definitely be Madonna attempting to cover American Pie. Ugh.

Sent by kris | 12:36 PM | 1-31-2008

Really? Did you just let your Tracy Chapman gene decide for you? I'm hoping sarcasm or some weak attempt to get people submitting their favorite covers was responsible for this ridiculousness. For (whatever's) sake, RHCP's cover of Stevie Wonder's 'higher ground' even trumps both of these weak excuses for a cover, otherwise you could call just one Indigo Girl 'covering' the Indigo Girls' "Closer to Fine" your favorite cover tune! What the????!

Sent by Joe Wisniewski | 9:27 PM | 2-1-2008

My favorite cover of all time is Sleater-Kinney doing Boston's "More Than a Feeling," but I can't find it online.

However, this version of Destiny's Child's "Independent Woman" is highly amusing:

Sent by poppy | 11:19 PM | 2-1-2008

I love Kathryn Musilek's cover of the Cars' "I guess you're just what I needed"

But my dream cover has always been the B52s doing a twangy surf pop version of Metalica's Enter Sandman.

Sent by Josh Pearson | 3:05 PM | 2-2-2008

The best cover ever is the Beatles version of the Isley Brothers "Twist and Shout"

Sent by Brooke | 9:21 AM | 2-6-2008

As of late, my favorite cover has been Shawn Colvin's cover of the Talking Heads' "This Must be the Place" (

In years past, my favorite covers have been Jimi Hendrix's cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" ( and Jeff Buckley's cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" ( I am guessing that Buckley's cover is probably a cover of John Cale's interpretation of Cohen's song, but I'm not 100% certain.

Sent by Dan Malosh | 2:40 PM | 2-6-2008

I like Tom Waits' version of "Sea of Love" I think his voice adds a great dimension to the song.

Sent by Lily | 6:08 PM | 2-6-2008

I can't believe The Futureheads' cover of Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love" hasn't been mentioned yet:

You certainly hear the original in it, but they make it their own with great success.

Sent by Mac Coldwell | 5:28 PM | 2-7-2008

Anyone here a Richard Cheese fan? I know this might take away some of my hipster cred, but I think his covers are hilarious.

Others: Hurra Torpedo covering "Toxic" (Britney Spears- It's great live!)
Daniel Rossen covering "Too Little Too Late" (by JoJo)
The Magic Numbers covering "Crazy In Love"

Sent by Abby Olcese | 11:20 PM | 2-7-2008

I love The Flaming Lips' cover of Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head."
Also, The White Stripes' cover of Loretta Lynn's "Rated X."

Sent by Laura | 12:49 AM | 2-8-2008

Hindu Love Gods' "Raspberry Beret"...

And the most loyal cover ever, World Party's "All You Need is Love". Sometimes I have to hear a few bars before I can tell which version it is.

Sent by Todd | 3:07 PM | 2-8-2008

nirvana......JESUS dont want me for a sunbeam......just because it was an ironic foreshadowing of the internal struggle of a talented singer/songwriter...

Sent by daryl g short | 8:49 AM | 2-9-2008

Phil Manzanera (of Roxy Music) 's side project from the mid '70's called 801 did I think one of the best Beatles' covers ever when they performed "Tomorrow Never Knows" on the '801 Live' album; with vocal duties covered by Brian Eno (also of Roxy Music once upon a time).

Sent by Matt | 3:18 AM | 2-10-2008

I'm a huge fan of cover songs, especially when they're done well. I even produce and host a podcast about them (at

One that is absolutely worth checking out is Jason Falkner's _amazing_ version of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now". It takes it into a totally new direction, and the lyrics work equally well in the power-pop/rock style.

Sent by Brian Ibbott | 1:28 PM | 2-11-2008

Best cover tunes? Without a doubt, Paul Anka's swing version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit"!

He's got a whole album of covers, including "Its my Life" by Bon Jovi and "Eye of the Tiger." Its a riot!

Sent by Kori Michele | 4:56 PM | 2-11-2008

I just ran into this this morning (coincidentally) since I was in a frantic search to find this one Bulgarian choir's song. Not only did I find the song on Youtube, I also found a fabulous unexpected cover in the end of their performance on Johnny Carson a while back. You just have to watch it:

Sent by Thea C. | 2:29 AM | 2-12-2008

Kiss' "Beth" covered by punk band "No Use For a Name". The original was horrible, and the cover is awesome. My wife's name is Beth -- helps a bit.

Sent by Aaron Weiss | 2:51 PM | 2-12-2008

My Morning Jacket does an impressively soulful rendition of Erykah Badu's "Tyrone" on a Darla records comp. It sounds laughable, but they totally nail it without any trace of ironic silliness.

On the other end of things, Led Zepplin gets the remake treatment frequently, but the most outstanding cover I've heard is Boston band Cave In's spaced-out take on "Dazed and Confused."

Also worth mentioning is Fiona Apple's version of the Beatles' "Across the Universe," the signature track from the film Pleasantville. Her voice is incredible, of course, especially in the context of Jon Brion's whimsical orchestrations.

Sent by Ryan | 4:20 PM | 2-12-2008

I love Cake's take on Bread's "Guitar Man". They make it so much their own that you might forget it's a cover.

A new entry: John Strohm's cover of the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?"

Sent by Micheal Sanders | 11:40 PM | 2-12-2008

Atlas Sound- Knife..this cover of grizzly bears hit is haunting and beautiful Bradford Cox is a genius
or Dinosaur Jr. cover of Just like Heaven yep....

Sent by Mykul | 11:31 AM | 2-15-2008

Husker Du's cover of "Love is All Around" - the Mary Tyler Moore theme song is great, heavy but melodic.

Marilyn Manson's cover of "Sweet Dreams are Made of This" by the Eurythmics is amazing as well

Sent by Bill | 7:39 PM | 2-19-2008

Don't forget the Sunday's version of the Stones' "Wild Horses". Harriet Wheeler's gorgeous voice transforms the song completely...

Sent by Finn | 11:58 AM | 2-20-2008

I was enjoying the Polyphonic Spree show online, and they started this song with a happy little piano part, in typical happy Polyphonic Spree fashion. Then the guitar came in, and I thought "Wait, is this... no, it can't be. It is! Nirvana! Lithium!" I laughed out loud. It was outstanding.

A great cover in a live set is one of the most thrilling musical surprises for me, especially when it's a surprising song choice.

Sent by Nick | 12:04 AM | 2-21-2008

Chris Cornell doing M. Jackson's 'Billy Jean'--oh to've seen that coming when I ran into him (he'd recently cut his hair, famously) outside a barber shop at Grand Canyon N.P.'s South Rim.

Sent by 'nuther Nick | 3:14 AM | 2-23-2008

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes made their wonderful, anarchic career out of the cover. I salute them.

Sent by Josh Pearson | 2:55 PM | 2-23-2008

Final Fantasy (Owen Pallett) cover of Mariah Carey's Fantasy. He records and loops live on stage. Amazing.

Sent by Zoe Gray | 2:01 PM | 2-24-2008

Let us not forget Aztec Camera's awesome take on Van Halen's "Jump" - definitely a landmark "crazy" cover.

Another fave of mine is Bryan Ferry doing "Feel the Need" (originally by the Detroit Emeralds). He also does a great take on Van Morrison's "Crazy Love" but then again he's a master of other people's material.

Grace Jones also brought a unique dimension to songs by Chrissie Hynde, Tom Petty, Smokey Robinson, Joy Division, Iggy Pop, Bill Withers, etc. Not to be missed!

Also, I just heard Dion's bizarre take on "Purple Haze". It's lush and beautiful, almost presaging Nick Drake's work. It *almost* works!

I'm sure I'll think of more for this ever-entertaining topic!

Sent by Jeremy Shatan | 10:48 PM | 2-27-2008

Asylum Street Spankers doing NIN's "Closer" is the greatest thing I've ever witnessed. I didn't even know what son it was until the "help me" part. Brilliant.

Sent by Doug Douglas | 12:47 AM | 2-29-2008

in the serious covers category, im pretty sure my favorite cover of all time is X doing the Doors' "Crystal Ship" on the x files soundtrack...a beautiful haunting song reimagined as a beautiful new wave anthem

Sent by Josh | 3:33 PM | 2-29-2008

I went back through all the comments just to be sure because I couldn't believe no mentioned Devo's cover of Satisfaction.

Sent by WanYe | 1:39 AM | 3-1-2008

Johnny Cash's American box set had about 20 AMAZING covers. My favorite was Pocahontas.
Also, I'm not a Phish fan but their live performance of the White Album was awfully impressive.

Sent by russ | 4:02 PM | 3-1-2008

The Sarah Mac Band's version of Summertime deserves a mention on this list. Listen on iTunes here

Sent by Maggie | 8:52 PM | 3-2-2008

Yo La Tengo are masters of the well chosen cover. some of favorites of theirs are:
"Take Care" by Big Star
"Little Honda" by the Beach Boys
"Speeding Motorcycle" by Daniel Johnston

Sent by jb | 10:45 PM | 3-2-2008

I don't think anyone mentioned my all time favorite cover which has to be the Gourds doing a their bluegrass take on Snoop Dogg's Gin and Juice. Very funny and well done.

Sent by Paul | 3:46 PM | 3-3-2008

A cello group by the name of Rasputina did a cover of "Wish you Were Here" by Pink Floyd... Absolutely Beautiful
boy did I love that too!

Sent by Amber | 9:47 AM | 3-4-2008

Scala's version of Rammstein's "Engel" is gorgeous.

The Be Good Tanyas' version of just about anything is fantastic. They make all songs their own.

David Gogo's "Personal Jesus" (find it on iTunes) is even better, IMHO, than Johnny Cash's take on the Depeche Mode song.

Sent by Sylvia | 2:56 AM | 3-7-2008

What about Dinosaur Jr.'s cover of Quicksand by David Bowie, or Seu Jorge's cover of Quicksand by David Bowie? Double goodness. Lagwagon had some good covers, so does Cat Power. What about favorite cover bands? I like "Hot for Teacher" a Van Halen tribute, I didn't get to see the Dead, but I saw the DeadBeatz, and it was like a mini Dead show. I've had too much sugar...

Sent by Zach | 10:45 PM | 3-12-2008

Alice Russell's Seven Nation Army - thumping and gorgeous

Sent by PeteD | 7:55 AM | 3-13-2008