Up until recently, cover songs were generally looked down upon because its performers were thought to be stealing someone else’s original creative work. But today, cover songs are often regarded as homages to the original artists, and can revive older songs using different styles and sounds.
Here are 10 cover songs that are better than the originals. To purchase these tracks for free from iTunes or Amazon.com, sign up for iRazoo today and start earning free points that can be redeemed for gift cards to these retailers.
1. Killing Me Softly by The Fugees
This tune was originally released by Lori Lieberman in 1971, and again as a cover by Roberta Flack in 1973. The song rose to worldwide popularity when it was released by The Fugees in 1996, with Lauryn Hill singing the lead vocals. “Killing Me Softly” went on to win the 1997 Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
2. Girls Just Want To Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper
This iconic song has been covered by over 30 different artists, but Cyndi Lauper’s version remains the most popular version today. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” was first performed by Robert Hazard in 1979, but failed to gain momentum. Cyndi Lauper released her version in 1983, which became her first major single as a solo artist.
3. Hound Dog by Elvis Presley
Released by Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton in 1953, the original version of “Hound Dog” spent seven weeks as #1 on the Billboard R&B charts. But most people are familiar with Elvis Presley’s 1956 version, which became one of the best-selling singles of all time and peaked at #2 on the Billboard’s Top 100.
4. Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinéad O’Connor
“Nothing Compares 2 U” was originally performed by Prince and his funk band The Family in 1985. But the song became a famous hit in 1990 when it was covered by Irish artist Sinéad O’Connor. The song’s music video even went on to win three awards at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards.
5. I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston
This ballad was originally recorded in 1973 by country singer Dolly Parton. But most people are familiar with Whitney Houston’s cover, which was released in 1992 on the soundtrack for The Bodyguard. Today, Houston’s cover is ranked #6 on Billboard’s list of the Top 50 Love Songs of All Time.
6. I Swear by All-4-One
“I Swear” was originally performed by country artist John Michael Montgomery in 1994. Later that same year, “I Swear” was covered by pop group All-4-One. The boy band’s cover outperformed Montgomery’s original version, and spent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 11 weeks.
7. What a Man by Salt-N-Pepa with En Vogue
The original version of “What a Man” was performed by Linda Lyndell in 1968 and ranked #50 on the Billboard R&B chart. But its 1993 cover version by Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue achieved far greater success, and topped out at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
8. Red Red Wine by UB40
“Red Red Wine” was originally recorded in acoustic style by Neil Diamond in 1967. UB40 then made a reggae-style cover in 1983, which topped at #34 on the Billboard charts. The song was re-released in 1988 with an added verse that was omitted from the 1984 version, and hit #1 on the Billboard charts. The cover is said to be one of Neil Diamond’s favorites.
9. Twist and Shout by The Beatles
This rock-and-roll single was first recorded by the Top Notes in 1961, but it was The Beatles who made “Twist and Shout” as well known as it is today. Despite the fact John Lennon was suffering from a cold when the track was recorded, the cover hit #2 on the Billboard charts in 1964.
10. Tainted Love by Soft Cell
“Tainted Love” was originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964, but didn’t become a sensation until 1981, when it was covered by vocal-and-synth duo Soft Cell. Soft Cell’s cover spent 43 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, and is considered one of the best one-hit wonders of the 1980s.
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