Today I stumbled onto an article listing the best covers of the past decade and I stumbled onto this.

Holy shit this kicked my ears in the testicles.

That got me thinking about other covers that are arguably better than the original version. How often does an artist take another’s vision and molds it in such a way that it becomes its own creation? Sure, we can cite Hendrix’s cover of ‘All Along the Watchtower’, but that’s sort of lame and obvious.

I’d rather tout my own opinion and infuriate people while doing so.

Here are my five favorite covers that (in my opinion) are absolutely better than the original versions.

5) Dead Souls – Nine Inch Nails (Original by Joy Division)

I am a HUGE fan of Joy Division. In fact, I believe a good amount of 80’s and 90’s music would have been utterly impossible if it weren’t for their influence, but when it comes to Dead Souls – Trent, um, nails it.

Seriously, the sound is more ominous, the length of the song is just right and the vocals work (which is rare for a Joy Division cover). Compare yourself:

It’s a great song, and Ian Curtis’ voice is fucking haunting, but there’s something that feels “right” about the NIN version.

It could be nostalgia talking as well; since my first exposure to this track was the NIN version. Still, I’ve found even in those cases to usually be more impressed by the original track when I have heard it.

4) 99 Red Balloons – Goldfinger ( Original by Nena)

I know the original track is a big crowd pleaser, but tell the energy Goldfinger brings to their version isn’t so much more satisfying.

Also; I hate the original singer’s voice. There – I said it.

Hell, Goldfinger even gives you a final verse in German to keep it real. In my mind that makes it the definitive version. It’s fun, energetic and crazy fun to sing along to.

Besides, it’s okay to admit things from the eighties kind of sucked and sometimes needed improvement.

3) Take on Me – AC Newman (Original version by A-ha)

Now here’s something that completely redefined a song for me. Actually being able to listen to the lyrics instead of the dancey synthesizer of the original version opened my eyes to a somber, beautiful little song that’s actually quite touching.

Compared to this:

Sure, it’s a classic but how often do you sing and dance along without even thinking? The most you’ll do is make fun of the falsetto note at the end of the chorus.

In the meantime this song was about some heavy shit.

I’ve been a little stuck on the eighties so far, so let’s switch that up.

Also – let’s get a little blasphemous.

2) Smells Like Teen Spirit – Tori Amos (Original by Nirvana)

Again, an artist completely shatters your preconceptions about a piece and does so convincingly as hell.

Tori fucking owns this track and I will fight you in the street if you disagree.

Is the original a classic? Sure.

But this was also something MTV told you was important. You look back on Nirvana’s breakout single and take a listen to their other tracks and all you see and hear is the most marketable item on the list.

I think it takes brass balls to shift what was a grunge rock anthem and make it into a slow, sad piano ballad.

Kudos to Tori Amos.

1) Rusty Cage – Johnny Cash (Original by Soundgarden)

Sorry, Cash’s ‘Hurt’ is the standby for pretentious douche bags who think an dying old man singing about a young man’s heroin addiction is deep or something.

Unfortunately, I prefer the bad-ass, murder you on the side of the road and sit on your body while he writes a song about it Cash.

I do enjoy Soundgarden’s version, though.

The only problem is I only ever hear Cash’s version when the song comes to mind. For some reason, his voice and the simple guitar work won me over.

So what are your thoughts?

Do you agree/disagree or have any other song covers you think outdo the original?

Also, just a quick shout out to Siouxsie and The Banshees version of Dear Prudence.

Just shy of beating the original, but then again; you can’t fuck with Lennon.

Be Easy,


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