I have to admit, I’m incredibly fussy about song covers, especially when they’re songs that I love – Husband loves a version of Hotel California which is originally by The Eagles but covered by Gipsy Kings, and while I can appreciate their style and talent, I just can’t get my ears around their version of this song. There are, however, a few cover versions that I think are actually way better than their original, and I wanted to share them with you to see if you agree. Go and get a cuppa and listen to all the songs as you get to them – at least it’s something to distract you from all the weather talk for a few minutes!
Hurt – Nine Inch Nails/Johnny Cash
I’m not sure if it’s because Johnny Cash recorded this when he was very poorly, but there’s something about his version which chills me to my soul. I love the NIN version, but Johnny makes this song his own and although Trent Reznor wasn’t sure about it at first, he grew to love Mr. Cash’s version, saying “Having Johnny Cash, one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time, want to cover your song, that’s something that matters to me. It’s not so much what other people think but the fact that this guy felt that it was worthy of interpreting”. I also need to give a nod to Johnny Cash’s version of Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode at this point, which is equally amazing.
Forever Young – Bob Dylan/Audra Mae
A lot of people may disagree with me, but I’m firmly in the camp of people who believe that Bob Dylan should write songs for other people and not sing them himself! He’s capable of writing some incredible lyrics and melodies, but his vocals really don’t do it for me. This cover of his song “Forever Young” sounds beautiful when sung by Audra Mae and I genuinely think it’s far better than the original.
Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley
This might be an obvious choice but for me, Jeff’s version is absolutely definitive. It may be because Leonard Cohen’s voice is a bit of an acquired taste, or the fact that Jeff Buckley’s voice is so astonishingly good (he had the same vocal range as Pavarotti), but I’ll always choose to listen to his version of this song over the original (and Alexandra Burke can GET IN THE SEA).
Running Up That Hill – Placebo/KateBush
Controversial opinion alert – I actually CANNOT STAND Kate Bush. Her vocal style sounds like someone bashing a bag of kittens against a brick wall, and it sets my teeth on edge. I do, however, absolutely LOVE the Placebo cover of this song. Brian Molko does a MUCH better version in my opinion, and I far prefer the actual arrangement of the song, too.
Respect – Aretha Franklin/Otis Redding
Probably the least controversial of my choices, I think you’d be really hard pushed to find anyone who doesn’t agree that Aretha’s version is the absolute definitive of this song. She’s not called The Queen of Soul for nothing! This is one of those songs that you absolutely cannot help but sing along to…even if you can’t reach the same notes as Aretha!
What are your favourite musical cover versions? I’d love for you to share them with me in a comment below.