They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and artists aren’t shy about covering songs that they admire. Take the great Aretha Franklin with her recent cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” or Rita Ora’s stripped down version of Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love”. Even Sia turned her superior pipes towards tunes that she wrote for artists like Ne-Yo and Britney Spears. But not all covers are sung equally, and occasionally you have that rarest of phenomenon: a cover that outdoes the original. Read on for some of our favorite picks!
1. Amy Winehouse’s Version Of The Zuton’s “Valerie”
The Zutons (original)
2. En Vogue’s Version Of Aretha Franklin’s “Giving Him Something He Can Feel”
All hail the Queen of Soul who originally recorded this track in 1976 for the film Sparkle. But En Vogue’s cover of this song in 1992, for their second album Funky Divas, did very well and was an amazing take on the classic.
Aretha Franklin (original)
3. Lauryn Hill’s Version Of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”
Lauryn Hill added a hip hop feel to the 1967 standard by Frankie Valli, and her cover ended up scoring a Grammy nomination.
Frankie Valli (original)
4. Ace of Base’s Version Of Tina Turner’s “Don’t Turn Around”
Recorded in 1986, Tina Turner’s record label treated the track as a B-side and never placed it on any of her albums. Ace of Base added a touch of pop and their version peaked at #4 in 1994 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Tina Turner (original)
5. Adele’s Version Of Cheryl Cole’s “Promise This”
Anything Adele touches turns to gold, and this track was one of them. She took more of the acoustic approach and it still sounded AMAZING! The original was sung and released in 2010 by British artist Cheryl Cole.
Cheryl Cole (original)
6. Whitney Houston’s Version Of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”
WHITNEY.IS.THE.QUEEN.OF.THIS SONG. This was originally recorded as a country track by its composer Dolly Parton in 1973. Whitney recorded it in 1992 for the film The Bodyguard and it has since then become one of the best selling singles of all time.
Dolly Parton (original)
7. Alicia Keys Version Of Prince’s “How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore”
Alicia Keys flipped the 1982 Prince single and her cover appeared on her debut album, Songs in A Minor in 2001. Alicia’s cover could live in the same space as Prince. If it wasn’t the better version, it lived up to the hype of the original.
8. Jojo’s Version Of Drake’s “Marvin’s Room”
Cover versions flooded the internet when Drake dropped “Marvin’s Room” in 2011, but the best cover by far was Jojo’s. Even Drake thought she killed it with her version from a woman’s perspective. Both cuts are great, but we’re going with Jo.
9. Beyonce’s Version Of Victoria Beckham’s “Resentment”
Beyonce’s cover is usually the main one that comes to mind when you think about this song. It was written by Walter Milsap, Candice Nelson, and Curtis Mayfield but originally recorded by Victoria Beckham in 2004. Queen Bey changed the lyrics and that version appeared on her 2006 album, B’day.
Victoria Beckham (original)
10. D’Angelo’s Version Of Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin'”
This track was originally recorded and written by Smokey Robinson in 1979. Although both versions were successful in their own right, D’Angelo’s soul and funk inspired approach to the track really made this song a hit in the ’90s.
Smokey Robinson (original)
11. Sia’s Version Of Britney Spears’ “Perfume”
Sia Furler (songwriter extraordinaire) co-wrote the track with Britney Spears and Christopher Braide, and it appeared on Britney’s 2013 album, Britney Jean. Although Britney had her hands in writing the song, Sia put her stamp on the vocals. Enough said.
Britney Spears (original)
12. Johnny Cash’s Version Of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”
Johnny Cash’s 2002 cover of the song was received to critical acclaim and was one of his last releases before his death. The song first appeared on Nine Inch Nails’ album, The Downward Spiral, in 1994. The song’s composer Trent Reznor found Cash’s version (and the accompanying video) extremely moving. “Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps… Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore…” he said in an interview.
Nine Inch Nails (original)
13. The Starting Line’s Version Of Jennifer Lopez’s “I’m Real”
American pop-punk band The Starting Line added a more fast tempo feel to J-Lo’s 2001 hit single. Their intersting take appeared on their 2002 album Punk Goes Pop.
Jennifer Lopez (original)
14. The Black Keys’ Version Of Jerry Butler’s “Never Give You Up”
The Black Keys did this 1968 single justice. The song originally appeared on Butler’s The Ice Man Cometh and then reappeared as a cover on The Black Keys’ Brothers album in 2010.
Jerry Butler (original)
15. Aretha Frankin’s Version Of Otis Redding’s “Respect”
The Queen put her own stamp on Otis Redding’s Stax classic, harnessing racial and feninist issues into a singular demand for, you guessed it, respect.
Otis Redding (original)