Got it Covered…

30 Cover Versions that were Better than the Originals

Words by Paul Sumpter, Monday 26 Oct 2015


Over the last decade as revenues from album sales continue to dwindle, artists and publishers are increasingly looking to exploit a rich back catalogue through syncs in advertising and digital content. Taking a well-loved (or even relatively unknown) tune and breathing a new lease of life into the song, re-contextualising the lyric or feel for a modern audience, is an idea more and more agencies are taking advantage of and one we face regularly, and relish as music producers. Executed poorly and it can sound like a cheap karaoke soundalike. But done well, it capitalises on a wonderful balance between recognisability, familiarity and innovation. It can even re-launch ailing careers for the original songwriter.

Famous campaigns from the likes of Chanel (Baz Lurhmann’s £18m epic featuring Lo-Fang’s shimmering version of Grease’s You’re The One That I Want), John Lewis (Ellie Goulding, Gabrielle Alpin and Lilly Allen all chipping in glossy re-works for recent festive Adam&Eve/DDB campaigns) and more recently Premier Inn’s sync of Katie Melua’s rendition of Black’s 1987 hit Wonderful Life (Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R), show a thriving appetite for a well placed cover. With Christmas round the corner, expect a new wave of inventive back catalogue plundering to hit our various size screens over the next few weeks.

Here’s our list of 30 cover versions where the artist took an existing song and really made it uniquely their own. Better than the originals? Maybe. Compelling? Most definitely…


  1. Spanky Wilson, Sunshine of Your Love (1968) Original by Cream (1968)
  2. Stevie Wonder, We Can Work It Out (1970) Original by The Beatles (1965)
  3. Ryan Adams, Bad Blood (2015) Original by Taylor Swift (2014)
  4. CocoRosie, Turn Me On (2008) Original by Kevin Lyttle (2004)
  5. FKA Twigs, Stay With Me (2014) Original by Sam Smith (2014)
  6. Joe Cocker, With a Little Help From My Friends (1969) Original by The Beatles (1967)
  7. Father John Misty, One of Us Cannot Be Wrong (2012) Original by Leonard Cohen (1967)
  8. Radiohead, Nobody Does It Better (1995) Original by Carly Simon (1977)
  9. The Kingsmen, Louie Louie (1963) Original by Richard Berry (1957)
  10. Merry Clayton, Gimme Shelter (1970) Original by The Rolling Stones (1969)
  11. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, All Along The Watchtower (1968) Original by Bob Dylan (1967)
  12. John Coltrane, My Favourite Things (1961) Original by Rogers / Hammerstein (1959)
  13. Ben Howard, Hideaway (2014) Original by Kiesza (2013)
  14. Gary Lutton, Everywhere (2015) Original by Fleetwood Mac (1987)
  15. Johnny Cash, Personal Jesus (2002) Original by Depeche Mode (1989)
  16. Bryan Ferry Orchestra feat. Emeli Sande, Crazy In Love (2013) Original by Beyonce (2003)
  17. Paul Anka, Black Hole Sun (2005) Original by Soundgarden (1994)
  18. Count Basie & Jackie Wilson, I Was Made To Love Her (1968) Original Stevie Wonder (1967)
  19. The Clash, I Fought The Law (1977) Original by Sonny Curtis (1959)
  20. Lissie, Bad Romance (2010) Original by Lady Gaga (2000)
  21. Daughter, Get Lucky (2013) Original by Daft Punk (2013)
  22. The Weeknd, Dirty Diana (2011) Original by Michael Jackson (1987)
  23. Bon Iver, I Can’t Make You Love Me (2011) Original by Bonnie Raitt (1991)
  24. Donny Hathaway, Jealous Guy (1972) Original by John lennon & The Plastic Ono Band (1971)
  25. Janis Joplin, Piece of My Heart (1968) Original by Erma Franklin (1967)
  26. Tame Impala, Remember Me (2010) Original by Blueboy (1996) / Marlena Shaw (1969)
  27. Jeff Buckley, Hallelujah (1994) Original by Leonard Cohen (1975)
  28. Cake, I Will Survive (1996) Original by Gloria Gaynor (1978)
  29. Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Sussudio (2003) Original by Phil Collins (1985)
  30. Bill Murray, Star Wars Theme (SNL) Original by John Williams (1977)
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Founder & Creative Director

Monday 26 Oct 2015

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