Top 10 covers that are better than the original

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Picture this: you’re driving down the streets of Allentown listening to your favorite Spotify playlist. When you run out of songs, the app starts playing similar music on shuffle. All of a sudden, you hear a song that sounds familiar; same lyrics, same title, same melody, but… a different artist?! You listen to the song in full and a realization dawns upon you: the cover is better than the original! If that’s something that seems inconceivable to you, here are the top ten covers that are better than the originals (according to my INCREDIBLE music taste): 

10) “Till There Was You” (by The Beatles): Originally featured in the Broadway musical “The Music Man,” John, Paul, George and Ringo’s take on this tune brings it into a whole new light. You will see later in this list that I hate on The Beatles, but here I can definitively say that the iconic band’s plunky, guitar-heavy rendition is preferable to the theatrical duet (especially the recent revival’s, which was trash). 

9) “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (by Kacey Musgraves): This is going to be controversial but I believe that Musgraves’ cover, which was recorded for the movie soundtrack of  “Elvis” (2022), is in fact better than the King of Rock and Roll’s original. Musgraves’s smooth, silky tone is perfect for this quaint love song. Her recording brings a modern take to the classic while still letting aspects of the original shine through. 

8) “Shameless” (by Garth Brooks): Yes, the rumors are true–I like country music (if you hadn’t already guessed by the Kacey Musgraves pick). Now, I’m not usually pro-male country artist, just because it’s a little too “beer and trucks” for my liking. However, Garth Brooks on this track is my guilty pleasure. He took one of Billy Joel’s only flops and turned it into a sweeping rendition and a huge hit. 

7) “Heart of Glass” (by Miley Cyrus): Here’s my hot take: Blondie’s version of this song is boring; it feels kind of monotonous (sue me). Miley flipped the switch, however, when she performed this cover at the iHeart Festival. She FED US with this rock version. Her rich, yet  abrasive voice found its home in this song, which is why it has made this very definitive, official list. 

6) “Doin’ Time” (by Lana Del Rey): “This song is so Lana Del Rey vinyl.” But in all seriousness I am absolutely obsessed with this song and “Norman Fucking Rockwell,” the album it is featured on. This album is Del Rey’s magnum opus. Call me ignorant, but I didn’t even realize this song was a cover until a friend of mine told me that a band called Sublime sang it first. So, I listened to the original and all I have to say is: don’t waste your time; Lana will always come out on top.

5) “That Funny Feeling” (by Phoebe Bridgers): This song was originally created for comedian Bo Burnham’s Netflix special “Inside.” The tune is a satirical commentary on our modern capitalistic society with lyrics like “In honor of the revolution, it’s half-off at the Gap.” However, Bridgers does what she does best and turns this song into THE MOST DEVASTATING THING YOU WILL EVER LISTEN TO. Now, Burnham and Bridgers are in a relationship and I can’t help but wonder if they argue about who sang this best. 

4) “Push” (by Ryan Gosling): I saw “Barbie” three times in theaters. I think that explains why this is here. 

3) “Untouchable (Taylor’s Version)” (by Taylor Swift): You think I was going to do a music rankings list without putting Taylor Alison Swift on it? Absolutely not! Many die-hard Swifties don’t even know that this is a cover (fake fans). This is probably because the original sounds NOTHING like Swift’s version. Originally recorded by Luna Halo, the song fit into the punk-rock genre. Swift put her country-pop spin on it for her sophomore album “Fearless.” And let’s just be real, if Taylor Swift covers your song, it’s gonna be better than when you sang it originally. I don’t make the rules!  

2) “Valerie” (by Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse): Here’s another one that I did not know was a cover until very recently. So, naturally, I had to listen to the original by The Zutons. And all I have to say is: “why is a man singing?” Ronson and Winehouse’s cover is pure magic and possesses a fun 1960’s flair. Winehouse had gold in her vocal chords and everyday I wish we could hear more of her signature R&B style (RIP legend). 

1) “Across the Universe” (by Fiona Apple): Here’s the TRUTH: Fiona Apple wrote this song. She. wrote. it. See I told you I would hate on The Beatles and you didn’t believe me but here I am. This cover is actually my religion. The impact of Lennon and McCartney’s psychedelic lyrics is increased tenfold by the new instrumentals Apple brings to her cover. And if I’m being so real, I don’t think The Beatles are good singers. I think that this song was craving Apple’s deep alto voice. So, in my mind, this is Fiona Apple’s song and no one can take that away from her.

That’s all for this ranking. If you’re upset by my choices, just be happy that I didn’t include any “Glee” covers (I’m looking at you “Teenage Dream”). 

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Katie is a Media & Communication and Political Science double major in the class of 2024. When she's not working on the paper you can find her blasting Taylor Swift, reading Jane Austen, or crying over Little Women (2019).

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