The Best Cover Versions Ever

5 February 2019, 17:37 | Updated: 5 February 2019, 17:39

Johnny Cash and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails
Johnny Cash and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Picture: Han Myung-Gu/WireImage/Harry Langdon/Getty Images

The cover. It's a risk. It's difficult. But if you pull it off, you can create something incredible that completely overshadows the original. These songs did just that.

  1. Johnny Cash – Hurt Vs NIne Inch Nails - Hurt

    Is the cover better than the original? What can we say? Producer Rick Rubin made the genius move of giving the 71-year-old veteran Man In Black this Trent Reznor classic to cover. Cash turned the song from a pouting teenager's grumbling missive into the coda to an impressive and legendary career. The song was released a few months before Cash's death and the poignancy is heartbreaking.

  2. The Futureheads – Hounds Of Love Vs Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love

    Is the cover better than the original? We wouldn't have a word said against Our Kate, but the Sunderland lads give her mystical, mysterious 1985 track a thorough going-over that gives it a huge new lease of life... without losing the wonder of the melody.

  3. Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah Vs Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah

    Is the cover better than the original? Everything about Buckley's rendition of Hallelujah is perfect. The performance; the composition; the delivery.

  4. Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower Vs Bob Dylan - All Along The Watchtower

    Is the cover better than the original? Watchtower was a throwaway album track by Dylan. It sat on his 1967 album John Wesley Harding album and was largely ignored. Hendrix's reworking pulled the melody forward, which was originally shrouded in the lyrical narrative and worked his apocalyptic guitar magic. As fighting in Vietnam intensified, this became the soundtrack.

  5. Muse – Feeling Good Vs Nina Simone - Feeling Good

    Is the cover better than the original? Originally written for the musicial The Roar Of The Greasepaint - The Smell Of The Crowd, Nina Simone's Feelin' Good is one of the greatest vocal performances in recorded music. But when the Devon trio added their furious rock n' roll distortion to the tune, the track took on a new life. Feelin' Good was no longer a jazz ballad, and instead was a rock anthem.

  6. José González – Heartbeats Vs The Knife - Heartbeats

    Is the cover better than the original? The Swedish musician's 2006 cover of The Knife's Heartbeats is the quintessential example of a cover eclipsing the original. The Knife's original is an electronic feast that's not without its own quirky charm, but Gonzalez's delicate, intricate cover became one of the most listened to tracks of the Noughties.