16 Great Cover Songs

Written by on May 21, 2018

Every couple months, my KPSU radio show Six Degrees of Rockination has a theme. In May 2018, that theme was “Covers.” Every song was originally done by a different artist. What songs did I play?

Royal Blood – “Roxanne”

Originally done by the Police, this song gets rocked up by the bass-and-drum duo from England.

Quietdrive – “Time After Time”

I love the Cyndi Lauper original, but it’s possible I like this one even better. Thick distortion and a full, rich sound.

Bonjah – “Royals”

They didn’t make huge changes to Lorde’s original, but there’s just enough to make it feel new and different.

Lorde – “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”

And immediately after having someone cover a Lorde song, we have Lorde herself, covering the Tears For Fears classic. She tries some really interesting stuff here, making the song super-spooky.

Nina Gordon – “Straight Outta Compton”

This seems like the perfect way to cover gangsta rap: a quiet acoustic guitar and a simple, lovely female voice. A great take on the NWA classic.

Goldfinger – “Just Like Heaven”

I’m a huge fan of skatepunk, and these dudes crush the Cure’s original.

Toad the Wet Sprocket – “Rock and Roll All Night”

Two sure-fire ways to make a good cover: take a slow song and make it fast, or take a fast song and make it slow, which is what Toad did with this Kiss classic.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – “Desperado”

If you like this version of the Eagles classic, you need to check out all of Me First’s work. All they do is take classics and rock them up like this. I adore them.

Wakey Wakey – “Say It Ain’t So”

I love Weezer’s original, but never realized how dark and heartbreaking the lyrics are until I heard this cover.

Postmodern Jukebox – “Such Great Heights”

Just like with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, PMJ do nothing but covers, all of them with a retro jazzy feel. They put out a new song every week on YouTube.

Taylor Swift – “Riptide”

A breathtakingly beautiful cover of the Vance Joy hit.

Social Distortion – “Tainted Love”

Did you know that the 1981 Soft Cell version of this song isn’t the original? The orignal was done by Gloria Jones in 1965. That means Social D’s version is a cover of a cover.

Ewan McGregor – “Your Song”

If you haven’t seen the movie Moulin Rouge, stop whatever you’re doing and watch it. Now.

Mountain Heart – “Dance the Night Away”

I love the Van Halen original, but man, this slow pretty bluegrass version gives it a run for its money.

The Mr. T Experience – “What Difference Does It Make?”

The Smiths original is so good and so popular, I actually have two covers in my collection; this one, plus another, more country-fied version by Bobby Bare Jr.

Jonathan Coulton – “Baby Got Back”

Just like with Nina Gordon’s cover of NWA, this cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot goes for a sweet, innocent tone that completely and totally works.

And there you go! 16 great cover songs. And guess what? This isn’t just a list I came up with. This was an actual hour-long radio show. Want to hear it? Here’s the link. A solid hour featuring a whole lot of world-class cover songs.

Playlist:

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