Some covers are so good they rival the performances of the original artist. From Billie Eillish to Bob Dylan, we've found so many great performances we had to split it between two lists.
1. Crimson and Clover - Tommy James
as performed by Prince
We're starting the list of with a two for one. Prince performs this Tommy James classic so well it almost seems written for him. And the transition into Wild Thing by The Troggs is seamless. Prince can play anything and make it look easy so don't be surprised if you see his name again on this list.
2. Hurt - Nine Inch Nails
as performed by Johnny Cash
You would never think that an electro-industrial rockstar and an icon of country music have anything in common, but this haunting cover begs to differ. The Man in Black performed this song with such painful reserve and thoughtfulness, Trent Reznor himself said "It felt like a warm hug."
3. Heart Shaped Box - Nirvana
as performed by Post Malone
Everyone knows him from his pop radio hits, but Post Malone doesn't get nearly enough credit for his musical abilities. Posty spent years as a working bar musician and his experience playing covers shows in this flawless take on Kurt Cobain's grunge classic.
4. I'd Rather Go Blind - Etta James
as performed by Beyoncé
Although, this song is part of the soundtrack for the film Cadillac Records it still bears mentioning. Benyoncé very well might be the only living performer with the vocal chops and raw power to take on Etta James. The way her voice cracks while singing in this scene will always induce goosebumps.
5. Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen
as performed by Jeff Buckley
This song has been covered countless times, (many younger readers will know it from Rufus Wainwright's interpretation in Shrek) but none come as close to capturing the beauty of this song like Jeff Buckley. His loose sporadic style of guitar and vulnerable breathy vocals are the perfect soundscape for Cohen's poetic musings. Buckley has a long list of great covers, so, look out for him in pt. 2.
6. Bulls on Parade - Rage Against the Machine
as performed by Denzel Curry
You may be surprised to see either of these artist's names on this list, but that's exactly what makes this one so good. Curry is often pigeon-holed and simply labeled a Trap rapper, but his hardcore take on this 90's Nu-Metal hit demonstrates his versatility as an artist. He's killing the Hip-Hop game but, after hearing this, we'd love to see him take on a Rock album.
7. All Along the Watchtower - Bob Dylan
as performed by Jimi Hendrix
A perfect example of a cover so iconic that it outshines the original. We love Bob Dylan, (you can expect to see more of his songs covered on this list) but this song just doesn't sound right without Hendrix's brutal guitar interludes. Fun Fact: during recording, bass player Noel Redding became bored and left the studio to hit the bar. Hendrix then decided to record the bass track himself which was the take used in the final cut.
8. Killing Me Softly With His Song - Roberta Flack
as performed by The Fugees
Roberta Flack's version of this song is iconic in its own right, but nothing compares to Lauryn Hill's innate cool factor. Plus, between the sparse funky bassline, dry drum-track, and the quintessential Fugees ad-libs, the instrumentation on this track makes it an absolute groove.
9. The Man Who Sold The World - David Bowie
as performed by Nirvana
We could easily fill this entire list with the performances from Nirvana's MTV Unplugged setlist. Throughout the night they hit some personal favorites including Meat Puppets and Leadbelly, but this song stands out. Bowie is known for his high production values and intricate vocal melodies, which is exactly what Nirvana isn't known for, but that doesn't stop them from nailing a faithful, albiet disheveled, performance of this song.
10. Pursuit of Happiness - Kid Cudi
as performed by Lissie
If anything, this cover only serves to illustrate how genre breaking Kid Cudi really is. it didn't take much to for Lissie to transforms this hip-hop modern classic into a scorching indie-rock track. After listening to this one we challenge you to hear the original without missing the "kick-drum hi-hat" bit in the bridge.
If some of your favorites weren't mentioned here, stay tuned, because pt. 2 is coming soon with a whole mess of other titles.