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Cover Songs that Transform the Original

Updated on August 26, 2017

Johnny Cash


Hurt-Nine Inch Nails by Nine Inch Nails (Johnny Cash Cover)

Many people are familiar with Johnny Cash's rendition of Hurt and to many the song is considered Johnny Cash's self epitaph. The music video itself is very moving with heavy elements of religion, sorrow, and death. The music video won the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video.

What many people may not realize is that Hurt originally debuted in Nine Inch Nails album "The Downward Spiral" ten years earlier. The themes of the original song were centered on drug addiction and its self destructive nature.

Johnny Cash-Hurt

Trent Reznor, the front man for Nine Inch Nails; was originally apprehensive about Johnny Cash making a cover. However, once the song was released that he got goosebumps and said that "Johnny Cash had transformed the song and it was no longer his".

Nine Inch Nails-Hurt

I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor (Cake Cover)

"I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor was a Billboard Hot 100 Chart topper in 1979 and remains a well known classic to this day. It is considered by many, including the Rolling Stones Magazine, to be one of the greatest songs of all time.

Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive

While the Cake cover does not command the same laureates, it does transform this disco anthem into a catchy alternative rock song with their 1996 rendition on their album "Fashion Nugget".

Cake-I Will Survive

Sweet Dreams-Eurythmics (Marilyn Manson Cover)

Sweet Dreams (Are made of This) was an international hit by the British musical Duo the Eurythmics in the early 1980's. The music video was immensely popular on the then infant MTV channel. The chart climbed to the number 1 spot in the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1983.

Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams

The new wave hit was given a second life through a much darker, gothic version by Marilyn Manson. The song was released in 1995 and is a common go to for horror and dark drama flicks. The music video was ranked as the scariest in 2010 by the Billboard Magazine.

Marilyn Manson - Sweet Dreams

Sound of Silence-Simon and Garfunkel (Disturbed cover)

Heavy metal band Disturbed takes this 1960's catchy yet dark folk anthem and transforms it into a raw rock ballad. The 1960's version stayed on the Billboard Top 100 for 14 weeks going toe to toe with the The Beatles "We Can Work it Out" for the number 1 spot on the chart.

The Sound of Silence-Simon and Garfunkel

Disturbed's cover made it to number 1 on the Mainstream Rock Charts as well in 2016 and is contained in their 2015 album "Immortalized".

The Sound of Silence-Disturbed

Respect-Otis Redding (Aretha Franklin Cover)

Aretha Franklin's version of "Respect" spent 12 weeks on the top of the Charts in 1967 and came at a pivotal time during the Civil Rights and Feminist movements in the United States. It continue to command respect and is considered the 5th Greatest Song of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine with several pop culture references and subsequent covers to boot. However, the original version was by soul legend Otis Redding.

Respect-Otis Redding

The original version by Otis Redding, released in 1965 on his "Otis Blue" album, had a very different tone and feel. In the original, the subject is centered on a man's willingness to provide for his wife/girlfriend as long as they are respected. The song in its own right was hit reaching number 5 on Billboard's Black Singles charts as well as being a cross over hit to the white pop audience as well making it to number 35 on those charts as well which was a significant feat in its own.

The famous song break and hook "R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me" was one of the pivotal additions made by Aretha Franklin. It is truly remarkable how two years later Aretha was able to turn the song on its head and give it a totally different meaning and international appeal while turning it into an anthem of the Civil Rights and Black Womanhood movements.

Respect-Aretha Franklin

What is Your Favorite Cover Song?

Do you have a favorite cover song? Leave your favorite pick in the comment section.

© 2015 Daniel Gottlob


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    • Jonkrousseau profile image

      Jonkrousseau 14 months ago

      Check out this girl. Her covers on Instagram are excellent!

      IG: @lilxrosie

    • profile image

      Nice 2 years ago