ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Top Ten Rock Cover Songs

Updated on May 25, 2017
thebiologyofleah profile image

Leah is a science geek who writes mostly about health and biology. She also enjoys writing about pop culture, cooking, and DIY projects.

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. Source: jbach, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY SA 2.0.
Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. Source: jbach, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY SA 2.0.

Most music lovers have a love/hate relationship with cover songs, including me. I welcome the opportunity to completely discredit a cover song, yelling about the artist's attempts to take something sacred and make it their own. Ultimatley, artists covering songs are really brave. There is the ‘they changed it too much it doesn’t pay tribute to the original’ side of the argument and the ‘they made it sound too much like their own and are not paying tribute to the original’ side. These artists really can’t win. I am among the debaters, I am extremely picky about who covers what and how. But isn’t that the point of music, to garner an opinion whether it be negative or positive? A lot of new artist’s fame is attributed to first covering an established song to get their name out there. I love to hear new covers, ears perked, ready to pick them apart. But every once and a while, I have no cause for any ensuing outrage. There are some covers out there I actually enjoy. To warn you- nothing is sacred, if I like a cover of a Beatles or Stones song better than the original then so be it. Also there is no accounting for taste- I like what I like and I’ve always felt the whole point of music is to be unpretentious, to enjoy whichever genres you want and to not feel the need to explain it.

Foo Fighters ‘Darling Nikki’ Prince original- A lot of Prince songs are laced with innuendo, while this one just comes right out and says it. Prince’s original version is actually credited as one of the songs that started the whole explicit rating system, Tipper Gore being responsible as a co-founder of the group that got on record companies to devise a rating system. Lyrics aside, the song sounds better as a rock song. I love hearing Dave Grohl really growl and he doesn’t always do that on Foo Fighters original tracks. I read somewhere that Prince did not approve of this cover, he was quoted as saying something along the lines of artists should stick to their own music and not do covers of others' work. The Foo Fighters version is tough to purchase, since it was never intended to be released, eventually making its way onto a vinyl album only.

Side-note: Prince covered Foo Fighter’s 'Best of You' at the Super Bowl in 2007 without the band’s prior knowledge. It was never clarified whether it was a complement/peace offering or retribution for them covering his song without his permission.

Second Side-note: Prince apparently approved of Incubus’ cover of ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ which appears on their recent greatest hits album ‘Monuments and Melodies.’ It’s a good cover, indicating Prince's songs are amenable to a more rock version.

Pearl Jam’s ‘Dock of the Bay’ Otis Redding original- I love Eddie Vedder’s raspy voice, and that is what he contributes to this version of the song. Not sure if they ever made a studio version of this cover, I had it on a cassette tape and I would listen to it during the summer months, sitting at the beach with my Walkman. I love that it is a live version, it makes it sound even better. It appears on the album Unplugged and Undrugged.

The camera work is a little shaky, but this is the version I had on my Walkman.

The Sundays ‘Wild Horses’ Rolling Stones original- I actually will argue, more so than the other covers on this list, that this cover is better than the original. I think the mood set by the Sundays version better fits the lyrics. And I think it sounds better with a female singing it. Sorry Mick.

Boyz II Men ‘Yesterday’ Beatles original- I was a huge Boyz II Men fan when they were making albums, ‘End of the Road’ is probably one of my all-time favorites so when coming up with a list of good covers I couldn’t leave their rendition of 'Yesterday' off of it. Now I won’t claim it is better than the original, but better suited to someone whose only option for screaming at the TV was MTV as opposed to The Ed Sullivan Show.

Chris Cornell ‘Billie Jean’ Michael Jackson -Again, like Vedder, Cornell has that sweet raspy voice and it gives an air of originality to any cover he does. His version of 'Billie Jean' is a stripped down, slowed down version. One of those where you think it is an original, new song by the artist and then you notice you already know the words and it dawns of you 'This must be a cover.' I like MJ covers because they are great songs, and when they are done a little different they still sound great and don’t take away from Michael Jackson’s original versions. Others include Alien Ant Farm’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ and Fall-Out Boy with John Mayer on ‘Beat it.’

Side-note: Special recognition of Cornell’s recent tribute to Whitney Houston by singing ‘I Will Always Love You’ (which is also a cover, so it’s a cover of a cover for those keeping score.)

George Michael’s 'Faith' covered by Limp Bizkit- Here’s where I evoke the 'no accounting for taste' rule- I cringe to even type the band name, but I can't help really liking this cover. Rock in all its forms is my genre so I love when harder versions of songs are made. It also makes you appreciate the original more, before Limp Bizkit covered this song, the George Michael version was in cobwebs. But often times a cover makes you go back and enjoy the original again, giving it a boost in airtime on the radio and maybe even a lift in record sales as well.

My Chemical Romance’s ‘All I want for Christmas is You’– I love everything MCR does so it’s no surprise that when I find out they covered Mariah Carey’s Christmas hit (I’ll admit I love the original) I hunted on eBay and Amazon until I found a recording of it to purchase. It’s awesome, as long as you love cheesy Christmas songs and My Chemical Romance, which I do so for me it's pure bliss. This is what I love about music, the diversity- here you have the exact same lyrics, sang in totally different ways and the result is two great songs. Especially since a lot of Christmas covers sound exactly the same as the original My Chemical Romance really hits it out of the park for me on this one.

Johnny Cash’s version of Nine Inch Nail’s ‘Hurt’ Here’s an example that you cannot help but respect because first of its Johnny Cash. But also because he puts such a different spin on it than Trent Reznor’s original. I think the hallmark of a really good cover is one that is a great version on its own but doesn’t take away from the original. Both are great in their own way, and I can’t help but get a little teary at Cash’s version.

Side-note- Cash did not want to swear on his version, so Reznor agreed to change the lyrics for him. It’s funny to me because Johnny Cash is always portrayed as a rebel with a hard edge. I think it is sweet he didn’t want to swear because his interpretation of the song dealt with his strong Christian beliefs (the lyric 'crown of thrones' replaced 'crown of s--t'). And luckily this closed the door on any chance that he’d do a 'Closer' cover.

'I Want You To Want Me'- Letters to Cleo’s cover of Cheap Trick- Here’s another example of a version I definitely prefer over the original. Letters to Cleo is a Boston based band who I have seen live a few times. This song was probably their biggest hit since it appears at the end of the (awesome) teen movie 10 Things I Hate About You. Cheap Trick's lyrics are clever, the play on words carried out throughout, but the original just sounds so dated to me.

'Simple Man'- Shinedown, covering Lynyrd Skynyrd- I’m hesitant to put this song on the list because I don’t think it varies significantly from the original, but at the same time when thinking of covers that first come to my mind as favorites I think of this one. Even though it doesn’t deviate all the much from the original it still sticks out to me. I love this song, I think the lyrics are so great and Shinedown’s cover is stripped down which suits the song. This is one example where I equally enjoy the original and cover.

I love hearing covers, I think now with heightened internet use and YouTube, we are privy to even more covers. Additionally I think artists and their teams are realizing getting an artist's name and music out on the internet is great publicity. I love when a really mellow artist takes a cheesy pop star's song, strips it away, and sings it acoustic. I like hearing an artist from a different genre than the original take on a song and really make it their own. I also enjoy pumped up versions of songs, Newfound Glory and Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s have many covers of some old-school songs that I love, but l Ieft them off the list in order to show diversity of my top picks. But I love Newfound Glory's version of Peter Cetera's 'Glory of Love' from the Karate Kid Part II soundtrack, it got their name out there- allowing them to put their own stuff out. While Me First's cover of Cat Steven's 'Wild World' is up there for one of my favorite original and cover combinations.

What do you think of cover songs in general?

See results

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)