6 Awesome, Unexpected Cover Songs You Need to Hear

Singers, why limit yourself to one genre? Many artists have produced amazing cover songs to put their own spin on tunes, even those not in their particular genre. Here, St. Augustine, FL voice teacher Heather L. shares six covers worth a listen…


How amazingly awesome is it to hear a song re-sung by a singer in a way that’s totally unlike the original version? The correct answer? Really amazingly awesome! Sometimes it can change the way we hear the lyrics completely, sometimes it’ll make us laugh or cry, and sometimes, it’s just plain mind-blowing! Some songs might just showcase another artist, while others bend genres and provide a whole new sound and feel. If you’ve ever heard metal covers of pop songs, you know what we mean!

Below are some of the best cover songs ever — enjoy!

“I Will Survive”
Originally performed by Gloria Gaynor, covered by CAKE

This may be the weirdest, most unexpected cover song of all time. Gloria Gaynor sang the original survivor ballad with elegance and soaring melody, and CAKE pretty much just reads the lyrics. And it couldn’t be cooler!

Originally performed by Collective Soul, covered by Dolly Parton and Nickel Creek

Post-grunge band Collective Soul had a big hit with “Shine”. But in this cool cover song, iconic country singer Dolly Parton jams with progressive bluegrass band Nickel Creek and takes it to another planet. And she’s smart enough to cut out a couple of the superfluous “yeahs” that Collective Soul’s lead singer belts before the chorus.

“Rather Be”
Originally performed by Clean Bandit, covered by Pentatonix

The British electronic group Clean Bandit got their first number one hit in the U.K. just last year with “Rather Be”.  And the a cappella supergroup Pentatonix has already covered it and made it a hit of their own by using their voices in amazing ways to create the electronic sounds of the original.  Listen and try to hear how the vocalists make the drum, scratch, and bass noises!

Originally performed by Dolly Parton, covered by The White Stripes

Jack White is a huge fan of classic country, and his cover of “Jolene” is a real tribute — sung and played with love. Dolly’s original is sweetly sung in her honey-coated voice, and Jack pretty much yells it. At least he plays the guitar intro the same way.

“Take Me Home, Country Roads”
Originally performed by John Denver, covered by Toots and the Maytals

Even the most die-hard fans of John Denver, arguably the most popular country/folk singer of the 1970s, have probably never heard his music played by a reggae band. It’s even more happy-go-lucky and smiley than the first one.

“Nothing Else Matters”
Originally performed by Metallica, covered by Tori Amos

Metallica is the ultimate metal band of the 1990s, and Tori Amos is the ultimate girl-on-a-piano. What happens when she covers them? Cover magic! The words really shine through when you’re singing them at half the tempo. And listen, she does.

If nothing else, awesome genre-bending covers teach us that anything is possible in our craft and your creativity is only limited by your imagination. Einstein taught us that imagination is more important than knowledge. Well, here’s hoping he was right!

Readers, what do you think? What’s on your list for the best cover songs ever? Leave your favorites in the comment section below! 

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, the American Boy Choir, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!


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