Top 5 Cover Songs That Surpass the Original

A good cover can make a musician a superstar, but a cover one can place them right in the dreaded “wedding singer” category. Whether it’s rock bands covering soul singers, a Capella groups performing movie anthems, or a fresh take on a song you’ve heard one too many times, we all have our favorite versions of well-loved songs. In fact, there are a few which are arguably even better than the originals. Here are my picks for the Top 5 cover songs. 

Number Five: “Royals” by Jon Foreman and Brian Logan Dales. Lorde’s breakout hit “Royals” divides people, and they either love or hate the quirky tones of the New Zealand songstress. When Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman and Brian Logan Dales of The Summer Set covered the song at TWLOHA’s Heavy & Light in 2014 and again at this year’s shows, they turned the song on its head by combining the experience of Foreman with the vibrancy of Dales. Rather than having a sober, yet somewhat haughty tune about not getting caught up in show biz, the duo transformed it into a music lover’s delight with an acoustic-based version that made many people love a well-worn song. 

Number Four: “Jolene” by Miley Cyrus. Miley Cyrus covered Dolly Parton’s 1974 hit “Jolene” in 2012 and gave it the kick it needed to appeal to a new generation. Recorded for her Backyard Sessions, Miley’s version carries a similar country swing to the original, but her vocals lift it to give a more alternative feel. A song about heartbreak and absolute desperation, Dolly’s original is a solid staple to the country repertoire, yet Miley’s rendition captures the pain in the song and gives it a fresh taste for a generation of music fans who aren’t quite as partial to the country twang as her God Mother. 

Number Three: “Radioactive” by Pentatonix and Lindsey Stirling. Proving that even the most heart-thumping rock anthem can be turned into a multi-layered vocal masterpiece, Pentatonix and Lindsey Stirling’s cover of the Imagine Dragons’ hit carries the fire of the original, but brings an introspective element to the song. Vocally superb, the addition of Stirling’s strings makes this all the better and will leave you breathless- this time in awe.

Number Two: “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” by Fatai. Everyone loves a bit of Frozen, and the gorgeous “Do You Want to Build A Snowman?” sung by Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell is a fan favorite. That was before Australian soul singer Fatai covered it on Facebook and gave the theatrical song a whole new spin. Now layered with runs, octaves of notes, and the beautiful tones of the eighteen-year old’s rich vocals, all backed by her acoustic guitar, her cover impressed Disney execs so much, she recorded it for their Australian We Love Disney album. 

Number One: “Blank Space/ Style Mashup” by Louisa Wendorff feat. Devin Dawson. Like the rest of the world, I discovered this phenomenal cover of Taylor Swift’s most recent hits when she shared it online, and the earthy, acoustic sound of Louisa and Devin creates a whole new dimension to the pop tunes. The mix of the male and female vocals gives these songs maturity and a deeper sense of storytelling, plus their delivery is simply exquisite.