What Are The Top 10 Cover Songs? We Discuss it on this Podcast.
Cover songs. Two words when separate are fine. But together, can send some people running away from their speakers. Or, it gets them going at the show where they don't recognize any of the other songs. Either way, the debate on bands doing cover songs is a hot one.
Before getting into the Top 10 and the podcast that I was a part of, let's set the record for where I am on the great cover song debate. Some are good. Some are bad. Just like any other music out there. But, there is a place for them.
Cover songs can be a necessary evil for bands.
A good cover song can start a band's career. See Limp Bizket. If it wasn't for Faith blowing up would they have made it? Maybe, but that sure jump-started things for them. A good cover song can also break a band's career. See Alien Ant Farm. All people want from them is Smooth Criminal.
Cover songs can also be good for the opening band. When you are a local opener or even a national opener for some other big band we all understand you want to show off your stuff. But, a great way to show off your stuff, is by showing how well you can do somebody else's stuff. You do five of your own, then slip in a hit that everybody knows, all of a sudden people are back into the show and now they are listening and remembering you. And after all, isn't that what you want as a band trying to breakthrough.
What makes a good or bad cover song?
It's all about two things. The song you choose and the spin you put on it. Let's focus those items on the "bad" part first before getting to the Top 10 below.
A bad song to choose is one that is iconic and/or already has a unique sound. One that is synonymous with the original artist. Nonpoint - "When Doves Cry". It's so hard to cover anything from Prince. But that one, that is right next to "Purple Rain" as a don't try to touch it song.
A bad way to do a cover song is by not changing it enough. If it sounds like the song I remember from the 80s or 90s, then why do I need to listen to your version. Make it sound different. Make it sound like your band. Fear Factory did not do that when they covered "Cars". It's not heavy. It's not dark enough. It's not Fear Factory. It sounds like the original, and it's not good.
The Top 10 cover songs...that you know are cover songs.
When I was putting my list together (which you can see and listen to below) I was choosing cover songs that I knew were cover songs. There are plenty out there (Like "I Love Rock n Roll by Joan Jett) that are covers, that really the cover is the song now. All the covers below, I also know who did the originals on these. Also, I stayed in the I-Rock 93.5 lane. There are plenty of other cover songs in other genres (especially Classic Rock) but these really are my favorites.
You can listen to the full discussion I had with Chris and Josh on their "Top 10 Podcast" here and follow along with my Top 10 below.
One note, you may notice that my list below and the list I had for the Podcast don't match up. That is because during the recording of the podcast a song was brought up that I cannot believe I forgot, so I made some adjustments. It's not like I laminated the damn list...I can make adjustments.
This is a bit of a cop-out, cause it's not a song. It's just an artist. But, I couldn't leave out the master of the pop to rock cover. This has to be one of his best though doing "Hello" from Adele.
This is just a good fun party song and Dope gave it an edge but was still was able to keep that same vibe. Take out the synth and make it a driving guitar and drum and you can turn 80s to rock.
It's like there is a theme here with rock bands taking 80s pop songs and turning them into rock songs. Disturbed has actually covered a lot of songs (Sound of Silence, Land of Confusion...) but this is my favorite from them.
Go ahead and talk bleep on this song. They took a huge pop song and gave it an edge that rips. Clearly, the 70 Million views agree.
This song kicks. Again, another 80s pop song that really has a lot of angst in the lyrics, but Fred and the fellas from Limp bring it out with the music and vocals. I mean just listening to it now when that thing kicks in and they show the crowd jumping that just takes me back to 2000. Get the F up.
If you listen to the podcast and all the people's Top 10 list, this one showed up the most. I probably should have had it higher up. I know, it's NIN, but even Trent has said this is Johnny's song now.
Great original. But, Killswitch just stepped it up to another level with the song, and the video.
I swear this is the last 80s pop song on my list. But what Goldfinger did with 99 Red Balloons is fantastic. I mean, they even did the break in German.
So if you listen to the podcast, you'll hear that this (yes the now number 2 song on my list) was the one I missed when I originally put my list together. Maybe because it's so far from the original. Maybe because you just don't think of Tool when you think of cover songs. But, because Joe brought it up on his list, I've adjusted mine (Sorry Primus - N.I.B. you've been bumped) and this one shoots up to number 2. When I saw Tool open a live show with this song...just awesome.
A lot of people during the podcast had "Man Who Sold The World" on their list. It's great, but this is the definitive cover for Nirvana. Originally done by Lead Belly, Kurt took this song and made it his swan song. Really looking back at the Unplugged performance, the entire thing looks and sounds like a funeral. The candles. The lilies. It was like he knew he wasn't going to last. And that final sigh and look up to the crowd before the final note...shivers.