The 15 Most Beautiful Cover Songs, Ranked
The nerve! This week, Panic! At The Disco made headlines with their live cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. . .and it was beautiful. It’s no small feat taking on an iconic song like this, but the guys pulled it off with flying colors. Even Queen’s Brian May shared their live performance on his official Facebook page. And while there’s certainly no comparing with the classics, those of you who’ve heard a good cover song know how refreshing it is to hear something creatively re-appropriated.
Having said that, I think it’s time we pay homage to all of those great cover songs that make us rethink music. I promise you’ll leave your browser with a fresh set of ears! Here are 15 of the best cover songs, ranked.
15. Panic! At The Disco – “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Queen cover)
Brendon Urie literally doesn’t miss a beat in this rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Those high notes are still sure to send some chills creeping down your spine.
14. MØ – “Say You’ll Be There” (Spice Girls cover)
We may not be able to bring back the Spice Girls, but MØ does a damn good job of reviving this ’90s classic. How did we not find this sooner?
13. James Blake – “Limit To Your Love” (Feist cover)
Bass-heavy and beautiful, James Blake’s cover of “Limit To Your Love” will remind you of just how dark these lyrics can be. For the full James Blake experience, try and listen to this tune on good speakers or headphones.
12. Boyce Avenue feat. Mandy Lee – “Stay” (Rihanna cover)
“Stay” is already an emotionally-charged song, but give Boyce Avenue and Mandy Lee a guitar and look out. The fervor of this tune has just been cranked up to an entirely new level.
11. The Flaming Lips – “Borderline” (Madonna cover)
The Flaming Lips gave this ’80s pop jam a beautifully-hypnotic makeover. It’s interesting to see how the dreaminess of this rendition juxtaposes lyrics like “I think I’m going to lose my mind.” Meanwhile, I think I’m seeing fractals. . .
10. Miley Cyrus – “Summertime Sadness” (Lana Del Rey cover)
This cover of “Summertime Sadness” is killer. The acoustic guitar adds a lovely, soulful element to the song. It also gives Miley an opportunity to show off her range.
9. Smashing Pumpkins – “Landslide” (Stevie Nicks cover)
True to form, the Smashing Pumpkins brought their own heart-wrenching rendition of “Landslide” back in 1994. The song has stood the test of time, having been a massive success for both Stevie Nicks and the Smashing Pumpkins.
8. Adele – “Lovesong” (The Cure cover)
Like “Landslide,” “Lovesong” has proven it can transcend time and genre. Who else remembers 311’s groovy cover back in 2004? Adele gave the song new life yet again when she covered it in 2011 with all her soulful goodness.
7. Johnny Cash – “Hurt” (Nine Inch Nails cover)
Where do I even begin with this one? A country legend covered one of the most heartrending songs of our generation. It doesn’t get any better than this.
6. Daughter – “Get Lucky” (Daft Punk cover)
I know–”Get Lucky” was overplayed by radio stations all summer long, but I can assure you, you’re about to hear this with a new set of ears. Daughter brings a deep, dark, and atmospheric quality to the song that you don’t see coming.
5. Fiona Apple – “Pure Imagination” (Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka cover)
The world may have been introduced to “Pure Imagination” in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but Fiona Apple’s cover has been re-appropriated to something entirely different. Those of you who have seen that tearjerker of a Chipotle commercial know what I’m talking about. There’s a beautiful contrast between the song’s dark, orchestral riffs and the optimistic, child-like lyrics. It kinda makes me want to cry in Willy Wonka’s glass elevator.
4. Yael Naim – “Toxic” (Britney Spears cover)
You know you’re listening to a good cover when it feels like you’re hearing the song for the first time, and Yael Naim’s “Toxic” is no exception to the rule. The best way to describe it: very sexy lullaby (seriously).
3. Bon Iver – “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (Bonnie Raitt cover)
Just when you thought this song couldn’t be any sadder, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver puts his twist on it and gets you reaching for the nearest tissue box. . .or toilet paper roll. . .whichever one’s closer.
2. Chet Faker – “No Diggity” (Blackstreet cover)
I like the way you work it, Chet Faker. This sultry cover may be a far cry from its ’90s roots, but it certainly measures up in quality. I think I need a city view and a cocktail.
1. Jessie J – “We Found Love” (Rihanna cover)
It’s hard to imagine this song any other way after hearing this cover. Jessie J brings an emotional depth to “We Found Love” that you never knew possible. Obviously, the original version is pretty killer, but Jessie J’s angelic vocals add an element of etherial beauty that will make your heart feel like it’s going to explode—in a good way.