Covering a well-established song is always a risky business, especially if doing so in an entirely different genre.
Here is a list of 10 songs that were redone to a whole new level.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Higher Ground” (Original by Stevie Wonder)
Red Hot Chili Peppers featured the cover of a Stevie Wonder original on their 1989 album Mother’s Milk. The 1973 anthem of soul was redone in a very RHCP style, electrifying the composition while still staying true to the authentic funk of the original version.
Tori Amos – “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Original by Nirvana)
Covering a Nirvana classic is always a bold move, which Tori Amos took on gracefully. The grunge to chamber transition strips down the original as the piano takes center stage. And while Amos’ version is still emotionally charged, it lost some of the attitude along the way.
Donny Hathaway – “Jealous Guy” (Original by John Lennon)
Donny Hathaway took ‘Jealous Guy’ and changed it from melancholy to soul. There is something about the way he combined his style with the delicate lyrics that you can’t quite put a finger on. Unlike the original, here the vocals seem to match the song’s tempo while emphasizing completely different notes.
Bob Marley & The Wailers – “Sugar Sugar” (Original by The Archies)
The classic of bubblegum pop was remade into reggae by Bob Marley and The Wailers, adding a whole new layer of character together with the faded melody. Where one highlights the chorus, the other draws attention to the arrangements, changing the auditory perception of the track.
John Scofield & John Mayer – “I Don’t Need No Doctor” (Original by Ray Charles)
The two riff-smiths did a rendition of Ray Charles’ “I Don’t Need No Doctor” jazzing it up a notch. Their version of one of the finest rhythm and blues tracks out there aligned sonically and splashed out on the occasional flare of dramatics.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “All Along The Watchtower” (Original by Bob Dylan)
“All Along the Watchtower” traveled from folk to rock in only three years after the original release. The two musicians had the same philosophy when it came to their arts: “you don’t need to be an amazing singer to make great music” and it shows. Where Dylan displays his poetic nature, Hendrix parades his silk-like string abilities.
Janelle Monáe – “Heroes” (Original by David Bowie)
No strangers to covers, “Heroes” has been the favorite of many, but Monáe practically changed hemispheres with this version. Giving it her renowned touch of brightness, she turned a classic into psychedelic funk, creating a new tone with a degree of complexity.
Joss Stone – “Fell In Love With A Boy” (Original by The White Stripes)
Joss Stone offered a more polished take on the distorted garage rock original. A track, which became one of The White Stripes’ signatures, underwent a soulful makeover with a blush of Stevie Wonder, as well as a slight name change.
Richard Thompson – “Oops! I Did It Again” (Original by Britney Spears)
Oh baby, baby this one was unexpected. The veteran of folk-rock turned the valedictorian pop hymn into a whole new experience. The cover version is worth a listen for the slick guitar moves alone, add in the vocals and it becomes a must-have in the collection.
The White Stripes – “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” (Original by Dusty Springfield)
The White Stripes were always full of surprises. The duet took the traditional heartbreak song, performed by none other than Dusty Springfield, and repainted it into all shades of rock. Completely changing the instrumental development, The White Stripes did nothing but amplify the empathetic tone of the original.