The best cover versions can truly reinvent a song — sometimes so much so that they become the definitive recordings. One of the greatest modern-day soul ballads, as written by… Black Sabbath? Sure enough, the Ozzy ballad proved the perfect vehicle for the soul singer Charles Bradley to eulogise his mother and generally pour his heart out.
Best cover songs of all time ranked
At best it could be transformative, lifting both artist and label into the spotlight. Across four top lists in , Treble made a deep dive into how modern covers albums explored past artists and songs. We also limited musicians to one performance slot each in our countdown, although you may notice certain original artists, sources, and songs showing up multiple times—a testament to their timelessness and versatility. Even without considering some big names you might otherwise expect to find here, live bootlegs, radio-show one-offs, parodies and YouTube home-studio clips, we still managed to wade through and vote on hundreds of well-known and obscure covers.
When you hear the lyrics, "I fought the law and the law won," which artist comes to mind? If you're musically inclined, a certain English punk-rock band likely pops into your head. And the crunchy guitar riffs and raw power of "American Woman" probably conjure the image of a flashy rock star and his Flying V guitar. But get this, neither tune was written by the artist you associate the song with. They are just masterful takes on someone else's work. To see how your music knowledge stacks up, we've gathered the 50 best cover songs of all time. Be honest, how many did you think were originals? And for more great music trivia, check out 50 Songs Turning 50 This Year.