The Quick 10: 10 of the Most-Covered Songs Ever

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I'm one of those music snobs that very rarely likes a cover song more than I like the original, especially when it comes to the Beatles. So when I checked out this list, I was a bit pained to see that half of the 10 most-covered songs are Beatles songs (or songs by ex-Beatles). This isn't an exhaustive list, by the way "“ just some of the most-covered songs.

1. Yesterday, the Beatles. It has been covered more than 3,000 times, including by Joan Baez, Liberace, Sinatra, Elvis, Daffy Duck, En Vogue and Boyz II Men.

eleanor2. Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles. A somewhat surprising choice, I think, but it's been covered 131 times by artists such as Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, Aretha, Kansas and Swedish industrial metal band Pain.

3. Cry Me a River, Julie London. This jazzy number from 1955 has been covered by a huge range of people "“ Barbra Streisand, Joe Cocker, Aerosmith, Rick Astley, Bjork, Merle Haggard, and Olivia Newton John (the new Justin Timberlake Cry My a River is not a cover).

4. And I Love Her, the Beatles. Covered by Bob Marley, Smokey Robinson, Sarah Vaughan, Barry Manilow and Vince Gill, among numerous others. I think this is one of the most gorgeous Beatles songs there is, so while I can't really blame people for trying, I doubt anyone can top the original.

5. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones. I bet most of us remember Britney's rendition at the 2000 MTV video music awards "“ during the song, she ripped off her black suit, stripper-style. Then, in the nude-colored outfit underneath, she transitioned into Oops! I Did it Again. But it's also been covered by Jimi Hendrix, Cat Power and Vanilla Ice.

6. Imagine, John Lennon. Joan Baez's cover of this is no surprise, nor is Ray Charles or Elton Johns. Some more unconventional versions have been done by Avril Lavigne, Dolly Parton and Queen.

7. Summertime, Abbie Mitchell. She's the one who originally sang it, anyway, in the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. The Janis Joplin cover is probably the most well-known, but Sonny and Cher did a version as well, and so did REM.

8. Blackbird, The Beatles. Another one of the prettiest Beatles songs, in my opinion, and another one of the most-covered. I'd love to hear the Dave Grohl version, myself, but there's also Phish, Jesse McCartney (hmm), Bobby McFerrin, Eddie Vedder (I bet that one is really good) and Elliott Smith.

garland9. Over the Rainbow, Judy Garland. This one makes me wonder if there is a correllation between the most-covered songs ever and the songs most-frequently performed on American Idol auditions. Non-Idol cover versions include Willie Nelson, Patti LaBelle, Eva Cassidy, Eric Clapton, Chet Atkins, Tori Amos and Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. That last version is the Hawaiian rendition that's mixed with What a Wonderful World that has gotten a lot of play in the last few years.
10. The Look of Love, Dusty Springfield. Written by Burt Bacharach and originally sung by Dusty for the first Casino Royale soundtrack in 1967, it's been covered a lot. Just a few include The Zombies, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Shirley Bassey and Diana Krall.

So, let's talk covers in the comments. Do you have a cover version of a song that you like better than the original? Do you have one you absolutely loathe? A song that should never, ever be covered again?
Here are mine: I think I like the Lily Allen version of Womanizer better than the Britney Spears version (which I acutally like quite a bit, even though I'm not a Brit-Brit fan). And for detesting most Beatles covers, I really like Pearl Jam's You've Got to Hide Your Love Away. I really hate both the Elton John and William Shatner covers of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Ridiculous.

February 6, 2009 - 10:45am
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