Cover Version

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"I think he died when he heard my version of 'Heartbreak Hotel'."
—John Cale on Elvis Presley

If a song is recorded by a singer-songwriter, and then by somebody else, the second person's recording is a Cover Version. If the song is from Tin Pan Alley and not released by the original songwriter, the Cover Version is either any version after the first recording, or any version after the first hit recording. Hit songs tend to attract Cover Versions. Sometimes, Cover Versions are more popular than the first version; the original is then Covered Up. If a cover is done in another language then it is a Translated Cover Version

Examples of Cover Version include:
  • Finnish Neo-Classical Black/MeloDeath/Thrash Metal band Children of Bodom has covered Britney Spears' Oops I Did It Again and Creedence Clearwater Revival's Lookin' Out My Backdoor. Yes, there's a whole album of them, but those two stand out the most.
  • The song 'Another Girl, Another Planet'. Originally performed in 1979 by the cult band The Only Ones, it has been covered many times. The most recent cover (by Blink-182) is actually a cover squared, as it is based on an earlier cover with slightly different lyrics to The Only Ones' original.
  • "Yesterday" was originally recorded by The Beatles. It has been covered many times since (rumor has it 3000 times) by such luminaries as Ray Charles, Matt Munro, Michael Bolton, Paul McCartney (as a solo artist), and even Elvis Presley. Guinness lists it as the most-covered song of all time.
    • There have been lots of covers of Beatles songs. Among the artists that have done a successful cover include Jimi Hendrix with "Day Tripper," Elton John with "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," Joe Cocker with "With A Little Help From My Friends" and Yes with "Every Little Thing". Roger Greenawalt with various singers has covered about half the songs on ukulele.
    • The Beatles themselves have recorded their share of covers. For example, they covered a number of Chuck Berry songs early in their career, such as "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Too Much Monkey Business".
      • With the exception of A Hard Day's Night and Help! (which contained two cover songs), thier first five albums were almost half covers (6 out of 14 songs). They stopped this around 1965, but threw in a short cover of "Maggie Mae" on Let It Be.
  • Living For The City by Stevie Wonder was covered by quite a lot of artists.This may be one of the best attempts:
  • "Take It Easy" was originally by Jackson Browne, but The Eagles made it famous.
    • And it's also been covered by Billy Mize, Johnny Rivers, and Travis Tritt, among others.
  • Linda Ronstadt made a career out of cover versions. "It's So Easy" was originally by Buddy Holly, for instance.
  • "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" was actually recorded by both Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight & The Pips at more or less the same time; the Gladys Knight version was released one year before the Gaye version. The song was covered by several other artists, including the Creedence Clearwater Revival and the California Raisins. Most cover versions use Gaye's arrangement.
  • Pig Destroyer's cover of Exhumed To Consume by Carcass may have completely muffed the vocal patterns and lyrics, but you'd be lying if J.R.'s voice didn't scare you in the chorus.
  • Alien Ant Farm has the dubious honor of being a One-Hit Wonder whose single hit was not their own song; they covered Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal".
    • The Ataris share this "distinction", their only mainstream hit being their cover of Don Henley's "Boys of Summer".
    • Except that AAF weren't one hit wonders. They've charted with "Movies" and "These Days"
  • The Jeff Beck Group, a short-lived supergroup featuring the eponymous ex-Yardbird on guitar, Rod Stewart on vocals, Ron Wood on bass and future Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and The Who drummer Keith Moon on one song, had a repertoire consisting almost entirely of Chicago blues covers. Most of it was pretty good.
    • However they were not a supergroup back then, only Beck being famous. Ron Wood and Rod Stewart didn't become stars after this (when they joined The Faces).
  • A number of Bob Dylan's early songs became widely known through their covers. Examples include Peter, Paul and Mary's rendition of "Blowin' in the Wind", the Byrds' covers of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "My Back Pages", the Turtles' version of "It Ain't Me, Babe", and Jimi Hendrix's cover of "All Along the Watchtower". That last one became so pervasive, Dylan himself incorporated elements of it into his live show.
  • Joni Mitchell's songbook is a favorite for other artists to tap into. Hit covers of her work include Judy Collins' "Both Sides Now" and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's version of "Woodstock".
  • While J.J. Cale is a relatively unknown musician in his own right, three of his songs have attained major notoriety in their covers; "After Midnight" and "Cocaine" as performed by Eric Clapton, and Lynyrd Skynyrd's cover of his "They Call Me the Breeze".
  • Try to count how many bands or solo artists have covered The Cure's "Lovesong". Mind-boggling.
  • And if you think that's bad, look up The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black".
  • Grindcore band 7000 Dying Rats covered Journey's Any Way You Want it, but covered it up with the title Hellcatcher and the first minute or so being random radio static and interference.
  • Basshunter covered two of his own songs among others for his most recent album, Now You're Gone.
  • "Last Christmas" is extremely popular amongst Japanese artists to cover.
  • I challenge you to name 4 Extreme Metal bands who have covered Aces High by Iron Maiden. Give up? Arch Enemy, Hypocrisy, Vital Remains, Children Of Bodom
  • On the topic of Iron Maiden, there's a whole album of hip-hop covers of famous 'Maiden songs.
    • Savage Garden and Billie Piper also have their own versions of it. But the one that takes the cake and is almost humorous? One of the Sailor Moon "Christmas" collections has the voice for Rei Hino singing it. Of all the places it could end up...
  • The Tornados's "Telstar" has somewhere in the region of 130 covers. Tim "TelstarMan" Lehnerer has achieved minor Internet fame for owning a copy of every one of them. That is, every one we know about - rest assured, if another is discovered, he will acquire it.
    • I bet he doesn't own the versions by OVNI, Venus Gang, & T.H.X.
      • Not yet I don't. (Also missing the one by the Monsters from Mars)
  • Quiet Riot's first major hit was a cover of Slade's "Cum On Feel The Noize". Kevin Dubrow hated the song and had to be talked into it by the rest of the band; the version released on Metal Health is the first (and only) take.
    • Dubrow saw the light after the song became a major hit. The first single from their next album was another Slade cover, "Mama Weer All Crazee Now".
  • Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" has been covered so many times, The Other Wiki has two hefty paragraphs dedicated to listing instances.
    • Cohen originally wrote the song with 15 verses, with each artist choosing 4-5 verses for their cover version.
  • This troper once heard that the most covered song in the world is "White Christmas", written by Irving Berlin and originally performed by Bing Crosby. The Other Wiki lists over one hundred artists as having performed versions of it.
  • Sunn O)))))) covered For Whom The Bell Tolls by Metallica in their usual droney style, so it's nearly impossible to tell that a track named FWTBT (I Dream of Lars Ulrich Being Thrown Through the Bus Window Instead of My Master Mystikall Kliff Burton). On that note they also covered Cursed Realms (Of The Winterdemons) by Immortal, but once again, in their molasses moving uphill style. One must wonder how it's really a cover if it sounds NOTHING like the original.
  • For rights reasons, almost every song on Guitar Hero is actually a cover. When the title and artist come up at the beginning of the song, look at what it says: "As made famous by" is a cover, and "As performed by" is the original. This is why "Spanish Castle Magic" by Jimi Hendrix is an instrumental in the original Guitar Hero; it's illegal to impersonate his voice.
    • By the third game in the series, the franchise was already notable enough to start putting more and more master recordings into the games, with Guitar Hero World Tour supposedly having every single song in the game a master track. This can arguably be considered a case of missing the point completely, seeing as the player assumes the role of a guitarist in a cover band in the game...
      • Given the quality of some of those covers, it's more like an Acceptable Break From Reality.
      • Amusingly, there are two Jimi Hendrix songs in Guitar Hero: World Tour - but due to an agreement with his family, your guitarist in those songs is always Jimi Hendrix, and you can't use Hendrix outside of those songs. Apparently they don't want even the illusion of covers... (But in retrospect, the Kurt Cobain incident in Guitar Hero 5 sheds some reasoning behind the Hendrix family's restrictions. Or not.)(The link is dead, can someone edit to clarify this.)
  • Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and Elite Beat Agents also use covers (link leads to all of them except YMCA) instead of original songs, mainly because they have to alter the length of the songs to fit the stages. "Canned Heat" by Jamiroquai, for example, is over seven minutes long; the version used in Elite Beat Agents is only three minutes). The Osu Tatakae Ouendan games have three or so mixes made from master recordings as opposed to covers between, however.
  • Blind Guardian seem to be fond of doing these. They have done several of them, such as "Surfin' USA" (The Beach Boys), "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vidda" (Iron Butterfly), "Spread Your Wings" (Queen), and a rather amusing version of "Mr. Sandman" (heres a video)
  • JAM Project's Masaki Endoh did a cover of Go Go Power Rangers for when Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was (re) re-dubbed and aired in Japan.
    • Endoh has released a pair of albums titled ENSON which are entirely covers of songs he (presumably) likes. "Go Go Power Rangers" is in the first one.
  • Marilyn Manson's first real mainstream hit was a cover of the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)".
    • See also: Marilyn Manson's covers of "Personal Jesus" and "Tainted Love".
  • Ever try looking up how many covers of Radiohead's hit "Creep" are out there? I'll give you a hint, A LOT.
  • "Pop pop Pop pop pop pop pop, pop pop Pop pop pop pop pop...". Curse you, Gershon Kingsley.
  • Progressive Thrash/Power Metal band Nevermore covered The Sound Of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel. They don't dive straight into the song, so one would be forgiven for thinking it to be an original until "Hello Darkness My Old Friend!" is shouted right in your ear.
  • Almost every song on Depeche Mode's album Violator has been covered. "Enjoy The Silence" in particular, has almost 20 covers.
    • HIM's hideous version made this Depeche Mode fan ask her nephew how he could stand listening to it.
      • They were probably hoping to make something as awesome as the Rammstein cover of DM's "Stripped".
  • Yet another Depeche Mode cover: The Saturdays did "Just Can't Get Enough", and that's what that Ear Worm you hear in the Payless commercials is. The original songwriter, Vince Clarke, even remixed it for them.
  • Just when you think the album has to come to an end, Austrian Death Machine's album Double Brutal salvos you with an array of covers from Metallica to The Misfits to Motorhead to Goretorture and Agnostic Fuckin' Front.
  • Kate Bush's song "Running Up That Hill" has been covered by everyone from Armin Van Buuren to Within Temptation.
    • That would be only Dutch bands then?
      • Maybe it's in alphabetical order!!
    • Placebo also did a cover of this, which is, oddly enough, one of their better known songs.
  • This troper dares anyone to find a Michael Jackson song that has NOT been covered at least once.
    • "Jam" from Dangerous.
      • THIS may be the closest we'll ever get to a GOOD cover of a Michael song.
  • The entire point of Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine is producing light, breezy easy-listening covers of songs from metal, hip-hop, and rap artists.
    • You have not lived until you've heard their cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Closer". It's absolutely hysterical.
    • Not to mention the cover of Disturbed's Down With The Sickness. Just try to keep a straight face when the infamous child abuse segment comes up, sung in Cheese's trademark lounge style.
  • Disturbed has done a few covers including Shout by Tears for Fears (Shout 2000 on The Sickness) and Land of Confusion (with an AWESOME music video).
  • Being, as they were, major influences on just about every metal/punk/emo band that's emerged in the past twenty years, pretty much every single song in The Misfits discography has been covered a hundred times over. "Last Caress" and "Halloween" are particular favorites, it seems.
    • Metallica loves covering the Misfits: a medley of "Last Caress" and "Green Hell" on Garage Days Re-Revisited and "Die Die My Darling" on Garage Inc..
  • A special category in this trope is where the original artists assist in the cover version. For instance, the Beatles helped out the Silkie with their hit cover version of "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" (mainly because the Silkie were being managed by Brian Epstein). Elton John did this trick with not one, but three, major hits: he got Pete Townsend to assist on his version of "Pinball Wizard", had John Lennon on guitar on his version of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds", and returned the favor when George Michael did a cover of his "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me".
  • Killswitch Engage covered Ronnie James Dio's "Holy Diver."
  • On the topic of all things holy, a Power/Thras Metal band named Holy Grail covered Fast As A Shark by Accept and Judas Priest's Exciter. The covers were modified to be even faster, lending two already kickass old school songs even MORE kickassery.
  • Tom Lehrer recorded his song "The Irish Ballad" in his usual fashion, playing a piano as accompaniment. The group Darby O'Gill later covered the song, turning it into a real Irish ballad. (Well, they perform in America, but they play Irish-type music and instruments.)
  • Jimi Hendrix took Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" and cranked it Up to Eleven, adding two guitar solos.
  • Emilie Autumn has recorded a few covers, some songs covered by her are "I Don't Care Much" from Cabert, "I Know It's Over" originally by The Smiths, "All My Loving" by The Beatles, a harpsicord cover of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", and most recently "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody".
    • She is also one of the few to have had the nerve to cover the last one on stage.
  • Madonna did a cover version of American Pie.
  • Aretha Franklin wasn't the first to sing "Respect". That would be the song's writer, Otis Redding.
  • "Lips Of An Angel". The radio success of Hinder's version spawned several covers. They weren't as good.
  • Probably the most well-received cover in history was Johnny Cash's cover of the Nine Inch Nails song Hurt. Even Trent Reznor agrees that Cash did a far better job. This popularity does not extend to Cash's other covers of 90s songs, however.
    • He does a fair turn at Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus", but this troper will agree. Cash took the already beautiful "Hurt" and turned it into something even better.
  • Mayhem's most well-known song, Deathcrush, from the EP of the same name, has been covered over 140 times.
  • Nine Inch Nails covered Soft Cell's club-hit Memorabilia and stuck it on the Closer single as a b-side.
  • A lot of artists like to do a cover during unplugged sessions (notably MTV's unplugged).
  • A complete disc full of covers was released in the 3CD edition of Dream Theater's "Black Clouds and Silver Linings".
    • In addition, Dream Theater has covered entire albums by influential rock and metal bands during certain live shows. These include Metallica's "Master of Puppets", Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon", Iron Maiden's "The Number of the Beast", and Deep Purple's live album "Made In Japan".
  • This is the entire point of the "Punk Goes..." series (with the exception of Punk Goes Acoustic)
  • Atreyu has covered both You Give Love A Bad Name by Bon Jovi, and Epic by Faith No More.
  • '60s British pop group the Searchers made a business of great covers.
  • Manfred Mann took Dylan's "The Mighty Quinn" and Bruce Springsteen's ""Blinded By The Light" and made them their own.
  • A good amount of Cascada's work are covers, Including "Everytime We Touch, "What Hurts the Most", Because the Night", "Wouldn't It Be Good", "Truly Madly Deeply", and several others.
  • Tori Amos is known to cover a lot of songs, most famously "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "'97 Bonnie & Clyde".
    • Strange Little Girls (which features "97 Bonnie & Clyde") is an entire album of cover songs, supposedly with the theme of "songs written by men about women".
  • Apocalyptica started their career by covering Metallica songs ON CELLOS. They later moved on to covering stuff like Sepultura, Pantera, you name it. Here are two examples, awesome if you ask this troper.
  • The Isley Brothers cover of summer breeze probably counts. Ernie Isley adding a Epic Riff and ending on a bad ass 3 minute guitar solo. It went from a folk type tune by Seals and Crofts and turned into psychedelic funk/rock/soul track.
  • David Bowie is frequently covered, specially "Heroes" and "Rebel Rebel".
  • My Chemical Romance did a cover of Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row" for the "Watchmen" soundtrack, but cranked it Up to Eleven.
  • There is an album called Pun-Colle that consists of anime Seiyuu covering classic punk songs. In J-Pop style. Hearing a high-pitched, Japanese voice actress singing "White Riot" certainly is... something.
  • Primus did an EP of unexpected cover versions, including XTC's "Making Plans for Nigel" and Peter Gabriel's "The Intruder".
    • They also did an insanely kickass cover of Metallica's "Master Of Puppets". Where the guitar and bass lines are swapped. Sadly, it's only the intro of the song, but it kicks absolute ass. It can be found on YouTube if you want to hear it.
  • Smash Mouth did a cover of "I'm a Believer" for the Shrek soundtrack.
    • Frou Frou did a cover of Holding Out For a Hero, which was played over the end credits of Shrek 2.
  • Reel Big Fish has performed a myriad of covers, although most famous would be their cover of "Take On Me", originally by Music/A-ha, as it was part of the Baseketball soundtrack.
  • Doctor Steel does a cover version of the Inspector Gadget theme song, and a very quirky version of the Sesame Street theme song.
  • Mary and The Black Lamb Have covered various songs live such as Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" and Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People."
  • Lampshaded by Frank Sinatra in his cover of "Mack The Knife":

Ah, old Satchmo, Louis Armstrong, Bobby Darrin
They did this song nice, Lady Ella too
They all sang it, with so much feeling
That Old Blue Eyes, he ain't gonna add nothing new

  • PULP's video for "Bad Cover Version" (see what he did there?) has a whole host of celebrity impersonators getting together to record the eponymous song.
  • Tubeway Army's "Down in the Park" has been covered by both Marilyn Manson and Foo Fighters.
  • Sonata Arctica are fond of covers; they have versions of Iron Maiden's "Die With Your Boots On," Scorpions' "Still Loving You," Metallica's "Fade to Black," Depeche Mode's "World In My Eyes," Helloween's "I Want Out," and Vanishing Point's "Two Minds, One Soul."
  • Avantasia has covered "Lay All Your Love on Me" by ABBA, "Dancing With Tears in My Eyes" by Ultravox, and "In My Defence" by Freddie Mercury.
  • The Ultravox song "Hymn" has been covered by Edguy and Lunatica.
  • Savatage covered two songs on their album Fight for the Rock; Badfinger's "Day After Day" and Free's "Wishing Well".
  • Def Leppard Covered The Sweet's Action, Mick Ronson's Only After Dark on their album Retroactive, As well as a whole slew of other glam rock songs on YEAH!
  • Blue Cheer covered Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues". Rush in turn covered the Blue Cheer version. Cover of a cover.
  • The Katy Perry song "Hot N' Cold" has been covered by.. well.. these guys.
    • McFly, a British boy band, covered her song, "I Kissed a Girl".
  • The Mariah Carey version of Without You (Can't Live...), generally taken to be the original, is a cover of Harry Nilsson's much earlier version, released a week after Nilsson's death. The song actually originated with Badfinger, but Carey's version (and most other covers of the song) followed Nilsson's arrangement much more closely.
  • One pattern that seems to be fairly popular is to have a hardcore or death metal band cover a pop song. Take, for instance, "1000 Miles", a cover of Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles" by Australian hardcore band Never See Tomorrow.
  • The Onion's affiliate pop-culture magazine The AV Club has a feature called "Undercover" where bands cover popular songs, taken from a limited list. After being covered, a song is crossed off the list so that the earlier a band comes, the better its selection of songs. The first round of songs is available here, the second round (currently ongoing) here.
  • The Birthday Massacre covered The Neverending Story theme song.
  • Many people are familiar with the Santana song The Game of Love as sung by Michelle Branch from his 2002 album Shaman. This version, however, is not the original version: Tina Turner originally sang the song, but it was released only five years later on a compilation album.
  • Two of the English language songs on Bentley Jones' TRANSLATION 2 album are covers - one is "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)", and the other is "Word Up". Both songs have been covered by everyone and their grandmother, but his attempts are probably among the best out there. He's also done a cover of the Devil May Cry 4 theme, "Shall Never Surrender", turning it into a soft piano ballad.
  • The recent movie The Muppets has two covers: one of "We Built This City" by Starship and another of "Forget You" by Cee Lo Green
  • Devo covered The Rolling Stones "Satisfaction".
  • Anal Cunt has done plenty of these, the most famous being their cover of the Bee Gee's "Staying Alive". They've also covered Manowar's "Gloves of Metal", the theme from Three'sCompany, and Pantera's "The Great Southern Trendkill" Although it doesn't sound that different, since lead singer Seth Putnam contributed backing vocals to the original.
    • Also as a joke they did "Bank Machine"- a cover of KISS's "War Machine" mocking Gene Simmons's conversion to Judaism.