Top 10 Over-Covered Songs



Top 10 Over-Covered Songs

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
When a song becomes popular, artists will often attempt to capitalize on that popularity and success by making their own version of the song. That isn't the only reason an artist will attempt a cover: sometimes it's because he or she just really likes it. Either way, the history of music has seen quite a few songs being covered either live or in the studio one too many times. For this list, we're not only considering how many times the songs have been covered, but are also taking into account how clichéd it is to cover them, as well as their overall popularity and pop culture impact. Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 over-covered songs.
We really don’t need to hear another version of these. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 over-covered songs.

For this list, we’re not only considering how many times the songs have been covered, but are also taking into account how clichéd it is to cover them, as well as their overall popularity and pop culture impact.

#10 – “Fever” by Little Willie John

After Little Willie John made this a number-one R&B hit in 1956, Peggy Lee knew she couldn’t pass on the chance to make it hers. “Fever” became a top ten smash and her signature number despite the modified lyrics. Through genres like jazz, rock and roll, pop, dance and soul, artists like Elvis Presley, Madonna, Beyonce and more have all thought “Fever” is a “lovely way to burn.”

#9 – “Over The Rainbow” by Judy Garland

It’s unlikely anyone will ever manage to capture Judy Garland’s innocence and wishful thinking in “The Wizard of Oz.” In fact, the Oscar-winning ballad even became an American symbol during the Second World War, and one of the most beloved movie songs ever. Though Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald and others have covered the track, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and Eva Cassidy truly made it their own.

#8 – “Summertime” by George Gershwin

It was for the 1935 opera, “Porgy and Bess,” that George Gershwin and DuBose Heyword wrote the aria “Summertime.” With its jazz and southern African-American influences, it’s become a music standard that’s prompted thousands of covers. Following Abbie Mitchell’s recording, Billie Holiday had a top 20 hit, but Billy Stewart bested that by making the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10. The song’s also found its way into psychedelic rock, R&B, soul, alternative hip hop, ska punk and more.

#7 – “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

Since Cohen’s 1984 release of the folk ballad, “Hallelujah” has undergone many transformations: John Cale’s serious version contrasted joy and sorrow, Jeff Buckley magnified the song’s emotional reach with haunting beauty, and Rufus Wainwright produced a more piano-heavy take. Today, artists continue bringing the song to life, with reality show performances most notably reviving its popularity on the charts over two decades after its initial release.

#6 – “Twist and Shout” by The Top Notes

First recorded by The Top Notes as “Shake It Up, Baby,” this rock ‘n’ roll tune gave The Isley Brothers crossover success in the 1960s. But it was The Beatles’ rough-and-ready take that exemplified British rock and roll by taking shouting to a new level. Aside from being a live staple for The Who and Bruce Springsteen, the song’s also had makeovers in reggae, folk, rap and more.

#5 – “Louie Louie” by Richard Berry

As its original composer and recording artist, Richard Berry found moderate success with his ballad version in the late 1950s. But it was with The Kingsmen’s Jamaican flavors, memorable riff and rock ‘n’ roll rhythm that “Louie Louie” truly became engrained in musical consciousness. Now considered a standard, their 1963 rendition paved the way for folk, hard rock, heavy metal and even hardcore punk renditions to emerge.

#4 – “Imagine” by John Lennon

By encouraging us to dream, “Imagine” became John Lennon’s best-selling single as a solo artist. Thanks to its universal message of hope and world peace, it quickly found both critical and commercial success. It has also inspired artists to cover it the world over, ranging from high profile acts like Elton John, Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young and Queen to up-and-comers like Emeli Sandé.

#3 – “Amazing Grace” by John Newton

It’s gone from an 18th century Christian hymn to American musical icon. Despite themes of mercy and salvation, its lyrics have also given non-religious folks hope and inspiration and made it one of the most well known songs in the English language. Particularly associated with African Americans and church services, “Amazing Grace” has been covered by Elvis Presley, Billy “Crash” Craddock, Joan Baez, Susan Boyle and more.

#2 – “My Way” by Frank Sinatra

This Paul Anka number achieved fame thanks to its confident lyrics and Frank Sinatra’s crooning. While its record-setting 75 weeks within the UK Top 40 showed it connected with audiences, its multiple cover versions are what earned “My Way” a place in music history. Despite being a traditional pop tune, it has found success with artists ranging from Elvis Presley to the Sex Pistols.

#1 – “Yesterday” by The Beatles

Since they’re arguably the world’s most covered band, it’s no surprise that one of their tunes lands at number one. Though the single topped American charts in 1965, it didn’t actually come out at home until 1976. The UK was only introduced to the melancholy melody by Matt Monro three months after its U.S. release. “Yesterday” has since been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the most recorded songs ever.

Do you agree with our list? What song do you think is covered too often? Be sure to subscribe to for more entertaining top 10s.