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Top 10 Cover Songs That Sound Completely Different Than the Original

VO: Matt Campbell
Script written by George Pacheco Who said imitation was the sincerest form of flattery? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Cover Songs That Sound Completely Different Than the Original. For this list, we're ranking studio recorded covers of artists by other artists who chose to take a unique, personal or different approach to the source material, thereby making their cover version of their original unique to a new or different musical style. Special thanks to our user liam_schell for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by George Pacheco

Top 10 Cover Songs That Sound Completely Different Than the Original


Who said imitation was the sincerest form of flattery? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Cover Songs That Sound Completely Different Than the Original.

For this list, we're ranking studio recorded covers of artists by other artists who chose to take a unique, personal or different approach to the source material, thereby making their cover version of their original unique to a new or different musical style. We're not taking into account cover songs which have only been performed live, however, just songs with a studio version to back it up.


#10: "Boyz-n-the-Hood" (2000)
Dynamite Hack
Originally by Eazy-E (1987)


Starting things with one of the more odd entries in our list, Dynamite Hack's cover is a mellow and acoustic arrangement of Easy-E's gangsta rap classic "Boyz-n-the-Hood," here re-imagined with more than a little bit of post-grunge irony. The real key to Dynamite Hack's success is the monotone delivery of the lead vocals matched with all the original's gruff and boisterous bravado, which provides all of the comedic punch and timing needed to make this cover a hit.

#9: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (1992)
Tori Amos
Originally by Nirvana (1991)


Stunning singer/songwriter Tori Amos is no stranger to releasing inventive, unique cover versions of artists as diverse as Eminem, R.E.M. and Slayer, yet it’s this 1992 version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that really strips down the original's arrangement and essence to its basic, memorable vocal melody. Amos' passionate, sensual vocals are set on full display here, as is her evocative and haunting piano playing, which punches each chord with a charged, palpable energy. If intense head banging and rough vocals aren’t your scene, you just might enjoy this powerful rendition instead.

#8: "Gin and Juice" (1998)
The Gourds
Originally by Snoop Dogg (1994)


Ever wonder what it would sound like if a bluegrass band decided to cover Snoop Dogg's classic "Gin and Juice”? Well, look no further than The Gourds. Complete with violin scratches, mandolins and accented Southern twang instead of beats 'n bass. The Gourd's don't stray far at all from their musical roots, instead adopting theoriginal's lyrics into their own upbeat musical arrangements, which fit in just fine with their swinging country roots-rock, eventually reaching the ears of Snoop D-O-Double G himself, who gave The Gourd's cover his seal of approval shortly after this version was originally released.

#7: "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (1977)
Devo
Originally by The Rolling Stones (1965)


The idea of Devo covering The Rolling Stones is a bizarre one in and of itself, but it isn't until ears are properly tuned to the band's cover "Satisfaction," that the true size of the situation can be assessed. Can you say "Total Musical Deconstruction?" Well, Devo certainly can with this unique and avant-garde re-tooling of the Stones classic, stripping virtually all of the rock bombast from the original and replacing it with the futuristic and cold machinations. The results are a weird, yet no less driving take on the song, although dyed-in-the-wool Stones fans are advised to stay as far away from this one as possible.

#6: "Billie Jean" (2007)
Chris Cornell
Originally by Michael Jackson (1983)

Stripping down a song to its most basic form is a popular method of covering a song, and this was exactly themethod Chris Cornell followed for his take on this MJ classic. Whereas Jackson's original was a cautionary tale against the dangers of groupies with super sweet bassline, Cornell drops the tone down significantly with his version - as would The Civil Wars in 2011- dropping the bass and drums in favor of a "man and his guitar" approach. This gives Cornell's version a darker and starker vibe, while his powerful vocals carry "Billie Jean" into a much harder rock arena. We still miss that bassline, though.

#5: "Style" (2015)
Ryan Adams
Originally by Taylor Swift (2015)


When news hit that Ryan Adams was going to be releasing a cover album of Taylor Swift's entire 1989 anticipations were fairly high as to what Adams would do with the material. Predictably, Adams' 1989 is very much in the singer's established approach of emotional pop and indie rock, with his take on Swift's "Shake It Off" and "Style' serving as early standouts off his own from the record. Adams replaces the 80s electro vibe of "Style" with a jangling rock style not that dissimilar from classic Bruce Springsteen, while at the same time keeping thebig melodic chorus which made the Swift original such a hit.


#4: "All Along the Watchtower" (1968)
Jimi Hendrix Experience
Originally by Bob Dylan (1968)


It takes a certain, special sort of cover to become better known than its original, and that power can definitely be heard here with The Jimi Hendrix Experience, as they run through an iconic take on Bob Dylan's "All Along theWatchtower." The song is very cinematic in scope, having made appearances in numerous films and soundtracks over the years, and with good reason, as the deep production, soulful vocals and powerful guitar work sends this electrified Bob Dylan original into the upper echelon of stone cold cover version classics.

#3: "Woodstock" (1970)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Originally by Joni Mitchell (1970)


Joni Mitchell was dating Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young member Graham Nash when she wrote "Woodstock," in 1969 but didn't actually attend the event thanks to bad advice from her then-manager. Nash and his CSNY bandmates David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Neil Young would include an up-beat, harder rocking version of thetrack on their Deja Vu album, updating Mitchell's soft and emotional folk style into the burgeoning rootsy rock movement. CSNY's "Woodstock" is an aggressive, to the point road trip track, with hard drums and some slick guitar licks, making a musical snapshot for this legendary festival of peace, love and music.

#2: "Hurt" (2003)
Johnny Cash
Originally by Nine Inch Nails (1995)


This cover song may have some of the most emotional impact of any on our list, as evidenced almost immediately from Johnny Cash's raw and ravaged vocals, brimming with passion and determination as he rips out a heart-wrenchingly brilliant cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt." This cover was one of the final releases of Cash's career, appearing on his American IV: The Man Comes Around release, and the accompanying video serves as a moving tribute to The Man in Black. While both versions are intensely personal, Cash’s death shortly after the track’s release adds an extra layer to the already emotional song.

Before we reveal our top cover song pick, here are a few honorable mentions!

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (2013)
Lorde
Tears For Fears (1985)

"Nothing Compares 2 U" (1990)
Sinead O'Connor
Originally by The Family (1985)

"White Wedding" (2007)
Queens of the Stone Age
Originally by Billy Idol (1982)

"Borderline" (2009)
The Flaming Lips
Originally by Madonna (1984)

"Last Nite" (2011)
The Morning Benders
Originally by The Strokes (2001)

#1: "Blinded by the Light" (1976)
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
Originally by Bruce Springsteen (1973)


Manfred Mann's Earth Band took a slinky, disco meets prog approach to this Bruce Springsteen jam in 1976. Taking The Boss' working man rock aesthetic and shining it real nice with plenty of smooth high hat action, bright lights and sequins, turning "Blinded By the Light" into a major, if not quirky, hit. The band even decides to throw in a little bit of Euphemia Allen's "Chopsticks" melody for good measure...because... why not? Of course, there's also that little bit of business about this song's chorus being one of the most commonly misheard in the world. For the record, it's "wrapped up like a deuce." DEUCE.

Do you agree with our list? What unique cover songs do you think should've made the list? For more fun top ten lists published every day, please subscribe to WatchMojo.com!

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