9 Song Remakes That Are so Much Better than the Original ...


Everything old is new again – that saying is so true, especially when it comes to covers, also known as song remakes. If it seems like that “new” song on the radio sounds awfully familiar, it’s probably because it’s actually a remake of a song you already know. Some covers are terrible, an insult to the original; others are so fantastic, they’re almost unrecognizable. Those reinterpretations make me giddy – they’re so much fun! Here are a few of my favorites, song remakes that are, in most cases, even better than the original.

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Jose Gonzalez – Heartbeats

Jose Gonzalez – Heartbeats On iTunes at: itunes.apple.com
Topping my list of song remakes that are better than the original – WAY better – is this heart-breaking song by Jose Gonzalez, originally a bad, bad dance track by The Knife. When Gonzalez sings it, you feel his loss. When The Knife sings it, you cringe and change the track.


The Bangles – Hazy Shade of Winter

The Bangles – Hazy Shade of Winter On iTunes at: itunes.apple.com
I’m an '80s girl, so of course I adore The Bangles. But I’m also a huge Simon & Garfunkel fan, so this remake has me torn. I love it – it’s totally guitar-driven and fast-paced and seems made for the soundtrack to Less Than Zero.


Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah

Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah On iTunes at: itunes.apple.com
I don’t have the words to describe Jeff Buckley’s voice, its range and intensity and magic – a listen through his Grace album should suffice. The best demonstration of his talents is his cover of Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah." His voice soars, and it’s almost guaranteed to make you cry. Right. In. The feels.


Elwood – Sundown

Elwood – Sundown On iTunes at: itunes.apple.com
Gordon Lightfoot’s original is a classic, but Elwood brings it to a new generation with his cover. It’s a little 1990s hip-hoppy boy-bandish, but I like it. Listen to both and decide which you like best.


Jerry Douglas Feat. Mumford & Sons – the Boxer

Jerry Douglas Feat. Mumford & Sons – the Boxer On iTunes at: itunes.apple.com
Another Simon & Garfunkel cover, and this one’s amazing, too. Of course, just about everything Mumford & Sons does is amazing, including this song. It has the same raw, cynical feel, more of an update than a make-over.


Sonic Youth – Superstar

Sonic Youth – Superstar On iTunes at: itunes.apple.com
I never understood how creepy this song is, til I heard the Sonic Youth cover on The Carpenters’ tribute album “If I Were a Carpenter.” It’s chilling and haunting in a way the lovely, sweet-voiced Karen Carpenter couldn’t express.


Johnny Cash – Hurt

Johnny Cash – Hurt On iTunes at: itunes.apple.com
I guess I never realized Johnny Cash’s range, or that I didn’t really understand what, exactly, Trent Reznor was trying to express in his original. But Cash gives the song depth and subtlety, instead of just anger and, well, hurt.


Sinead O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U

Sinead O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U On iTunes at: itunes.apple.com
If you’re not misty-eyed by the end of this song, or MY GOD, the video, you’re heartless indeed. I didn’t realize this was a song originally done by Prince, but O’Connor perfected it, made it her own. Even just reading the lyrics gives me a lump in my throat.


Neverending White Lights – Age of Consent

Neverending White Lights – Age of Consent On iTunes at: itunes.apple.com
I can’t really say this version of the song is “better” than the original – I love New Order – but it’s certainly got a completely different feel to it, and I like it! If you’re also a New Order fan, Frente’s remake of “Bizarre Love Triangle” is worth a listen, too.

Which of these remakes do you like better than the original? Or is there a great cover I left off my list? Do tell!

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Let's not forget I can't make you love me by Bon Iver!

The rendition of "Hurt" by Johnny Cash is the best!

No, Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt" is so much more raw and real. Trent Reznor himself said, "I wrote the song, and he sings it better."

Actually the best version of "Hurt" has to be by Nine Inch Nails

I think you nailed it. Buckley's version of Hallelujah should make Leonard proud. Buckley infuses this song with his heart and soul. And The Man in Black's rendition of Hurt is a revelation. On that same CD Cash covers Neil Diamond's Solitary Man, takes a pop tune and turns it into a real lament. All of these are spot on! If you enjoy covers, try Revolution as performed by Thompson Twins, and Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town, by The Killers. And I might as well add David Bowie's cover of Lou Reed's classic Waiting For the Man.

I cried the first time I head Mumford & Sons cover of "The Boxer." It's a great song all the way around, but the revamp gives you such feels!

Heartbeats was a song used in my wedding...not the original version of course.

Sex and candy by maroon 5

I agree about The Boxer! Plus I adore Mumford & Sons like my life :)

The lyrics were written by Prince so that lump in your throat was caused by him not Sinead, I do love her version too though

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