Johnny Cash "Hurt Video"

60 Best Cover Songs Of All Time Part 2

This is the 2nd installment of SLIS’s 60 Best Cover Songs Of All Time. Click here for entries 60 through 20.

I’ll have an iTunes playlist at the bottom if you like to preview or buy any of these songs for your collection.

Off we go:


19. The Man Next Door-Massive Attack

John Holt’s 1968 reggae track was given a dark trip-hop makeover on their moody album masterpiece Mezzanine.

18. Bang A Gong (Get It On)-The Power Station

This Duran Duran/Robert Palmer side project did a slick take on The T-Rex Classic.

17.Istanbul (Not Constantinople)-They Might Be Giants

<img src="They-Might-Be-Giants - Istanbul Not-Constantinople.jpg" alt="They Might Be Giants - Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" />

The Four Lads jazzy 1953 single was given a polka-college-rock twist from TMBG’s album Flood.

16. The Faith Healer-Recoil/The Cult

The Cult

The Cult

This Sensational Alex Harvey Band track has been covered twice with splendid results. The first, a dark electronic piece from Recoil (featuring Depeche Mode’s Alan Wilder and Nitzer Ebb’s Douglas McCarthy) and the second a more straight forward rocker from The Cult.

15. Cat People-Danzig



This song is miles away from Bowie’s new wave 80’s track. Danzig takes it into heavier territory with stellar results, and it’s one of his best songs period. Not available on iTunes

14.Nobody Does It Better-Radiohead

Carly Simon’s James Bond theme gets the moody alt-rock treatment. Not available on iTunes.

13.Dead Souls/Physical (You’re So)-Nine Inch Nails

Trent Reznor has a way with covers. His 2 best are Joy Division’s Dead Souls (from The Crow soundtrack) and a brutal version of  Adam Ant’s Physical (You’re So).  (His Queen and Gary Numan covers are pretty great too).

*Another great (hilarious) industrial rock cover is Revco’s version of Rod Stewart’s Da Ya Think I’m Sexy, which is included in the iTunes playlist…

12.Love Hurts-Nazareth

The Everly Brothers track was transformed into a 70’s slow-dance epic.

11.Breadfan/Stone Cold Crazy-Metallica

How to choose from a band who has covered a ton of great songs over the years? Difficult. But their ripping versions of Budgie’s NWOBHM classic and the heaviest song Queen ever did are just badass. Honorable mentions of course for Diamond Head’s Am I Evil, The Misfit’s Green Hell, Killing Joke’s The Wait, etc, etc.

10. So Cruel/Route 66-Depeche Mode

<img src="Depeche-Mode-So-Cruel-U2-cover.jpg" alt="Depeche Mode So Cruel U2 cover" />

Depeche Mode’s recent U2 cover makes it sound like their own. Their cheeky cover of the Route 66 TV theme is great too. Honorable mention for their rendition of the blues classic John The Revelator.

Click here for my list of Best Alternative Rock B-Sides.

9. Street Spirit (Fade Out)-The Darkness

The Darkness Reunited

Radiohead meets Iron Maiden. Over the top in the best way. A highlight off their recent album Hot Cakes.

8. Telegram Sam-Bauhaus

peter murphy

peter murphy of Bauhaus

Their Ziggy Stardust cover was more popular,  but I found it too slavish to the original. Their playful, loose cover of T.Rex’s tune is much more satisfying.

*Singer Peter Murphy used to do a killer live version of Prince’s Purple Rain too! Sadly it’s hard to find.

7.Ball Of Confusion-Love And Rockets

Daniel Ash

Daniel Ash of Love And Rockets

Why this song is missing from so many best covers lists is baffling, but I think it’s because few know it was originally a song by The Temptations. L&R’s post-punk rendition manages to be both funky and harrowing at the same time.

6.The Man Who Sold The World-Nirvana

Nirvana made an understated classic when they covered Bowie’s song on MTV’s Unplugged.

5.Clones/Landslide-Smashing Pumpkins



Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide is the best known SP cover, and remains a standout. But lesser known, is their killer, catchy version of a little known Alice Cooper oddity, the new wave-esque Clones.

4.Song To The Siren/Jealous Guy-Bryan Ferry

Bryan Ferry

Bryan Ferry

The Roxy Music frontman and solo artist has made more covers than anyone else on this list, so picking one from this talented singer proved difficult. But his recent cover of Tim Buckley’s Song To The Siren is chilling, and his cover of John Lennon’s Jealous Guy is soulful heartache incarnate.

3. Easy-Faith No More

Mike Patton

Mike Patton of Faith No More

FNM’s pedigree of covers is impressive (Bee Gees, Sabbath, Deep Purple, etc). But all pale in comparison to their bravura cover of the Commodore’s soul classic, featuring one of Mike Patton’s best vocal performances.

2.  (I Can’t Get noSatisfaction-Devo

<img src="Devo-best-cover-song-ever.jpg" alt="Devo Best Cover Song Ever" />

Devo’s take on the Rolling Stone classic is the most daring reinvention on this list. The song is transformed from a simple r&b romp into a rhythmic juggernaut with one of the best bass lines ever recorded.

1.Hurt-Johnny Cash

<img src="Johnny Cash-NIN-Hurt-best cover-song-of-all-time.jpg" alt="Johnny Cash NIN Hurt Best Cover Song Of All Time" />

Cash’s rendition of Nine Inch Nail’s self loathing anthem is given a drastic overhaul. It lessens the nihilism and layers of sonic decay to form a simple plaintive rumination of redemption and a life fully lived. It’s beautifully elevated by the accompanying music video.

So that’s it!  I found it interesting how many bands were covered repeatedly, specifically Sabbath, T. Rex and Bowie.

Be sure to check out the iTunes playlist below featuring all available songs listed above, as well as honorable mentions that barely missed inclusion (Placebo, Moby, Eagles Of Death Metal, etc). I also included Van Halen’s You Really Got Me which I missed on the last playlist.

I’m sure at some point I’ll have to do a follow-up as omissions will jump out at me over time, but tell me your favorite covers in the comments section below.

About SLIS

Middle Aged Gen-Exer obsessed with Alternative rock, metal, cult movies, comic books and cable TV.

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23 Responses to 60 Best Cover Songs Of All Time Part 2

  1. Chris August 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    You missed out on TOOL’s cover of Led Zep’s No Quarter. Powerful!!!

    • clayton June 27, 2017 at 11:52 pm #

      Joe Cockers cover of with a little help from my friends has to be one of the all time great covers

  2. Loxley September 11, 2016 at 12:48 am #

    I knew you were going to have Johnny Cash as number one. I was dreading it as it got closer. I just don’t get the appeal. I thought the remake was awful. A couple of other covers worth mentioning, both of which are Kate Bush covers, oddly enough:

    Placebo – “Running Up That Hill”, and Matthew Good and Holly McNarland – “Cloudbusting”

    Matthew Good’s cover of “Enjoy the Silence” is also top notch. And Girls Under Glass has a fantastic cover of Madonna’s Frozen. Oh. And Godhead’s cover of “Eleanor Rigby”.

    • SLIS September 11, 2016 at 3:06 am #

      That Placebo cover is good! Forgot about that one. I need to check out the rest. Glad you liked the list…except for the top spot :-/!

  3. Joseph September 25, 2016 at 2:29 pm #

    “I Fought The Law” is a song by the Bobby Fuller Four. It is not a Crickets song.

    • SLIS September 25, 2016 at 3:04 pm #

      The Bobby Fuller version is actually a cover of the Crickets original version. It is the better known version of the two though.

  4. Matt Landrum September 30, 2016 at 10:27 am #

    Great list. Me and many of my friends agree with your #1. Reznor said about the video, “I never got to meet Johnny but I’m happy I contributed the way I did. It felt like a warm hug. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, I highly recommend checking it out. I have goose bumps right now thinking about it”.

    I think Cake does a great job with “I Will Survive” (I should have changed that f’ing lock!) and “Bread’s Guitar Man”. Shawn Colvin does a great version of Springsteen’s “Tougher than the Rest”, which cam out after this article. Bob Schneider totally re-imagines “Tomorrow”. Earth, Wind, & Fire is fantastic with “Got to Get You Into My Life”. Superstition by SRV? Elton John doing LSD? How about Conan O’Brien doing Old Brown Shoe at George Fest? I wonder if there are any examples of an artist covering themselves which might belong on such a list (acoustic version of Plush) comes to mind.


    • SLIS October 2, 2016 at 11:42 am #

      That would be an interesting idea for a list! In fact Daniel Ash just put out a new album doing reinterpretations of his Love and Rockets, TOT and Bauhaus stuff that was pretty cool.

      Speaking of Springsteen: I totally forgot that he did a cover of Suicide’s Dream Baby Dream until recently. That’s another good one. I think I may have to do a companion list!

  5. KJ June 20, 2017 at 3:33 pm #

    Eleanor Rigby by Godhead is one of the greatest covers EVER!!! How is it not on this list?

    • SLIS June 21, 2017 at 5:17 pm #

      I have to admit I’ve never heard it! I know the name of the band but never knew much about them. Have to seek it out now!

  6. David June 26, 2017 at 6:30 am #

    I am asking, not criticizing: why is Jimi Hendirx not listed at all for Bob Dylan’s _All Along the Watchtower_? Did it not meet the criteria?

    • SLIS June 26, 2017 at 2:43 pm #

      Hi David–nope that’s just a big dumb error on my part–how did I miss that?!?

  7. Steve Gill January 30, 2018 at 10:01 am #

    Crossroads by Cream doesn’t make the top 60? Seriously?

  8. Steve Gill January 30, 2018 at 10:14 am #

    Steppenwolf’s cover of The Pusher is one of the best covers ever. Hendrix’s covers of Hey Joe and All Along the Watchtower are monsters. Aerosmith’s Big Ten Inch is epoch. Most people don’t even know that The Doors covered Back Door Man and Santana covered Evil Ways and Black Magic Woman. There just seems to be a long list of mega-covers missing from this list, but anytime you try to list the top 100 (or 60) of anything, there will be disagreement. Thanks for the effort–you got people talking!

  9. Greg February 15, 2018 at 4:16 pm #

    Great list. Some of my favs are Sisters of Mercy covering 1969 by Iggy Pop and Gimme Shelter by the Stones. Also Flying Lizards doing Money (That’s What I Want) and Summertime Blues


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