We’re Back: Looking for the Best Cover Song of All-Time!

bob_dylan_jimi_hendrixFrom 2010 to 2012, this site hosted some mighty entertaining single-elimination music tournaments, and now we’re bringing one back.

For the initiated, music tournaments follow a simple March Madness elegance- songs compete against each other in a bracket.  You vote for a winner, and it advances to the next round.  63 matches later, we have a winner.   We’ve got the details below the scroll.

We’ve actually done a “Best Cover Song” tournament once before, but I made the tragic error of excluding songs that were better known than the original: “if you stopped someone on the street and asked them who sang ______ and they responded with the person that did the cover, then it will probably get vetoed.”

The reasoning for this was noble and practical- we were all hoping to learn some new songs, and frontrunners like “Twist and Shout” (Beatles) and “Hallelujah” (Jeff Buckley) had just gone deep in the epic 512-song “Best Rock Song of All-Time” tournament.

Unfortunately, stripped of some of the actual best covers of all-time, the earlier rounds had a replacement-era baseball quality to them.  The eventual finals saw “With a Little Help From My Friends” (Joe Cocker) edge out “Valerie” (Amy Winehouse, RIP).   Those are both great covers, but the moment lacked gravitas.

The tournament will start Monday night.  You can submit your nomination in the comments below!   Here are a few guidelines:

1) Any cover is eligible, with cover defined as another artist having written AND released a prior version;

2) Live versions are acceptable as long as they can be found on Grooveshark, Youtube or Spotify;

3) Max two songs per performing artist, and that’s if two different people nominate them (No limit to songs originally by artist- the Dylan/Beatles corollary);

4) Songs that did really really poorly in the last cover tournament are out;

5) Hip-hop sampling probably doesn’t count as a cover, but I could be persuaded on a case by case basis.

We’ll go over tournament and scoring rules in our next post. Great to be back!

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About Janos Marton

Janos Marton is a lawyer, advocate and writer.
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15 Responses to We’re Back: Looking for the Best Cover Song of All-Time!

  1. Adam S says:

    I’ll submit Tainted Love by Soft Cell, and in particular, this version:

    Not necessarily because I think it is the best cover of all time, but rather because it is one of the most interesting: It is actually a cover of two different songs: Gloria Jones’ “Tainted Love” and The Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go?”. I find it quite entrancing how the two tunes mingle together, especially with the synthesizer beat in the background.

  2. Only appreciated this song once I heard Mrs. Carter sing it so here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjQnpJVdv-8

    • janos marton says:

      I actually think a version of this cover was in a previous tournament, but the youtube quality was bad. Looks like she’s made it a regular part of her set.

  3. Dem Adam says:

    Jawbox – Sound on Sound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hV-jFN7ffZM
    Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Sweet Emotion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHoIjQmT7hY
    Califone – The Orchids: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4e1jgqX0Y8g

  4. Andy Walton says:

    “Feelin’ Alright” Joe Cocker (originally by Dave Mason)
    “I Did It My Way” Frank Sinatra (originally by Paul Anka)
    “Twist And Shout” The Beatles (originally by The Isley Brothers)
    “Come Together” Aerosmith (originally by The Beatles)
    “Walk This Way” RUN DMC (originally by Aerosmith)
    “Higher Ground” Chilis (originally by Stevie Wonder)
    “Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon” Urge Overkill (originally by Niel Diamond)
    “Hurt” Johnny Cash (originally by NIN)
    “All Along the Watchtower” Jimi Hendrix (originally by Bob Dylan)
    “Big Yellow Taxi” Counting Crowes (originally by Bob Dylan)
    “I Fought The Law” The Clash (originally by Bobby Fuller Four)
    “Hallelujah” Jeff Buckley (originally by Leonard Cohen)

    • janos marton says:

      Thanks, dude. About 3/4s of these were already going to be in the tourney, but great catch on I Did it My Way and Higher Ground. I’ll have to listen to Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon.

    • janos marton says:

      Also, if you can find the version with Beluschi dueting with Cocker for the win…

  5. jacobpress says:

    Police and Thieves by the Clash (original by Junior Murvin)
    Running Kind by Johnny Cash and Tom Petty (original by Merle Haggard)
    Be Thankful for What You’ve Got by Yo La Tengo (original by William DeVaughn)
    Death is Not the End by Nick Cave (original by Bob Dylan)

  6. Daddy-O says:

    Welcome back, indeed!

    A few suggestions with a little variety, old and new, a touch of whimsey, and someone unexpected.

    Baby I Need Your Lovin’, Johnny Rivers (cover of The Four Tops)
    Any Time At All, Bryan Adams (cover of The Beatles)
    My Ding-a-Ling, Chuck Berry (cover of Dave Bartholomew)
    I Shall Be Released, Jack Johnson (cover of The Band)
    Rock Me on the Water, Keb’Mo’ (cover of Jackson Browne)
    Deeper Well, The Wailin’ Jennies (cover of Emmy Lou Harris)
    Unchain My Heart, Hugh Laurie (cover of Ray Charles)

    Believe all of these are available on YouTube.

  7. Maca says:

    Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc (The SAME X Lalitia Cover)

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