The 50 Greatest Cover Songs

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What makes a good cover song? Is it clever re-imagining that spawns a completely newfangled expression of the original cut’s core elements? Or is it heartfelt devotion to a songwriter’s singular vision, honoring the artistic merit of a classic tune?

Our countdown of the 50 best covers includes both varieties — and everything in between. Check out the first 10 spots on our list — and weigh in with your own favorites in the comments section below.

50. Fountains of Wayne, “…Baby One More Time”
Originally By: Britney Spears
Much like Stacy’s mom, Fountains of Wayne’s 2005 rock-ballad reimagining of Britney’s debut hit has got it going on. https://www.youtube.com/embed/2fyjK1gGhJw

49. Nazareth, “Love Hurts,”
Originally By: The Everly Brothers
The ‘fro-tastic Scotsmen went all the way to number eight with this Everly Brothers cover in 1976, and it has been a slow-dance staple on prom night ever since. https://www.youtube.com/embed/L2BjJbKQkgc

48. Who, “Summertime Blues,”
Originally By: Eddie Cochran
Keith Moon raises a legendary fuss on the drums during the Who’s raucous live version of Eddie Cochran’s timeless jam. https://www.youtube.com/embed/FanTQ72IqDY

47. Raincoats, “Lola,”
Originally By: The Kinks
This quirky 1979 cover by Kurt Cobain’s favorite all-female post-punk band makes Ray Davies’ gender-bending sing-along even more sexually confusing. https://www.youtube.com/embed/QufDdHzWhgw

46. X, “Breathless,”
Originally By: Jerry Lee Lewis
Exene Cervenka and John Doe add some scorching L.A. cow punk to Jerry Lee Lewis’s breezy jingle for the 1983 Richard Gere movie “Breathless.” https://www.youtube.com/embed/PLgzfgmYkNw

45. Tom Jones, “Kiss,”
Originally By: Prince
The hirsute Welshman’s eclectic 1987 team-up with Art of Noise set off a virtual trend of old dudes mugging through hip hits (see also: numbers 30 and 39). https://www.youtube.com/embed/Iw3so6ClU9I

44. Sonic Youth, “Superstar,”
Originally By: The Carpenters
No Ipecac needed: SY’s lounge-y 1994 adaptation of the Carpenters’ classic — made famous in Juno — goes down easy. https://www.youtube.com/embed/Wbi67r13-uc

43. Jos� Feliciano, “Light My Fire,”
Originally By: The Doors
Who better, really, to reinterpret Jim Morrison’s most lizardy track for Lite FM stations than a blind Puerto Rican? https://www.youtube.com/embed/qyEPQiiw8QI

42. Van Halen, “You Really Got Me”
Originally By: The Kinks
Fretboards haven’t been safe from incessant noodling ever since Eddie Van Halen and the boys milked the Kinks for rock-god glory in 1978. https://www.youtube.com/embed/HB8WHA3WWz0

41. The Pixies, “Head On”
Originally By: The Jesus and Mary Chain
Then-obscure Boston-based alt darlings turn still-obscure Scottish alt darlings’ most infectious song into a fast-paced squelch and everyone — especially fans of both bands — wins. https://www.youtube.com/embed/1jX0mVm7Mrc

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