The 50 Greatest Cover Songs: 20-11


Our countdown of the 50 best covers continues! Check out entries No. 20-11 from our list — and weigh in with your own favorites in the comments section below. To check out 50-41, 40-31, and 30-21, click here.

20. The Slits, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”

Originally By: Marvin Gaye
Gaye’s stands as the definitive version of this song, having earned a place in the Grammy Hall of Fame-and that’s exactly the kind of institutional standing the Slits sought to deconstruct with their provocative ’70s punk-dub take on the soul tune.

19. Pavement, “Killing Moon”

Originally By: Echo and the Bunnymen
Stephen Malkmus impressively tackled the theatrics of the 1984 cult hit that Courtney Love thought was romantic.

18.Lemonheads, “Mrs. Robinson”

Originally By: Simon & Garfunkel
Simon and Garfunkel may have been making a generational statement, but all the Lemonheads wanted to say was “look at our cute hair and flannels!”-which was exactly what anyone cared to hear in 1992, when this throwaway cover put the Boston trio on the map.

17. The Beatles, “Twist and Shout”

Originally By: The Isley Brothers
At the height of their mop-top popularity, the Beatles created a frenzy when they unleashed their rambunctious version of the song the Isley Brothers made famous-much like Ferris Bueller did when he lip-synched over it twenty years later.

16. Al Green, “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”

Originally By: The Bee Gees
This country-tinged soft rocker may have brought the Brothers Gibb their first #1 hit in the States, but it’s no match for the passion oozing through Green’s cover, released just a year later.

15. José González, “Teardrop”

Originally By: Massive Attack
Unlike Massive Attack, Argentianian-Swede guitarist González can’t claim to have a theme song for a TV drama about a pill-popping doctor, but he can always be proud of his placid acoustic spin on the trip-hop hit.

14. The Ramones, “Do You Wanna Dance?”

Originally By: Bobby Freeman
The “brothers” from Queens nail Freeman’s sock-hop classic-better associated with the Beach Boys-and demonstrate the kinship between simplistic three-chord punk rock and the pre-Pet Sounds era.

13. Soft Cell, ” Tainted Love”

Originally By: Gloria Jones
This synth-pop nugget spent nearly a year on the charts in the early 1980s, owing to Marc Almond’s droll vocal, a danceable beat, and an extended mix that bled into a sublime cover of the Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go?”

12. Jeff Buckley, “Hallelujah”

Originally By: Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen may have written it, but “Hallelujah” will always be entwined with Buckley’s legacy due to its stunning starkness and Robert Plant-meets-Joni Mitchell vocals.

11. Ike & Tina Turner, “Proud Mary”

Originally By: Creedence Clearwater Revival
The soulful couple’s offstage drama did nothing to keep their energetic 1971 rendition of this CCR ditty from winning a Grammy and becoming one of Tina’s best-loved vocal tracks.


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