From The Beatles and Joe Cocker to Johnny Cash and Nine Inch Nails, some songs become magically improved upon when left in the (equally-talented) hands of another artist.
Sometimes it takes another artists interpretation of a song to really help you appreciate the complexities of the original. Or, as often happens, you don't realize it's a cover because it achieved greater success than the original while in the capable hands of another performer—we're looking at you, "Hound Dog."
While some versions are undeniably superior to the original, like Johnny Cash's heartbreaking rendition of the Nine Inch Nails track "Hurt", others leave listeners more divided—for example, is it even possible to choose between The Beatles' and Joe Cocker's versions of "With A Little Help From My Friends" when both are stylistically different but equally compelling.
In the end, as with any art form, it all boils down to the preference of the audience.
Here, we compile a list of cover songs many music fans and critics believe are better than the originals—and it's up to you to decide it you agree or disagree.
Song: "With A Little Help From My Friends"
Original: The Beatles (1967)
Cover: Joe Cocker (1968)
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney for the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the tune "With A Little Help From My Friends" was originally sung by the Beatles' drummer Ringo Starr. It's been said that Lennon and McCartney wrote the song with limited range so that Starr—who's not exactly the strongest singer in the Fab Four—could hit all the right notes. Starr continues to use the hit song to close out each live performance with his All-Starr Band.
The tune took off in 1967, but it wasn't long before it was covered by another artist. The gritty-voiced British blues singer Joe Cocker released his debut album With A Little Help From My Friends the following year, using the hit track as his first single. And the rest, as they say, was history. At the time, the New York Times music critic cited the cover as "the major triumph of rock interpretation thus far."
Cocker's version has aged like a fine wine, finding new life in the 1980s when it became the theme song to the TV series, The Wonder Years. Even now, it still pulls us in and makes us think, "Beatles, who?!"
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