2009 Countdown: Best Cover Songs

On Sunday, we counted down what KEXP listeners said were the Best Cover Songs ever. hands down. You picked Nirvana’s rendition of the classic bluegrass tune, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” and while Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” may have climbed to number 2 on Billboard’s top 100 in 2003, Clem Snide’s version scored spot #41 on our countdown of best covers of ALL time. Here are they are:

Rank Cover Artist Cover Song Original Artist
60 Pavement The Killing Moon Echo and the Bunnymen
59 Sissy Bar Gin and Juice Snoop Dog
58 Supersuckers Hey Ya Outkast
57 Revolting Cocks Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? Rod Stewart
56 Red Hot Chili Peppers Higher Ground Stevie Wonder
55 Thom Yorke All for the Best Miracle Legion
54 White Stripes Jolene Dolly Parton
53 TV on the Radio Heroes David Bowie
52 Grizzly Bear He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss) The Crystals
51 Flying Lizards Money (That’s What I Want) Barrett Strong – also covered by The Beatles
50 Johnny Cash Rusty Cage Soundgarden
49 Love & Rockets Ball of Confusion The Temptations
48 LCD Soundsystem Jump Into the Fire Harry Nillsson
47 Ministry Lay Lady Lay Bob Dylan
46 Elbow Running to Stand Still U2
45 Talking Heads Take Me To The River Al Green
44 Breeders Happiness Is A Warm Gun Beatles
43 Aimee Mann One Harry Nillsson
42 Afghan Whigs Creep TLC
41 Clem Snide Beautiful Christina Aguilera
40 Twlight Singers Hyperballad Bjork
39 The Shins We Will Become Silhouettes Postal Service
38 Luna Sweet Child of Mine Guns N Roses
37 Aztec Camera Jump Van Halen
36 Peter Gabriel and Hot Chip Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa Vampire Weekend
35 Pixies Head On Jesus and Mary Chain
34 Pearl Jam Crazy Mary Victoria Williams
33 Patti Smith Gloria Van Morrison
32 Treepeople Bigmouth Strikes Again The Smiths
31 William Shatner Common People Pulp
30 Joe Strummer and the Mescalaros Redemption song Bob Marley
29 Nirvana Where Did You Sleep Last Night Leadbelly
28 Husker Du Eight Miles High The Byrds
27 Elliott Smith Trouble Cat Stevens
26 Pretenders Stop Your Sobbing The Kinks
25 Faith No More War Pigs Black Sabbath
24 The Clash I Fought the Law Sonny Curtis (he was a country musician who wrote the Mary Tyler Moore theme song – he joined The Crickets after Buddy Holly’s death)
23 Beck Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat Bob Dylan
22 Camper Van Beethoven Pictures of Matchstick Men Status Quo (1968)
21 Cat Power (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction Rolling Stones
20 The Futureheads Hounds of Love Kate Bush
19 Tricky Black Steel Public Enemy
18 The Flaming Lips Borderline Madonna
17 Ryan Adams Wonderwall Oasis
16 M. Ward Let’s Dance David Bowie
15 Sundays Wild Horses Rolling Stones
14 The Jam David Watts The Kinks
13 Bauhaus Ziggy Stardust David Bowie
12 Elvis Costello & the Attractions (What’s So Funny About)Peace Love & Understanding Nick Lowe
11 The Clash Police & Thieves Junior Murvin
10 Nirvana The Man Who Sold the World David Bowie
9 Gary Jules Mad World Tears for Fears
8 Cowboy Junkies Sweet Jane Lou Reed
7 Devo (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction Rolling Stones
6 Iron & Wine Such Great Heights Postal Service
5 Dinosaur Jr Just Like Heaven The Cure
4 Cloud Cult Mr. Tambourine Man Bob Dylan
3 Jimi Hendrix All Along the Watchtower Bob Dylan
2 Johnny Cash Hurt Nine Inch Nails
1 Jeff Buckley Hallelujah Leonard Cohen

Grizzly Bear – He Hit Me (MP3)

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  1. John
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    So Cat Power covered Devo with “Satisfaction” at #21, then Devo covered the same song at #7 which was apparently originally done by Devo? So they covered themselves? I’m confused.
    Really both artists covered the same Rolling Stones song. I guess if you wanted to you could argue that Cat Power covered the Devo version.

    Also, I was under the impression that “All along the watchtower” at #3 was originally a Bob Dylan song, not a Led Zeppelin song.


  2. ummm....
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    @#3 watchtower is a bob dylan tune, which gives him 4 spots on the list. bowie makes a good showing with 3. a nice testament to great writers.

  3. Daniel T
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Fun list! Haven’t heard some of these. Definitely agree w/ the top 5 though!
    I think there’s an error or two though… the original artists for All Along the Watchtower and Satisfaction should be Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones respectively, right?

  4. zeke
    Posted October 6, 2009 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    was there a list like this posted for the best debut albums countdown? did I miss it? I heard parts of it, curious to see the whole list. thanx…

  5. Philip LaRose, KEXP
    Posted October 6, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    #47 has the cover artist and cover song switched: it should be Ministry for the artist, “Lay Lady Lay” for the song.

    As John noted above, #7 should list the Rolling Stones as the original artist, not Devo.

  6. JasonT
    Posted October 8, 2009 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Wonderful to see Bauhaus made the chart! But what about their cover of “Third Uncle”? Don’t forget that one! =)

  7. cjohnone
    Posted October 12, 2009 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Ahhhhhhh! This is such a fun list.

    Second that….Kudos to Bob Dyland and David Bowie!

    Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin’s “Long Black Veil” recorded by Lefty Fizzell is a classic. Did I miss something? Although I have heard a few bad ones.

  8. Larry
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,
    Wow, what a great list. Really brings back fond memories.
    I really like some of the vintage renditions. I neglected to add my favorite choice, French chanteuse Eileen covering “These Boots Were Made For Walking” in French by Lee Hazelwood via Nancy Sinatra.

  9. Posted October 21, 2009 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    How about the alternate take of Joe Strummer’s cover of Redemption Song with Johnny Cash? I can’t believe Uncle Tupelo don’t get any love for “No Depression.”

  10. Freakfase Presents -
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    You guys are all lame. This list is poorly constructed. KEXP spent less than an hour on asking for this one. and the listeners spent less responding/ Years and years of great music was handed down from recording artist to recording artist. The simple fact that BLue Suede Shoes is not on the list makes it a farce. let alone Whole Lotta Love , Tobacco Road, Last Kiss from Pearl Jam and countless others that dominate over this immature pitance. For shame.

  11. Grise
    Posted January 9, 2010 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    Gavin Castleton’s video of the covers he did of Nothing Compares 2 U and Sledgehammer (or any of the other covers he posted on his Youtube) are worth checking out.

  12. Robert
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I always thought that Nirvana’s cover songs (and cover songs made for Nirvana’s songs) are some of the best around. But this list is pretty comprehensive, and for the most part I agree with it. Long live mr. Cobain!

  13. Mzgolightly
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Sad to see Flaming Lips’ “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” is missing from this list…. And I’m sorry, Paula Cole’s cover of “Jolene” is far better than White Stripes, imho

  14. mike mendes
    Posted May 7, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Pet shop Boys “Go West”
    Sonic Youth “Superstar”
    Beck “Everybodys gotta learn sometime”
    Hole : Gold Dust Woman”
    Smashing Pumpkins “Dreaming”
    Travis “Hit Me Baby…. One more Time”

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