5 Great Covers That Are Better Than The Originals

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hank williams

A few weeks ago, I brought you guys five incredibly NF covers of frat songs. Thanks to feedback from viewers like you, I’ve decided to change my perspective. There are a lot of great covers out there. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band took “Blinded By The Light” from The Boss and made it a chart-topper. Jimi Hendrix taught us that Bob Dylan’s words could become napalm in the hands of a rock god. There are thousands of examples I could use, but you folks don’t have that kind of time. You want two things: hot songs and dick jokes. Luckily, I have both in spades. Therefore, I give you five covers that took songs to a whole new echelon of awesome. This list is completely subjective, but I’m basically a Spotify celebrity at this point so just go ahead and agree with me already.

5. “Kaw-liga” by Charley Pride (originally by Hank Williams)

We’ll get things started with a real heart-wrencher. When OG Hank put this song on the airwaves, people were shocked that they could feel something for a simple wooden statue. Then, Charley Pride got his hands on it and changed everything. It’s incredibly hard to improve on a song by one of the biggest names in music history, but it’s equally hard to dismiss a vocalist as dynamic as Pride. The pacing isn’t altered to an extreme, seen most prominently in Junior’s take on the tune, but it’s picked up to better accent Pride’s silky smooth drawl. The backbeat is also toned down to better feature the actual lyrics without compromising the integrity of a beautifully written piece of music.

4. “Gin and Juice” by The Gourds (originally by Snoop Dogg)

It’s not easy making an incredibly raunchy hip hop tune into a bluegrass banger, but somehow The Gourds pull it off. There’s just something about a guy saying “got a pocket full of rubbers and my homeboys do too” with a noticeable southern twang over a banjo. The song absolutely took off online a few years ago, and every once in a while you’ll scroll past it on your Facebook feed, probably because your cool ass grandma thinks it’s “the funniest thing.” A lot of people look at this song as nothing more than an exercise in comedy, but it has a great deal of musical value. It takes all the things that make bluegrass a beautiful medium and pairs it with a genre that has deep roots in folk music. If anyone ever tells you that rap and country are polar opposites, just know that they couldn’t be more wrong.

3. “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede (originally by BJ Thomas)

This is the format that every cover should strive to follow. It takes a popular song, churches it up real nice, and replaces it as the version people are familiar with. The original take is good, don’t get me wrong, but it has nothing on Blue Swede’s cover. Their version brings in a beautiful horn ensemble, kicks things off with that memorable “ooga-chaka” intro, and improves on every aspect you can possibly imagine. As an anchor on the second greatest movie soundtrack of all time (Reservoir Dogs, FaF) it can bring you a sense of nostalgia for a time you’ve never known. Without a doubt, this is the song every aspiring musician should give a listen when they want to create a cover, and also an excellent song for getting down and dirty. Just try not to hit your vinegar strokes before that first round of trumpets.

2. “Hurt” by Johnny Cash (originally by Nine Inch Nails)

Despite being a favorite in the community of Nine Inch Nails fans (that’s actually a thing), “Hurt” was officially made great by an outlaw in his twilight years. Performed by NIN, it’s just another depressing ballad by an insanely downer group. When Johnny Cash sings it, with pain in his heart and a lifetime on his mind, there’s a whole new realm of beauty in the lyrics. A lot of folks would say that this song only got so much playtime because of its release so close to Cash’s passing, along with the emotional roller coaster of a video, but there’s no denying that it was a beautiful finale to the career of an incredible man. The only way to go out is on top.

1. “All Along the Watchtower” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (originally by Bob Dylan)

Think of the greatest American song writer of all time and you’ll probably conjure up images of Bob Dylan. Think of the greatest guitarist you can, and there’s a strong chance it’s Jimi Hendrix. Put them both together, and you have this absolute musical treasure. This is what it’s like when worlds collide, the perfect coupling of two music icons brought to life through the miracle of rock and roll. It makes some people cry, and it makes others get up and party. Sure, some folks will think throwing it on a list like this is just picking low-hanging fruit, but if the fruit is as tasty as this jam then you pick that shit. Then you drop it in a big bowl of punch and let it slake your thirst for the finer things in life. This is, and might forever be, the finest cover of a song that has ever existed.

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Karl Karlson is TFM's self-proclaimed cartoon expert and your best buddy. He resides in the mountains of NC where he wrestles black bears and attempts to grow a beard. Karl gave up liquor following an unfortunate incident involving tequila and a vacuum cleaner, but he isn't above a nice stout on the porch.

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