In other words, the good cover version uses the "universe" which the original created and exists within, and provides a new and unexpected set of lenses with which to view it from, providing a deeper meaning. The power of a great cover song is very underrated and profound, it exposes the original's true nature.
In no particular order:
1. Timo Räisänen - Creep (Radiohead cover)
Räisänen is a swedish indie pop musician who was previously part of Håkan Hällströms band and also the band Her Majesty. He went solo in 2004. There are many, many versions of Radiohead's breakthrough song. I chose this one because of its original arrangement and how it adds intensity and a more complex array of emotional connotations to the original.
2. Anna Järvinen & Annika Norlin - För Varje Hjärtslag (Robyn cover)
This song is a perfect illustration of the powerful potential of a really good cover song. Both of the artists turn Robyn's electronic pop-gem into an intense, emotional and intimate story, which again expands its meaning. Another stroke of genius is singing it in swedish. It's so simple, yet so profound at the same time.
Another grat cover by Anna Järvinen is actually for a Norwegian commercial for lotteryticketcompany Flax, a heartwrenching (but incomplete) version of A-Ha's Sun always shines on TV""
3. Young@Heart - Fix You (Coldplay cover)
Young@Heart is a chorus created by and for the elderly, comprised at present of people at least 70 years of age. Some have prior professional theater or music experience, others have performed at amateur level, and some have no experience whatsoever. They are particularly noted for their unconventional covers of rock, punk, and other modern pop music songs. Fred Knittle, the singer who delivers this heartwrenching version of Coldplay's stadium epic, had cancer and congestive heartfailure, and has to use an oxygenmachine while delivering the song, and it's as if the 80+ year old former WWII veteran pours every ounce of his lifeexperience into the performance. He died not long ago. Try to watch it and not cry.
4. Pomplamoose - Makin out (Mark Owen cover)
San Francisco musician Jack Conte and his girlfriend Nataly Dawn created the Internetband Pomplamoose, and have garnered quite a following. Their quirky indiepop-sound and the fact that they make their music exclusively for YouTube made them a viral sensation in 2009. Dawn's voice and Conte's arrangements also lend themselves perfectly for some fantastic covers.
Their newest cover of Lady GaGa's "Telephone" is also a hoot.
5. José Gonzales - Teardrop (Massive Attack cover)
José Gonzales was born in Gothenburg, but is of Argentinian descent. His trademark classical guitar sound was perhaps best known through his song "Heartbeats," which was featured in Sony's Bravia ad This is a haunting version of Massive Attack's huge 90s hit.
6. Playing For Change - Stand By Me (Ben E- King cover)
Playing for Change is a multimedia music project created by producer and sound engineer Mark Johnson, that seeks to bring together musicians from around the world. Johnson recorded the different parts of King's classic by sourcing the unique talents of streetperformers, amateurs and regular people from different communities all over the world.
7. Bobby Flynn - When The War Is Over (Cold Chisel cover)
In 2008, Australian Idol had, like most other internatiional incarnations of the TV-franchise, tipped heavily towards soggy, sentimental and cliché-filled over-the-top ballads by heavy-voiced divas that were easy to forget. In came Bobby Flynn from Brisbane. A young up-and-coming singer/songwriter who decided he would give Idol a go, being sick of working as a waiter (in a cafe right around the corner where I used to live!) in order to sustain his dream of becoming a full-time musician. With a very unique voice, mature and bold choices of cover songs ranging from David Bowie to The Church as well as decisive genre-flipping, he drew in a new audience to the show and quickly became a wedge between lovers of more nuanced music and the more pop-based contestants.
8. Katie Noonan - Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden cover)
Another Brisbanite, Katie Noonan, has in addition to a successful solo career encompassing opera, jazz, pop, rock and dance, also sung in the groups george and Elixir and also duets with her mother, Maggie Noonan. In my opinion, probably the best voice to come out of Australia EVER. Noonan brings a softer, more feminine touch in contrast to the sarcastic edge of Cornell's raspy 90s monsterhit.
9. Ryan Adams - Wonderwall (Oasis cover)
Ryan Adams is a Grammy Award-nominated American alt-country/singer/songwri
10. Michael Andrews & Gary Jules - Mad World (Tears For Fears cover)
Orignally by british post-punk, industrial rockpopband Tears For Fears, this song was their first chart hit in the UK in 1982 and also their first international hit. Andrews and Jules toned down the nihilistic and industrial sound and flipped it into a softspoken ballad that still contained elements of the original's melancholy and despair and added a more vulnerable and sore sound. The new version would also achieve some success over 20 years later, much because of it being featured on the soundtrack of the teenage sci-fi mindfuck flick Donnie Darko
- We Are Scientists - Hoppipolla (Sigur Ros cover)
Usually it's the other way around, but WAS adds a very nouveau-american indie-sound to the icelandic group's classic.
- Martha Wainwright - C'est toujours la meme histoire (Edith Piaf cover)
An American singing Piaf?? C'est ce genre de plaisanterie certains terrible? But she's GOOD.
- Little Korean kid - Hey Jude (Beatles cover)
This kid is still in diapers, and he still manages to pack more charm and wit into a song that has been covered more than I can count :)