Cover songs are a tricky business. This is especially true for an emerging band, as a good cover can all but make a band (such as Limp Bizkit’s take on George Michael’s “Faith”) and a bad cover can condemn a band to eternal obscurity. Hell, even a good cover can be a band’s only raison d’etre, such as Alien Ant Farm and their version of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.”
But what makes a cover song amazing, or, at the very least, good?
There are a few factors to consider, but the most important is, of course, the listener’s taste and preference. However, it seems pretty obvious that if a band does a reinterpretation of a song, it should be done in their own style. And if a band does a fairly straight-forward cover, it should be damn good, and perhaps introduce some subtle modern elements. In both cases, the production should be improved upon over the original (depending on the era of the original).
What’s the impetus for this article? Well, there’s a lot of talk right now about Disturbed’s cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.” The original is perfect just the way it is and there’s little anyone can do to improve it. Everything about the song conveys a deep sadness and the emotion that goes with it, from the structure to the tone to the hushed vocals to the harmony, and so on. But if anyone can strip all that sincerity from the 1966 classic, it’s David Draiman.
If you’re not finding what you like here, keep an eye out for the sequel to this article.
No.5 “Am I Evil?
For fun, I was going to put “The Four Horsemen” as a cover of Megadeth’s “Mechanix,” but a simple reference like this will suffice.
Instead, we’re going with Metallica’s cover of Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?”. The track was originally released on the British band’s 1980 debut album, Lightning to the Nations, and was influenced by’s “Symptom of the Universe” — it all comes back to Sabbath! The song was only four years old when Metallica put it on the B-side of “Creeping Death.” But the song was perfectly suited for Metallica’s sound at the time and they really made it their own. To this day “Am I Evil?” remains a fan favorite.
No.4 Stone Sour “Wicked Game”
The moment I first heard it, I instantly fell in love with this Stone Sour cover of the Chis Isaak classic, “Wicked Game.” The original track features some dreamy, country-sounding slide guitar, and became a template for the “David Lynch” sound when it was used for his film Wild at Heart. Isaak’s original was also sexy as hell, featuring himself and then supermodel Helena Christensen rolling around, half naked, in the sand.
That was 1990. Fast forward to 2006 and Stone Sour’s second album, Come What(ever) May, and the album’s special edition bonus track “Wicked Game.” While Stone Sour did away with the eerie slide guitar, the band did maintain the acoustic element and stuck pretty close to the original. What’s left is something stripped down and leaning toward hard, and it’s incredible — perhaps one of the best covers I’ve ever heard.
The top three on this list are rockin’ out after the jump…