Covers vs. Originals

Here’s a series of related questions:

Is the original version of a song always better than a cover version?


Is the version that you heard first (original or cover) always better (in your opinion) because it’s what you’re used to?


Are there any examples of cover versions you heard after already being familiar with the original where you feel the cover is the better version?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

4 Responses to “Covers vs. Originals”

  1. 1 Colin
    June 17, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    This post was prompted by “Computer Love” originally by Kraftwerk. I have a cover done by The Album Leaf and I only recently heard the original. I’m not sure which one I like better.

    In general, my feeling is that the original is generally better than its covers but I’m sure there are some good exceptions to this rule.

  2. 2 Pat
    June 19, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    I don’t think the original is always better. Though, the original always deserves a lot of merit because it’s the first.

    One example that I can think of is Jeff Buckley’s version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. I heard Buckley’s version before I heard Cohen’s. After hearing both of them, I think I like Buckley’s version more.

    Another one I can think of is Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” over NIN’s. Cash’s version was the first one I heard. His version is a lot more profound than Reznor’s because the song just sounds like it should be sung by a man in his seventies nearing the end of his life, more than a disgruntled man in his late twenties. I also like the orchestration more. BTW, the music video for “Hurt” is probably one of my favorites of all time.

  3. 3 Colin
    July 2, 2009 at 11:21 am

    It’s funny that you mention “Hallelujah”. I just heard that song for the first time recently but it was the cover version by Rufus Wainwright. After listening to Cohen’s version, I think I like the Wainwright cover more. The Cohen version just feels so slow. I haven’t heard the Jeff Buckley version. I’ll have to track it down.

  4. 4 Christopher Scholke
    September 19, 2009 at 1:17 am

    I’d actually go more for the remakes, just because there are so many songwriters out there who aren’t necessarily good performers. As much as I like Dylan or Waits, their voices are unintelligible, and the remakes usually bring out a beauty in their songs (except for that Rod Stewart one). Mostly, I’m thinking of a local band that does a great cover of a couple of Gordon Lightfoot tunes. I listened to the originals and cringe at some of the dated sounds. I guess that adds in another factor: the more time that has past the original, the better the odds on the remake out-performing it.

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