10 Best Songs To Cover
If you don’t quite have the skills to write your own songs or you’re just looking to win over an audience by playing a recognizable classic, these ten best songs to cover are your best bets. Play them well and you’re bound to get at least some nods of recognition.
- “Creep” by Radiohead. This is the song that embedded Radiohead in the public consciousness. It still sounds as great today as it did back in the ‘90s, and the fact that you’ve heard it five million times should make it that much easier to learn.
- “The Joker” by The Steve Miller Band. Sometimes you just need to lighten the mood a little, and even the most jaded hipster can’t help but crack a grin at this celebration of jokers, smokers, and midnight tokers. Whether played straight or with a tinge of winking irony, this is one of the best songs to cover.
- “Love Song” by The Cure. Lots of bands have covered this one, from Ben Folds to Death Cab for Cutie, but it never seems to get old. Legend has it that Robert Smith wrote this song for his wife as a wedding present. That’s awfully touching, especially for a guy who’s usually so gloomy.
- “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot. Fact: ironic covers of rap songs never get old. Another fact: “Baby Got Back” is awesome. Add those two facts together and you’ve got our suggestion to do yet another ironic cover of “Baby Got Back.” Jonathan Coulton did it as an acoustic ballad. Perhaps a hair metal version would mix things up a bit? Any way you do it, this is one of the best songs to cover.
- Anything by Led Zeppelin that isn’t “Stairway to Heaven.” Led Zeppelin rocked HARD. What better way to prove you can also rock hard then to step up to the challenge of covering one of their songs and doing it well? Just stay away from “Stairway to Heaven.” No one wants to hear that anymore.
- “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen. The oblivious rednecks in the audience will cheer your patriotism. The knowledgeable music aficionados in the audience will get that “Born in the U.S.A.” is actually a protest song about the Vietnam War and will applaud your pacifist ideology. In other words, you will be everything to everybody. Isn’t that what being a musician is all about?
- “All Apologies” by Nirvana. The ‘90s are back in style, and what band better personifies that era than Nirvana? You could be a shmuck and do “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” but that song has been played on every “modern” rock radio station at least twice an hour for over a decade now. That’s too much even for audiences with really low standards.
- “Suffragette City” by David Bowie. Sure, “Ziggy Stardust” would be the obvious pick here, but you don’t want to be too predictable. This song rocks as hard as just about any David Bowie song is likely to rock, so give a shout-out to Susan B. Anthony and then wail on your guitar.
- “Gimme Danger” by Iggy and the Stooges. Now we’re getting a little more underground. Iggy, though David Bowie’s contemporary, was much more anarchic and dangerous-sounding than his glam rock peer. Play this one with your shirt of while swigging from a pint of whisky for maximum effect.
- “You Hate Me and I Hate You” by G.G. Allin. You want to finish off your set with a bang, so play something that will drive your audience into a frenzied rage. If you want your set to be memorable, then this song from the craziest man in the history of rock and roll is one of the best songs to cover. Just make sure you can make a quick exit out the back way.