There are some songs that must never be touched and then there are those songs your band should cover, hands down. When choosing a song your band should cover, don’t just pick any song—that’d be plumb loco. It’s important to find songs that your audience is going to recognize, and it’s even better when you pick a song to which your audience might even know the words. The whole point of playing a cover song is to get the audience on your side, and to get them out on the dance floor (or mosh pit—whatever floats your venue’s boat). These songs your band should cover will give your band the kind of boost that keeps people coming back again and again.
1. “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. This song has an immediately recognizable melodic guitar riff, and the words are incredibly easy to remember making this a top contender for songs your band should cover.
2. “Life During Wartime” by Talking Heads. Playing any Talking Heads tune is a quick way towards indie-rock credibility. And this song has an epic feel that hooks people immediately.
3. “Another Saturday Night,” by Cat Stevens. This song is a lot of fun to play at bar gigs. “Another Saturday night, and I ain’t got nobody…” is the kind of lyric that pretty much everybody at a bar can relate to. When thinking about songs your band should cover, it’s key to think about what is going to get your target audience hyped up.
4. “Conscious Evolution” by Donna the Buffalo. What’s great about this lesser-known tune is that it’s got a fantastic drum beat, akin to “I Want Candy” and “Hand Jive” from Grease. No one can resist it.
5. “Land Down Under” by Men at Work. This song lends itself to any genre a band plays in. It works especially well for punk bands looking to make people go nuts in the pit.
6. “Beat It” by Michael Jackson. This song would’ve been a fantastic cover at any time, but now that the King of Pop has gone to the “Land Down Under,” audiences will lose their minds over this song.
7. “Just” by Radiohead. Not one of the most obvious songs your band should cover. Radiohead is a band known for their evolving and experimental style, but this song off of The Bends has a hard-hitting drive good for rock shows, but has a melancholy tone that works for soft or acoustic gigs.
8. “Hotel California” by the Eagles. Have you ever heard the cover of this song by the Gypsy Kings? If you have, you’d know why this is a song your band should cover.
9. “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder This tune has a funky core that that instantly puts smiles on everybody’s faces, no matter what speed your band plays at.
10. “My Sharona” by the Knack Whenever this song comes on the radio, everyone within earshot turns it up and sings along. Just imagine the effect it’ll have on the crowd at your next gig. Trust us.