A List of Songs Remade That Were Just As Good or Better Than The Originals

  • "All Along The Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix. This is an obvious choice. It's pretty hard to better a Dylan-penned and performed song, but Hendrix made this one his own.
  • "Respect" by Aretha Franklin. In Otis Redding's hands (he wrote this song, by the way), it's a blustery celebration of manhood. In Aretha's hands, it's a sexy but defiant declaration of women's liberation. Needless to say, it's Aretha's version we all remember.
  • "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor. A truly great song Prince wrote and performed, but Sinead's torch-song version is a classic performance. I almost cried the first time I heard it, and it still sends chills down my spine.
  • "Angel of the Morning" by Juice Newton. I think it was Merrilee Rush who originally sang this. The remake's pretty much a note-for-note reinterpretation, but it packs the same emotional punch.
  • "I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow. Candy-coated pop indeed. Originally performed by a doo-wop group in the early 60's whose name I just can't recall right now. This is the definition of breezy 80's pop.
  • "Time After Time" by Miles Davis. He always had a soft spot for good pop tunes (his cover of "My Funny Valentine" is a good example of this), and he does a very nice, concise instrumental version of this excellent Cyndi Lauper song.
  • "Waiting in Vain" by Annie Lennox. She has one of the most gorgeous voices on earth. This is a great song, and she does Bob Marley's classic justice by not remaking it but re-imagining it in a more slower, smokier setting.
  • "I Will Survive" by Cake. Let's start by me admitting that I absolutely HATE the Gloria Gaynor song, not because it's terrible but because it's so damned overplayed (she ought to collect royalties every time someone plays this song after a break up). I like Cake's version because it avoids the "look at me I'm doing so well without you" tone and goes strictly for laughs.
  • "Dear Prudence" by Siouxsie and the Banshees. There are approximately 37,587,319 remakes of Beatles songs out there (I may be just a little off in my figures here). About 75% are just flat awful, but this goth remake of a John Lennon song is pretty damned good.
  • "King of Pain" by Alanis Morrisette. This comes off an unplugged set filmed by MTV. Lately, it's become very popular to cover songs written by Sting (you know who you are, Mr. Combs). I like the jazzy, mellow feel of her remake, and, thankfully, she decides not to substitute "king" for "queen".
  • "Sweet Jane" by the Cowboy Junkies. I can't get into the Velvet Underground original, but the Cowboy Junkies' version is light-years superior. It's a sad song made even more melancholy by Margo Timmons' expressive voice. Slower than the original and much moodier.
  • "Black Steel" by Tricky. Originally "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" by Public Enemy. Less harsh than the PE's version, but just as claustrophobic. Even more stirring is the fact that the vocals are sung by a woman.
  • "Mrs. Robinson" by the Lemonheads. God, they were a dopey band lead by the incredibly dopey Evan Dando, but I liked their version because it really drives home the irreverence of the original lyrics. In other words, the original was not as syrupy-sweet as it may seem (hell, it ranks as one of the most sarcastic songs ever made), and the remake makes sure it's not sweet at all.
Author Comments: 

More often than not, remakes of songs, especially if they're well-loved, will suck beyond all belief. There are just a few that I think are worthy remakes.

what I like best about a remade song is that people who are young think it is brand new and how could someone old know that hip song playing on a youthful radio station for teens... and of course because when some declares they hate a certain type of music and then rave about a song remade in another genre...that makes me laugh!! Otherwise remade songs are annoying because a song is already had air time and it does nothing to promote a new songwriter.

In the notes on the cover of Bob Dylan's biograph CD, he says that he liked the way Jimi Hendrix performed "All Along The Watchtower" so much that he started playing it Jimi's way.

Also, I would add Twist and Shout by The Beatles, it's a great cover and pretty much any song they covered was as good as or better then the original.

Great list. I agree with just about all of your choices.