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List: The 10 best music remakes

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It has been often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and this is absolutely true when it comes to bands or singers covering a song that has been previously recorded.

The problem that sometimes accompanies these remakes is that artists put their own creative twist to it, but the best remakes are the ones that respectfully pay tribute to the original artist while the current artist puts their own stamp on things.

There have been songs that were remade several times over the years which is good because it keeps that particular song current. It also keeps the royalties coming in to the original artist as well as introducing new listeners to their music.

The Beatles have probably had some of the songs remade the most: ""Yesterday (3,000 times), "Eleanor Rigby" (131 times), "And I Love Her" (54 times), and "Blackbird" (36). John Lennon’s "Imagine" has been remade 28 times.

Not all songs get remade and even those who do may prove not to be too popular with listeners, but whether a song actually gets remade or how well it’s done depends on the artist. Listeners may also have an opinion.

In 1974 country and western singer Dolly Parton wrote and recorded the song "I Will Always Love You" which was a big hit. In 1992, it was remade by Whitney Houston. Houston’s version became so popular that many fans didn’t know that it had been a hit years ago.

There are some people who will swear that Houston’s version is better than Parton’s and vice versa. There were other artists who covered the song such as Linda Ronstadt, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood and Troop. There are some who believe that Hudson’s and Underwood’s versions were better than Whitney Houston’s. It all comes down to taste and one's fan base.

It all comes down to the job of the artist and the ears of the listener.

This list has 10 of the best remakes. It was compiled with great thought to which artist performed the song the best while paying tribute to the original artist and their work.

1. Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right”
1. Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right” johannasvisions.com

1. Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right”

1. Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice it’s All Right”

"Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" was written by Bob Dylan in 1962, and appeared on his 1963 album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

It’s a love song, a sad one at that. It’s about the end of a relationship where the man really loves the woman, but realizes that she doesn’t love him. The lyrics are pretty brutal because you can feel the raw emotion that comes from heart-breaking reality:

Goodbye's too good a word, babe
So I'll just say fare thee well
I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind
You coulda done better but I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don't think twice, it's all right

It has long been rumored that the song was about the deterioration of his relationship with Dylan’s then-girlfriend Susan Rotolo who had decided to abort their unborn child. Rotolo herself had discussed how difficult it was to have a relationship with Dylan who had reached the pinnacles of fame.

The song is probably one of the best ever written and Bob Dylan is probably one of the best singer/songwriters of all time so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the song has been covered by 71 different musical acts.

Out of all those acts choosing a remake of the song might be difficult, but in this case it was Waylon Jennings version that stood out among all the others. He performed the song as it was written: simply and with feelings of great sadness.

Waylon Jennings, a country and western singer, was probably the best choice to cover this song because of his experience with heartbreak and loss over the years.

Videos:

Bob Dylan

Waylon Jennings

2. The O’Jay’s “Now That We Found Love”
2. The O’Jay’s “Now That We Found Love” musicbloodline.info

2. The O’Jay’s “Now That We Found Love”

2. The O’Jay’s “Now That We Found Love”

"Now That We Found Love" was written in 1973 by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff for the R & B group The O’Jays.

This is a song about when love is new; when the realization hits and the euphoria that surrounds a couple is thick. Ah, love, right?

This song has been remade (or covered) three times: Martha Reeves, Third World and Heavy D.

The best cover is the one done by Third World in 1978.

Third World is a reggae band from Jamaica that specializes in a soul, funk and disco sound that in the 1970s set them apart from other bands in Jamaica. Their biggest hit was "Now That We Found Love" that found its way onto the music charts both in America as well as Jamaica in 1978.

The group brought a whole new sound and feeling to the song while staying true to the message that Huff and Gamble intended.

In 1991 Jamaican-born rapper Heavy D covered the song again in which he incorporated the music with rapping. His version of the song is the second best cover because of its originality. Sadly the rapper died in November of 2011 of a pulmonary embolism.

Videos:

 

The O'Jays

Third World

Heavy D

3. Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”.
3. Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”. therangeplaceforummotions.com

3. Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”.

3. Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”.

“Big Yellow Taxi” was a song written in 1970 by singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell who through her music helped define a generation as she sung about issues that were popular at the time such as equality, peace, the environment and love.

It is rumored that Mitchell wrote the song while staying in Hawaii to perform a couple of concerts. She became disillusioned at how areas of Hawaii were becoming more commercial; that some of the landscape was being ripped up and replaced by parking lots as well as commercial buildings.

Although the song was a big hit in the United Kingdom as well as Australia, it didn’t do well in the United States until Mitchell re-released a live version of it in 1975.

There have been 13 different covers of this song from artists such as Amy Grant, Bob Dylan and The Neighborhood, but the best cover came in 2002 from the Counting Crows.

Their version did much better than either of Mitchell’s making it to number 13 on the music charts. It was also featured in the movie Two Weeks Notice.

Unlike the other musical artists who changed several of the lyrics to suit their audience, Counting Crows only changed one. Instead of a big yellow taxi taking away my old man (Mitchell), it took away their girl (Crows).

“Big Yellow Taxi” by the Counting Crows kept the original concept the same and covered it at a time when the youth needed to hear it; they recorded the song at a time when issues regarding the environment and justice were almost lost.

Videos:

Joni Mitchell

Counting Crows (Featuring Vanessa Carlton)

4. Beatles’ “Come Together”
4. Beatles’ “Come Together” disney.wikia.com

4. Beatles’ “Come Together”

4. Beatles’ “Come Together”

“Come Together” was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1969. The song was featured on their 21 album Abbey Road.

Although the song was written after John Lennon became inspired by psychologist Timothy Leary’s run for governor of California, it also had four verses and each verse was about one of the Beatles. The song strongly advocated for people to come together to believe/fight for a common cause. Critics believe that the lyrics,

“Come together, right now, over me” indicated that the cause was actually whatever John Lennon believed at the time. In other words it was believed that it meant to fight/believe in Lennon’s cause.

The song, as is the case with many of the songs written and recorded by The Beatles, was covered by over 40 artists since it was initially recorded.

The best cover came in 2012 by the hard rock group Godsmack. The song was one of the four cover songs from the album Live and Inspired.

The Beatles recorded this song during a time when they were experimenting with a harder sound that would appeal more to their fans who were rooted in the popular drug culture of the time. Godsmack kept the song to its heavy rock theme as well as putting their own personal spin to it without compromising the creativity of Lennon and McCartney.

Special note: This was the only Beatles song that Lennon ever sang as a solo artist.

Video:

The Beatles

Godsmack

5. Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”
5. Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” www.mirror.co.uk

5. Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”

5. Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”

“Higher Ground” was written and performed by Stevie Wonder in 1973. It appeared on his 18 album Innervisions in 1973. In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine listed the song at 265 out of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

The song is about the importance of second chances in life and always making the most out of that second chance; not to squander the opportunity.

The song was written and recorded three months before Wonder was in a car accident that led him into being in a coma for four days. After coming out of the coma the singer realized this was his second chance; to do something more or at least better. The songs he wrote and recorded after his recovery demonstrates this different approach even in his music.

In 1989 the rock band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, included Higher Ground on their album Mother’s Milk. Their version of the song gave a new genre a taste of great lyrics and was performed as a typical rock song. The music video is fun to watch as well.

The rock version of Higher Ground has been featured on episodes of Beavis and Butthead as well as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and in movies such as Walking Tall, The Longest Yard, and The Change-Up.

Although there are some critics who are disapproving of this version, the Red Hot Chili Peppers did an amazing job performing a song that was so strongly identified as the work of Stevie Wonder and at the same time they paid homage to one of their idols.

Video:

Stevie Wonder

Red Hot Chili Peppers

6. The Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”
6. The Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” acerecords.co.uk

6. The Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”

6. The Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”

Singer/Songwriter Carole King and her then-husband Gerry Goffin wrote the song in 1960 and was first performed by the The Shirelles in 1960. When they first released the song the title was just "Tomorrow", but it was eventually redistributed under the original title "Will You Love Me Tomorrow".

Despite the song becoming a number one hit, many radio stations didn’t want to play the song because they felt that the lyrics were too sexual. The song became a hit anyway despite its sexual lyrics which had the girl wondering if she gave in to the boy, would he still be there/love her the next day. These words were what probably made the song a hit because it spoke to the anxiety and unsurety teenage girls often feel.

It is a beautifully written song and is still being recorded or sung today 53 years after it was written. It is still requested and played at weddings, anniversaries and even some funerals.

Over the years, over 75 different recording artists have performed this song. Carole King even covered it in 1971 on her Tapestry album. Kanye West sampled the song in 2010. The Bee Gees rendition was amazing and Carole King has even said that their cover was her favorite of all time. Anson Williams’ character on Happy Days, Potsie Weber, also did a great job covering the song, but it wasn’t the best version.

In 2010 Dominican singer Leslie Grace covered the song as her debut single and her version is amazing. The music video that came with her cover stayed true to the message of the song opting to film it in black and white as well as with a 1960s flair.

What makes this song stand out is that in addition to the English lyrics, Ms. Grace also performed it in the bachata genre which originated in her native country the Dominican Republic in the 1960s.

Will You Love Me Tomorrow is a perfect song to be performed as a bachata because this genre’s music focuses on topics of romance especially romance associated with sadness and heartbreak.

Video:

The Shirelles

Bee Gees

Leslie Grace

 

7. Melanie’s “Brand New Key”
7. Melanie’s “Brand New Key” www.youtube.com

7. Melanie’s “Brand New Key”

7. Melanie’s “Brand New Key”

Folk singer Melanie Safka, who was professionally known as Melanie, wrote the song “Brand New Key” in 1970 and it became an instant hit in 1971. Many people would also refer to the song as the roller skate song because of the chorus.

As was the case of many songs that were recorded during this time people thought there were hidden sexual meanings in the song even though Melanie herself has said that that wasn’t the case.

Leave it up to certain people to find something bad in everything.

“Brand New Key” was a fun song about a girl who had a crush on a boy and her mode of transportation were roller skates which were a trendy mode of transportation for girls during that era. It introduced popular music fans to the work of the folk singer who would go on to have a string of mainstream hits.

Throughout the years various artists have covered the album such as Rasputina, Olivia Newton-John, Cher and Katherine McPhee, but the best version didn’t come from a female artist. The best remake of “Brand New Key” was performed by an all-male Dutch rock band, Racoon, in 2012.

The group actually stayed true to Melanie’s vision as well as lyrics and performed it mostly using acoustics which gave it a real warm sound.

Video:

Melanie

Racoon

8. Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”
8. Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” stevienicksfanfare.50webs.com

8. Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”

8. Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”

“Landslide” was written in 1974 by singer/songwriter Stevie Nicks and performed by the rock group Fleetwood Mac. The song appeared on their album titled Fleetwood Mac. It was also Nicks first contribution as a songwriter to the group.

The song is about time and how time can move quickly; it’s about retrospection over what has been and the journey, time as well as life, often takes you on. It’s a bittersweet song, but is also full profound wisdom.

Stevie Nicks said that at the time she wrote “Landslide” she was at a crossroads in her life and was trying to figure out what she should do; stay with the group or go back to school. Her purpose of writing the song was to convey the importance of sometimes taking a chance even if everything that comes with the risk is like an avalanche.

Over the years there have been several versions of this song from artists such as Miley Cyrus, Stacey Kent, Tori Amos and Lady Antebellum. It has also been sung on various signing competition shows like American Idol, The X Factor and The Voice.

There are actually two covers of this song that are very good.

The first one was done in 2002 by the country group Dixie Chicks is probably the most well known. Like many singers in that genre the story within the lyrics play a big part in the way the song is sung as well as how the video was made.

The second version that was covered by the alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins in 1994 is surprisingly good. They performed the song as it was intended and showed their softer side which is always a beautiful thing.

Video:

Fleetwood Mac

Dixie Chicks

Smashing Pumpkins

9. Cat Stevens’ "The First Cut is the Deepest"
9. Cat Stevens’ "The First Cut is the Deepest" notesfromasouthernkitchen.com

9. Cat Stevens’ "The First Cut is the Deepest"

9. Cat Stevens’ "The First Cut is the Deepest"

Singer/Songwriter Cat Stevens wrote “The First Cut is the Deepest” in 1967 and the song was first performed by soul singer P.P. Arnold in the spring of 1967. Cat Stevens would go on to perform the song later that year and it appeared on his album titled New Masters.

The lyrics are pretty simply written which was Cat Stevens style. The song is about a painful experience of love and how badly it can hurt to the point where someone doesn’t think or believe that they can ever love again.

It’s also a song about how difficult it is to trust someone else after you’ve been hurt even when another person comes along.

Over the years this song has been covered several times although Rod Stewart’s 1977 version is probably the most famous. Rod Stewart’s raspy voice was a perfect accompaniment for the song as it lends to the sadness and heartbreak that the lyrics provide.

Stewart has also been through his share of heartbreak and relationships that have gone bad often in the public eye. By performing this song it also gives both Stewart and the lyrics a type of credibility to make it all the more believable.

Strangely enough, there were many Jamaican musical acts that covered this song as well. One of the better versions was Norma Frazier’s in 1967. In the 1970s Frazier performed it live with the ska band The Skatalites.

Video:

P.P. Arnold

Cat Stevens

 

The Skatalites with Norma Fraser

10. Simon & Garfunkel’s "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
10. Simon & Garfunkel’s "Bridge Over Troubled Water" www.simonandgarfunkel.com

10. Simon & Garfunkel’s "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

10. Simon & Garfunkel’s "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” was written by singer/songwriter Paul Simon when he was part of the duo Simon and Garfunkel. Art Garfunkel sang the lead in the song which was out of the norm since Paul Simon usually performed as the lead singer.

The song appeared in the album of the same name in 1970 and quickly became a hit. It has since sold over 7 million copies.

For a long time it was assumed that the song was about heroin and having a heroin addiction since several words that Simon opted to use were slang terms for heroin and addiction at that time. Years later Simon would finally say that the song was about his wife at the time, but many fans doubt this explanation as it was rumored that Simon dabbled a little in illicit drugs which would make the drug theory more acceptable.

It was also rumored that Paul Simon was adamant about Art Garfunkel singing the lead because he always felt that Garfunkel was a better singer.

Over the years several artists covered this song such as Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Linda Clifford, The Jackson 5, Roberta Flack, Ann Murray, Celtic Woman, Andrea Bocelli, Mary J. Blige, and Stevie Wonder. Although these versions were different and worth a listen, they weren’t the best.

There are two versions that stand out, not just because of the singing, but because the song was performed on special occasions that matter such as Memorial Day and World Water Day.

The first cover was done in 2013 by classical singer Jackie Evancho for World Water Day which held a ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her voice sounds almost like crystal clear water perhaps water that runs under a bridge. It’s beautiful and well sung.

The second cover was performed in 2014 for a celebration of Memorial Day in Washington, D.C. by country singer Jennifer Nettles who is a member of the country band Sugarland. Although she did an outstanding job, there were several groups of veterans who felt that this particular song may have not been the best choice because of the meaning or assumed meaning (heroin) of the words.

Video:

Simon & Garfunkel

Jackie Evancho

Jennifer Nettles

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