If you listen to enough music, you will eventually hear it: the song that someone covered that makes you slap your forehead and ask why. Some songs are just so spot-on that they take on lives of their own, and, although some may try to cover them, it just doesn't work. Some songs should just never be touched.
10 Songs Above Cover Tune Status:
10. "Under Pressure" - Queen and David Bowie
This entire list could be comprised of songs by Queen. There is truly no other vocalist that can match Freddie Mercury. When he joined forces with David Bowie, one of the great rock duets was created. This is the song that got Vanilla Ice on the map when he sampled the bass line for his hit "Ice Ice Baby". The two legendary voices behind this song left huge gaps in the musical landscape when they passed away (Mercury in 1991 and Bowie in 2016). This song stands as a musical memorial to rock greatness.
9. "Another Brick in the Wall Part II" - Pink Floyd
I say part two, but really -- it is one part of a concept album that just shouldn't be messed with. Who doesn't know the lyrics to this song? The brainchild of founding band member Roger Waters, the epic album and subsequent stage performance was the end of an era for Pink Floyd. Not long after, Waters left the band. The song has an unforgettable opening bass line and lyrics known by most school children. The song has embedded itself in music history.
8. "Staying Alive" - The Bee Gees
I know, I know ... it's disco, but this isn't just any disco song; this is the anthem for the disco era. It was the theme song to the wildly successful 1977 film, Saturday Night Fever. John Travolta busted some pretty sweet disco moves for that flick to be sure; his main dance scene is iconic. All of that aside, the song contains some impressive harmonizing by the brothers from Down-Under. Say what you want about the genre, but the vocalizations of the Gibb brothers are impressive. I do not see anyone attempting to revive a disco classic, but, if they do, they should leave this one be. It is a pure snapshot of a time and place.
7. "U Can't Touch This" - MC Hammer
How fun is this song? Seriously. The hook is instantly recognizable, and you can't help but boogie a little in your seat when you hear it. The 1990 hit put MC Hammer on the musical map and won him both Grammy and MTV awards. While the song has been covered already, that doesn't mean that it should have been done. Nothing beats the original.
6. "Freebird" - Lynyrd Skynyrd
"Play some Skynyrd, man!" This is one of the quintessential rock anthems. While it has been played to death on Classic Rock stations everywhere, that doesn't make it any less of a n incredible song. The song originally appeared on the band's 1973 debut album and fans have been chanting "Freebird!" at Skynyrd shows ever since. The song has a life of its own. Leave it alone, man! Let Skynyrd play Skynyrd!
5. "Stairway to Heaven" - Led Zeppelin
Perhaps the most over-played rock song of all time. For that reason alone, it does not need a cover. That doesn't mean it is not a great song. It is. It is an amazing song. It just stinks that popular radio got its hand on it. Death by radio aside, the song is epic. Lyrically and musically, it is solid. Downright haunting even.
4. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - Nirvana
Another great hook. Seriously, this song sucks you right in. This is the song that popped the cork off of the grunge era and brought plaid out of the garage and into the mainstream. "Weird Al" Yankovic recorded a parody of the song entitled "Smells Like Nirvana" in 1992 ... the ultimate homage. This song has earned the right to be left alone, even though it hasn't been.
3. "My Generation" - The Who
This is song is an war cry. Diehard Who fans will probably groan at this choice (of all of the Who songs, she had to pick that one?!). Yes. I did. This song is the seminal F* You to the adult establishment. The song first hit the airwaves in 1965 when rebellion against the status quo was gearing up and music was amazing. Pete Townsend penned the song that captured the essence of teenage angst with near perfection.
2. "Layla" - Derek and the Dominoes
This song starts with an amazing riff, soaks you in with heartfelt lyrics, then eases you out with a quiet piano finish. It is quite possibly one of rock's most perfect songs. The emotion is real. Eric Clapton left a piece of himself in that song, and it should not be tarnished with a cover.
1. "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Queen
Even the image of the four band members is iconic. "Bohemian Rhapsody" has long been a rock classic and stands fully on its own musical legs, but putting it in the movie Wayne's World brought the song to a new level. Yes, I know the song has been re-done, but nope, nope, nope, it should not have happened. Again, it boils down to the vocal range and emotion of Freddie Mercury. The band creates not just a song but an emotional, operatic experience.
So there you have our Pop 10 Songs that are above cover status. Do you agree with our choices?