In popular music, a cover version, or simply cover, is a new rendition of a previously recorded, commercially released song. A many be regarded as the definitive version of the song, usually in the sense of an "authentic" rendition, while all others are merely lesser competitors, alternatives or tributes (no matter how popular). In truth, few artists are able to transform the elements of a successful popular song to perform a powerful rendition remotely close or better than its original version.
Many, many artists have made cover songs. Many times you just wonder why they even bothered. Most people prefer a well-mastered CD of the song by the original artist. But, what separates a great cover from a good cover is when the artist doing the remake breaths new life into the song and truly makes it his/her own. Taking a song that was superior in its original recording and making it better is the great aim of covering.
Here is a list in no particular order of my favorite cover songs. The selections could all be considered popular music. Granted some standards and blues are included; however, all selections fit popular style.
Jimi Hendrix "All Along The Watchtower" original by Bob Dylan
Jeff Buckley "Hallelujah" original by Leonard Cohen
Aretha Franklin "Respect" original by Otis Redding
Grand Funk Railroad "Some Kind of Wonderful" original by the Drifters
Bobby Darin "If I Were a Carpenter" original by Tim Hardin
Elvis Presley "American Trilogy" original by Mickey Newbury
Johnny Rivers "Memphis, Tennessee" original by Chuck Berry
The Beatles "Twist and Shout" original by Isley Brothers
Joe Cocker "With a Little Help From My Friends" original by The Beatles