15 Cover Songs That Have Redefined The Originals

Aretha Franklin
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Leon Morris/Getty Images

Who taught you "respect" - was it Otis Redding with his tortured pleas or Aretha Franklin and her radical riffs? Was it the intimate inflections of Roberta Flack or Lori Lieberman that first killed you softly?

Artists have catapulted their careers with iconic cover renditions that have not only introduced the tune to younger generations, but also re-contextualized the original songs with a newfound feel. We've dug through the crates and surfed the web to bring you 15 cover songs that have redefined the original versions below. 

15. Whitey Houston, "I Will Always Love You" (Dolly Parton)

14. Ike and Tina Turner, "Proud Mary" (Creedence Clearwater"

13. The Temptations, "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" (The Undisputed Truth)

12. Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, "My World Is Empty Without You" (The Supremes)

11. The Four Tops, "Reflections" (Diana Ross and the Supremes)

10. Al Green, "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?" (The Bee Gees)

9. George Benson, "On Broadway" (The Drifters)

8. Stevie Wonder, "For Once in My Life" (Barbara McNair)

7. Edwin Starr, "War" (The Temptations)

6. Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, "Something" (The Beatles)

5. Roberta Flack, "Killing Me Softly" (Lori Lieberman)


4. Four Tops, "Eleanor Rigby" (Ray Charles)

3. Aretha Franklin, "Respect" (Otis Redding)


2. Stevie Wonder, "We Can Work It Out" (The Beatles)

1. Marvin Gaye, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (Gladys Knight & The Pips)


Artist Name

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Cover art
Lacking a bass line, "When Doves Cry" proved Prince's prowess when the unconventional tune became the longest-running No. 1 that year. What's your favorite Prince song?
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(Reed Saxon/AP)
The legendary soul singer was responsible for such classics as "Lean on Me" and "Lovely Day."
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Larry Fink/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Venture into the night Otis Redding performed at the legendary place “Where Stars are Born and Legends are Made.”
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