Some musicians have created timeless classics that are inviting to sing — whether you’re an extremely talented professional or an intoxicated karaoke participant. Many of the artists whose songs have been most covered are some of the biggest names in music. They’ve created songs that were popular decades ago and still manage to hold up even today.
Covering a song can be a way for artists to branch out and show appreciation for other types of music. Amy Winehouse’s rendition of “Valerie” by The Zutons is one of the most famous songs she recorded during her short but amazing career.
To find the 50 most covered artists, 24/7 Tempo reviewed SecondHandSongs database. We included the overall number of covers for each artist’s songs, the number of songs covered, and added the most covered song. We occasionally used editorial discretion and listed the second-most covered song if the first was instrumental. Data was retrieved November 2021.
Several artists on this list don’t have many songs covered but are still among the most covered artists thanks to one or two successful songs. These are often Christmas songs, covered over and over by many artists over the year. “Jingle Bells” performed by the Edison Male Quartet is an example.
Many songs that are covered over and over again are from classic singer-songwriters like Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, and Louis Armstrong — all among the top 10 most covered artists. New artists take these classic songs, which were already performed in very special ways, and put their own spin on them. And while Presley may not top the list with the most covers, the King of Rock and Roll has the most songs covered among artists on the list.
Several early jazz musicians are also among the most covered, creating tunes used by many artists and revised by many others. Those include Thelonius Monk and Duke Ellington, for example. (Here are the best albums of all time.)
Success with a cover, however, can sometimes lead to lawsuits and accusations of stolen material. Singer-songwriter Jake Holmes sued Led Zeppelin for “Dazed and Confused,” but the two parties eventually reached a settlement.
Sometimes, an artist’s music was made more famous when it was covered. “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan was covered by Jimi Hendrix and became a massive hit for the guitar legend. “Twist and Shout” is originally by the Isley Brothers but popularly associated with The Beatles.
Speaking of the Beatles, it’s no surprise to find The Fab Four at the top of the list with the most covers. Many many artists over the years, from all over the world, covered as many as 200 Beatles songs. For a look at specific songs, check out the most covered songs in music history.
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