The Greek actress Jeni Karezi performed the song Min Ton Rotas Ton Ourano ('Don't Ask The Sky' in free translation) for the greek movie 'To Nisi Ton Genneon' (The Island Of The Brave') in 1959. Music composed by Manos Hadjidakis, lyrics by Giannis Ioannidis.
The base for the Scarborough Fair by Simon & Garfunkel is an English folk song dates back to late medieval age. Through the years, the song spread, adapted and written many times.
This arrangement "made famous by Simon & Garfunkel's 'Scarborough Fair/Canticle' originated in the late 20th century. Paul Simon learned it in 1965 in London from Martin Carthy. Then Art Garfunkel set it in counterpoint with "Canticle", a reworking of Simon's 1963 song "The Side of a Hill" with new, anti-war lyrics. It was the lead track of the 1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, and was released as a single after being featured on the soundtrack to The Graduate in 1968. The copyright credited only Simon and Garfunkel as the authors, causing ill-feeling on the part of Carthy, who felt the "traditional" source should have been credited." wikipedia
"I Drove All Night is a song written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly for Roy Orbison. Orbison first recorded the song in 1987, but his rendition was not released until 1992, after the song had become a top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic for Cyndi Lauper in 1989." wikipedia
This cover of Depeche Mode's song is included in the album American IV: The Man Comes Around, released in 2002. The producer Rick Rubin "asked Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante to re-work an acoustic version of Martin Gore's song, which featured a simple acoustic riff that stripped down the song to a blues style." wikipedia
Shiny Toy Guns covered Major Tom (Coming Home) for a TV commercial in 2009.
The first thing I have to write is that I'm not a fan of cover versions. I believe that, in most of the cases, they haven't much to add to the originals, especially if the latter ones are already good and have survived the test of time. As a matter of fact, I'm angry with all the "I want to be a star" singers and bands who are using good old songs because they can't create anything of their own.
As it usually happens, there are exceptions to every rule and I can't forget that good cover songs led me to the very good originals and, why not, good originals to the very good cover versions. Here, I list favourite original songs and the cover versions I love. Some of my criteria for a good cover song: respect for the original, a refreshing touch to the music or even a complete change of music style which gives a different character to the song.
For this list, I used everything youtube has to offer these days with the best possible quality of sound I could find, so I included official videos, live performances and extended versions of the songs with videos created by the users of the site. I avoided remixes. I want to believe that I won't have to delete items from this list, but youtube is youtube...