There is an interesting thread on Quora with answers to the question: “What cover versions of songs could be considered better than their original?”  Now “better” is a matter of opinion, but there are cover versions that without a doubt achieved greater sales and airplay than the original recordings.

In some cases, the covers became so popular that many fans believe they are the originals:

Respect – covered by Aretha Franklin, originally written and recorded by Otis Redding.

Proud Mary – covered by Ike and Tina Turner, original by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Me and Bobby McGee – covered by Janis Joplin, original by Kris Kristofferson

Blue Suede Shoes – covered by Elvis Presley, original by Carl Perkins

Hey Joe – covered by Jimi Hendrix, original by The Leaves

Black Magic Woman – covered by Santana, original by Fleetwood Mac

Superman – cover by REM, original by Clique

Then there are pairs so widely separated by time and style, that most listeners wouldn’t even guess there was an original:

Crossroads – covered by Cream, original by Robert Johnson

When the Levee Breaks – covered by Led Zeppelin, original by Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie

Tainted Love – covered by Soft Cell, original by Gloria Jones

There are some covers that are not only more popular, but are really, really, wildly better (I know) than the original:

No More “I Love You’s” – covered by Annie Lennox, original by Lover Speaks

And some original songs never gained much popularity, while inferior cover versions (I still know) inexplicably became worldwide hits:

Torn – covered by Natalie Imbruglia, original by Ednaswap

Thanks to Marcus Bruté for giving me a head start on the list.