We’ve all heard some bad Beatles karaoke in our lifetime, and there are enough tribute concerts to the Fab Four to rival any band in history. You can never capture the infectious energy of the screaming crowds seen in A Hard Day’s Night, but occasionally a new interpretation is able to add a different side to the words we all know by heart.
Some cover songs transcend their originals to become even more iconic, as is the case with Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.” None of these do that, but we still think that there are some pretty strong Beatles cover songs worth mixing into your regular playlist.
Fiona Apple, “Across the Universe”
Best showcased in the beautiful ending to the 1998 satirical fantasy film Pleasantville, Apple’s rendition captures the same heartbreaking melody of the original version.
Keith Harkin, “Here Comes The Sun”
You may or may not have heard of this Irish singer-songwriter, but his gorgeous folk update of one of the Beatles’ most beloved tunes is a wonderful reinvention of a classic work.
The Cast of Across the Universe, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”
Reframing a classic love ballad as the yearnings of a lesbian teenager is a fascinating choice, and one of the strongest covers from the Beatles musical Across the Universe.
Aretha Franklin, “Eleanor Rigby”
Not many performers are as huge as The Beatles. Aretha Franklin is one of them.
Stevie Wonder, “We Can Work It Out”
Stevie does Stevie with a version that’s arguably just as fun and catchy as the original.
Johnny Cash, “In My Life”
Just as he did with “Hurt,” Cash adds a weariness that makes this reflecting ballad all the more powerful.
Nina Simone, “Revolution”
Simone adds the fiery shockwaves to the more passive original rendition.
Jimi Hendrix, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band”
We would like to see what Hendrix would do with Salt and Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, though.
U2, “Helter Skelter”
Charles Manson stole this from The Beatles, so U2 stole it back.
The Pixies, “Wild Honey Pie”
This is one of the weirder tracks from the best Beatles album The White Album (please don’t @ us), and the idiosyncratic energy of The Pixies recaptures it well.
The Beach Boys, “I Should Have Known Better”
One of The Beatles’ contemporaries (and one of their chief rivals) released a cover only years after the original’s release.
The Brothers Johnson, “Come Together”
A much more upbeat rendition of a song that plays best to a crowd that, you know, comes together.
Yes, “Every Little Thing”
Did we want a jazzy Beatles cover? Yes.
Bill Withers, “Let it Be”
One of the all-time great vocalists lent his voice to the titular track from the last album released by The Beatles. (Abbey Road was the last one they recorded, but it was released before Let it Be.)
Elton John, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”
This was always one of the more flamboyantly eccentric Beatles songs. Who better to cover it?