Kelly Clarkson's cover of "Piece of My Heart" is bigger than Texas.Tibrina Hobson/Getty
Some song covers have the rare distinction of becoming just as popular and being just as great, if not more so, than their originals. When we think of “Hurt" now, we rarely think only of the Nine Inch Nails version, after Johnny Cash redefined the song’s meaning. There’s also an entire generation that believes Jimi Hendrix wrote “All Along The Watchtower” and The Beatles created “Stand by Me.”
All you have to do is tune into a random episode of American Idol or The Voice to catch a truly terrible cover song. We’ve all done our fair share of embarrassing karaoke versions — props to those drunk bar hoppers who attempt to remember all the words to “Bohemian Rhapsody” after they’ve had more than their share of drinks. Yet some of these bad covers are actually released for public listening. Remember when Fall Out Boy attempted to “reimagine” the original Ghostbusters theme song for the 2016 reboot film?
But let's keep things on the bright side. Here are some covers of Texas artists that, against all odds, surprisingly don’t suck.
Aretha Franklin’s cover of “Night Life” by Willie Nelson
Nelson himself believed Aretha Franklin was the greatest artist of her generation and was appreciative of her brilliant cover. “Night Life” is an even more haunting and gorgeous version of one of Nelson’s finest tunes. Julian Lange’s cover of “Crying” by Roy Orbison
When you think of Roy Orbison, you probably don’t immediately think of smooth jazz. However, that’s exactly how guitarist Julian Lange reimagined Orbison’s classic “Crying” in a surprisingly fun remix. Jerry Lee Lewis’ cover of “Me and Bobby McGee” by Kris Kristofferson
Kristofferson’s masterful song was originally performed by Fort Worth artist Roger Miller and later covered by Janis Joplin. However, the version by Jerry Lee Lewis captures the complex intent of Kristofferson’s touching love ballad the best. The Rolling Stones’ cover of “Not Fade Away” by Buddy Holly
Lubbock’s Buddy Holly was the voice of a generation, so it only made sense that the greatest cover would be performed by an artist of equal impact. The Rolling Stones performed one of Holly’s best tracks during the height of their popularity in this wonderful TV performance on The Mike Douglas Show. Kelly Clarkson’s cover of “Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin
Here’s a treat of one Texas superstar covering another. Kelly Clarkson is able to hit the incredible range of Joplin, albeit without the raspiness. Her cover of “Piece of My Heart” is a wonderful compliment from one female icon to another. Doyle Bramhall II and John Mayer’s cover of “Change It” by Stevie Ray Vaughan
The death of legendary Dallas musician Stevie Ray Vaughan hit the music industry hard in 1990, and tribute covers over the years have produced mixed responses. That being said, can anyone capture soulful yearnings quite like John Mayer? Filter’s cover of “Gimme All Your Lovin’” by ZZ Top
ZZ Top is still performing, somehow. Although known for their defiant attitudes, the Texas band actually allowed a group of friendly musicians to cover some of their best tracks. Filter’s version of the hard rock classic “Gimme All Your Lovin’” is our personal favorite. The Mountain Goats' cover of “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” by George Jones
Look, a cover of George Jones’ tribute to alcohol requires a country flare that captures his love of liquor. The Mountain Goats do so in earnest. Blake Shelton’s cover of “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” by George Strait
The music of George Strait was influential on an entire generation of country artists, including those who became superstars in their own right. Few stars are as big as Blake Shelton and he gave a terrific rendition — along with some of the show's contestants — of Strait’s Texas classic on the season finale of The Voice.
Jennifer Lopez’s cover of “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” by Selena
Jennifer Lopez embodied the icon Selena Quintanilla-Pérez’s entire life and career in the 1997 biographical film Selena and delivered many terrific covers throughout. That being said, we’re selecting “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” as the one that best captures the Tejana star’s singular power. Frank Turner’s cover of “Bat Out Of Hell” by Meat Loaf
Look, it would be nearly impossible to capture the pure epic quality of Dallas artist Meat Loaf’s voice in a traditional cover tribute. Thankfully, English folk musician Frank Turner offered a completely different complimentary version of “Bat Out Of Hell.”
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Liam Gaughan has been covering film and television since before he had a driver's license, and in addition to the Observer has been published in About.com, Schmoes Know, Taste of Cinema and The Dallas Morning News. He enjoys checking classic films off of his watchlist and working on spec scripts.