Top 10 Prince Covers

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Well it’s been a year and a month since the diminutive genius donned his satin wings and departed for his planet of origin. Ever since he left there have been tributes galore from well-meaning artists who discovered that it ain’t easy to do justice to material written and performed by a once-in-a-lifetime, out-of-this-world talent like Prince.

We’ve rounded up ten of the best Prince covers, as always without duplicating songs or artists, for entertainment purposes only. Let us know if you think we are hopeless hacks because we didn’t list a Prince cover that you personally like.

 

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1. Tom Jones and Art Of Noise – Kiss (1988)

There was a bit of Little Richard in Tom Jones, and there was a little bit of Tom Jones in Prince. It’s the big musical circle of life. Neither Prince nor Tom Jones held anything back in performance, and neither was shy about shaking what their momma gave them. There’s such a wonderful symmetry in Tom Jones reviving his career by covering a Prince song. It set the tone for the revival of Sixties artists in general — scorned in the Eighties, revered again by the Nineties.

 

2. Foo Fighters – Darling Nikki (2003)

Some cover tunes get owned by the coverer – “With A Little Help From My Friends” or “All Along The Watchtower” come to mind – and this is another one. The Foos crank it up to 11, which is just what the song and apparently Nikki herself needed. Davie Grohl’s scream alone is worth the price of admission.

 

3. Bruce Springsteen – Purple Rain (2016)

Many more people have tried to cover this than any other Prince song, and most of them have failed miserably. It probably seems like one of the easier Prince songs to cover, but without Prince-level intensity you’re just pretending to play it. Leave it to The Boss to give it the gravitas it deserves.

 

4. Patti Smith – When Doves Cry (2002)

Here’s how you approach a song from a completely different musical direction and yet still capture, if not enhance, the mood and feeling of the original. Prince must have loved this brilliant cover.

 

5. Hindu Love Gods – Raspberry Beret (1990)

The Hindu Love Gods were a one-off supergroup of sorts, featuring Warren Zevon alongside Peter Buck, Bill Berry and Mike Mills of R.E.M. Just the thought of Zevon singing a Prince tune brings a smile to the face, and the end result makes your smile just a little wider.

 

6. Chris Cornell – Nothing Compares 2 U (2015)

Such a tragedy. What more can anybody say?

 

7. Muse – Sign O’ The Times (2012)

I would have said this was the unlikeliest artist on this list to cover Prince, but I really thought they nailed it on this one. If I had a criticism of Muse it would be that they are way too serious, but Prince wasn’t fooling around when he wrote this song either, so it’s a good fit.

 

8. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Take Me With U (2009)

Sharon Jones was another artist who was always 100% committed to her performance. Her connection to Prince was obvious. Watch this clip of her performance from 2011 when Prince comes out and starts ripping some licks, it’s like a great moment in Rock History.

 

9. Eels – If I Was Your Girlfriend (2008)

I love this version, Mark Everett is such an amazing talent, straddling the fine line between send-up and sincerity, something only a Rock treatment can do well. It’s too bad he never released a studio version of this cover because I think it would have been a hit.

 

10. Herbie Hancock – Thieves In The Temple (1996)

Gotta include a jazz cover in a Prince list, there were plenty of good ones like Billy Cobham’s version of “Sign O’ The Times”. Prince drew inspiration from more musical genres than perhaps any other musician who ever lived, and the complexity and virtuosity of jazz was without question a brightly colored feather in his musical plumage.

Photo: By penner (http://flickr.com/photos/penner/2450784866) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

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