Country musicians put out some of the most unique and original songs ever heard on a nearly weekly basis. Even with that being the case, it doesn’t mean that they can’t take a song that’s been around for years and improve upon it. Lots of people automatically think “Oh no, another remake,” but in all honesty, there are quite a few songs that country musicians have improved upon by covering them. While the following doesn’t include every great country cover song out there, the songs listed definitely show that an original can sometimes be given a boost.
Rascal Flatts // Life Is a Highway
Having at least a dozen singles that hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, it’s really no surprise that the trio known in the country world as Rascal Flatts were able to improve upon an already amazing song. The band’s rendition of “Life Is a Highway,” originally recorded by Tom Cochrane, was featured on that cute Pixar movie, Cars. With this exposure, the song went on to win Favorite Song from a Movie at the People’s Choice Awards and ended up selling more than three million copies by March 2013 in America.
The Gourds // Gin and Juice
The Gourds, an alternative country band, definitely made waves when they covered Snoop Dogg’s song “Gin & Juice.” That’s right, one of the most famous rap songs in history managed to get improved upon for those little ol’ country lovers. Snoop D- O-double-G even spoke highly of the cover. Members of the Gourds, however, don’t enjoy its popularity so much. Kevin Russell, the band’s frontman, said they throw up a little in their mouth each time they have to play it for fans repeatedly requesting it in the audience.
Conway Twitty // Slow Hand
When the Pointer Sisters released “Slow Hand” in 1981, there was little indication that it would be forever linked to Mr. Conway Twitty. The ladies’ rendition reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, but Twitty’s version topped out the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart for a full two weeks. For an old-school countryman like Twitty, you’d have to be nuts to think that this wasn’t a feat in 1982 when he released the single. Unfortunately, it ended up being Twitty’s last single to survive for more than a week at No. 1.
Alison Krauss // When You Say Nothing at All
Arguably the song that made Krauss a superstar, “When You Say Nothing at All” had also done great things for original singer Keith Whitley’s career. Of course, leave it to a country gal to one-up a cowboy. Krauss ended up winning the CMA Single of the Year award for her performance, so nobody puts baby in a corner.
Johnny Cash// Hurt
Hardcore Nine Inch Nails (NIN) fans may think it’s blasphemy to say that anyone made a better version of one of their favorite band’s songs. We’ve got one word for them: Cash. A quick check on YouTube shows that the NIN version of “Hurt” had around six million views in January 2013. The Johnny Cash version? Nearly 60 million. Even Trent Reznor, singer for Nine Inch Nails, spoke of how flattered he was that Cash covered his song. The legend died soon after the release of the video, but not before it was ranked as the best music video of all time by NME. Filming the best video of all time just seven months before your death? Country’s modern frontmen have a lot of living up to do.