The 50 Most Covered Songs of All Time
If you agree with the old proverb that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then cover songs serve as tributes to their original artists. Sometimes, a cover version vastly outshines its original. Such is the case with "Summertime," a song originally written for the 1935 George Gershwin opera "Porgy and Bess." Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong put a jazz spin on in 1957 to make it an international hit.
To learn more about the most covered songs in musical history, Stacker mined data from WhoSampled.com, which contains the most comprehensive database for music. The site features more than 967,000 songs and more than 298,000 artists as of May 2023. Aside from tunes from The Beatles, Christmas music accounts for a large number of the most covered songs, including Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" in 1942: the second-most covered holiday song with more than 50 million copies sold internationally to date.
Each slide will have information about the song's meaning, some of the more notable or unique covers of it, as well as reasons behind the song's success. Beatles fans will enjoy going down "The Long and Winding Road" of the most covered songs, as the Fab Four of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr are featured prominently in this list.
The Legacy of The Beatles
In fact, The Beatles penned the basis for more than 4,000 cover versions of their songs through the years. One of their most popular tracks, "Yesterday," almost never saw the light of day—McCartney found it so easy to write that he thought he had stolen it from someone. It would go on to be covered by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Marvin Gaye, even inspiring a 2019 movie of the same name.
Continue reading to find out which songs are among the most coveted of all time—and check out Stacker's playlist on Spotify, inspired by this story.