Music

The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius

Posted by
Dave Fawbert
Published

So the Purple one has left us, no doubt to go and jam with Bowie and Lemmy up in the great beyond.

But what a treasure trove of music he has left us (with more to be discovered in the vaults at Paisley Park, if rumours are to be believed).

And, as well as his own recordings, his songs were covered by countless artists who counted him as a major influence, with some often spectacular results.

Read on for 14 versions of tracks that you may not know existed.

  • The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius

    Sinéad O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2 U

    Where else to start but one of the greatest cover versions of all-time? Prince's original was recorded with funk band The Family in 1985, appearing on their sole album, but was never released as a single. Five years later, O'Connor then covered the song, with Nellee Hooper producing, to create a worldwide smash, with an unforgettable video to boot. She later described how she'd never asked Prince before recording it. "I made it without him. I'd never met him. He summoned me to his house - and it's foolish to do this to an Irish woman - he said he didn't like me saying bad words in interviews. So I told him to fuck off. He got quite violent. I had to escape out of his house at five in the morning. He packed a bigger punch than mine."

  • The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius 1

    The Bangles - Manic Monday

    OK, not technically a cover, but an incredible song that many people won't know was written by the great man. He originally recorded it for Apollonia 6 - a female trio put together by Prince - but eventually pulled the song, offering it to the Bangles instead: rumour has it so that guitarist Susanna Hoffs would sleep with him. The song was only kept off the top spot in the US by Prince himself - who was at number 1 with Kiss.

  • The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius 2

    The Art of Noise featuring Tom Jones - Kiss

    The song which helped kickstart Tom Jones' late eighties resurgence, it was also the biggest hit for synthpop collective Art of Noise - which featured the legendary Trevor Horn - with the video enjoying heavy rotation on MTV. While Prince is the master, this song could have been written for old Tom.

  • The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius 3

    Chaka Khan - I Feel For You

    What an absolute tune. Originally written as a demo for the brilliant Patrice Rushen, Prince ended up recording this for his self-titled second album, but was not released as a single. Five years later, and in the hands of Chaka Khan - with a little help from Stevie Wonder on harmonica - it became the smash it deserved to be.

  • The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius 4

    Ginuwine - When Doves Cry

    It's tough to tackle a track when the original is so iconic, but Ginuwine put his own - similarly sexy - stamp on things with this Timbaland-produced effort for his 1996 The Bachelor album. Bonus marks for effort for using actual dove sound effects as part of the instrumentation.

  • The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius 5

    TLC - If I Was Your Girlfriend

    Pretty much everything TLC ever did was crazy, sexy and cool, and this cover of If I Was Your Girlfriend is no exception. They were also wise enough not to stray too far from the original feel, so perhaps this is more of an homage than a cover.

  • The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius 6

    Beyonce - The Beautiful Ones

    Queen Bey ruled Glastonbury with her headlining slot in 2011 (and what a shame that Prince will now never play the show that was built for him) and included a superb cover of The Beautiful Ones, taken from the iconic Purple Rain soundtrack.

  • The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius 7

    George Clinton - Erotic City

    A fitting cover this one, as Prince revealed that after seeing Parliament-Funkadelic at the Beverly Theatre in Los Angeles in 1983, he went straight home and wrote this song. Clinton then returned the favour, covering it with aplomb for the 1994 film PCU.

  • The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius 8

    Foo Fighters - Darling Nikki

    Prince was known not to be a fan of this Foo Fighters cover, recorded as a B-side to their 2003 single Have It All - the band themselves said "they just did it as a sort of joke", and Prince said that they should “write [their] own tunes.” But, four years later, he included a cover of the band's Best Of You in his legendary Super Bowl set, to the astonishment of the band. Taylor Hawkins said afterwards, “Dude, I have no idea why he did it, but I’d love to find out. I mean, the thought went through my head that maybe he was doing it as a sort of ’fuckyou’ to us, or maybe he really likes the song. Either way, it was pretty amazing to have a guy like Prince covering one of our songs - and actually doing it better than we did.”

  • The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius 9

    Chris Cornell - Nothing Compares 2 U

    Staying on a rock tip, it's very different to Sinead O'Connor's famous version, but hearing the incredible vocals of Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell taking this song on in a radio session recorded last year reminds you of its eternal power.

  • The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius 10

    Alicia Keys - How Come You Don't Call Me

    Originally released as a B-side to 1999 (now, that's value for money), Alicia Keys slightly altered the title (leaving out the 'Anymore' at the end) and released it as the third single from her debut album Songs in A Minor. Also worth checking out is this 1983 version by Stephanie Mills.

  • The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius 11

    Goo Goo Dolls feat Lance Diamond - Never Take The Place Of Your Man

    You probably know them for the mega power ballad Iris but the roots of the Goo Goo Dolls were in garage rock. On their third album, they enlisted New York legend Lance Diamond to guest on this energetic Prince cover after bassist Robby Takac moved into the apartment under him in Buffalo.

  • The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius 12

    Cyndi Lauper - When You Were Mine

    Another track that was never a single for Prince, it featured on his 1980 album Dirty Mind, before Cyndi Lauper covered it for her 1985 debut album She's So Unusual. It bears stylistic similarities to her classic Time After Time, and is a rather brilliant record.

  • The 14 best covers of Prince songs that show his versatile genius 13

    Patti Smith - When Doves Cry

    A second cover version of this classic on this list, but why not. After all, it's Patti Smith, and she's a legend. Another version worth investigating is this memorable version by youngster Quindon Tarver, found on the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet.

Topics

Share this article

Author

Dave Fawbert

ShortList.com staff writer Dave’s primary passions are pop, prose, punning and power ballads (and alliteration). A lower division football enthusiast and long-suffering cricket fan, he is one of only 110 people followed on Twitter by Chas Hodges from Chas ‘n’ Dave. Follow Dave on Twitter like Chas: @davefawbert

Related Posts