For some songs, it’s almost a cardinal sin to say that the remake was better than the original, but every now and then one comes along and blows the original away. SoulTrain.com breaks down the top ten remakes that surpassed the originals.
Luther Vandross, “Superstar”
Luther Vandross did such a great job at this song, most people didn’t even know it was originally done by The Carpenters. Originally used as a part of his live show, Vandross recorded the cover in 1983. It went on to become a top 5 R&B hit for Vandross and inspired the Grammy nominated version by Ruben Studdard.
Wayne Brady, “All I Do”
Perhaps the least known cover on this list, this cover was featured on Wayne Brady’s 2009 debut album A Change Is Gonna Come. This Stevie Wonder classic was offered up as a more toned down jazz version that featured Brady’s wide tenor range. Though not released as a single, music critics worldwide praise Wayne Brady for taking on such a classic song.
Marvin Gaye, “Heard It Through The Grapevine”
Originally recorded by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Marvin Gaye was the second artist to record the song. Both versions were rejected by Motown head Berry Gordy and a third cut was done by Gladys Knight and The Pips. Mildly successful as a single, Gaye’s version picked up steam and became Motown’s biggest hit for quite some time.
Luther Vandross, “If Only For One Night”
No disrespect to Brenda Russell, but there was no comparison with the two versions of this song. Luther Vandross made a song about a one night stand into what seemed like and endless love ballad.
Boyz II Men, “Can You Stand The Rain”
New Edition was the prototype for the modern day boy band/R&B group, and Boyz II Men was a direct reflection of NE’s influence. The year 1997 saw the release of Boyz II Men’s Evolution album, and within that album, a cover version of New Edition’s NE Heartbreak classic, “Can You Stand The Rain.” With only their a cappella vocals, Boyz II Men showed their vocal superiority over their predecessors.
Aretha Franklin, “Respect”
Some may not realize that Otis Redding recorded this song first. It’s easy to understand why. As powerfully as the King of Stax Records delivered the record, it paled in comparison to the Queen of Soul.
Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”
Even though this ballad was originally a country song by Dolly Parton, this was always meant to be Whitney Houston’s signature song. Even the great Dolly Parton admitted this song was always Houston’s. The lead single from the biggest selling soundtrack of all time has become a talent show staple, and vocal stamp of one of music’s greatest voices.
Luther Vandross ,“A House Is Not A Home”
No one can deny that Burt Bacharach is one of the most soulful singers of all time. However, as with all of his covers, Luther Vandross completely owned all of the songs his velvet voice graced. There was no exception when it came to this seven minute soul masterpiece.
Mariah Carey feat. Dru Hill, “The Beautiful Ones”
It takes a lot of guts, talent, and vocal range to cover Prince. Mariah Carey and Dru Hill stepped up to the plate to deliver a sensual standard of the Purple One’s classic. The soul diva and Baltimore crooners held nothing back and sang their collective hearts out to the point that even the great one may have shed a tear.
Luther Vandross & Beyoncé, “The Closer I Get To You”
I think it’s safe to assume at this point that Luther Vandross is the king of remakes. This version of Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack’s classic is special because it bridged the gap between two generations of music lovers. Beyoncé’s vocal talent is often overshadowed by her pop stardom, but in this calming classic remake, Mrs. Carter proved that she has what it takes to hang with the King of R&B.
Nick Eden is a singer/songwriter/R&B junkie based out of Atlanta, GA. He is a winner of the Steve Harvey New Star Project and appeared on Season 1 of BET/Centric’s Apollo Live. His new EP #FLIGHT1980 is available for FREE download HERE. Follow him on Twitter @nickeden and on Facebook.