By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
50 years ago, the music industry changed forever when the late Ed Sullivan introduced America to four lads from Liverpool, England.
Together, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr changed the course of musical history with their impeccable arrangements and strong songwriting skills.
In honor of this special occasion, I present a diverse countdown of some of my all-time favorite covers of the Fab Four’s greatest hits.
20. Juliet Simms: “Oh! Darling!”
Our countdown kicks off with the Team CeeLo alum’s powerful Blind Audition. Her raw vocals not only caught the attention of The Lady Killer, Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera…but also made her a contender for the Season Two crown.
19. Chris Colfer: “Blackbird”
One of the Golden Globe-winning actor’s best performances on Glee was his tribute to the Warblers’ late pet, Pavarotti. Chris’s brilliant tenor voice gave everyone chills and set the standards for the rest of the cast to perform Beatles songs.
18. Clay Aiken: “Here, There & Everywhere”
A lot of reality TV contestants butcher these songs! However, American Idol: Season Two alum Clay Aiken transformed the classic Beatles ballad into a beautiful vocal performance.
17. LeRoy Bell: “Don’t Let Me Down”
One of Jake’s Take’s favorite bluesmen, X Factor USA alum LeRoy Bell, gave a defining take on one of the Fab Four’s final hits. While X Factor USA has officially gone the way of the dodo, LeRoy’s haunting performance will remain one of the series’ most memorable performances.
16. Billy Joel: “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
When the American Piano Man performed this song at his Soviet Union concerts, music lovers in the west were finally able to see that the Soviets were not the enemy. The cultural impact of this performance accelerated the end of the Cold War.
15. Amy Winehouse: “All My Loving”
The late British songbird’s heartbreaking take on the song brought out a different side to the controversial Grammy winner. I hope that the Winehouse Estate release this version on iTunes soon!
14. Jennifer Hudson feat. The Roots: “Let It Be”
Oscar & Grammy Winner Jennifer Hudson teamed up with the future The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon house band to insert gospel/soul into one of the Beatles’ final singles from the 1970s. The soulful cover will leave listeners with goose bumps.
13. Michael Jackson: “Come Together”
For the finale of his 1988 film: Moonwalker, the King of Pop covered the Lennon-McCartney penned song. Jackson’s vocals combined with a New Jack Swing and heavy rock background, which was a delightful listening experience.
12. Melanie Masson: “A Little Help From My Friends”
The best cover of a Beatles song from a Reality TV show is X Factor UK’s Melanie Masson’s powerhouse rendition of “A Little Help From My Friends.” She transported viewers back to Woodstock with her fiery vocals that would have made the Fab Four super proud.
11. Aerosmith: “I’m Down”
America’s Greatest Rock N’ Roll Band breathed new life into the 1965 hit by adding a hard rock twist to the Paul McCartney penned tune!
10. Dolly Parton: “Help”
The Queen of Country paid homage to the Liverpool group by putting a bluegrass twist of the hit on her 1979 studio album: Great Balls of Fire!
9. Earth, Wind & Fire: “Got to Get You Into My Life”
One of the greatest R&B bands of all-time breathed new life into the mid-1960s classic. Between their smooth brass sounds and infectious harmonies, their cover helped the group earn their fifth Grammy nomination.
8. Dame Shirley Bassey: “Something”
The dynamite Dame Shirley Bassey delivered a show-stopping performance of the George Harrison-penned tune at the 750th anniversary celebration for the city of Berlin, Germany.
7. Santana, India.Aire & Yo-Yo Ma: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
Three artists from different musical genres came together in 2010 to deliver an outstanding cover of one of George Harrison’s signature songs.
6. Jerry Lee Lewis & Little Richard: “I Saw Her Standing There”
The two architects of Rock and Roll took music lovers back to the height of Rockabilly with their version of “I Saw Her Standing There.” From the impeccable piano licks to Little Richard’s signature vocals, this is a song that must be in every music lover’s library.
5. Bette Midler: “In My Life”
The Divine Miss M is one of the greatest female vocalists of all-time. Once she hits her first note of any song that she sings, listeners are often always in a trance. Bette’s beautiful cover of “In My Life” will leave everyone in a nostalgic mood.
4. Yo-Yo Ma & James Taylor: “Here Comes the Sun”
A key component to any memorable Beatles song is the simplistic melody. The Beatles left room for other artists to offer their own interpretation. If anyone listens to Misters Ma and Taylor’s cover, they will immediately be thinking of hopeful and peaceful thoughts.
3. Aretha Franklin: “Eleanor Rigby”
The Queen of Soul was the first artist to insert himself or herself into a Beatles song. When Aretha sang that she was “Eleanor Rigby”, you pictured that she was the titular character for the first half of the song. She was also one of the first soul artists to tackle a Beatles tune.
2. Stevie Wonder: “We Can Work It Out”
One of Stevie’s first hits of the 1970s was a cover of The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out.” The celebrated soul man’s version of the song helped eased racial tensions and slowly started to open America’s eyes about the tragic events in Vietnam.
1. Ray Charles & The Count Basie Orchestra: “The Long & Winding Road”
Ray Charles and the Count Basie Orchestra claim the top spot in our countdown! Like every song he touched, Ray Charles’ commanding and soothing voice combined with the brassy sounds from the Count Basie Orchestra made this song into an reflective anthem that continues to send chills down listeners’ spines.
I do not own the songs that are featured in this piece. They belong to the artists, record companies and production companies respectively.