Apr 282023
most popular covers

At Cover Me, our goal is to share great covers, whether they comes from artists with ten fans or ten million. But I am always vaguely curious what cover songs break out, which among the thousands we hear each year become genuine hits.

I was reminded of this when a recent Country Now headline crossed my Google Alerts: “Luke Combs’ ‘Fast Car’ Cover Is A Streaming Giant.” After only a month, the country star’s fairly faithful take on Tracy Chapman’s 1988 classic has racked up 33 million streams in the U.S. alone. Covers by famous singers come and go, but this one clearly has staying power.

So I decided to try to figure out which other covers from the 21st century have reached this level of breakout success. I’m not privy to Billboard‘s deep-dive chart data, so I used an easy metric available to an amateur like myself: Seeing how many plays something has on Spotify. As good a measure for “a popular song” as you can probably get these days, albeit still imperfect.

I found twenty-four 21st-century covers with over 100 million U.S. streams as of this writing (April 2023). Some very popular covers didn’t quite make the 100m+ threshold: Weezer’s “Africa” (75 million), Iron & Wine’s “Such Great Heights” (76 million), Fall Out Boy and John Mayer’s “Beat It” (89 million). Ryan Adams’ “Wonderwall” only just crossed the 100 million streams mark in the past couple months. And while older covers obviously have an advantage in more time to rack up plays, number one — by a lot! — came out only a few years ago.

Here’s the list of 24. No commentary since, for once, we’re not unearthing buried treasures here. Let’s count down the 24 most-streamed covers on Spotify, with the year of release and number of streams as of this writing. (And it’s possible, even likely, I missed a few, so feel free to suggest additions in the comments — if they qualify, I’ll add ’em.)

24. Ryan Adams – Wonderwall (Oasis cover) [2003]
101 million streams

23. Glee Cast – Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey cover) [2009]
104 million streams

22. Leona Lewis – Run (Snow Patrol cover) [2008]
109 million streams

21. Placebo – Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush cover) [2003]
119 million streams

20. Iron & Wine – Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper cover) [2016]
119 million streams

19. No Doubt – It’s My Life (Talk Talk cover) [2003]
120 million streams

18. Rihanna – Same Ol’ Mistakes (Tame Impala cover) [2016]
126 million streams

17. Muse – Feeling Good (Nina Simone cover) [2001]
127 million streams

16. The Chicks – Landslide (Fleetwood Mac cover) [2002]
172 million streams

15. Smash Mouth – I’m a Believer (The Monkees cover) [2001]
208 million streams

14. Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse – Valerie (The Zutons cover) [2007]
302 million streams

13. Bad Wolves – Zombie (The Cranberries cover) [2018]
312 million streams

12. Limp Bizkit – Behind Blue Eyes (The Who cover) [2003]
330 million streams

11. Morgan Wallen – Cover Me Up (Jason Isbell cover) [2021]
336 million streams

10. Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa, Pink – Lady Marmalade (Labelle cover) [2001]
350 million streams

9. Pentatonix – Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover) [2017]
359 million streams

8. Alien Ant Farm – Smooth Criminal (Michael Jackson cover) [2001]
384 million streams

7. José González – Heartbeats (The Knife cover) [2006]
428 million streams

6. Florence + the Machine – You’ve Got The Love (The Source ft. Candi Staton cover) [2009]
453 million streams

5. Johnny Cash – Hurt (Nine Inch Nails cover) [2002]
534 million streams

4. Disturbed – The Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel cover) [2015]
657 million streams

3. Birdy – Skinny Love (Bon Iver cover) [2011]
718 million streams

2. Adele – Make You Feel My Love (Bob Dylan cover) [2008]
922 million streams

1. Måneskin – Beggin’ (The Four Seasons cover) [2017]
1.3 billion – yes, with a “b” — streams

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  2 Responses to “The Most Popular Covers of the 21st Century (on Spotify)”

Comments (2)
  1. I’m a believer is a Neil Diamond song.

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