If someone asked you what the most covered song in history was, you’d probably think of a major hit, or a classic karaoke tune.
It shouldn’t surprise you to see some Beatles songs on that top list, then, but would you have picked “Yesterday” for the most covered track of all time?
It may not still be the most covered song today, but in 1967, music publisher Dick James announced that with 446 different versions, it was the most recorded song in history.
“Yesterday” held its record through 1986, when it made the Guinness World Records with 1,600 cover versions. Today, more than 2,500 artists have covered the song.
Now, don’t get me wrong – “Yesterday” is a beautiful song. But even when you just think of the Beatles catalog, it wasn’t their biggest hit.
So why have so many artists covered it? I think in part because it’s a very easy song to cover. A simple melody over acoustic guitar. A beginner could do that.
It also has a very relatable and touching subject. Give it a good listen and I bet you’ll end up thinking of one specific person that got away from you too soon.
And the song is extremely powerful with a powerful voice. Recent pop stars like Carrie Underwood and Katy Perry have done simple covers, directly copying the Beatles with just a guitar, proving that behind all the effects that go into pop music these days, they are talented singers.
Of course, I didn’t listen to all 2,500 versions, so I can’t say with absolute certainty that these are the best. But unlike some pop singers’ covers, these all take “Yesterday” into a very different style, matching the classic Beatles song with the singers’ own personal sound. And this song can cross genres incredibly well.
Here are the 8 best “Yesterday” covers, that I’ve heard, anyway:
8. Neil Diamond
Actually, I like the illustrations in this video (not associated with Neil Diamond) more than I like the song.
7. Boyz II Men
If you’re into a cappella.
6. Bob Dylan
5. Aretha Franklin
4. Marvin Gaye
3. Elvis Presley
2. Frank Sinatra
1. Ray Charles
Have you heard any other covers of “Yesterday” that you love? Share your favorites below!