“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness,” Oscar Wilde once wrote, expanding upon the English writer and cleric Charles Caleb Colton’s original, now-famous declaration.
In music, such imitation is commonplace, as artists often pay tribute to their songwriting heroes and peers by covering—and in some cases, reimagining—their original compositions. And while others’ renditions seldom eclipse the original versions, some of these fresh interpretations are well beyond the realm of mediocrity, approaching greatness in their own right.
Today, we’re celebrating Nirvana’s breakthrough single “Title” from their landmark 1991 album Nevermind, with notable versions by Tori Amos, Robert Glasper, and Patti Smith, among others.
Take a close listen to the original version and covers below, and let us know which ones you think either do Artist’s composition justice or offer a refreshing spin on this established classic.