For a generation, the '90s are seen as a golden age of music. The decade had it all — innovative rap, moody rock tunes, country hits, and so, so many exquisite pop jams. But as amazing as the era was, there are actually covers of '90s songs that are better than the original. That may sound like blasphemy, but that's just because you haven't heard Bastille's somber take on TLC's "No Scrubs" yet.
Acknowledging the incredible modern covers of your favorites shouldn't diminish the songs in your eyes. After all, these covers only exist because a new generation of musicians found inspiration in the likes of Britney Spears, NSYNC, and Nirvana. In many cases, new artists find an unexpected meaning hiding in your '90s favorites, and they use their talents to take the songs in a completely different direction. The best cover songs aren't just copies, they're reimaginings that take the music somewhere entirely unexpected.
Whether it's MØ's haunting rendition of Spice Girls' "Say You'll Be There" or Kawehi's wonderfully unique version of Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box," these 13 cover songs might just surpass the originals. Prepare to have your mind blown, because these '90s songs have never sounded better.
1. Bastille "No Scrubs"
TLC's "No Scrubs" is a legendary ode to saying no to guys who aren't worth your time. It's hard to imagine anyone could improve upon the original, but the British indie band Bastille turns the song into a mournful, poignant anthem that will tug at your heartstrings in a major way.
2. Kawehi "Heart-Shaped Box"
In 1993, Nirvana gave the world a rock anthem in "Heart-Shaped Box." Just over two decades later in 2014, Kawehi re-imagined the song with a dash of techno inspiration. Her one-woman version of "Heart-Shaped Box" is stunning in its complexity and beauty. Kurt Cobain would probably be proud.
3. Postmodern Jukebox "MMMBop"
Hanson's ear-worm "MMMBop" feels like it was meant to be a Doo Wop song all along.
4. MØ "Say You'll Be There"
The Danish singer MØ completely reinvents Spice Girls' "Say You'll Be There" as an angsty masterpiece for a new generation.
5. Childish Gambino "So Into You"
If you know Childish Gambino best for his innovative raps, then you'll be blown away by the smoothness of his version of Tamia's "So Into You." The R&B favorite is a beautiful departure for the artist, and his version may just be better than the original.
6. Wolf Alice "Good Riddance"
Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong has one of the most distinctive voices in the music industry, and Wolf Alice is wise not to attempt to copy the band's sound. Instead, the indie band somehow makes "Good Riddance" even more melancholy than it was before with her melodic sound.
7. Screaming Females "If It Makes You Happy"
Sheryl Crow's "If It Makes You Happy" benefits from a healthy dose of grunge. Screaming Females' take on the song oozes with frustration that's amplified by a killer guitar riff.
8. Alex & Sierra "Say My Name"
Alex and Sierra turn "Say My Name" into a one-two punch of heartbreak and accusations that adds a new layer to the Destiny's Child favorite.
9. Kina Grannis "Tearin' Up My Heart"
NSYNC's "Tearin' Up My Heart" was the pop jam of the late '90s, but in Grannis' hands the lyrics become truly heartbreaking. When it's slowed down, this song is a breakup masterpiece.
10. The Cooltrane Quartet "...Baby One More Time"
The song that launched Britney Spears' career translates so seamlessly into a jazz number that you would be forgiven for forgetting its pop roots.
11. Haim "That Don't Impress Me Much"
Shania Twain was the queen of country in the '90s, and her influence on the group Haim led to a gorgeous cover of "That Don't Impress Me Much." With a touch of '80s techno flair, this country song is given new life by a group that clearly reveres Twain.
12. James TW "Torn"
OK, so Natalie Imbruglia's version of "Torn" was already a cover, but it quickly became the definitive version of the song. Then James TW came along and somehow made "Torn" even more epic.
13. Leela James "Don't Speak"
James' vocals are smooth as silk, but they also cut deep in this stunning cover of No Doubt's "Don't Speak."
Whether or not you agree that these '90s song covers are better than the originals, there's no doubt they'll have you queuing up your favorite '90s playlist after you listen to them.