Beyoncé’s 10 Best Covers, From “Jolene” To “You Oughta Know”

Before Cowboy Carter, the singer already knew how to make a classic song her own.

Beyoncé's 10 Best Covers, From “Jolene” To “You Oughta Know”
Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

Before Kelly Clarkson went viral for singing every hit song better than the original artist, Beyoncé was the queen of covers.

During her illustrious career, Bey has been unafraid to take some of the most famous songs in music history and make them her own, including classics from Prince, Tina Turner, and Barbra Streisand. Even as her catalog of hits kept growing, she didn’t shy away from singing at least one cover on tour, paying tribute to musicians who paved the way for her career.

In Cowboy Carter, Bey took her covers to new heights by giving her own twist on three classic tracks — Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” Chuck Berry’s “Oh Louisiana,” and The Beatles’ “Blackbird” (stylized as “Blackbiird”).

Read on to revisit Beyoncé’s 10 best covers, from “Jolene” to the other Parton classic that she’s sang several times.


Beyoncé and Dolly Parton.ROBYN BECKVALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images

In Cowboy Carter, Bey reinvents Parton’s 1973 classic “Jolene,” turning it from a yearning plea to an auburn-locked woman into a full-blown warning not to take her man. Needless to say, Parton loved that Jolene finally got her due. “Beyoncé is giving that girl some trouble and she deserves it!” she wrote on Instagram.

“I Will Always Love You”

Beyonce performs during The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour on December 22, 2013 in New York, New York. Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

Before she took on “Jolene,” Beyoncé used to cover another one of Parton’s all-time classics. During the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, Bey would often introduce her mega-hit “Halo” with a rendition of “I Will Always Love You” as a tribute to Whitney Houston, whose iconic cover became one of her signature songs.


Beyoncé and Paul McCartney attend The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards on February 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

Paul McCartney wrote The Beatles’ 1968 ballad as a message of encouragement to Black women, inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and the Little Rock Nine. This context makes “Blackbird” a moving choice to include on Cowboy Carter, where Bey is joined by Black female country artists like Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy, and Reyna Roberts to drive the message home.

“You Oughta Know”

Beyoncé performs at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on January 31, 2010. CBS Photo Archive/CBS/Getty Images

At the 2010 Grammy Awards, and some of her I Am... Tour stops beforehand, Beyoncé incorporated Alanis Morissette’s breakout hit “You Oughta Know” into her own song “If I Were A Boy,” giving her performance additional angst and edge. If this is a hint at what “act iii” (which is rumored to be rock-inspired) may sound like, then Bey needs to release that album ASAP.

“The Beautiful Ones”

Prince and Beyoncé perform during The 46th Annual GRAMMY Awards in Los Angeles, California. Michael Caulfield Archive/WireImage/Getty Images

Beyoncé has covered this track from Prince’s Purple Rain album many times, most notably during her historic headlining set at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival. After Prince passed away in 2016, Bey added her cover to the setlist of her Formation World Tour, after which his rendition of “Purple Rain” played over the speakers as the screens went purple in his honor.

“Ave Maria”

Beyoncé onstage at the 2009 BET Awards on June 28, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.John Shearer/WireImage/Getty Images

“Ave Maria” walked so the Italian opera of “Daughter” could run. Beyoncé doesn’t actually sing Italian in her English rewrite of Franz Shubert’s composition, which appeared on her 2008 album I Am... Sasha Fierce, but the way she sings the lyrics proves she was capable of those operatic vocals long before Cowboy Carter.

“At Last”

Beyoncé performs to Etta James at Fashion Rocks on September 5, 2008 in New York City. Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

Bey’s long pantheon of covers arguably started with her rendition of “At Last.” She has played Etta James’ classic on multiple occasions. It led her to play the icon herself in the 2008 film Cadillac Records, which James approved, and perform her cover at Barack Obama’s inauguration ball in 2009, which James did not approve.

“Before I Let Go”

Solange and Beyoncé perform during the 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 21, 2018 in Indio, California. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

For the release of her Homecoming live album and documentary of her 2018 Coachella set, Beyoncé decided to record a cover of Maze’s “Before I Let Go” as a bonus track, making it even more soulful and funkier. In fact, it was so fun that she decided to put it on her Renaissance World Tour setlist.

“Proud Mary”

Beyoncé and Tina Turner performing at the 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards on February 10, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.Michael Caulfield/WireImage/Getty Images

Beyoncé has made it clear how much the late Tina Turner inspired her, especially when she sang Turner’s version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary.” Her cover is nearly just as moving, energetic, and powerful as the Queen of Rock herself, which Turner recognized when she performed her 1971 hit alongside Bey at the 2008 Grammys.

“The Way We Were”

Beyoncé arrives at the 31st Annual Kennedy Center Honors on December 7, 2008 in Washington, DC.Paul Morigi/WireImage/Getty Images

Three years after honoring Tina Turner at the 2005 Kennedy Center Honors, Beyoncé returned to pay tribute to Barbra Streisand, performing a cover of her Oscar-winning 1973 track “The Way We Were.” The cover was restrained by the singer’s standards, but her vocals were as crisp and gorgeous as ever, proving that Beyoncé could easily dominate Broadway if she ever wanted to.