The honor was levied today by BBC Music. After releasing the star-studded “God Only Knows” last week, the UK-based media company asked listeners to submit their choices for best cover ever. A BBC Music team of DJs and other radio presenters cut the list to a Top 50, of which listeners then voted on.
The Pet Shop Boys’ “Always On My Mind” topped the list, besting Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” (originally by Nine Inch Nails, coming in at #2), The Stranglers’ “Walk On By” (originally recorded by Dionne Warwick, at 3), and the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “All Along The Watchtower” (originally by Bob Dylan, in the 4th slot). Rounding out the Top 5 was Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” (originally by Leonard Cohen).
“Originally written as a country song in 1972, ‘Always On My Mind’ was made famous by Elvis Presley when he released his recording later that year, and it remains one of the King’s best-loved hits,” the BBC writes. “UK synth-pop duo the Pet Shop Boys originally performed their cover in 1987 for a TV show commemorating Elvis. Their version was so well-received that they decided to record it for release. It went on to become that year’s Christmas No.1 and now it’s your #GreatestCovers No.1 as well!”
According to Wikipedia, “Always On My Mind” was written by Johnny Christopher, Mark James and Wayne Carson, recorded first by Gwen McCrae (as “You Were Always On My Mind”) and Brenda Lee in 1972, and has been officially recorded as a cover more than 300 times.
None better than by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, however.