Cover versions of songs are often touted as ‘not being as good as the original’. Music history is awash with remakes, remixes and re-imaginings of popular tunes that find a new audience in a new era. Sometimes shelved projects and ‘rough-cuts’ never make it to release until picked-up and offered to other performers who, whether due to good luck or good timing, turn a previously discarded gem into a smash hit.

Australian Natalie Imbruglia’s rendition of TORN in 1997 certainly set that sleeper of a tune alight, with her version peaking at number one on singles charts in Belgium, Denmark, Canada, Spain and Sweden, and on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 and Adult Top 40 charts. It reached number two on the ARIA Singles Chart in her native Australia and the Italian, Swiss and United Kingdom charts, selling upwards of 4 million copies worldwide.

But the song itself travelled a chequered path on its way to history making sales, and subsequently further.

"Torn" was written by Scott Cutler, Anne Preven and Brit Phil Thornalley in 1993, with the intention of having Preven record and release the number. But before Preven had the chance to do so, Danish singer Lis Sørensen released a translated version in her native Denmark. The premise of the message remained the same, as did the tune, which was slightly altered and renamed "Burned" - "Brændt" in Danish. Compatriot Elisabeth Gjerluff Nielsen enjoys a song writing credit for her translation of this version. Here’s Lis’ rendition, the first ever published and released version of the song:

A whole two years later, the original English version was finally performed by Scott Cutler and Anne Preven, within their US alt-rock band Ednaswap. It’s accepted as being a grungier, more edgy version, following their previous single "Glow" from their eponymous debut album. Thornalley and Cutler produced the session. The band subsequently released several variations and remixes of the song as B-sides and on their album Wacko Magneto. Here’s how the writers imagined it:

But even before Natalie Imbruglia’s version, the Scandinavians had another attempt at making Torn a world-wide smash, this time by Norwegian singer Trine Rein in 1996. Performed in English, the track developed further interest, reaching the top ten in Norway but was never a worldwide "break-through."

But then a year later in 1997, Australian performer Natalie Imbruglia, working with one of the original songwriters Phil Thornalley, covered the song for her debut studio album Left of the Middle. Imbruglia's version was recorded in Kilburn, London with David Munday on lead guitar, Phil Thornalley himself playing bass and rhythm guitars, Chuck Sabo on drums, while Katrina Leskanich undertook backing vocals. Mixed by Nigel Godrich and released as a single, Natalie's version became a worldwide hit:

“Sometimes you have to wait for all the elements to come together,” Thornalley told SongFacts after being asked why he thought Imbruglia’s cover was so successful. “Obviously, she was a pop star and had a background as an actor so she looked the part. She knew how to make a great video and the quality to her voice seemed to suit the song because the song is quite anxious, and yet her voice is quite sweet. So, I think that made it an attractive union of emotions.”

For the track, she received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, losing out to Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On".

The song was pantomimed by David Armand for a 2005 HBO pilot called Hollow Men. The performance was repeated live on many occasions. Here's one such performance:

In 2013, "Torn" was declared the No. 1 Best Pop Song on a top 10 list, part of a larger collection of songs by Q magazine in their special edition 1001 Best Songs Ever issue. Billboard ranked "Torn" the No. 26 Biggest Pop Song based only on pop radio charts compiled between 1992 and 2012. "Torn" remained the 19th most played song in the UK from 2001 to 2010. In 2005, it was listed at No. 383 on Blender magazine's list of 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born, and is the 6th most streamed pre-2000 solo female song on Spotify.

THE COVER’S COVERS (in no particular order, and in no way complete):
In 2005, Brazilian girl group Rouge recorded a Portuguese version of the song, titled "O Amor é Ilusão" ("Love is an illusion"), included in the group's 2005 fourth studio album Mil e Uma Noites. The lyrics for this version were written by Milton Guedes, who keeps most of the original's themes, about a lost love who gradually drifts away:

In May 2017, Alex Lahey covered the song on Triple J’s radio series Like a Version:

In October 2011, Megan Mullally and Casey Wilson performed the song together on the sitcom Happy Endings, in the episode Yesandwitch:

Uzbek band Bolalar has also recorded a version of Torn, titled "Sogʻindim ishon" ("Believe me, I miss you"):

Australia band Hands Like Houses recorded this version in 2014:

Thrash band Off by One offered this rendition in 2002:

One Direction performed their cover of Torn in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge, the same track they performed for Simon Cowell way back on the X-Factor in 2010:

Boyce Avenue is an American pop and rock band formed in Sarasota, Florida, by brothers Alejandro Luis Manzano, Daniel Enrique Manzano, and Fabian Rafael Manzano. Paying homage to Natalie Imbruglia’s roots, this version is recorded on the foreshore of Sydney Harbour:

In September 2018, the Welsh pop-punk band Neck Deep covered the song for the Songs That Saved My Life compilation album from Hopeless Records. The album was a collection of covers by various artists, drawing attention to depression and suicide, and highlighting the dramatic impact that music, and particular songs, can have on individuals. The video for this version also parodies the original video for the Natalie Imbruglia version:

First recorded by a Dane, and made famous by an Aussie.