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10 Best Covers of Percy Sledge’s ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’

Hear Bette Midler, Frank Ocean and a pre-teen Ryan Gosling rework the Southern soul classic

Percy Sledge

Percy Sledge

Val Wilmer/Getty

An instant standard, the late Percy Sledge's debut single and greatest hit, "When a Man Loves a Woman," has been covered again and again over the past half-century: as a heartsick country tune, as a schmaltzy torch song, as lighter-waving rock & roll, as a jazz instrumental and even as a bizarre vaudeville/garage-rock hybrid. Here are 10 of the most notable versions.

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Ryan Gosling (1991)

Before "hey girl," before The Believer, before even The Mickey Mouse Club, Ryan Gosling was a performer at Mormon talent shows – like this one, filmed by an audience member when Gosling was 10 or 11 years old. Only a half-minute fragment of Gosling's proto-American Idol rendition of "When a Man Loves a Woman" has survived, but we do also get to see him and his sister Mandi dancing fairly impressively to C&C Music Factory's "Everybody Dance Now."

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Frank Ocean, “Non-Stop” (2011)

Before Christopher Breaux started going by the name Frank Ocean, he recorded a mountain of tracks that were eventually released as the mixtape The Lonny Breaux Collection. "Non-Stop" is his update of "When a Man Loves a Woman" for the 21st century. Over a loop of Percy Sledge's original recording (modified by producer J.R. Rotem), Ocean sings a melody of his own about tormented, one-sided romance – a variation on Sledge's "sleeping out in the rain" worst-case scenario.

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