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Top 10 Songs You Didn’t Know Were Covers

VO: Matt Campbell
Script written by Matt Wende. Brace yourself, those classics you know and love may not be as original as you think. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 songs you didn't know were covers. For this list, we’re looking at songs that have achieved wide acclaim and recognition, but had been previously recorded by a different artist. We have ranked the entries based on the popularity of the song, and the surprise factor in finding out about its status as a cover. So in spite of the numerous incarnations of “Hallelujah”, it will not be appearing on this list because the Leonard Cohen original is just as popular. Special thanks to our users Alex Cash, FatalPivots and Ccm25 for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Matt Wende.

Top 10 Songs You Didn’t Know Were Covers


Brace yourself, those classics you know and love may not be as original as you think. Welcome to watchmojo.com and today, we’re counting down our list for the top 10 songs that you didn’t know were covers.

For this list, we’re looking at songs that have achieved wide acclaim and recognition, but had been previously recorded by a different artist. We have ranked the entries based on the popularity of the song, and the surprise factor in finding out about its status as a cover. So in spite of the numerous incarnations of “Hallelujah”, it will not be appearing on this list because the Leonard Cohen original is just as popular.

#10: “Nothing Compares 2 U” (1990)
Sinéad O’Connor
Originally by The Family (1985)

This song dazzles and wows us with its hypnotic melody and powerful vocals of Sinead O’Connor. Unknown to most though, this early 90s jam is actually a cover of a song by The Family, a side project of pop superstar, Prince. Strangely enough, The Family version of the track was never released as a single and received almost no attention at the time of release. Prince has gone on to adapt the song into some of his solo performances due to the popularity of the tune later on.

#9: “Me and Bobby Mcgee” (1971)
Janis Joplin
Originally by Roger Miller (1969)

Janis Joplin was a perfect embodiment of the blues infused country rock style made so popular in the 1970s, and this song is a perfect embodiment of that sentiment. In order to get the country vibe she needed, she tapped into the source itself with the original Roger Miller tune. Miller’s song was also covered by one of the writers of the track Kris Kristofferson. Joplin’s is undoubtedly more popularly remembered thanks to its upbeat tempo and beefed up melody.

#8: “Dazed and Confused” (1969)
Led Zeppelin
Originally by Jake Holmes (1967)

It’s no secret that Led Zeppelin is known to be not only one of the best rock bands of all time, but also a game changer in the birth of hard rock. That’s why we were more than a little surprised that one of their biggest hits, “Dazed and Confused,” is not an original tune. Just a few years earlier the folk-rock singer released the track, but the song is most widely remembered for Robert Plant’s ear-blasting vocals, and that addictive guitar riff laid down by Jimmy Page.

#7: “If I Were a Boy” (2008)
Beyonce
Originally by BC Jean (2008)

Sasha Fierce’s power ballad is a powerful number that draws attention to the cultural disparity between men and women. The show stopping track is one of the most powerful hits from the I Am… Sasha Fierce album, which is why we didn’t see it coming that it’s a cover of a song by BC Jean. Jean wrote the ballad originally, but had it denied by her record label. Jean’s track has slightly more raw vocals and feels more personal, but Beyone’s talent is undeniable when she opens up her pipes.

#6: “Superstion” (1972)
Stevie Wonder
Originally by Jeff Beck (1973)

This one’s a little tricky. Stevie Wonder did originally write this song, but it was Jeff Beck who made the original recording. In almost no time at all, Wonder repatriated the song and released it on his 1972 album Talking Book immediately. The recordings sound relatively similar, with Jeff Beck’s being a dominantly rock number with a slight funk and soul edge. Stevie Wonder’s on the other hand doesn’t hold anything back when it comes to soul and funk. Having reclaimed the credit from Beck, Wonder is now most readily associated with the hyper-groovy number.

#5: “Tainted Love” (1981)
Soft Cell
Originally by Gloria Jones (1965)

Everyone knows that Marilyn Manson is not the original artist behind this ‘80s pop track, but it is not quite known that neither is the duo Soft Cell. Originally recorded in 1964, Gloria Jones’ original had a groovy smooth rock sound that captivated listeners. Listening back to it, it’s no wonder so many artists decided to try their hand at a cover. With lyrics that were as potent as they were accessible and the ear-wormy melody, “Tainted Love” was practically made to be covered.

#4: “Achy Breaky Heart” (1992)
Billy Ray Cyrus
Originally by The Marcy Brothers (1991)

A classic in Billy Ray Cyrus’ stable of contemporary pop-country songs, Achy Breaky Heart just makes you wanna grind your cowboy boots on the dance floor at your nearest hoe-down. Just bear in mind, before you go calling Cyrus Senior some kind of country legend, remember that this song was originally performed by The Marcy Brothers, and was originally titled “Don’t Tell my Heart”. With ol’ Billy putting his stamp to his recording a year later, the song gained immense popularity and is a must have at all local country bars.

#3: “I Will Always Love You” (1992)
Whitney Houston
Originally by Dolly Parton (1974)

This song is so strongly tied to Houston’s career, that hearing it immediately brings back images of her belting out this powerful number, thanks in no small part to her performing it for the film she starred in, “The Bodyguard”. And that says something considering the extent of her formidable career. Surprisingly enough, the song was originally performed by female country heavy-weight, Dolly Parton. Although kudos goes out for writing such a powerful song, Houston still owns it as part of her legacy.

#2: “I Love Rock and Roll” (1982)
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Originally by The Arrows (1975)

What? This wasn’t a Britney Spears original? All joking aside, the anthemic track by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts is a rock classic and is enough to get anybody’s head bobbing. But the female led hard rock group doesn’t deserve all the credit, as the song was originally done by ‘70s rock group The Arrows. The original is a rocking track in its own right, but we still can’t get enough of the Blackheart’s steely sound and Jett’s unhinged vocals.

Before we blow your mind with our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Crazy” (1961)
Patsy Cline
Originally by Willie Nelson (1961)

“Don’t Turn Around” (1994)
Ace of Base
Originally by Tina Turner (1986)

“Hard to Handle” (1990)
The Black Crowes
Originally by Otis Redding (1968)

“Mambo No.5” (1999)
Lou Bega
Originally by Dámaso Pérez Prado (1949)

“Torn” (1997)
Natalia Imbruglio
Originally by Ednaswap (1995)

#1: “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (1983)
Cyndi Lauper
Originally by Robert Hazard (1979)

This classic ‘80s pop jam is a toe tapping earworm to the core. As if the happy go lucky style and sound weren’t enough to get you hooked, that uber-catchy melody will have you bobbing your head to the infections beat. But if electric pop isn’t your speed, then you might prefer the little known original version. Starkly different from Lauper’s more popular version, this punk tune was the inspiration for the melody and the chorus, but that grungy in-your-face attitude had no place in Lauper’s style. With both versions being excellently made, we think credit should pretty much be split evenly.

Did you agree with our list? What unknown covers did we miss? For more top 10s about your favorite music, subscribe to watchmojo.com.
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