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Top 10 Brit Hits You Didn't Know Were Covers


Written by Marc Turner They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 British hits you didn’t know were covers. For this list, we’re looking at songs by British performers that were originally – though less famously – released by other bands or artists. And we’re ranking the tracks not just on their surprise-factor, but also on the popularity of the cover. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Brit Hits You Didn’t Know Were Covers


They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 British hits you didn’t know were covers.

For this list, we’re looking at songs by British performers that were originally – though less famously – released by other bands or artists. And we’re ranking the tracks not just on their surprise-factor, but also on the popularity of the cover.

#10: “She’s the One” by Robbie Williams (1999)
Originally by World Party (1997)

This loved-up offering was a number-one hit for Robbie, winning several awards including British Single of the Year at the Brits in 2000. But the ballad was originally released by rock band World Party, with frontman Karl Wallinger reportedly writing the song in just 10 minutes. Wallinger slated Robbie’s cover, claiming the former Take That member got the words wrong because he couldn’t read properly. But despite that, there’s no doubt that Robbie’s version is the best-known, with UK sales of half a million copies.

#9: “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles (1963)
Originally by The Top Notes (1961)

Featuring on the Fab Four’s first album, this was one of the few songs the band didn't actually write for themselves. First released by a fairly obscure US R&B group - the Top Notes - it was turned into a hit by The Isley Brothers in 1962. It was then famously recorded by The Beatles in one take – as a second was aborted because John Lennon had a cough. The Beatles’ version is still considered one of the best examples of early British rock and roll, as Lennon’s memorable vocals set it apart.

#8: “The First Cut Is the Deepest” by Rod Stewart (1977)
Originally by P.P. Arnold (1967)

Stewart has recorded many covers in his career, including “Downtown Train” and “This Old Heart of Mine”. But we’ve gone with his take on a Cat Stevens song, that was first released by American soul singer P.P. Arnold. “The First Cut is the Deepest” was Arnold’s first top 40 UK hit, but Rod’s re-recording proved an even greater success – spending four weeks at number one. Interestingly, the two singers worked together on a different song called “Come Home Baby”, with Arnold later claiming that Stewart’s ego made him difficult to work with.

#7: “Step On” by Happy Mondays (1990)
Originally by John Kongos (1971)

“Step On” was Happy Mondays’ biggest-selling UK single, and the closest they came to a hit in the US. But almost two decades before that, it was a success for South African singer and instrumentalist John Kongos, who originally released it under the title “He’s Gonna Step on You Again”. Kongos wrote the track as a protest against the seizure of land in Africa. But it’s now most widely known as the indie anthem that launched Shaun Ryder’s game-changing group into the mainstream – and for twisting your melon, man.

#6: “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele (2008)
Originally by Bob Dylan (1997)

This crooning ballad features on Adele’s debut album “19”, and the singer rates it as her favourite track from the record. Going on success alone, you can see why. “Make You Feel My Love” made the UK top 10 four times in the same chart run, and the video has amassed over a hundred million hits on YouTube. But it was Bob Dylan who actually wrote it, and Billy Joel was the first to cover it, in 1997. Adele once revealed that Dylan would earn around £1m from her cover, though - adding: “Maybe he’ll buy me a watch or something.”

#5: “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals (1964)
Originally a Traditional Folk Song

This song about a gambling house in New Orleans was The Animals’ breakthrough hit, reaching number one in the UK, US and France. Trouble is, no one knows for sure who wrote it, but the earliest known recording by Clarence Ashley and Gwen Foster dates back to 1933. But, The Animals’ version is no ordinary cover. Inspired by an earlier Bob Dylan recording, the band changed the lyrics around and added an organ and electric guitars creating what critics have called the “first folk-rock hit”.

#4: “I Fought the Law” by The Clash (1979)
Originally by The Crickets (1960)

Another cover of a cover, this song was first released by former Buddy Holly backing band The Crickets, but was later made famous by the Bobby Fuller Four. The Bobby Fuller Four’s version, incidentally, was ranked as the 175th greatest ever song by Rolling Stone magazine. But the tune remains most closely associated with British punk rockers – and the only band that allegedly matters – The Clash, who first heard it played on an American jukebox, and recorded the ending in a public toilet to create an echo effect.

#3: “Red Red Wine” by UB40 (1983)
Originally by Neil Diamond (1967)

This song may have been written and first performed by the American singer Diamond, but the version that most influenced UB40’s eventual recording was a reggae cover released by Tony Tribe. At first UB40 didn’t know the song’s true origin, and when they saw the tune credited to “N Diamond”, they incorrectly linked it with a similarly-named Jamaican performer. Ultimately, the British band’s version is one of Diamond’s favourite covers of any of his tracks. In fact, he often performs a reggae-fied adaptation in his own live shows.

#2: “Rockin’ All Over the World” by Status Quo (1977)
Originally by John Fogerty (1975)

Status Quo have had more UK hits than any other rock band, but this song is probably their signature number. But amazingly, it isn’t an original tune, as it was written and released first by American singer and guitarist John Fogerty, of Creedence Clearwater Revival. However, Status Quo made the song their own with a heavier arrangement, that has since become an air guitar anthem. Fogerty is reportedly relaxed about people believing Quo wrote the song, taking solace in the fact that his creation has been so successful.

#1: “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell (1981)
Originally by Gloria Jones (1964)

This ’80s favourite about a flawed relationship raised synthpop duo Soft Cell from obscurity in 1981, as the track became the UK's best-selling single of that year. But, alas, it was a cover, and one originally released by the Motown singer Gloria Jones – who later became a backup singer with T. Rex. Soft Cell’s rendition is almost unrecognisable from the original thanks to its synthesizers, slower tempo, and Marc Almond’s emotional vocals. Even Jones once graciously said she thought Soft Cell’s version was the better one – and most music fans would probably agree.
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