Ever jammed out to a song, only to find out later that it's not an original? Mind-blowing, right? Some of the most iconic tracks have deeper roots than we realize. It’s always surprising to discover that a song you love and associate with a particular artist was actually first performed by someone else. These hidden origins add a new layer of appreciation and intrigue to our favorite tunes. Let’s dive into 18 songs you might not have known were covers, uncovering the original artists behind these unforgettable hits.

1. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" - Cyndi Lauper

Original Artist: Robert Hazard

"Girls Just Want to Have Fun" is one of Cyndi Lauper's most iconic songs, released in 1983 as part of her debut album, She's So Unusual. The song became an anthem for female empowerment and fun, reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100. However, many people don't realize that it was originally written and recorded by Robert Hazard in 1979. Hazard's version had a more punk rock feel and was sung from a male perspective. Lauper's rendition transformed the song into a pop classic, with its catchy melody and vibrant music video, which featured a colorful cast of characters and became a staple of MTV in the 1980s.

2. "Blinded By the Light" - Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

Original Artist: Bruce Springsteen

"Blinded By the Light" is best known as a hit single by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, released in 1976. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 and is famous for its complex lyrics and catchy chorus. However, it was originally written and recorded by Bruce Springsteen for his 1973 debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.. Springsteen's version did not achieve commercial success, but Manfred Mann’s Earth Band's cover gave the song a new life with a more polished rock sound and a memorable keyboard riff. The cover's success helped bring more attention to Springsteen's early work.

3. "Red Red Wine" - UB40

Original Artist: Neil Diamond

"Red Red Wine" is a reggae-infused hit by UB40, released in 1983 on their album Labour of Love. The song became a global hit, reaching number one on the UK Singles Chart and the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. Despite its association with UB40, "Red Red Wine" was originally written and recorded by Neil Diamond in 1967. Diamond's version was a slower, more melancholic ballad. UB40's cover gave the song a completely different feel with its upbeat reggae rhythm, making it a favorite at parties and a staple of the band's live performances.

4. "I Want Candy" - Bow Wow Wow

Original Artist: The Strangeloves

"I Want Candy" is a well-known song by Bow Wow Wow, released in 1982. The track became a defining hit for the band, known for its catchy beat and energetic performance. However, the song was originally recorded by The Strangeloves in 1965. The Strangeloves' version was a rock and roll hit that reached No. 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Bow Wow Wow's cover gave the song a new wave twist, featuring a prominent drum beat and the distinctive vocals of lead singer Annabella Lwin. The song's music video, which showcased the band's vibrant and rebellious style, played a significant role in its popularity, especially on MTV. Bow Wow Wow's version of "I Want Candy" became a top 10 hit in the UK and remains a staple of 80s music compilations. The song's enduring appeal has led to numerous covers and uses in popular culture, including commercials and movie soundtracks, cementing its status as a timeless pop classic.

5. "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" - Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Original Artist: The Arrows

"I Love Rock 'n' Roll" is one of the most iconic rock anthems, famously performed by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. Released in 1981, the song became a defining hit for Jett, spending seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the song was originally written and recorded by The Arrows in 1975. Joan Jett first encountered the song while touring with The Runaways in England and was immediately captivated by its raw energy. She initially recorded a version with members of the Sex Pistols in 1979, but it was her re-recording with the Blackhearts that achieved commercial success. Jett's version features a powerful guitar riff and her distinctive, gritty vocals, which helped transform the song into an anthem of rock rebellion and female empowerment. The music video, shot in black and white, further cemented its place in rock history. "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" has been covered by various artists, including Britney Spears, and continues to be a symbol of rock 'n' roll attitude.

6. "Tainted Love" - Soft Cell

Original Artist: Gloria Jones

"Tainted Love" by Soft Cell is a synth-pop classic that became a massive hit in the early 1980s. Released in 1981, the song is actually a cover of a 1964 track by Gloria Jones. Jones' original version was a B-side to her single "My Bad Boy’s Comin’ Home" and did not achieve significant success at the time. However, it gained popularity in the UK’s Northern soul scene during the 1970s. Soft Cell's version, produced by Mike Thorne, transformed the song with a slower tempo and a distinctive electronic arrangement. The cover became a global hit, reaching No. 1 in several countries and spending a record 43 weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song's haunting melody and Marc Almond's emotive vocals resonated with audiences, making it one of the most memorable tracks of the decade. "Tainted Love" has been covered and sampled by numerous artists, including Rihanna, and remains a staple of 80s music playlists

7. "House of the Rising Sun" - The Animals

Original Artist: Traditional Folk Song

"The House of the Rising Sun" is a traditional folk song that became a major hit for the British rock band The Animals in 1964. The Animals' version, characterized by its haunting organ riff and Eric Burdon's powerful vocals, topped the charts in both the UK and the US. The song's origins are unclear, but it has been recorded by various artists over the years, including Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly. The Animals' arrangement was inspired by a version sung by Northumbrian folk singer Johnny Handle. The band decided to record it after receiving a strong audience reaction during a tour with Chuck Berry. The recording session took place at De Lane Lea Studios in London, and the single was produced by Mickie Most. The Animals' rendition is often credited as one of the first folk-rock hits and has been praised for its innovative arrangement and emotional intensity. It has since become a staple of classic rock radio and is considered one of the greatest songs of all time, earning a place in the Grammy Hall of Fame and on Rolling Stone's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".

8. "I Will Always Love You" - Whitney Houston

Original Artist: Dolly Parton

"I Will Always Love You" is famously performed by Whitney Houston for the 1992 film The Bodyguard. Houston's rendition became a global phenomenon, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for a record-breaking 14 weeks and selling over 20 million copies worldwide. However, the song was originally written and recorded by Dolly Parton in 1973 as a farewell to her business partner and mentor, Porter Wagoner. Parton's version was a country hit, reaching the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart twice, in 1974 and again in 1982. Houston's version, produced by David Foster, transformed the song into a powerful pop ballad with a memorable a cappella introduction. The song's success was bolstered by its inclusion in The Bodyguard soundtrack, which also became a best-seller. Houston's performance earned her several awards, including the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. The song's emotional depth and Houston's vocal prowess have made it one of the most beloved and enduring ballads in music history.

9. "Torn" - Natalie Imbruglia

Original Artist: Ednaswap

"Torn" is best known as the debut single of Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia, released in 1997. Imbruglia's version became a massive hit, topping the charts in multiple countries and selling over four million copies worldwide. The song was originally written by Scott Cutler, Anne Preven, and Phil Thornalley and first recorded in Danish by Lis Sørensen in 1993 under the title "Brændt". It was later recorded in English by the American rock band Ednaswap in 1995. Imbruglia's cover, produced by Thornalley, features a more polished pop-rock sound compared to Ednaswap's grungier original. The accompanying music video, featuring British actor Jeremy Sheffield, became iconic and helped propel the song's popularity. Imbruglia's heartfelt delivery and the song's relatable lyrics about heartbreak resonated with a wide audience, making "Torn" one of the defining songs of the late 1990s. Imbruglia's version received critical acclaim and earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

10. "Come On Feel the Noise" - Quiet Riot

Original Artist: Slade

"Cum On Feel the Noize" is best known as a hit by Quiet Riot, released in 1983 on their album Metal Health. The song became a major success, reaching No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and helping the album become the first heavy metal record to top the charts. However, the song was originally recorded by the English rock band Slade in 1973. Written by lead vocalist Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea, Slade's version was a UK chart-topper and became one of their signature songs. Quiet Riot's cover was initially met with reluctance by the band, particularly lead vocalist Kevin DuBrow, who wanted to focus on original material. Despite this, their producer Spencer Proffer convinced them to record it, and the result was a high-energy glam metal rendition that resonated with American audiences. The success of "Cum On Feel the Noize" helped to bring Slade belated recognition in the US and solidified Quiet Riot's place in rock history. The song remains a staple of 80s rock and is frequently included in lists of the greatest hard rock songs.

11. "Hurt" - Johnny Cash

Original Artist: Nine Inch Nails

Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails is a poignant and powerful reinterpretation that has become one of his most acclaimed works. Originally written by Trent Reznor and released on Nine Inch Nails' 1994 album The Downward Spiral, "Hurt" is a deeply emotional song about pain and self-destruction. Cash covered the song in 2002 for his album American IV: The Man Comes Around, produced by Rick Rubin. Cash's version strips the song down to its bare essentials, featuring his weathered voice accompanied by acoustic guitar and subtle piano. The accompanying music video, directed by Mark Romanek, juxtaposes images of Cash's past with scenes of his present, highlighting themes of mortality and reflection. Reznor praised Cash's cover, stating that it gave the song new meaning and depth. The cover received critical acclaim, earning a Grammy nomination and being hailed as one of the greatest music videos of all time. Cash's rendition of "Hurt" is often seen as a fitting epitaph for the legendary artist, who passed away shortly after its release.

12. "Twist and Shout" - The Beatles

Original Artist: The Top Notes

"Twist and Shout" is widely recognized as a hit by The Beatles, featured on their debut album Please Please Me in 1963. The Beatles' version, with John Lennon's raw and powerful lead vocals, became an iconic track, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the song was originally recorded by The Top Notes in 1961, written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns. The Top Notes' version, produced by Phil Spector, did not achieve commercial success. It was later re-recorded by the Isley Brothers in 1962, who gave it a more energetic and soulful arrangement, making it a modest hit. The Beatles' rendition, recorded in a single take at the end of a long recording session, added a rock and roll edge that resonated with a global audience. The song's enduring popularity was further cemented by its inclusion in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, where it was lip-synced by Matthew Broderick, introducing it to a new generation of fans.

13. "Hound Dog" - Elvis Presley

Original Artist: Big Mama Thornton

"Hound Dog" is one of Elvis Presley's most famous songs, released in 1956. It became a massive hit, topping the pop, country, and R&B charts simultaneously, and is considered a cornerstone of rock and roll history. However, the song was originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton in 1952. Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Thornton's version was a raw, powerful blues track that topped the R&B charts for seven weeks in 1953. Thornton's rendition, characterized by her commanding vocals and gritty delivery, sold over 500,000 copies and became her biggest hit. Elvis's version, inspired by a performance he saw by Freddie Bell and the Bellboys, was more polished and upbeat, transforming the song into a rock and roll anthem. Despite its success, Thornton received little financial reward from the song's popularity. Elvis's rendition, while immensely popular, has been criticized for overshadowing the original and contributing to the erasure of Black artists' contributions to rock and roll.

14. "Venus" - Bananarama

Original Artist: Shocking Blue

"Venus" is best known as a hit by Bananarama, released in 1986. The song became a global success, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming one of the group's signature tracks. However, "Venus" was originally recorded by the Dutch rock band Shocking Blue in 1969. Written by Robbie van Leeuwen, Shocking Blue's version was a psychedelic rock track that topped the charts in several countries, including the US. Bananarama's cover, produced by the famous Stock Aitken Waterman team, transformed the song into a high-energy dance track. The music video, featuring the band members in various mythological and fantasy-inspired costumes, became iconic and received heavy rotation on MTV. Bananarama's version of "Venus" helped to solidify their place in pop music history and remains a staple of 80s music playlists. The song's enduring popularity has led to its inclusion in numerous films, commercials, and TV shows.

15. "The First Cut Is the Deepest" - Sheryl Crow

Original Artist: P.P. Arnold

"The First Cut Is the Deepest" is widely recognized as a hit by Sheryl Crow, released in 2003 as part of her compilation album The Very Best of Sheryl Crow. Crow's version became a major success, reaching No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the Adult Contemporary charts. However, the song was originally written by Cat Stevens and first recorded by P.P. Arnold in 1967. Arnold's version was a soulful ballad that became a hit in the UK. Stevens also recorded his own version for his 1967 album New Masters. Crow's rendition, inspired by Rod Stewart's 1977 cover, features a country-rock arrangement and showcases her emotive vocal delivery. The music video, directed by Wayne Isham, was filmed in a picturesque desert setting and contributed to the song's popularity. Crow's cover received critical acclaim and was nominated for a Grammy Award. The song's timeless lyrics about heartbreak and healing have made it a favorite for multiple generations of listeners.

16. "Feeling Good" - Nina Simone

Original Artist: From the Musical "The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd"

"Feeling Good" is a song that Nina Simone made famous with her 1965 recording for the album I Put a Spell on You. Originally written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the 1964 musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, the song was first performed by Cy Grant. Simone's version, arranged and produced by Hal Mooney, transformed the song into a powerful anthem of liberation and joy. Although it was not released as a single at the time, it gained popularity decades later, particularly after being featured in a 1994 British Volkswagen commercial, which led to its release as a single and a peak at No. 40 on the UK Singles Chart. Simone's rendition has been widely covered and sampled by artists across various genres, including Michael Bublé, Muse, and Avicii. The song's enduring appeal lies in its uplifting message and Simone's emotive delivery, which have made it a favorite in films, television shows, and commercials. "Feeling Good" continues to be celebrated as one of Simone's most iconic performances, highlighting her ability to convey deep emotion and resilience through her music.

17. "Superstition" - Stevie Wonder

Original Artist: Intended for Jeff Beck

"Superstition" is one of Stevie Wonder's most iconic songs, released on October 24, 1972, as the lead single from his fifteenth studio album, Talking Book. The song, written and produced by Wonder, features a distinctive Clavinet riff and explores the negative effects of superstitions. It became Wonder's first number-one single since "Fingertips, Pt. 2" in 1963, topping the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1973. The song also earned Wonder two Grammy Awards for Best Rhythm & Blues Song and Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male. Interestingly, "Superstition" was initially intended for guitarist Jeff Beck, who played on another track from the Talking Book album. However, Berry Gordy, the head of Motown, insisted that Wonder release it himself, believing it would be a hit. The song's success solidified Wonder's place as a leading figure in R&B and popular music. "Superstition" has been covered by numerous artists, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, and remains a staple of Wonder's live performances. Its influence extends beyond music, having been featured in various commercials and films, and it continues to be celebrated as one of the greatest songs of all time.

18. "Ring of Fire" - Johnny Cash

Original Artist: Anita Carter

"Ring of Fire" is one of Johnny Cash's most famous songs, released in 1963 on his compilation album Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash. The song was written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore and was originally recorded by June's sister, Anita Carter, in 1962. Cash's version, featuring mariachi-style horns and his signature "boom-chicka-boom" rhythm, became a massive hit, topping the country charts for seven weeks. The song's lyrics describe the intense emotions of falling in love, using the metaphor of a "ring of fire." Cash claimed that the idea to add the distinctive horns came to him in a dream. "Ring of Fire" has been covered by numerous artists, including Eric Burdon & the Animals and Social Distortion, and remains a staple of Cash's discography. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 and has been recognized as one of the greatest country songs of all time by both Rolling Stone and Country Music Television. Its enduring popularity is a testament to Cash's influence on country music and his ability to connect with audiences through his heartfelt performances.

These songs have become so iconic in their covered versions that many people are unaware they were originally performed by other artists. Next time you hear these tunes, you’ll know the hidden stories behind them.

Stay connected and stylish with more insights from the vibrant world music at Woke Waves Magazine.

#MusicCovers #HiddenGems #GenZMusic #IconicSongs #WokeWaves

May 30, 2024

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