10 cover songs that became even more popular than the originals

1. Original: The Who “Behind blue eyes”

Release date: 06.11.1971

“Behind blue eyes” was written in 1970 by Pete Townshend, the leader of The Who. The single reached number 34 on the US Billboard Hot 100 (1971). The song has been covered by numerous artists including Bryan Adams, Sheryl Crow, Suzanne Vega.

Cover song: Limp Bizkit “Behind blue eyes”

Release date: 28.11.2003

“Behind blue eyes” was covered by Limp Bizkit and released in their fourth album, Results May Vary, with over 320,000 copies sold in the first week.

The single was released in 2004 and reached number 71 in the US HOT 100 chart and number 25 in the US Mainstream Top 40.

The song became a soundtrack for the movie Gothika starring Halle Berry.

2. Original: Lori Lieberman “Killing Me Softly with His Song”

Release date: 1972

Lori Lieberman was the first to record and release “Killing Me Softly with His Song” which was born of a poem she wrote.

Lori Lieberman released “Killing Me Softly with His Song” in her self-titled debut album, and in a year Roberta Flack covered the original song. The song became really popular when she sang it. The singer had been working on the cover song for several months before she got it just right. In 1974 Roberta together with her team won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

Cover song: The Fugees “Killing Me Softly”

Release date: 31.05.1996

Many years on the American group the Fugees covered the song with the title shortened to “Killing Me Softly”. It is the version we all know.

In 1996 “Killing Me Softly” sold over a million copies, spent seven weeks at number one on charts and became a number-one hit in the United States and Great Britain. At 39th Grammy ceremony, Fugees won two awards, one of which was for “Killing Me Softly” as Best R&B Performance.

3. Original: Labelle “Lady Marmalade”

Release date: 1974

The Labelle group can be named a group of one-hit wonders, but that song was a huge hit. The “Lady Marmalade” song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975, and in many other charts including Dutch Singles Chart and UK Singles Chart. In 2003 the original version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and in 2004 into “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” by Rolling Stone Magazine. Curiously, the key phrase “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?” (Do you want to sleep with me (tonight)?) turned out to be too frivolous for the year of 1975, and for the television performance it was changed to more neutral “Voulez-vous danser avec moi ce soir?” (Do you want to dance with me?).

Cover song: Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, Pink “Lady Marmalade”

Release date: 27.03.2001

Although “Lady Marmalade” was covered by Sabrina and All Saints, the second breath to the song was given by the quartet headed by Missy Elliott whose name wasn’t mentioned among the singers, but who was a producer of this cover version.

The song became a soundtrack for the movie “Moulin Rouge” and sold more than 5 million copies in 2001. “Lady Marmalade” spent 5 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. It was certified gold and platinum in many countries. Lil’ Kim, Christina Aguilera, Mya, and Pink won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals and the MTV Music Awards for Video of the Year.

4. Original: The Family “Nothing Compares 2 U”

Release date: 1985

“Nothing Compares 2 U” was written by Prince for his side project, The Family. The group released only one album and could stay almost unknown, but in 5 years a standout cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U” was released.

Cover song: Sinead O’Connor “Nothing Compares 2 U”

Release date: 08.01.1990

“Nothing Compares 2 U” was released on the album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, which sold more than 8 million copies. Thanks to “Nothing Compares 2 U” Sinead won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Performance, but she refused to appear on the awards. So the song, which earned her worldwide fame, caused only negative emotions in the original singer. Being in the focus she felt uncomfortable, and commercial success of “Nothing Compares 2 U” didn’t make her happy. As a sign of protest, Sinead shaved her head for the video. The girl wanted to make a statement and not be known for her beauty. However, the cover turned out to be the most successful Sinead’s record and was inducted into the “All Time 100 Songs” by Time Magazine.

5. Original: Todd Duncan “Unchained Melody”

Release date: 1955

“Unchained Melody” was written by Alex North as a soundtrack for a prison movie. An American singer and actor Todd Duncan sang the vocals. “Unchained Melody” was nominated for the Best Song Oscar.

Together with a vocal version with lyrics by Hy Zaret for the movie an instrumental version was released by several musicians. Almost every interpretation was worthy of recognition.

Cover song: The Righteous Brothers “Unchained Melody”

Release date: 17.07.1965

“Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers achieved great popularity. It was produced by Phil Spector who didn’t expect to succeed and who released it as the ‘B’ side of the single. The song reached number 4 on the US charts and appeared on the Billboard Hot Top 100 chart.

“Unchained Melody” reappeared and topped in the charts after it was used in the movie Ghost. It was re-recorded and sold 1 040 000 copes in Great Britain within a year. So 25 years later it reached top popularity and became the UK’s top-selling single of 1990.

“Unchained Melody” holds the Guinness world record is one of the most recorded songs by many singers in different languages.

6. Original: Bobby Hebb “Sunny”

Release date: 1966

“Sunny” has many versions released, but not many people know that Bobby Hebb was the first singer of this song. He wrote it in 48 hours following several tragedy episodes of his life in 1963. “Sunny” was such a hymn to happiness and the only famous song by Hebb. It met an immediate success, so Hebb even was among the opening acts for the Beatles in 1966, and the song reached number two in the US chart.

Cover song: Boney M “Sunny”

Release date: 22. 11.1976

Almost immediately after the Bobby Hebb’s original version had appeared, many cover songs were released. However, the cover song, which reached top popularity, was released only ten years later. In 1976 “Sunny” was at the top of German charts, bringing great popularity to Boney M, and in March 1977 it reached the top of the British charts.

“Sunny” became the top hit of Boney M. It is worth note that the musical phenomenon of the German disco project was not noticed in the United States, however, Boney M was extremely popular in Europe and the USSR.

7. Original: Ednaswap “Torn”

Release date: 1995

The future hit of the Australian actress and singer Natalie Imbruglia was released originally in the debut album of the American group Ednaswap. The song was written in 1993. Sung by Ednaswap, “Torn” sounds very nice and has a sensual acoustic version of the original, but it was Natalie Imbruglia who brought fame to the song. Ednaswap broke up several years later.

Cover song: Natalie Imbruglia “Torn”

Release date: 1997

Released as a single of the singer’s debut album, version of the song “Torn” sold more than 4 million copies worldwide. This only song by Natalie won the following awards: MTV Video Music Awards, MTV Europe Music Awards, ARIA Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and received a Grammy nomination. “Torn” holds the record for the most played song on Australian radio. Natalie sold more than 10 million albums in total however she is considered a one-hit wonder because of the top popularity of “Torn”.

8. Original: Frankie Valli и The Four Seasons “Beggin”

Release date: February 1967

“Beggin” was composed by Bob Gaudio and Peggy Farina, recorded by The Four Seasons with Frankie Valli as a lead singer, and reached number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Beggin” has many different covers, and Shocking Blue sang one of the most famous versions in 1974. Sometimes Shocking Blue’s version is taken for the original.

Cover song: Madcon “Beggin”

Release date: 2007 (in Norway), 2008 (in Europe)

The cover song “Beggin” by a Norwegian duo Madcon achieved 9 times platinum in Norway, became a number-one hit in French and Portuguese charts, and reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The singe spent 12 weeks at number one in Norway that made it one of the biggest hits of all times in Norway.

9. Original: Stevie Wonder “Pastime Paradise”

Release date: 1976

“Pastime Paradise” is a song from the 18th album by Stevie Wonder. The song was not released as a single and was not particularly popular compared to other famous works of the musician.

Cover song: Coolio “Gangsta’s Paradise”

Release date: 1995

Rapper Coolio changed the original lyrics of “Pastime Paradise” and released “Gangsta’s paradise” with permission to use music from Stevie Wonder. The song appeared at the top of the European and the US charts and peaked at number one on the Billboard Magazine chart in 1995. Coolio’s “Gangsta’s paradise” won the Grammy Award and two MTV Video Music Awards.

The song became a soundtrack for the movie “Dangerous Minds”.

The initial version of “Gangsta’s paradise” lyrics was not approved by Stevie Wonder for its profanity, so Coolio corrected the lyrics. This song is one of the few Coolio tracks that do not feature profanity.

10. Original: Eric Carmen “All by Myself”

Release date: 01.12.1975

“All by Myself” was the first single released by Eric Carmen in his debut album.

The single reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold over a million copies in the United States. It also became popular in Canada where it peaked at number 3 on the chart. At year-end 1976 “All by Myself” reached number 40 on the Billboard chart.

Cover song: Celine Dion “All by Myself”

Release date: 07.10.1996

Celine released the cover song as a single for the album, Falling Into You. The song peaked at number 4 in the United States charts and number 6 in the British charts.

“All by Myself” sold almost one million copies and was certified gold in the United States.

Many people believe that Celine Dion sounds at the beginning of the movie “Bridget Jones’ Diary”, but we hear an Australian singer Jamie O’Neal.

Article prepared with the help of:

Mary4Music.com – Since 1998, Your Internet Portal for Blues and Indie Music Links,
Musician’s Resources, Band Links, Club & Festival Listings, CD Reviews and Music Gifts.



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