30 Songs You Didn’t Know Were Covers And Sound Just Perfect

There are some songs that we all know, and that we immediately identify with a particular singer or band. But, are we matching those songs with their real authors? Apparently, in many cases, we are not. Here you will find 30 songs that happen to be covers, but the very best covers that you can imagine! Some of them are even better than the originals and became even more popular. I bet you would be surprised by many of them! So, don’t miss #29, #19, #9, and (of course) our top 5!

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#30. “Walk This Way” By Run-D.M.C. (Originally By Aerosmith)

The Hip Hop band Run-D.M.C. did not make a cover of Aerosmith’s song: they just collaborated with Aerosmith, and both bands re-recorded the song together. This helped Aerosmith to reinvigorate its career since they had been out of the mainstream for several years. It also helped to create a new subgenre, rap-rock, and the song became even more popular since it was heard in both rock and urban radio stations.

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In the video clip, you can see both bands trying to perform their own versions of the song in a singing battle, separated by a wall. In the end, they just enjoy the idea of singing together and they give the audience a blast.

#29. “Respect” By Aretha Franklin (Originally By Otis Redding)

This iconic song was first written by Otis Redding, but it only became popular when the R&B soul singer Aretha Franklin rewrote its lyrics, flipping the gender. It became an anthem for the feminist movement because the new version showed a strong, confident, and independent woman, who knows she has everything her man wants but all she seeks in return is his respect.

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However, Redding’s funky version originally told another story: a man who wants respect when he returns home with money. He is the man of the house and thinks he deserves to be treated as such. In return, he will give everything to his wife. Fortunately, women in all genres succeeded in redeeming women’s position with their versions. Check out slide #28 to see another singer hero!

#28. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” By Cyndi Lauper (Originally By Robert Hazard)

The 1980’s pop idol, Cyndi Lauper, rose to fame with her performance of this song, originally written and interpreted by Robert Hazard. In Hazard’s version, the song is sung from a male’s point of view: a young boy excuses himself with his parents for being a womanizer, but he blames girls on it because they just want to have fun, and he cannot find the righteous woman for him.

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In Lauper’s version, girls are vindicated since the song is sung from a girl point’s of view, and she claims that girls have the same rights as boys do. So, if boys don’t take them seriously, they will do the same with boys. Of course, it became a feminist anthem as well.

#27. “We Can Work It Out” By Stevie Wonder (Originally By The Beatles)

Released in the album Yesterday and Today in 1966, the hit song from the British rock band The Beatles was an ode to love, reconciliation and friendship. The four members of the band had their differences, but when it came to love and friendship, they knew how to make a good song!

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One of the greatest musicians of all time, Stevie Wonder, was the one in charge of making one of the greatest covers of this song in his own, funky way. The cover was released in his album Signed, Sealed & Delivered, and Stevie even played the song to McCartney himself in his Grammy ceremony!

#26. “Higher Ground” By Red Hot Chili Peppers (Originally By Stevie Wonder)

This time it was the turn of previously mentioned Stevie Wonder to have one of his top songs recorded by another band. The song we are talking about is Higher Ground, one of his most famous hits, which was released in 1973. The funk-rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers recorded this cover with their new guitarist.

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John Frusciante, who was the new guitarist for the rock band, had the difficult task of recording this song as his first single. Luckily for him and the rest of the band, it was so good that it was nominated for the 1991 Grammy Awards. After that, their record Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which was released in that same year, became a Platinum-selling record!

#25. “Nothing Compares 2 U” By Sinead O’Connor (Originally By Prince)

During all of our life, we all heard one of the most remembered hits of the Irish singer Sinead O’Connor, Nothing compares 2 U. But what most of us did not know is that the song was actually recorded by pop singer Prince for one of his less-known side projects, The Family.

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Actually, the song was written by Prince to his girlfriend Susannah Melvoin, and as such, it became known as the ‘breakup song’. With Sinead’s voice, the song is even sadder! This hit was also covered by Chris Cornell, former singer of the band Audioslave.

#24. “I Fought The Law” By The Clash (Originally By Bobby Fuller Four)

There are several iconic punk bands from the United Kingdom and the United States, but one of the most famous ones in the world is definitely The Clash. But at first, the band was struggling to become famous and appear on the radar. It was not until this cover that they found the right path! The song was written by Sonny Curtis from The Crickets and originally interpreted by Bobby Fuller Four.

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The Clash heard the song of the Bobby Fuller Four in a jukebox at The Automatt Studio and immediately decided they had to make their own version of it. They never imagined that it would become a milestone in their career. Due to the song’s power and loudness, it was used during Operation Just Caused by the US military to force Manuel Noriega, the strongman of Panama, to surrender.

#23. “Because The Night” By Bruce Springsteen (Originally By Patti Smith)

One of the biggest rock stars out there, Bruce Springsteen, also known as “the boss”, has sold more than 120 million records worldwide. Springsteen recorded with his lifelong friend Patti Smith the song Because The Night, which featured in her album Easter, released in 1978.

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Being one of the song’s co-writers, when Bruce decided to cover it, he only had to change some of the lyrics for the song. He stated that he converted one love song into another one, but with a focus on the search of the truth. Just a curiosity: Bruce’s wife is also called Patti!

#22. “I Will Always Love You” By Whitney Houston (Originally By Dolly Parton)

One of the most romantic films ever made was released in 1992 under the name of The Bodyguard, and the singer Whitney Houston was the one who performed the song by which the film became so widely known. Houston’s cover spent 14 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

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Many of us did not know that the song was originally recorded by Dolly Parton, known as the “Queen of Country”. She wrote the song for her mentor, Porter Wagoner, after a breakup of a seven-year professional partnership.

#21. “Me And Bobby McGee” By Janis Joplin (Originally By Kris Kristofferson)

Originally written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster in 1969, the song narrates the trip of a truck driver and a hitchhiker across California while they sing rock and country songs. As the sex of the narrator is not specified, the song has undergone several covers, with very little modifications to the lyrics.

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One of the most notable covers is that of Janis Joplin, who recorded the song a few days before her death at 27 years old, on October 1970. The song was released posthumously in her album Pearl. In 2004, the Rolling Stones magazine ranked the song #148 out of #500.

#20. “Proud Mary” By Ike And Tina Turner (Originally By Creedence Clearwater Revival)

Proud Mary was written by John Fogerty from the Creedence Clearwater Revival, two days after he was fired from the National Guard, and the song reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song talks about a man who decides to quit his steady job and follow his heart to see the good side of the city in his boat the “Proud Mary”.

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Ike and Tina Turner rearranged the song, its tempos, rhythm, and tones, delivering a magical soulful funk-rock version. It is one of Turner’s most famous songs and it is played to reach the climax in all of her shows. Despite being so different, both versions are great and worth listening to.

#19. “Let’s Spend The Night Together” By David Bowie (Originally By The Rolling Stones)

The Rolling Stones is one of the most recognized rock bands around the world and they have delivered several hit songs during their more than fifty years of career path. One of these songs is Let’s Spend the Night Together, recorded in RCA Studios on December 1966, and released in their double album Ruby Tuesday. The original song follows the traditional Rolling Stones’ style, that is to say, a provocative rock song.

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In 1973, singer David Bowie gifted us all a unique and unforgettable cover of this song, opposing his glam and romantic style to that of Mick Jagger and Keith Reichards. Some people said Bowie was able to beat the Rolling Stones in their own song. However, The Rolling Stones magazine found the Bowie version “campy, butch, brittle and unsatisfying.” Don’t worry, David, they can’t get no satisfaction.

#18. “American Woman” By Lenny Kravitz (Originally By The Guess Who)

The Guess Who is a rock band from Canada that were really active from 1965 to 1975, the year in which they split, and came back together to play in 1977. Currently, the band is still active, but the members have changed so many times that we can consider it to be a completely different band. Canada recognized the band by giving them the Governor General’s Performing Art Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.

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One of their hit songs, American Woman, was their first love song to be featured in the pop charts of the United States. The song was covered by Lenny Kravitz in 1999, and it became such a powerful hymn that it even got him the award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance! You think of Lenny Kravitz and this song will pop up in your mind immediately.

#17. “Mad World” By Gary Jules And Michael Andrews (Originally By Tears For Fears)

Tears for Fears, the British pop-rock band formed in the city of Bath, released the song Mad World as their first single, which became an instant rock classic around the world. The band has stated in several opportunities that it was written as an answer to the song Girls on Film by Duran Duran.

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The song was then featured in the 2001 film Donnie Darko, and the musicians responsible for the cover were Gary Jules and Michael Andrews, who made a piano ballad version of the song. Another cover was performed by the actors of the Riverdale TV series for its second season.

#16. “Take Me To The River” By Talking Heads (Originally By Al Green)

Originally written by Al Green and Mabon Hodges, the song became widely known by the Talking Heads’ version which surpassed the original in style and notoriety. Green’s version was recognized by the Rolling Stone Magazine with number 117 in the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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The Heads’ cover gained popularity and it was said that they were “combining the best ingredients of conventional pop music and classic soul music, stirring them together, and then presenting the mix in the guise of punk rock.” As if this weren’t enough, they reached #26 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

#15. “Whiskey In The Jar” By Metallica (Originally Recorded By Thin Lizzy)

Released in Metallica’s full album, Garage Inc., the cover of the Irish folk song Whiskey in the Jar was received by fans and not-so-fans with very great reviews. The thrash metal band took the original song and created a new and groovier version. Have you seen its video? It’s basically an ode to parties and whiskey.

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The song is actually set in the southern mountains of Ireland and talks about a highwayman who finds betrayal in no other than his wife. The band who popularized the song first was Thin Lizzie, who hit the pop chart both in Ireland and in Great Britain thanks to it.

#14. “You Really Got Me” By Van Halen (Originally By The Kinks)

Originally written by British artists Ray and Dave Davies, from The Kinks, the song reached #1 on the UK single charts one month after its release, becoming a roaring success immediately. The American rock band Van Halen included this song in their debut album and they reached #36 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was a breakthrough hit for Van Halen as it was for The Kinks.

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Dave Davies disliked Eddie Van Halen’s version, and he got more upset during a Kinks’ tour to America when a concert-goer congratulated him for “performing a great cover of Van Halen’s ‘you really got me‘”. On the other hand, Ray found it funny, the video clip made him laugh.

#13. “Hurt” By Johnny Cash (Originally By Nine Inch Nails)

Rock legend Johnny Cash delivered one of the most incredible covers a few months before passing away in 2003. The song we are specifically talking about is Hurt by the Industrial metal band Nine Inch Nails. The cover was recorded by producer Rick Rubin, known for being the original DJ for Beastie Boys.

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The original song by Trent Reznor is a dark tune accompanied by sad voices that make the lyrics to the song a depressive anthem. On the other hand, Cash transforms the tone of the song into one of happiness, in contrast to its name.

#12. “Valerie” By Amy Winehouse (Originally By The Zutons)

Valerie is a song from a British band called The Zutons. Dave McCabe, the singer, confessed he came up with the lyrics of this song in a cab while going to his mother’s house. The song talks about a friend of him, Valerie Star, who got into trouble for driving under the influence on a suspended license.

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After Amy Winehouse performed her own version of the song, it rapidly peaked to #2 on the UK Single Chart, and it spent 19 weeks in the top 20 for that country. It is also Winehouse’s most acclaimed song in the Netherlands, where it reached #1 for four consecutive weeks.

#11. “I Shot The Sheriff” By Eric Clapton (Originally By Bob Marley And The Wailers)

The song was written by Bob Marley and it was released in The Wailers‘ album Burnin’. In 2012, Esther Anderson, Marley’s former girlfriend, said that the part of the lyrics that says “Sheriff John Brown always hated me, for what, I don’t know: Every time I plant a seed, he said kill it before it grows” was a reference to the fact that Marley always opposed to her use of birth control pills, and that the Sheriff was, in fact, the doctor.

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English rock and blues guitarist, Eric Clapton, made a cover of the song that was released in his 461 Ocean Boulevard album. It helped Clapton reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and enter into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Clapton’s version is the most famous cover of this song and is the only one of his songs that reached #1 on the charts.

#10. “I Love Rock N Roll” By Joan Jett And The Blackhearts (Originally By The Arrows)

This hit was originally written in 1975 by Alan Merrill from The Arrows and is meant to be an instinctive response to The Rolling Stones‘ song It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (but I like it). I Love Rock N Roll was released on the ‘flip-side’ but after its success, it was changed to the ‘a-side’. Such was their fame that The Arrows were offered a weekly pop television series shortly after the song’s release.

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Joan Jett saw them performing the song on their TV series and decided to make a cover of her own. She first did it with two members of the Sex Pistols, Paul Cook and Steve Jones. In 1991, she re-recorded the song with her band, the Blackhearts. This ultimate version of the song was given a platinum certification by the RIAA and reached the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016.

#9. “Tainted Love” By Soft Cell (Originally Recorded By Gloria Jones)

The song was written by Ed Cobb and originally recorded by American singer Gloria Jones in 1965. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it to the charts either in the US or the UK. The song gained popularity after DJ Richard Searling purchased the single and added his arrangements. Gloria Jones re-recorded the song after that, but it was a total failure again.

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The song became a hit only in 1981 when the British band Soft Cell decided to slow down the tempo and to convert the key C of the original for a key G that suited better with the low voice of the singer Marc Almond. The song was the band’s second release and it rapidly hit #1 on the UK singles chart because of its synthpop sound. As of August 2017, it has sold 1.35 million copies.

#8. “The Man Who Sold The World” By Nirvana (Originally By David Bowie)

Originally written and recorded by our dearest Ziggy Stardust, aka David Bowie, the man who sold the world tells the story of a man who meets with a kind of an entity, that he identifies as his double. This can be deduced from the second chorus when the lyrics change from “I never lost control” to “We never lost control“.

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It was supposed to reflect Bowie’s concern regarding multiple personalities but in an interview, he said it is how he felt when he was young: incomplete. Regarding Nirvana‘s cover, Bowie said it was a great rendition and that he would have appreciated working along with Kurt Cobain. With Nirvana’s cover, Bowie became aware that his music was known, heard, an respected not only in Europe but also in the US.

#7. “Twist And Shout” By The Beatles (Originally By The Isley Brothers)

The British rock band The Beatles created several good hits during the years that they were active, and among those, we can count the amazing Twist and Shout, recorded in one single take in 1964, while one of the members was feeling ill. This was the last song recorded during the non-stop 13-hour album session.

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The original song was written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns and interpreted by The Isley Brothers. Their cover reached #17 on the US pop top 40 charts and #2 in the UK R&B charts. It came as a surprise to the Isleys because they had not had a great song in a period of three years, and it was a milestone in their career.

#6. “Over The Rainbow” By Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (Originally By Judy Garland)

Composed for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and performed by actress and singer Judy Garland in her role of Dorothy Gate, the classic song Over the Rainbow is a ballad about finding a place where you can feel completely safe.

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One of the most famous covers for this song was made by a Hawaiian singer and ukulele player by the name of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. Thanks to his 1993 album Facing Future, Israel started to be known outside of Hawaii. His version of Over the Rainbow comes as a medley with the song What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.

#5. “Jolene” By The White Stripes (Originally By Dolly Parton)

Written and recorded by country music singer Dolly Parton, the song was inspired by a red-headed woman that flirted with her husband, Carl Dean. The description of Jolene does not match that of the bank clerk that tried to seduce Dean when Parton and he had recently married.

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The American garage rock band, The White Stripes, made a cover of the song and it was proclaimed by the Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the best covers in history. It hit #16 in the UK singles chart and #1 in UK Indie charts. In 2012, Parton’s goddaughter, Miley Cyrus, performed her own country version of Jolene.

#4. “Blue Suede Shoes” By Elvis Presley (Originally By Carl Perkins)

Thanks to Carl Perkins, an artist from Sun Records, and a peer of Elvis Presley at that time, we can continue enjoying the classic rockabilly song Blue Suede Shoes. The idea for the song came to Perkins after he saw a dancer get angry with a person for stepping on his new blue shoes.

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The original Perkins’ song was covered by several artists, such as Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran. Presley made the cover for the song after RCA requested it, but he only agreed to do it if his version would be released after his friend’s song started to be forgotten.

#3. “Cocaine” By Eric Clapton (Originally By JJ Cale)

The song was written and recorded by American singer and songwriter JJ Cale, in 1976. Though he tried to stay away from the spotlight, he has influenced many artists, such as Mark Knopfler, Neil Young, and Eric Clapton. The latter described Cale as one of the most important artists in the history of rock.

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Clapton’s rendition of the song was included in his fifth album Slowhand and it is one of his most famous songs. It wasn’t the only song from Cale that Clapton coverers; other famous ones include After Midnight and Traveling Light.

#2. “All Along The Watchtower” By Jimi Hendrix (Originally By Bob Dylan)

All Along the Watchtower was written by Bob Dylan after a motorcycle accident on July 1966, when he had to spend 18 months in his home in Woodstock getting better. He used that time to write his songs. The song was recorded on November 1967 at Columbia Studio A in Nashville, Tennessee. The song is considered to be a masterpiece because of its narrative technique that seems to start when the song is actually ending.

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Just a few months later, on January 1968, Jimi Hendrix recorded his own version of Dylan’s song at Olympic Studios in London and at the Record Plant Studio in New York. The complete version was released in September of that same year, and surprisingly, Dylan was overwhelmed by Jimi’s rendition of the song. Bob said that since Hendrix’s passing away, he feels he has to perform the song as Hendrix did to honor him.

#1. “Dazed And Confused” By Led Zeppelin (Originally By Jake Holmes)

Written by Jake Holmes for his debut album, and inspired by psychedelic rock, folk, and blues, Dazed and Confused saw the light in the spring of 1967. According to Holmes, the lyrics are supposed to refer to a girl’s indecision about breaking up with her boyfriend. However, many people believe the song is about an unpleasant drug experience.

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After The Yardbirds disbanded, the newly-formed band of guitarist Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin, rearranged the song and added the passion, rawness, and power of Robert Plant’s voice, thus creating a masterpiece. In 2010, Holmes filed a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin, arguing copyright infringement. The matter was settled by means of an out-of-court agreement between the parties, and from that moment onwards, Led Zeppelin has to give credit to the original author of the song in any of its new releases.

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