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WHO SANG IT FIRST:10 Iconic Songs You Had No Idea Were Actually Covers.

Ian Smith

These song artists not intentionally totally steal the show of their original owners:

10.  ‘Respect’- Aretha Franklin/Ottis Redding
Cover:  Aretha Franklin (1967)

Original: Ottis Redding-Respect (1965)

At the second you hear the chorus from “Respect,” Aretha Franklin is in your mind, right? –  Well, even though, Franklin popularized this song, the original songwriter and performer of Respect is Ottis Redding, he  recorded the song in 1965.Both versions have the similar lyrics (though Franklin’s added the “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” chorus to the song), but Franklin’s invokes female empowerment while Redding’s is a euphemism for sex

9.’Hey Joe’- Jimmy Hendrix/ The Leaves
Cover: Jimmy Hendrix Experience (1966)

Original: The Leaves (1965)

While “Hey Joe” was The Jimmy Hendrix Experience’s signature song and first hit single overseas, the original owners are the California-based garage band The Leaves. However, the authorship of the song  is ambiguous and unclear, the earliest recording of the song dates to 1965, by The Leaves. Hey Joe cover  by Jimmy Hendrix peaked at No. 6 on the U.K. Singles Chart in 1967, but it failed to gain any recognition in the United States. Over the years, the song became iconic; Rolling Stone placed it at #201 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

8. “It’s Oh Quiet”-Björk/ Betty Hutton
Cover: Björk (1995)

Original: Betty Hutton (1951)

In 1995, Icelandic solo artist Björk released a cover song titled “It’s Oh So Quiet,” which American actress/singer Betty Hutton first recorded in 1951. The song was a B-side to Hutton’s single “Murder, He Says.”

“It’s Oh So Quiet” remains Björk’s biggest hit, peaking at the No. 4 spot in the United Kingdom. The song’s popularity was partly due to director Spike Jonze’s infectious music video that included large dance numbers and sweeping camera movements. via

7. “Hound Dog’- Elvis Presley/Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton
Cover: Elvis Presley (1956)

Original: Big Mama Thornton (1965)

Songwriting duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote “Hound Dog” for Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton in 1953. While Thornton’s original version was a No. 1 hit on the R&B charts for seven weeks, Elvis Presley’s iteration immediately became the most popular after its 1956 release. Presley’s version was a crossover success that spent 11 weeks on the top of country, pop, and R&B charts simultaneously. “Hound Dog” was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.”

6. “The Man Who Sold The World”- Nirvana/ David Bowie.
Cover: Nirvana (1994)

Original: David Bowie (1975)

While many fans – and MTV execs – were hoping for Nirvana to play their hits during their “Unplugged” performance, Kurt Cobain and company opted to go a different route, peppering the set with covers of Leadbelly, the Meat Puppets, the Vaselines and the title track from Bowie’s 1970 third album. The result? A distorted, not-so-acoustic rendition that the band truly made their own.

5. “Hurt”- Johny Cash/ Nine Inch Nails
Cover: Johny Cash (2002)

Original: Nine Inch Nails (2002)

The country legend takes on one of the darkest, most depressing songs in a Nine Inch Nails catalog full of doom and gloom, and wouldn’t you know it, he turns in an equally harrowing cover. Johnny Cash surprised the music world when he redid ‘Hurt’ — a standout track on NIN’s double-album magnum opus ‘The Downward Spiral’ — as an acoustic ballad for his ‘American IV: The Man Comes Around’ covers set. As even Reznor admits, the Man In Black made the song his own. “It was this other person inhabiting my most personal song … It felt invasive,” Reznor once said. “Cash brings a certain darkness to the song. It’s melancholy and spooky.”

4. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”- Cyndi Lauper/Robert Hazzard
Cover: Cyndi Lauper (1983)

Original: Robert Hazzard (1979)

Cyndi Lauper’s first hit single as a solo artist, “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” reached the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983. Lauper was nominated for two Grammys for the song, including Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Performance. Self-proclaimed Country-Western fan Robert Hazard originally wrote and recorded “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” as a demo for his band Robert Hazard and the Heroes in 1979. (Hazard never released his version, though.)via

3. “Nothing Compares 2 You”- Sinead O Connor/ The Familly
Cover: Sinead O Connor (1990)

Original: The Familly (1985)

Music icon Prince wrote and originally recorded the song “Nothing Compares 2 U” for his side project The Family in 1985. While the song received little recognition, Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor popularized it in 1990. O’Connor won three Moonmen Awards at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards for Video of the Year, Best Female Video, and Best Post-Modern Video.

2.‘I Want Candy’- Bow Wow Wow/ The Strangeloves
Cover: Bow Wow Wow (1982)

Original: The Strangeloves (1965)

American music producers Bert Berns, Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, and Richard Gottehrerrecorded a bubblegum pop tune titled “I Want Candy” in 1965. Donning shaggy wigs and zebra-print vests, Feldman, Goldstein, and Gottehrer took it upon themselves to perform the song as the faux Australian pop trio The Strangeloves. In 1982, British New Wave band Bow Wow Wow released “I Want Candy,” with its music video receiving heavy airplay and rotation during the early days of MTV.

1. “Tainted Love”- Soft Cell/ Gloria Jones.
Cover: Soft Cell

Original: Gloria Jones (1965)

In 1965, American singer Gloria Jones recorded the original version of “Tainted Love” as the B-side to the single “My Bad Boy’s Comin’ Home.” The song was a commercial failure, but gained a small cult following in underground British nightclubs in the late ’70s. English synth-pop duo Soft Cell recorded a modern version of “Tainted Love” in 1981. Soft Cell’s version was a No. 1 hit in eight countries, while it reached the No. 8 spot in the United States in 1982.


Ian Smith

Ian Smith is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News