19 Famous Songs You Didn’t Realise Are Actually Covers

Contrary to popular belief, “Hallelujah” is not an original from Shrek.

1.Torn” – Natalie Imbruglia

I’m sure by now nearly everyone is aware that “Torn” is, in fact, a cover, but if I didn’t include it on this list, I’m sure you’d all let me know about it in the comments. The song was originally released in 1995 by Ednaswap.

2.Respect” – Aretha Franklin

This song was actually originally recorded and released by Otis Redding, two years before Aretha’s iconic version came out. The lyrics are a tiny bit different, and so is the song’s message. Aretha’s is all about empowerment and getting respect from men, while Otis’s is a man’s declaration that he’ll do anything for women in return for ~respect~ (which is probably a euphemism). Also, the original doesn’t have the R-E-S-P-E-C-T in the chorus, so what’s even the point?

3.Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

While everyone (hopefully) knows that the Miley Cyrus version of this song is indeed a cover, not many people realise that it’s not a Cyndi Lauper original. It was first written and recorded back in 1979 by a DUDE named Robert Hazard. Which is a really cool name, though his version of the song kinda sucks.

4.Tainted Love” – Soft Cell

The Soft Cell version of this song was what brought it worldwide fame in 1981, but before that, it was released back in 1964 by Gloria Jones. Strangely, it was a commercial flop for her and didn’t chart at all.

5.It’s My Life” – No Doubt

No Doubt released this song to promote their first greatest hits album. Because Gwen Stefani was also recording a solo album at the time, they chose to record a cover of “It’s My Life” instead of a whole new song. The original was from British band Talk Talk in 1984.

6.Emotion” – Destiny’s Child

This track from the band’s third album is actually a cover of a 1978 song by Australian artist Samantha Sang. Fun fact, it was also covered by the Bee Gees in the ’90s and released on their 2001 greatest hits album.

7.It’s Oh So Quiet” – Björk

The original English version of this song came from Betty Hutton in 1951, and it was a cover and translation of a German song called “Und jetzt ist es still”. It’s still Björk’s most successful song of all time.

8.Don’t Cha” – Pussycat Dolls feat. Busta Rhymes

This absolute banger from 2005 was actually originally recorded by Tori Alamaze a year earlier. But when she was dropped by her record label, they gave the song to the Pussycat Dolls, and the rest is history.

9.Jersey Girl” – Bruce Springsteen

Columbia

This iconic song is actually a Tom Waits original from 1980. For his version, released three years later, Springsteen changed the line “whores on Eighth Avenue” to “the girls out on the avenue” (which is fair), and also added a verse of his own. The two performed the song together live at a Springsteen concert.

10.I Will Always Love You” – Whitney Houston

While it’s easy to associate this song instantly with Whitney and The Bodyguard, it’s actually a Dolly Parton original from 1974. Obviously, Whitney decided to lose the country twang and guitars from the song when she recorded her version.

11.Hound Dog” – Elvis Presley

RCA

The original “Hound Dog” was released in 1952 by Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton. It’s been covered over 250 times, but the most popular version is obviously Elvis’s, which sold about 10 million copies globally and is still one of the highest-selling singles of all time.

12.Hallelujah” – Jeff Buckley

This tear-jerker from the Shrek soundtrack was popularised by Jeff Buckley on his 1994 album Grace. It was originally recorded by Leonard Cohen back in 1984, but wasn’t very successful.

13.My Prerogative” – Britney Spears

This incredible Britney song, which came with a video featuring Britney dancing on a Porsche in a pool, is actually a cover of a 1988 Bobby Brown single. The two songs are musically pretty different, and a few lyrics were changed to fit a woman’s perspective.

14.Twist and Shout” – The Beatles

Parlophone

While this song has become known as an iconic Beatles track, it’s originally from the band the Top Notes. It’s also been covered by the Who and the Isley Brothers. And Ferris Bueller.

15.If I Were a Boy” – Beyoncé

This isn’t technically a cover, but it’s been pointed out that the song is very similar to the Spanish song “Si Yo Fuera Mujer” (If I Were a Girl) by Patxi Andión. The two songs have the same general theme, and they also have pretty similar melodies. Have a listen for yourself.

16.Landslide” – The Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks covered this song in the early ’00s, but it was originally released by Fleetwood Mac in 1975. It’s also been covered by the Smashing Pumpkins.

17.Drift Away” – Uncle Kracker

This song is actually a 1973 track from some guy called John Henry Kurtz. It was made successful the following year by Dobie Gray, and then it was a major hit again in 2003, when it was recorded by Uncle Kracker and Gray. It’s also been covered by like a hundred other people.

18.Big Yellow Taxi” – Counting Crows feat. Vanessa Carlton

This song about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot was originally recorded by Joni Mitchell, who wrote the song about visiting Hawaii.

19.I’m a Believer” – Smash Mouth

Another classic from the Shrek soundtrack, this tune is actually from 1960s band the Monkees and was composed by Neil Diamond.

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Jemima Skelley is a senior writer for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney.
 
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