5 Famous Songs That Are Actually Covers

Most people are familiar that Johnny Cash’s famous “Hurt” is actually a Nine Inch Nails song, that Led Zeppelin took much of their catalog from early blues recording, or that all of the various recordings of “Hallelujah” owe themselves to Leonard Cohen’s original.  But what about those song’s that we associate with one artist entirely when they are actually the creative genesis of another artist entirely?  These five songs fall in that category; that a listen to the original versions.

1. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper

This 1983 track from Lauper’s debut record, She’s So Unusual, was originally a Robert Hazard song from 1979.  Hazard wrote it from a male point of view, necessitating small lyrical changes for Lauper’s release that went on to reach #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.  While Lauper’s version is driven by peppy synths, Hazard recorded the song with a much grittier, dirtier sound; so much so that the lyrics are almost unintelligible at times.  The two songs, while the same, are quite the juxtaposition of each other.

2. “Blinded By The Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

This song’s famously misheard line, “revved up like a deuce,” (often misheard as “wrapped up like a douche” do to a substantial lisp) is actually a change from “cut loose like a deuce” in Bruce Springsteen’s 1973 original recording on the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. album.  Manfred Mann’s version appears on the 1976 album The Roaring Silence, and rose to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1977.  The bridge of Mann’s recording inserts another cover into the song, quoting the “Chopsticks” melody; a little two-for-one action.

3. “Cum On Feel The Noize” by Quiet Riot

Released on their 1983 album Metal Health, Quiet Riot’s recording of “Cum On Feel The Noize” peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.  However, Slade’s original recording ten years earlier for their Sladest album made broke into the Billboard Hot 100 at only #98.  While the US seemed to embrace the Quiet Riot recording after having ignored the Slade recording, the opposite was true in Britain; Slade’s recording reached #1 while Quiet Riot only hit #45 across the pond.  This song displayed hit potential twice and which version you know better is probably dependent on where you live; Stateside, we need to be reminded that Quiet Riot covered Slade.

4. “Respect” by Aretha Franklin

While the “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” chorus from Franklin’s recording, from her 1967 album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You, is unique creation for her version, the rest of the lyrics are identical with Otis Redding’s original recording.  Redding’s recording was released on 1965’s Otis Blue, and plays as a plea for loving from a man to his wife when he gets home from work.  Franklin’s powerful voice and strong inflection made her song a statement for female empowerment that endures as an iconic anthem in that arena to today.

5. “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia

Released on 1997’s Left of the Middle, Imbruglia’s “Torn” went on to hit #1 on the Billboard Pop Songs chart, and #2 on the combined European Top 100.  Between its release and 2011, it was the most-played song on Australian radio, averaging 75 plays per day.  For all of its fame, the original version comes from Los Angeles-based alt rock band Ednaswap’s 1995 self-titled album.  They released it again on their next album, 1997’s Wacko Magneto, their first that had a wide release.  Ednaswap’s version gained no commercial success with either of these releases, while Imbruglia’s became a worldwide hit; quite a disparity.