I was born in the 90s, and my knowledge of everything before this decade sucks. It would require effort, research, or a chance encounter. Here are 15 hit singles you probably thought were original recordings.
Make You Feel My Love by Adele
Not a lot of singers can get away with a Bob Dylan cover. Then again, not a lot of them are Adele. Most artists are bound to fail and will end up getting flack for trying. But her talent and artistry are comparable to that of legends. In my view, Adele surpassed the original.
Valerie by Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse
A recent phenomenon in music is producers getting the lead credit for a song. And a vocal performance, like any other instrumentation, is considered support. But no one can deny that Amy Winehouse was the highlight. However, the real injustice is the lack of recognition the Zutons get for crafting the masterpiece a year before its success.
Uptown Girl by Westlife
Westlife had tremendous success in the United Kingdom. To date, they accumulated 14 number one hits in the country. However, the biggest hit in their exhaustive catalog is a cover – “Uptown Girl.” People who were old enough would know it’s Billy Joel’s. But that demographic isn’t really Westlife’s.
The Tide is High (Get the Feeling) by Atomic Kitten
I was surprised the Atomic Kitten cover charted well. After all, the Blondie version is well known and hit number one in many territories. But history has taught us that it can be pulled off – Blondie got away with it by singing this single of the Paragons. The lucky charm was Natasha’s baby bump. That sequence with a pregnant lady dancing is iconic.
I’ll Be There by Mariah Carey featuring Trey Lorenz
If anyone can cover the Jackson 5 and do justice to the original, Mariah Carey is a safe bet. Along with Trey Lorenz, she brought the house down on MTV Unplugged and took the song to the same heights the Jackson 5 did – #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The feat is remarkable considering the inclusion was a last-minute addition to her setlist.
If I Were a Boy by Beyonce
Beyonce is a music goddess. If someone told me “If I Were a Boy” was a cover, I would treat the information as fake news. After digging the web, I can confirm this version wasn’t the first. BC Jean, the original artist behind it, reached an undisclosed arrangement with Beyonce, given the former’s dissatisfaction with how things unfolded.
Take on Me by A1
Could you believe that A-ha’s version of “Take on Me” never topped the UK Charts, and the A1 cover did? Well, you should. The official records can confirm this. While I thought the revival was inferior, the song introduced me to one of the biggest boy bands of my generation. What’s remarkable is how both releases weren’t too far apart.
Dreams by The Corrs
When I was growing up, Fleetwood Mac wasn’t dominating the radio airwaves or MTV. The Corrs was. The siblings recorded “Dreams” as part of an album tribute to the band. Little did The Corrs know that participating in the commemoration of Rumours would serve as their breakout hit in the UK and form part of their string of hits.
I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston’s trademark hit is “I Will Always Love You.” But the original was recorded by Dolly Parton. Whitney proves that you can sing the hell out of one song and make it your signature track. To date, her version is the one people remember, and the one the succeeding generations have to match and live up to.
When You Say Nothing at All by Ronan Keating
When people compare Alison Krauss’s to Ronan Keating’s, I bet they don’t know or forget that both are revivals. The original composition was recorded by Keith Whitley. If you ask me, Ronan Keating did the world a favor by sharing this masterpiece to an audience outside of country music. This became a worldwide smash for the singer.
Respect by Aretha Franklin
Given the feminist undertones of “Respect,” it’s hard to imagine this originally composed and recorded by a man. Otis Redding is responsible for it. But Aretha infused the confidence and strength of a woman that the anthem now embodies. Also, only her single included the iconic “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” that talent shows have overly used.
Too Close by Blue
The Blue cover stands out because the revival was made four years after Next dominated the US Hot 100. The initial success didn’t get in the way of Blue topping the UK Charts. “Too Close” is one of their many hits previously recorded by others. They would also do a rendition of “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” and “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.”
Torn by Natalie Imbruglia
Many consider Natalie Imbruglia a one-hit-wonder. I find many of her tracks high quality even though they barely made a dent in the charts. It’s a demonstration of how the music industry can get it wrong. And the song she’s known for is a cover. Ednaswap released this single a year before she did. In 1993, a Danish version was recorded by Lis Sørensen.
I Want Candy by Aaron Carter
While Nick Carter enjoyed success as part of the boyband The Backstreet Boys, Aaron Carter’s solo career had more traction. If any music represented bubblegum pop, I feel Aaron Carter’s catalog best embodies it. “I Want Candy” was corny and infectious. It was a cover of The Strangelove’s recording in 1965. But only Aaron gets criticism for it.
The Power of Love by Celine Dion
Celine Dion’s first number one hit in the USA is a cover of a Jennifer Rush recording. The original already hit the top spot in the UK. However, Celine Dion’s towering voice managed to cast a shadow on all other versions recorded – Jennifer Rush’s, Air Supply’s, and Laura Branigan’s. Have you heard any of those versions in recent history?