8 Popular Songs You Probably Didn’t Know Were Covers

For as long as music has existed, popular artists have been covering songs. However, sometimes an artist creates such good covers that barely anyone knows that it’s not the original version.

Here are eight songs you know and love that you would never guess are actually covers.

1. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston’s version of this song from “The Bodyguard” is unarguably one of the most iconic pieces of music in recent history. But what you might not know is that this song was actually written by country music star Dolly Parton. She wrote this song about her working relationship with Porter Wagoner when she decided to leave his TV show, which she starred in alongside him for five years.

Here’s the original version of “I Will Always Love You”:

2. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper

Who would have known that this famous girl power tune was originally performed by a man! Four years before Cyndi Lauper released this song on her debut album, musician Robert Hazard wrote, recorded, and released the song from a male perspective.

Here’s the original version:

3. “Respect” by Aretha Franklin

Though Aretha Franklin’s version has become another absolutely iconic girl power anthem, the original by Otis Redding was actually very different in meaning.

While Franklin’s version is a confident declaration from a woman who wants respect from her man, Redding’s is more of a man’s plea: He doesn’t care if his woman does him wrong as long as she gives him respect for bringing money home.

Here’s the original version by Otis Redding:

4. “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse

When the song “Valerie” by The Zutons came out in 2006, it found an unlikely fan in Amy Winehouse. When she was invited to contribute vocals to a track on Mark Ronson’s album, she suggested covering this song. At first, Ronson wasn’t sure it would fit her voice, but they eventually came up with the more up-tempo and jazzy version that we know and love today.

Here’s the original version:

5. “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash

This song was originally written by Merle Kilgore and June Carter Cash for June’s sister, Anita Carter. Carter recorded an acoustic version, but it didn’t do very well. That was when Johnny Cash rearranged and recorded the song for himself, making it into one of his most popular songs.

Here’s the original, lesser-known version:

6. “Proud Mary” by Ike and Tina Turner

Unlike other songs on this list, the original and the cover were basically equally successful. The song was originally released by Creedence Clearwater Revival and their version peaked at no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Two years later, Ike and Tina Turner created a more upbeat, funk rock version, which peaked at no.4 on the list and even won a Grammy award.

Here’s the original version by CCR:

7. “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles

This song, originally released by The Top Notes, has been covered by many artists. Nevertheless, The Beatles’ version is by far the most popular, being released on their first UK album two years after the original was made.

Here’s the original version:

8. “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley

This song has been recorded more than 250 times and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Though Elvis Presley’s version is the most popular, the first version was recorded by R&B artist Big Mama Thornton. Her version spent 14 weeks in the R&B charts and was so popular that it had ten covers before Elvis even got to it.

Here’s the original version:

Which covers or original versions are your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image via “Amy Winehouse: Reactions to Her Tragic Passing” by mp3waxx.com / CC BY-NC-SA


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