Some of these may be familiar, some may not, but as years go by people can forget about originals as remakes catch ears and become the most known version. Or the original may be obscure-as, and somebody found it and subsequently made it their own. Anyway, did you know that all of these hits were actually cover versions?
It’s My Life
Cover: No Doubt (2003)
Original Talk Talk (1984)
The song that inspired this list, as we choked on our dinner while a friend regaled us as to how much she loved “that No Doubt song”. The title track of their second album, Talk Talk were basically Radiohead before Radiohead came along and became the new Talk Talk. Or something like that. Anyway, they were bloody good.
Cover: Some bloke with an acoustic guitar (2001)
Original: Tears for Fears (1982)
Alright, his name was Gary Jules, and it was a very drab part of the otherwise very good movie Donnie Darko. A perfect example of sucking all the life out of a tune, which has sadly become incredibly prevalent nowadays in the world of movie trailers. Stop it! Oh, and TFF made up the word “Halargian”.
Take Me to the River
Cover: Talking Heads (1978)
Original: Al Green (1974)
A popular little song this, that hopefully made Mr Green some decent coin – woo, yeah! When Talking Heads’ slinky Brian Eno-produced version dropped, it was into a sea featuring several other covers released at the same time. Who remembers Brian Ferry’s version? Foghat’s? Nope, us neither.
Hanging on the Telephone
Cover: Blondie (1978)
Original: The Nerves (1976)
This one came as a surprise – we probably should have read those Parallel Lines liner notes more thoroughly. Blondie barely changed the track, which was the lead on the one and only EP from US trio The Nerves, who likely still drop the informational titbit at parties. Speaking of forgotten, Australia’s The Sharp also covered it in 1993.
I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll
Cover: Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (1981)
Original: The Arrows (1975)
Ever heard of The Arrows? They actually had their own UK TV show, which is where Runaway Joanie heard this track and decided to take it and make it her calling card. She first recorded it with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols in 1979, before re-recording the version everybody knows in 1981.
Girls Just Want to Have Fun
Cover: Cyndi Lauper (1983)
Original: Robert Hazard (1979)
Can you imagine this rousing girl power anthem sung by a guy? A little bit creepy, yeah? Well, that’s where it started life, before Cyndi made it her signature tune, while the super-fun accompanying video also helped it smash charts the world over with a big, bubbly, beautiful girlie stick.
Cover: Amy Winehouse (2007)
Original: The Zutons (2006)
As this list ably proves, sometimes an artist really does take an existing song and make it their own. English indie band The Zutons’ original is a great pop blast, but touched by the talent of Winehouse (and, of course, Mark Ronson) it became something else entirely.
Cover: Natalie Imbruglia (1997)
Original: Lis Sørensen (1993)
If anybody is screaming “Ednaswap!” at this juncture, yes members of that stupidly-named band wrote it, but their version was released in 1995 – and you’re a music nerd (respect!) for knowing of their very existence. Covers come and covers go, but their hitty ditty will always be our Nat’s.
Cover: Soft Cell (1981)
Original: Gloria Jones (1964)
BOOP! BOOP! The synthpop classic from supposed one hit wonders (four other top five singles apparently don’t count) must piss northern soul aficionados Marc Almond and Dave Ball off, as no writing royalty bucks. But it did make them famous, and isn’t that what’s it’s all about, kids? Ahem. If you dig this Soft Cell cover, track down What!.
It’s Oh So Quiet
Cover: Björk (1995)
Original: Betty Hutton (1951)
Shh, shh… OK, so Hutton’s version wasn’t actually first, but it was the first version in English. Starting life as Und jetzt ist es still, Horst Winter released it in his native Germany in 1948. But we’re here to get some Björk on our fork, and this cover – complete with ace Spike Jonze vid – was her biggest hit. Unlike Soft Cell, however, she’s had plenty of other worldwide smasheroonie success to keep her rolling in eclecticism.
While we’re talking cover versions, we HAD to include this clip, as it is the greatest thing ever in the history of history…