Music

10 Cover Songs That Are More Popular Than The Originals

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Cover songs are always interesting. It gives the covering artist a chance to put his/her/their own spin on a song written by someone else. Some take drastic turns from the original. Some stick a little closer to the script. Some covers even wind up more well-known than their original versions. The best part? Some of these covers are so famous, you may not know they’re covers at all. Here are 10 examples:

Jack White, “I’m Shakin'”

One of the more upbeat and electric tracks off of White’s debut solo album, Blunderbuss, the original was written by Rudy Toombs and performed by Little Willie John, a soul and rock legend from the ’60s. The song has also been covered by bands like The Blasters and more recently by Willy Moon.

The cover:

The original:

No Doubt, “It’s My Life”

I had no idea “It’s My Life” was a cover until I started writing this. “It’s My Life” was originally written and performed by English new wave group Talk Talk in 1984, and then covered by No Doubt in 2003. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that No Doubt covered a new wave track from the ’80s, as that era was a huge inspiration on them early in their career.

The cover:

The original:

Nirvana, “The Man Who Sold the World”

Performed at Nirvana’s legendary MTV Unplugged performance, Kurt Cobain and crew gave their take on David Bowie’s track, one of many tracks the group covered at the show. Nirvana wasn’t the first band to cover the song, Lulu got their first in 1974.

The cover:

The original:


Jimi Hendrix, “Hey, Joe”

“Hey, Joe” is a song about a man planning on fleeing to Mexico after shooting his wife, so it’s real romantic. It was originally written and performed by garage rock band The Leaves in 1965. Hendrix recorded his infamous cover in 1966 as The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s debut single.

The cover:

The original:

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”

Have you heard of The Arrows? The short-lived English band were together from 1974 to 1977; in those short three years, they wrote the song “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Originally released in 1975, it wasn’t until 1982, when Joan Jett covered the song, when it gained its most popularity. Jett’s cover sat at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 for seven weeks in 1982 and finished the year as 1982’s No. 3 song of the year.

The cover:

The original:

Cyndi Lauper, “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”

This song has taken on a completely new (and extremely creepy) light when you learn it was written by Robert Hazard, whose 1979 version is from the male’s point of view was changed for Lauper’s 1983 over, which seems like a smart choice: It ended up being Lauper’s breakthrough single and considered one of the greatest pop songs of all-time.

The cover:

The original:

The Clash, “I Fought the Law”

This seems like it’s always been a popular song, but it wasn’t until 1979 when The Clash turned it into a punk rock anthem. Sonny Curtis and the Crickets wrote the number, and it gained popularity once The Bobby Fuller Four took a spin at it in 1966. While recording The Clash’s second album, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones were at San Francisco’s Automatt Studios, where the owner had a jukebox of vintage 45s including Bobby Fuller’s “I Fought the Law.” After hearing the song multiple times, the group fell in love with it and recorded a cover full of loud drums and distorted guitars.

The cover:

The original:

The Weeknd, “D.D.”

This is one of the better Michael Jackson covers I’ve ever heard. The Weeknd’s take on MJ’s “Dirty Diana” is the standout from the Toronto R&B star’s Echoes of Silence mixtape, but it lacks the killer guitar riff. “Dirty Diana” was the fifth single from Jackson’s seventh studio album, Bad, and in 2011, The Weeknd introduced the track to a new generation.

The cover:

The original:

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, “Blinded By the Light”

In 1973, Bruce Springsteen released his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., which contained the deep cut “Blinded By the Light.” Fast forward a few years to 1976, when English band Manfred Mann’s Earth Band recorded a version of that Springsteen track that went to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. It’s all right, though. Springsteen is doing fine with his musical career today.

The cover:

The original:

Sinéad O’Connor, “Nothing Compares 2 U”

Originally written by Prince as part of his side project, The Family, the band was more of an outlet for Prince to get more of his music out in the world. O’Connor remade the track in 1990 as a reflection on her mother’s death, which occurred in 1985, the year the track was originally released by The Family. O’Connor’s cover sat atop Billboard’s charts for four weeks and was the No. 82 best-selling song of the ’90s.

The cover:

The original:

(It’s Prince, so there are no videos of his original anywhere on the internet.)

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