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15 Hit Songs Most People Don't Realize Are Covers

Tennessee Whiskey – David Allan Coe/Chris Stapleton

Tennessee Whiskey – David Allan Coe/Chris Stapleton

This song was originally recorded in 1981 by David Allan Coe and peaked at number 77 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. It has actually been covered by several artists over the years, but none more popular than Chris Stapleton’s version in 2015. 

After Stapleton performed the song with Justin Timberlake on the Country Music Association Awards, his version went on to be certified platinum six times for selling more than six million copies.

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Zombie – The Cranberries/Bad Wolves

Zombie – The Cranberries/Bad Wolves

Zombie was originally released in September of 1994 and would go on to make music history. It would reach number one on the charts in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, and of course, in the United States. 

In 2018, not only did Bad Wolves cover the song, the lead singer of the Cranberries, Deloris O’Riordan, was so impressed when she heard their cover that she offered to sing on it with them. Unfortunately, O’Riordan passed away before they could collaborate on her previously recorded vocals, and as a tribute to the singer the band released the cover without them.

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My Favorite Things – Julie Andrews/Ariana Grande

My Favorite Things – Julie Andrews/Ariana Grande

Now this is an unlikely pairing, but it really is true! The song was originally written by Rodgers and Hammerstein in 1959 for their new Broadway show, The Sound of Music. However, the song wouldn’t become a mainstream hit until 1965 when Julie Andrews made it popular in the film of the same name. 

These days, it’s better known as a Christmas song. However, in 2019, Ariana Grande released her song 7 Rings to the same tune, and so Rodgers and Hammerstein are credited writers on her 5th studio album, Thank U, Next.

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Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye/Three Days Grace

Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye/Three Days Grace

Just in case you forgot, this song was originally released in the United States in 2012 by little-known Belgian-Australian singer by the name of Gotye. The song was actually recorded in his parents’ house in Australia in 2011.

The cover was a hit, reaching the top ten on the charts in more than 30 countries. Although it hasn’t been long since it was a hit for Gotye, Three Days Grace decided to cover it anyway and released their version on July 22, 2020, which peaked at number 16 on the Billboard charts on August 7th 2020.

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Teenage Kicks – The Undertones/One Direction

Teenage Kicks – The Undertones/One Direction

Teenage Kicks was originally released by punk rock band, The Undertones back in 1977. The song wasn’t a big hit on the charts, but it did establish The Undertones in the punk rock genre and land them a record deal. 

Fast forward to 2012, and British pop-rock band One Direction not only covered it, but also mashed it up with One Way or Another by Blondie. It was that year’s Comic Relief charity single and it debuted on the United Kingdom’s Singles Chart, making it the band’s third number one hit in the U.K.

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Patience – Guns N Roses/Chris Cornell

Patience – Guns N Roses/Chris Cornell

Some of you may be too young to remember, but Guns N’ Roses originally released the song Patience back in 1989. It became a hit and went on to peak at number four on the Billboard Hot 100. However, this past summer, a recording of deceased singer Chris Cornell's cover was released on July 20. 

The singer posthumously reached number one on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs airplay chart. As a matter of fact, the song reached its peak at number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 after staying there for eight weeks.

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Hurt – Nine Inch Nails/Johnny Cash

Hurt – Nine Inch Nails/Johnny Cash

Nine Inch Nails released the original recording of the song Hurt in April of 1975. The song was certified Gold once and Platinum twice and was nominated for Best Rock Song of 1996 at the Grammys. 

Country-Rock legend Johnny Cash covered the song in 2002 and released it to critical acclaim. Trent Reznor, the Nine Inch Nails lead singer, heard the cover and was so impressed he told Alternative Press, “that song isn’t mine anymore.”

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I Told You So – Carrie Underwood/Randy Travis

I Told You So – Carrie Underwood/Randy Travis

The country ballad I Told You So was originally recorded by country superstar, Randy Travis in 1987.  Carrie Underwood would cover the song and release it on her album Carnival Ride, 30 years later.

Randy heard the cover and surprised the star onstage at the Grand Ole Opry, where the two sang it together. They eventually re-recorded the song as a duet and released the single in 2009, and it peaked at number two on the United States Hot Country Songs charts.

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Summertime – George Gershwin/Lana Del Rey

Summertime – George Gershwin/Lana Del Rey

Here’s another unlikely duo. The song Summertime was originally composed by George Gershwin in 1935 for the opera Porgy and Bess. The song became a popular and much-recorded jazz staple. 

Lana Del Rey covered the song this fall to raise awareness, support and funds for the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonic orchestras. Lana is actively encouraging her fans to donate to both organizations.

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Working Class Hero – John Lennon/Green Day

Working Class Hero – John Lennon/Green Day

What we wouldn’t give to see John Lennon and Billie Jo Armstrong perform this one together, eh? But seriously. Working Class Hero was originally recorded by John Lennon from his 1970 John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album, his first album since the breakup of The Beatles.

In 2007, Green Day covered the song and donated it to the Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur album, which was a compilation album of John Lennon cover songs to benefit Amnesty International’s campaign to alleviate the crisis in Darfur.

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Make You Feel My Love – Bob Dylan/Adele

Make You Feel My Love – Bob Dylan/Adele

Bob Dylan originally wrote Make You Feel My Love in 1997 and released it on his album titled Time Out of Mind in 1997. The song has been covered by several artists, but Adele’s cover was released on her debut album titled 19 in 2008, which reached number one on the United Kingdom’s charts and climbed to number four here in the United States. Her single went Platinum three times in both Canada and the U.K., as well as Gold status in the U.S.

Although hesitant to include a cover on her first album, Adele's manager was adamant that she listen to the song and consider including it.  Adele told Premiere Networks, "I was being quite defiant against it. I said, 'I don't want a cover on my album. It kind of implies that I'm incapable of writing enough of my own songs for my first record." But eventually, she caved, and the rest is history.

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Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane/Rascal Flatts

Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane/Rascal Flatts

The song Life is a Highway was a big hit for Tom Cochrane in 1991, reaching number one in his native Canada. The following summer, it was released in the United States and reached number six on the Billboard charts.

In 2005, country superstar band Rascal Flatts recorded a cover of the song for Disney’s animated Pixar film Cars. This version was also a hit, not just on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, but also the Billboard Pop and Hot 100 charts.

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Jolene – Dolly Parton/Miley Cyrus

Jolene – Dolly Parton/Miley Cyrus

Okay, so y’all may have known about this one. But just in case you didn’t, this song was first written and performed by Dolly Parton in 1973 and it has been since ranked as the number 217th out of the “the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” by Rolling Stones magazine. 

It has been covered by singers such as Pentatonix, the White Stripes, and Olivia Newton-John. However, in 2012, Miley Cyrus (Parton’s Goddaughter) recorded a cover of the song in a video series, entitled “Backyard Sessions,” which garnered much attention.

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Fix You – Sam Smith/Coldplay

Fix You – Sam Smith/Coldplay

Fix You was originally written and performed by the band Coldplay and was released in 2005 from their second album, X&Y. The song reached number one in their native United Kingdom and was certified as Gold in the United States for selling more than 500,000 copies. 

Fast forward to 2020 and Sam Smith was covering the song for the iHeartRadio Living Room Series in May. The song received such rave reviews, Smith released the cover as a single in July.

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Sound of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel/Disturbed

Sound of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel/Disturbed

The Sound of Silence was written by Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel and first performed by the duo in 1965. The song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966 and spent 14 weeks on the chart, and reached Gold certification for selling more than one million copies. The American rock band Disturbed released a cover of the folk song in 2015. 

Disturbed’s version reached number one on both the Billboard Mainstream Rock and Hard Rock Digital Songs charts, as well as reaching number three on the Hot Rock and Alternative Songs chart. Their version also has been certified platinum three times for selling more then 1.5 million copies worldwide. Guess the fans weren't disturbed!

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All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix/Bob Dylan

All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix/Bob Dylan

All Along the Watchtower is usually associated with guitar legend Jimi Hendrix. His rendition of the song is easily the most popular and iconic of the 1960s. The haunting guitar of Jimmy Hendrix's version easily elevates the song above and beyond. In 2001, it won the Grammy Hall of Fame award and in 2004, Rolling Stone ranked it number 47 of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

However, it's important to recognize the man who wrote the equally iconic lyrics – Bob Dylan. Before the Jimi Hendrix version, Bob Dylan recorded the song and released it in 1967 on John Wesley Harding's album. Since the 1970s, it is said that Bob Dylan performs the song in concert more than any other song. With that said, even Dylan prefers the Hendrix version saying, which he indicates in the Biograph album.

(Images via Wikipedia[1][2])

I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston/Dolly Parton

I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston/Dolly Parton

I Will Always Love You is one of Whitney Houston's most iconic hits. She recorded the song for the 1992 film The Bodyguard. The song spent 14 weeks at the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100. On top of this, it is the best-selling single by a woman in history.

Because the Houston version of the song is so popular, not everyone realizes that the original was recorded many years before by a woman who is equally, if not more famous – Dolly Parton. But given that Dolly Parton has so many hits, it's easy to forget which songs she actually wrote. The original version was recorded in 1973 and released in 1974.

Craig Sjodin/Walt Disney Television/Getty Images

 Rick Kern/WireImage/Getty Images

 

Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor/Prince

Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor/Prince

Sinead O'Connor had her moment in music history in the early '90s with her hit cover of Nothing Compares 2 U. The song made her a huge star at the time. She sang the song with much more raw emotion than even the original had. And Sinead O'Connor could have continued a successful career if it weren't for her SNL appearance in the '90s in which she tore up a picture of the Pope.

Her version is so famous though that not everyone realizes it was a prince song first. Prince wrote and composed the song for his band the Family. Prince had also recorded his own version of the song in 1984 but that was not released until 2018.

(Images via IMDB & Ron Galella, Ltd/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images)

Let's Stay Together - Tina Turner/Al Green

Let's Stay Together - Tina Turner/Al Green

"Let's Stay Together" is easily one of Tina Turner's most popular songs. It was released in 1983 as a single. It hit the charts in the US as well as the UK, among other places around the world. Tina Turner fans may not remember that it was actually an Al Green song first.

Al Green released the original version of the song back in 1971. It was popular for its time as well, ranking number one in the Billboard Hot 100. Since then, it's been covered so many times, most have forgotten the original version of the song.

(Images via Wikipedia & Rob Verhorst/Redferns/Getty Images)

Respect – Aretha Franklin/Otis Redding

Respect – Aretha Franklin/Otis Redding

"Respect" is often associated with Aretha Franklin. In fact, even the word brings to mind the Aretha Franklin song. Her version of the song was a huge hit, in fact, bigger than the original version that came out two years earlier. It peaked at number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 list.

The original recording of the song was from Otis Redding in 1965 for his third album. While the lyrics are shared between this original version and the Aretha Franklin version, musically they couldn't be any more different. But there's no doubting that the Aretha Franklin version is infinitely more popular.

(Images via IMDB & Fred A. Sabine/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

The First Cut is the deepest – Rod Stewart/Cat Stevens

The First Cut is the deepest – Rod Stewart/Cat Stevens

The First Cut is the Deepest from Rod Stewart appeared on the 1976 album A Night on the Town. The song was a huge success for him and was number one on the UK singles chart.

However, his version wasn't the first as Cat Stevens wrote it in 1965 and released it in 1967. The Rod Stewart version is lyrically the same for the most part – but it does omit the line "But when it comes to being loved, she's first."

(Images via Wikipedia & Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

I Love Rock 'n' Roll – Joan Jett/The Arrows

I Love Rock 'n' Roll – Joan Jett/The Arrows

"I Love Rock 'n' Roll" is best known for its 1981 cover by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. It as released as a single from her album of the same name.  It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 when it came out. In 2016, Jett's version was also inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

The original version of the song from The Arrows was recorded in 1975. Singer Alan Merrill provided the vocals, while also writing its lyrics and music. He wrote it as a response to the Rolling Stone's  "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)."

(Images via Wikipedia[1]{2]

Suzie Q – Creedence Clearwater revival/Dale Hawkins

Suzie Q – Creedence Clearwater revival/Dale Hawkins

Suzie Q is one of Creedence Clearwater Revival's biggest hits. Many credit Creedence Clearwater Revival with this song as it was included on their debut album in 1968. It is their only top 40 hit that wasn't actually written by John Fogerty, however.

There were several other versions of Suzie Q before the CCR version, but the first version came from Dale Hawkins in 1957. The original rockabilly song was honored as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll."

(Images via Wikipedia & Amazon)

Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash/Anita Carter

Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash/Anita Carter

Most people think of Ring of Fire as a Johnny Cash song. After all, the most famous version of the song comes from him. It peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles. Recorded on March 25, 1963, it was one of his greatest hits.

But, believe it or not, Johnny Cash's version wasn't the first. The song, written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore, was originally sang by June Carter's sister, Anita. Johnny Cash decided to make it his own by including the sound of "Mexican Horns," an idea that came to him in a dream, supposedly.

(Images via Wikipedia & CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

The House of the Rising Sun - The Animals/(Traditional Folk)

The House of the Rising Sun - The Animals/(Traditional Folk)

One of the most iconic songs from the 1960s would have to be The Animals' version of "The House of the Rising Sun." This version with its haunting guitar and memorable vocals blows all other versions of it out of the water to be sure. It was a number one hit in the US, UK and France.

What many people don't realize is that it is actually a traditional folk song and doesn't belong to the Animals. It was first collected back in the 1930s before the Animals got their hands on it, but it is believed to be much older than that. Even Bob Dylan did a cover of the song before The Animals.

(Images via Wikipedia[1][2])

Got My Mind Set on You – George Harrison/James Ray

Got My Mind Set on You – George Harrison/James Ray

"Got My Mind Set on You" is among George Harrison's most popular songs as a solo musician. The former Beatle released the song in 1987 on the album Cloud Nine. While Harrison wrote most of his songs, he did write "Got My Mind Set on You," because it was actually a cover.

The song was written and composed by Rudy Clark. The original version was recorded in 1962 by James Ray and titled "I've Got My Mind Set on You." It was not a big hit at that point and wouldn't become one until George Harrison transformed it.

(Images via Wikipedia & Amazon)

Torn - Natalie Imbruglia/Ednaswap

Torn - Natalie Imbruglia/Ednaswap

It goes without saying that one of the most popular songs of the '90s was "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia. it was playing on the radio, MTV, in stores and just about everywhere. The Australian pop singer released her version of the song as her debut single in 1997, and it basically made her a one-hit-wonder.

It was a hit all around the world. peaking at number one in several countries. With that said, you may be surprised to learn that it wasn't the first time the world had heard it. The song was first recorded in 1993 by Danish singer Lis Sørensen and then an American version from Ednaswap that same year.

(Images via IMDB & Amazon)

Doin' Time- Lana Del Rey/Sublime

Doin' Time- Lana Del Rey/Sublime

Lana Del Rey often writes and records her own songs, so it's always a surprise when she does a cover. Lana Del Rey released Doin' Time as a single and also included it on her album Norman F***ing Rockwell. The music video for the song was a reference to the film, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

 

The original version of the song was from the American band Sublime, and featured on their third album. It was released in November 1997. It was somewhat a hit but only peaked at number 87 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song samples from "Summertime" by George Gershwin, which Lana Del Rey also covered.

(Images via Wikipedia[1][2])

Mickey - Tony Basil/Racey

Mickey - Tony Basil/Racey

Mickey by Tony Basil is one of the most recognized songs from the 1980s. To be sure, Tony Basil was a one-hit-wonder but that didn't stop her from becoming an '80s icon. In addition to the catchy '80s tune, you'll also remember the cheerleading outfit and dance in the video.

What not everyone realizes is that the song is actually a cover of a song from a British group called Racey. It was featured on their debut studio album Smash and Grab in 1979, two years before "Mickey" was released. However, the slightly different original version of the song is called "Kitty."

(Image via IMDB & Amazon)

Skinny Love – Birdy/Bon Iver

Skinny Love – Birdy/Bon Iver

Skinny Love is a relatively newer song so not everyone realizes the beloved version from Birdy is a cover of a song from Bon Iver. Written by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, the song was about a relationship that Vernon was going through at the time, making it very personal to him.

However, there's no doubting how heartfelt the Birdy version is. Singing it with such emotional depth, she really makes the song her own. While both versions might be good, the Birdy version is certainly more popular and was her debut single.

(Images via Wikipedia & Wikimedia)