10 covers more popular than the original songs
Some great songs never get the recognition they deserve. Give underrated songs a second chance.
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’
Hearing the original version of ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’ now, performed in 1975 by Arrows, just sounds wrong. That’s how thoroughly Joan Jett made it her own in her gender-flipped cover, which stayed at number one in America for seven weeks and made her famous.
Bjí¶rk – ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’
There’s a reason ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ sounds so much like a big band number from the 1950s – before Bjí¶rk had her biggest hit with it in 1995, it was. A previous English-language version was released as a B-side by American singer Betty Hutton in 1951, although that was a cover too. To find the true original we have to go back even further to 1948, when it was released in German by Harry Winter with the title ‘Und Jetzt Ist Es Still’.
Kiss – ‘God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You’
Kiss made it plain that their version of ‘God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You’ wasn’t the original by calling it ‘God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You II’, turning a prog number by British band Argent into a nostalgic romp through their own past glories just in time to make it onto the soundtrack of time travel movie Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.
Jeff Buckley – ‘Hallelujah’
Few songs have been re-recorded as often as Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, which has been covered by everybody from k.d. Lang to John Cale. But Jeff Buckley has the one most people have heard, and the one that made it to number three in triple j’s Hottest 100 Of All Time in 2009. His vocal swooping and diving makes it very different to Cohen’s more restrained original, but I think we can all agree either is preferable to the Bon Jovi version.
Sinead O’Connor – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’
Prince is so prolific he sometimes puts together entire bands on the side just to get more of his songs out there. One such band was The Family, who released a self-titled album in 1985 full of what were basically Prince songs by any other name. ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ was just another of those until Sinead O’Connor resurrected it five years later and made it a worldwide smash.