10 Cover Songs You Might Be Surprised to Learn are Covers

Every now and then you come across a song that you are 100%  sure you know who the original artist is.  Don’t bet your life on it.  I’ve been fooled by a few of these, and have been incredulous when friends thought some of these were the originals.  Here are 10 cover versions that are frequently mistaken to be the original. You can cover many of these songs yourself using our extensive online karaoke catalogue.

Me and Bobby McGee, Janis Joplin/Kris Kristofferson/Roger Miller

Many people think Janis Joplin wrote and sang original material. Piece of My Heart, recorded by Joplin in 1968, was originally recorded by Erma Franklin, Aretha’s sister, in 1967 and Joplin’s only No. 1 hit, recorded just a few days before her tragic death in October 1970, Me and Bobby McGee was originally written by Kris Kristofferson (Bobby was a girl in his version) and first recorded by Roger Miller. A number of artists have recorded the song, including Kristofferson himself, but Joplin’s version remains the most well known.

Roger Miller, Me and Bobby McGee, Original


Janis Joplin, Me and Bobby McGee, Cover



All Along the Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix/Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan first recorded All Along the Watchtower in 1966, but it was Jimi Hendrix’s cover of it in 1968 that would become the more popular version of the song, even according to Dylan himself who started performing Hendrix’s rendition of the song.

Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower, Original – updated to match Hendrix’s style


Jimi Hendrix, All Along the Watchtower, Cover


Blue Suede Shoes, Elvis Presley/Carl Perkins

In 1955, Carl Perkins wrote a song about a guy not wanting his girl to step on his blue suede shoes. Perkins crossed over from Country to R&B with his hit recording Blue Suede Shoes. Elvis recorded it a few months later and although Elvis’ version never reached the chart success that Perkin’s version did, when we think of Blue Suede Shoes, we think of Elvis, not Perkins.

Carl Perkins, Blue Suede Shoes, Original


Elvis Presley, Blue Suede Shoes, Cover


No More I Love You’s, Annie Lennox/The Lover Speaks

80s band The Lover Speaks wrote and recorded No More I Love You’s in 1986. Although The Lover Speaks band opened for The Eurythmics in 1986 for their Revenge Tour, they did not find success. Annie Lennox, recorded their song, No More I Love You’s on her first solo album, Medusa, after the Eurythmics split up. Her cover version topped the charts and won her the 1995 Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

The Lover Speaks, No More I Love You’s, Original


Annie Lennox, No More I Love You’s, Cover


Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Cyndi Lauper/Robert Hazard

Robert Hazard, wrote and recorded Girls Just Want To Have Fun, in 1979 from a guy’s point of view. Cyndi Lauper got a hold of the song, changed it to a girl’s perspective, recorded it and her cover reached No. 1

Robert Hazard, Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Original


Cyndi Lauper, Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Cover


Red Red Wine, UB40/Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond wrote and recorded Red Red Wine in 1963. Twenty years later, in 1983, UB40 picked it up and covered it. In 1988 it was re-released as a single after being played in dance clubs. The 1988 single reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart. Like Dylan, Neil Diamond re-recorded the song, using the cover version’s style.

Neil Diamond, Red Red Wine, Original


UB40, Red Red Wine, Cover


Tainted Love, Soft Cell/Gloria Jones

In 1964, Gloria Jones, the singer/songwriter, recorded Tainted Love (written by Ed Cobb). Her recording of of the song failed to chart. She re-recorded it in 1976, but again it failed to chart. Soft Cell recorded Tainted Love in 1981,  and their version reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart and topped at No. 8 on the US Top 40 Chart.

Gloria Jones, Tainted Love, Original


Soft Cell, Tainted Love, Cover


Blinded by the Light, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band/Bruce Springsteen

Originally written and recorded by Bruce Springsteen in 1973, it was Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s cover of Blinded by the Light that reached the No. 1 position on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in 1977.  The Manfred Mann version is also well known for a misinterpreted lyric, “revved up like a deuce” (changed from Springsteen’s lyric “cut loose like a deuce”) has been misinterpreted by some as “wrapped up like a douche”.

Bruce Springsteen, Blinded By The Light, Original


Manfred Mann, Blinded By The Light, Cover


Respect, Aretha Franklin/Otis Redding

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me”! Can you hear anyone other than Aretha Franklin singing this line ?  Respect was written for and first recorded by Otis Redding.  Aretha Franklin’s version topped the charts and earned her 2 Grammy awards in 1968.  Rolling Stone lists Aretha’s version at No.5 on their list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Otis Redding, Respect, Original


Aretha Franklin, Respect, Cover


I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston/Dolly Parton

Since Whitney’s performance in the film The Bodyguard, I Will Always Love You, seems like it is Whitney’s song. But alas, Dolly Parton, wrote and performed the original version in 1973. Parton’s version reached No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs Chart. She’s recorded the song a few times, and each time it has had success on the Charts. Whitney’s 1992 version, recorded for the soundtrack of The Bodyguard, reached No. 1 on many singles charts from around the world, as well as on Billboard’s Hot 100, Hot Adult Contemporary and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts, not to mention the multi-million dollar sales of the single.

Dolly Parton, I Will Always Love You, Original


Whitney Houston, I Will Always Love You, Cover


Posted by Justin 4. November 2009 at 11:09 am :

Pretty cool post. .The only one I knew about was the Dolly Parton song. Usually I tend to like the one that I heard first weather that one is actually the original tends to not be relevant.

Posted by Wish Belkin 4. November 2009 at 12:39 pm :

I knew them all except Tainted Love.
I knew a girl had sung it first but I didn’t know who.
My God, am I old.

Posted by FS 4. November 2009 at 12:49 pm :

I was a bit surprised not to see Sinead O’Conner/Prince “Nothing Compares 2 U” or The Beatles/the Top Notes “Twist and Shout”, but a great list nonetheless.

Posted by Jennifer 4. November 2009 at 1:45 pm :

I loved this post. Thanks for including the videos.

Posted by Jess 4. November 2009 at 2:45 pm :

Is it bad that I think that most of these covers are better than the originals ?!

Posted by Veronica 4. November 2009 at 5:12 pm :

Awesome post, I didn’t know most of these. Big props for posting the videos, I wasted like an hour comparing them, lol

Posted by McLaughlin 5. November 2009 at 7:28 am :

I knew most, but there is one song (No More I Love You’s) that I don’t think I’ve heard by the original or Annie.


Posted by Roberta 6. November 2009 at 1:37 am :

I can’t believe that Annie Lennox didn’t write No More I Love You’s … really wow. glad I’m not a betting woman.

Posted by Sage 9. November 2009 at 4:51 pm :

Cool list but I think you should have included Hound Dog. Hardly anyone knows that Hound Dog is originally by Big Mama Thornton and not Elvis.

Posted by me 14. November 2009 at 12:00 pm :

i already totally knew all of them.

Posted by A.B. 16. November 2009 at 10:18 pm :

Here is a few covers that the band and I have done. I know we aren’t ready for nashville but not bad for some old country boys. Hope everyone enjoys and thank you for your time. Here is the link…… http://m.youtube.com/profile?user=area13ky&client=mv-google&gl=US&hl=en

Posted by dirtyloops 17. November 2009 at 9:20 pm :

Actually, to be more specific, UB40’s version of Red, Red Wine is a cover-of-a-cover. Tony Tribe did the original reggae cover version for Trojan Records, one of UB40’s heavy influences. A wave of ska washed over England in the 1960’s along with Stax soul amongst others, and took over a crowd of mods and skinheads over there. This is how that British group got into covering Neil Diamond.

Posted by Garret 23. November 2009 at 10:16 pm :

Great list……half I was aware of and half I was surprised I wasn’t being of the 80’s generation lol

Posted by Valsadie 26. November 2009 at 1:58 pm :

In reply to the comment by FS —

I didn’t know the Isley Brothers version of “Twist and Shout” was a cover!

Posted by Greg 3. December 2009 at 4:35 pm :

Thanks for The Lover Speaks/Annie Lennox vidoes — great song and her version, of course, kills!

Posted by Micah 4. December 2009 at 3:45 pm :

Actually Springsteen wrote “Blinded by the Light” and decided that it sucked, so he sold it to Manfred Mann. After their huge success with the song, Springsteen decided that he didn’t want to lose out on the gravy train, so he recorded it himself. Technically, his is a cover of a song he wrote.

Posted by Matt 4. December 2009 at 4:04 pm :

You forgot most of Led Zeppelin’s discography

Posted by Daniel 4. December 2009 at 4:31 pm :

Another one: “Midnight Special” covered by Creedance Clearwater Revival, original by Huddie William “Leadbelly” Ledbetter. Leadbelly also did “House of the Rising Sun”

The Midnight Special was a train that ran by the Texas state prison Leadbelly was incarcerated at. Inmate lore was that if the Midnight Special shined it’s light in your cell you were going home.

Listen to the song again and all of a sudden it all makes sense.

Posted by Amy3125 13. December 2009 at 2:24 am :

My “I didn’t know that was a cover moment” is was the original Otis Redding version of Hard to Handle. I thought the Black Crowes were the only ones who did it. I love that version, but Otis Redding really gets the mojo going.

Posted by Weaver 13. December 2009 at 3:14 pm :

Presley’s Hound Dog was also a cover of a Big Mama Thornton song:

Posted by Beelzebub57 15. December 2009 at 6:52 am :

A few more for the list of covers
Rocking all over the world Status Quo
Living next door to Alice Smokie
Knock on wood Amii Stewart
Without you Nilsson
Mony Mony Billy Idol

Posted by aggh!tea 15. December 2009 at 7:04 am :

Thanks for including Tainted Love on the list… To me it’s one of those tracks that no matter who covers it it still sounds f#$king ace

Posted by sam 15. December 2009 at 7:06 am :

red red wine was originally by tony tribe, not neil diamond

Posted by Candini 15. December 2009 at 4:32 pm :

Alot of people my age think Sublime originally did “Smoke Two Joints” but it was by the Toyes. The only one I knew was “All Along The Watchtower” lol.

Posted by raxraxrax.com » Blog Archive » links for 2009-12-15 15. December 2009 at 9:28 pm :

[…] 10 Cover Songs You Might Be Surprised to Learn are Covers Every now and then you come across a song that you are 100% sure you know who the original artist is. Don’t bet your life on it. (tags: music) […]

Posted by andrew why 18. December 2009 at 1:50 pm :

Don’t forget about Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails!! I Like both versions.

Posted by BillyL 18. December 2009 at 6:52 pm :

and Roberta Flack’s cover of Lori Lieberman’s ‘Killing me Softly’

Posted by nancy 24. December 2009 at 3:59 am :

but NEIL DIAMOND wrote ‘RED RED WINE’, so how can it be by TONI TRIBE if Neil did perform and release it first also, huh SAM?

Posted by mark 31. December 2009 at 12:33 am :

Don’t believe that crap about Bruce hating Blinded by the Light and selling it to Manfred Mann. Bruce recorded it a couple of years before MM and it was the lead single off his first album.

Posted by mmuller 9. January 2010 at 9:21 pm :

A few surprises for me (Cyndi Lauper’s song, for example).
Two more songs for the list:
Natalie Imbruglia – Torn (originally by Ednaswap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLtDBlgDOwk)
Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes (originally by Jackie DeShannon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAQsOJbs-yo), a totally different version.

Posted by mmuller 9. January 2010 at 9:27 pm :

I forgot one:
Joe Cocker – You Can Leave Your Hat On (originally by Randy Newman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXFr_zZugjw

Posted by Locke 28. February 2010 at 3:31 pm :

I half-way expected to see Nirvana on here for Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Awesome list, though.

Posted by steve pipkin 16. July 2011 at 10:47 pm :

laura nyro wrote and recorded:
“wedding bell blues” covered by the fifth dimension
“eli’s coming” covered by three dog night
“stoney end” covered by barbra streisand
“and when i die” covered by blood sweat and tears
“save the country” covered by fifth dimension
“stoned soul picnic” covered by fifth dimension
“sweet blindness” covered by the fifth dimension

“the twist” was written and recorded by Hank Ballard and the midnighters then covered by Chubby Checker.
“Last Kiss” was written and recorded by Wayne Cochran before being covered by J Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers, then later covered by Pearl Jam.

Posted by steve pipkin 16. July 2011 at 10:54 pm :

I forgot to mention what a great post this is. Everyone has good follow up too. There were several songs mentioned by Teresa and commenters that i was unaware were covers.

Posted by JUNE BAXENDALE 23. October 2011 at 1:42 pm :

I’m trying to find a karaoke cd for The Fifth dimension’s version of laura nero’s SWEET BLINDNESS. Does anyone know where I can get one?

Posted by Bard Buster 7. June 2012 at 9:58 am :

FYI: The first solo album Annie Lennox produced was not “Medusa,” (1995) as stated above, but rather “Diva,” (1991). But I appreciate the nod to The Lover Speaks, with the awesome and talented lead singer David Green, who, I believe, died of a heroin overdose.

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