Five Hit Songs You Never Knew Were Covers

It can be extremely disheartening to realise a song you love is indeed a cover from another band. It’s a cruel brand of deception that can leave you feeling hollow and cheated on. I remember once worshipping the complex, lyrical genius of Bow Wow Wow‘s I Want Candy. After associating it with hoop earrings, pseudo-mullets and aviators, it was a total slap to the brain to find out it was the song of a 60s band who favoured high pants and cropped hair instead.

The music world can be a very elitist place and there’s some things you should probably just know by now. In the company of music nerds, complimenting the songwriting abilities of Joan Jett when referring to I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll can be fatal. When you next find yourself charming the pants off a rugged muso, keep these tracks in mind to make sure that the first kiss isn’t your Last Kiss.

5. The Clash – I Fought The Law

Seminal punks The Clash have graced our ears with many a hit over the years – one of the biggest being I Fought The Law.  This chugging, sarcastic submission to the system wasn’t always spat through a sneer from Joe Strummer. In fact, the version we all know and love is actually a cover of a cover. The original was written by Sonny Curtis of The Crickets – a band Buddy Holly fronted for a while in the 50s.

After six years with little attention, The Bobby Fuller Four decided to up the tempo.

With echoes of the original still ringing through, the two tracks really aren’t so different. Though this version managed to score #175 on the Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. The Clash resurrected this boppin’ jam in 1979 and proved that punk pays homage to all sorts of genres.

4. Soft Cell – Tainted Love

The Clash weren’t the only ones who were making a Lazarus out of tracks preceding them by decades. Soft Cell brought us Tainted Love in 1981 after being written by Ed Cobb of The Four Preps in 1964. One year later, Gloria Jones released this explosive track doused with raw female power.

Soft Cell may have stripped back some soul, but they certainly made up for it with one of the most recognisable synth lines of all time.

3. Natalie Imbruglia – Torn

If you’ve ever laid naked on the floor and had an existential breakdown, you’ve probably spilled a few indulgent tears on your keyboard whilst downloading Natalie Imbruglia on LimeWire.

Her angst-ridden cargo pants weren’t the only things she took from the original grungy track by EDNASWAP. Imbruglia chopped, changed and released the cover in 1997, the same year as the original

2. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Hey Joe

“Hey Joe, where are you going with that song in your hand?” is what I imagine Jimi Hendrix must have said when The Leaves first released Hey Joe in 1965.

The song has since become a rock standard and has been performed by hundreds of musicians in hundreds of different styles. The most notable is obviously The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s delectable cover released one year later.

1. Nirvana – Love Buzz

Perhaps the most bizarre of the list is Nirvana’s Love Buzz. The leap between Shocking Blue‘s original release in 1969 and Cobain’s screeching feedback-fest is an absolute transformation.

His attire seems to have also been inspired by the music video.

Whilst it can be awful to realise you’ve popped an artist on a pedestal built almost exclusively by other people, covers can be an excellent way to expand your music taste. I’d never have discovered Jefferson Airplane if it weren’t for a childhood infatuation with Kurt Cobain and learning of his affinity for 60s psych bands. That being said, I also wouldn’t have heard Big Tymer’s original version of Devil Wears Prada‘s Still Fly and contracted a throat infection from hysterical cackling.

Image: The Richest