Hit Songs We Had No Idea Were Written By A Different Hit-Maker

List Rules
Vote up the songs you're surprised to discover were written by someone else.

We all have songs we know and love by artists we revere, and many of our favorites convey the emotion of the person singing them. Or do they?

Here is a list of songs that you likely didn't know were written by someone else - but may rank among your all-time favorites. The stories behind them are fascinating. If you're wondering how Bruce Springsteen felt about Manfred Mann's cover of "Blinded by the Light," what Trent Reznor has to do with "Old Town Road," or how "Party in the U.S.A." made Jessie J rich beyond her wildest dreams, check out the list below!


  • In the mid-1970s, David Bowie and John Lennon were fond of jamming together in New York City. The Thin White Duke invited his friend into the studio to record a cover of Lennon's "Across the Universe" for inclusion on Young Americans, and Lennon happily obliged.

    In between takes, the former Beatle and guitarist Carlos Alomar were messing around and playing a riff over the early 1960s hit, Footstompin' Pt. 1, and Lennon repeatedly yelled "Aim!" as they jammed. From there, "aim" morphed into "fame," and Lennon wrote the lyrics to the rest of song - which became Bowie's first No. 1 in the United States.

    • Artist: David Bowie
    • Composer: David Bowie, John Lennon, Carlos Alomar
  • British band UB40 didn't know "Red Red Wine" was originally a Neil Diamond song and miscredited him on the track when they recorded it in 1983. 

    Astro, UB40's trumpet player, said, "Even when we saw the writing credit which said 'N Diamond,' we thought it was a Jamaican artist called Negus Diamond." Lead singer Ali Campbell concurred. "[W]e only knew it as a reggae song," he said. "We had no idea that Neil Diamond wrote it."

    Another version UB40 may have been familiar with was recorded by reggae artist Tony Tribe, which became a hit in the UK in 1969. 

    • Artist: UB40
    • Composer: Neil Diamond
  • Aretha Franklin Turned 'Respect' By Otis Redding Into A Feminist Anthem
    Photo: Atlantic Records / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    In 1967, when the Queen of Soul recorded her version of "Respect," she reworked the song's proclamation of male entitlement into a powerful feminist anthem. Upon hearing her version, Redding said, "Well, I guess it’s that girl’s song now." 

    "Respect" stayed at the top of  the charts for 12 weeks and made Franklin a superstar - but she hardly made any money from it. All the royalties went to its writer, Otis Redding, whose estate still profits from the song today.

    • Artist: Aretha Franklin
    • Composer: Otis Redding
  • Prince Loved The Bangles So Much He Gave Them 'Manic Monday'
    Photo: Columbia

    In 1984, Prince and the Bangles discovered and began to admire each other's work. Prince even joined the band onstage to play guitar during a performance of "Hero Takes a Fall."

    While the Bangles were recording their second album, Prince gave them a demo of "Manic Monday," which singer Susanna Hoffs still has. She told NPR:

    We Bangles hovered around the cassette machine - 'cause back then, it was tape - and we were smitten with the song... One thing that we Bangles decided en masse, and were very unified in this, that we wanted to kind of make it ours - Bangle-fy it, in a sense.

    The song was a huge hit, and Hoffs remains grateful to Prince. "I wish I had had a chance in the decades after to tell him that, to just say 'thank you for the song,'" she said. "It's still fun to sing, every time."

    • Artist: The Bangles
    • Composer: Prince
  • Willie Nelson Sold 'Crazy' To Patsy Cline For $25
    Photo: PBS

    When Willie Nelson wrote "Crazy," he wasn't yet a household name. He was a struggling young musician trying to make a name for himself in Nashville. Enter Pasty Cline's husband, Charlie Dick, who met the young songwriter at the legendary Tootsie's Orchid Lounge to ask him about the song. As Nelson explained:

    I had just come from Texas and I had recorded "Night Life" and "Crazy" and had it on a 45 on the jukebox trying to get some attention drawn to it in Nashville. Tootsie let me put it on her jukebox. Charlie said, "...that is a fantastic song. Patsy would love to do that, I'll bet" and I said, "I'd love for her to do it." He said, "Let's go play it for her." This was like 12:30 at night. So we went over to her house and had a couple of beers. I didn't get out of the car. Charlie went in and Patsy came out and made me get out of the car. I went in and sang it for her and she recorded it the next week.

    Nelson sold "Crazy" to Patsy Cline for $25. It became a smash for her and has since been covered by Loretta Lynn, Linda Ronstadt, Cassandra Wilson, and even Willie Nelson himself. 

    • Artist: Patsy Cline
    • Composer: Willie Nelson
  • UK pop sensation Jessie J wrote "Party In The U.S.A." with the intention of releasing it herself. However, her label thought it would be a better fit for Miley Cyrus. The track, written with Dr. Luke and Claude Kelly, proved to be a massive hit for the former Disney Channel star.

    Jessie J, who has written songs for the likes of Chris Brown, has no regrets about not recording the song herself. According to her, it was very lucrative:

    You've got to write songs, that's where the money is, being an artist. "Party In the U.S.A." paid my rent for, like, three years. Actually, it was longer than that. That's where I get most of my money. I write songs. I'm a singer. I love doing endorsements and stuff, but that's all added on.

    • Artist: Miley Cyrus
    • Composer: Jessie J, Lukasz Gottwald, Claude Kelly