Songs Songs You Didn't Realize Were Covers  

Devon Ashby
2.6k votes 400 voters 31k views 29 items

It's amazing how different a cover song can be from an original. How many popular songs are out there that were first recorded by somebody else? A new interpretation by a different artist can give a song an entirely different feel, make it seem more relevant, or just intensify the vibe it already had, making it one of the best cover songs ever. Sometimes, an updated version of a song can even turn a commercial flop into a chart-topping hit.

From R&B hits re-recorded by '80s rock stars, to rappers riffing on girl groups, to stripped-down country western takes on brooding industrial ballads and a heaping helping of weird, this list features all kinds of songs you didn't know were covers. Sure, you think Hendrix when you hear "Hey Joe," but who was he covering?

Read on to find out which song remakes are actually cover songs and vote below for the best songs that you didn't know were actually covers of other artists.
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube
Cyndi Lauper's ode to Girl Power has been telling the fun-hating patriarchy where to stick it since 1982. Strangely, though, the song wasn't originally recorded by a woman at all - it was written and recorded as a demo by Robert Hazard, a Philadelphia musician - necesetating a change of genders in the song.
114 26
Did this surprise you?
2 135 VOTES

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube
One of Jimi Hendrix's most iconic tunes is the creepy and misanthropic "Hey Joe," about a dude who plans to gun down his girlfriend. "Hey Joe" was originally recorded by rock group The Leaves in 1966, and a year later by Hendrix.
103 32
Did this surprise you?
3 81 VOTES

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

It's hard to believe that Toni Basil's '80s pop staple "Mickey" was a cover of an earlier song, but what's even more remarkable is that "Mickey" wasn't originally called "Mickey" at all - recorded in 1979 by the UK group Racey, the song's initial title was "Kitty," and its subject was a woman, not a man.

Aside from their titular love object, Basil's lyrics are pretty much identical to those in the Racey version. (Some people claim Basil chose the name "Mickey" as a wink and nod to Mickey Dolenz, of The Monkees, who she had worked with on the set of the movie Head.)

Also Ranked

#10 on The Greatest Pop Songs by One-Hit Wonders

#14 on The Greatest Songs by One-Hit Wonders

#14 on The Greatest Songs by '80s One-Hit Wonders

67 14
Did this surprise you?
see more on Mickey
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube
"House of the Rising Sun" is a traditional blues song, and nobody really knows who the original writers or performers were. The earliest recorded version goes back to 1934, recorded by an Appalachian musician who, in turn, claimed he learned it from his grandfather. The most well known take on the track was cut by The Animals in 1964.
113 42
Did this surprise you?