Songs You Didn't Realize Were Covers

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.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

  • Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
    Video: YouTube

    Cyndi Lauper's ode to Girl Power has been telling the fun-hating patriarchy where to stick it since 1983. 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 - necessitating a change of genders in the song.

    449 votes
  • Superstition
    Video: YouTube
    334 VOTES

    The Stevie Wonder hit "Superstition" has a little-known backstory involving guitar god Jeff Beck. Beck claimed that he and Wonder hooked up and wrote the song together, with Beck providing the song's backbeat and melody. But Wonder released his version before Beck recorded his, and scored a monster hit with it. Beck released his version, recorded with the power trio Beck, Bogert, & Appice, in 1973 - a year after Wonder's.

    334 votes
  • Mickey
    Video: YouTube
    329 VOTES

    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 the late 1970s by the UK group Racey, the song's initial title was "Kitty."

    Aside from their titular love object, Basil's lyrics are pretty much identical to those in the Racey version.

  • Piece of My Heart
    Video: YouTube

    Blues-inspired Big Brother and the Holding Company turned this song into one of Janis Joplin's biggest hits, but the original was performed Aretha Franklin's big sister Erma, whose velvety Motown version was recorded in 1967.

    294 votes
  • Torn
    Video: YouTube
    250 VOTES

    In the late '90s, it was briefly impossible to escape from Natalie Imbruglia's strummy alt rock ballad about betrayal and disappointment. But Imbruglia's ubiquitous rendition was actually a remake of a harder-edged version by early '90s rock band Ednaswap.

    250 votes
  • Time Is on My Side
    Video: YouTube

    "Time Is on My Side" was written and recorded by Irma Thomas in 1964, inspiring an immediate slew of reinterpretations. The most popular was a cover by The Rolling Stones. It's also been recorded by Patti Smith, Cat Power, Michael Bolton, and countless others.

    208 votes