Popular Songs We Forget Are Covers

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So Many Covers, So Little Time

If you ask me, covers in the music industry are like remakes and sequels in the movie industry. After sometime, they are to be expected. And it seems like the same types of songs are covered as movies are remade. Either its a cult favorite or an instant classic. Never really in the middle.

However, I think some covers just like some movie remakes are not necessary. But then there are a solid few that you actually forget are covers. And to me that's the hallmark of a genuine artist. Having the ability to take someone else's original work and make it your own is a rare quality.

So without further ado, I present a few good songs that really belonged to someone else.

Boyz II Men "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday"

Boyz II Men essentially defined the 1990s and while now it's fun to reminisce on the days of parachute pants and hi-tops- back then they were making a name for themselves with distinct and unique harmonies.

In 1991, they burst on the scene with their debut album CooleyHighHarmony which is not only a tribute to the sounds of doo-wop but a tribute to an iconic Black American film of the 1970s, Cooley High starring Glynn Turman and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs.

And to pay further tribute, Nathan, Michael, Shawn and Wanya decided to cover the Motown song that plays at the beginning of the credits for the film, "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday."

The song was originally sung by Motown artist G.C. Cameron but as we all know, it is Boyz II Men's version that became the breakout hit. Released in 1991, as a tribute to their slain tour manager it hit #1 on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart and #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

But beyond that it is now a song you expect to hear at the end of a sad movie, funeral, graduation, and so on. Just don't pour out too much liquor at the end!

"Torn" Natalie Imbruglia

Unless you were too young or under a rock, "Torn" was probably on the mixtape of a girl you knew. And I'm sure that mixtape was called "Breakup Jams." But nonetheless Natalie Imbruglia had our number when this song came out in 1998.

But did you know this song actually belonged to alternative rock group Ednaswap? Me neither. They were a Los Angeles based band and released a total of four albums but actually broke up around the time Natalie's version of "Torn" became a worldwide smash.

"Torn" was on the group's first album released in the early 1990s. But it became Natalie Imbruglia's signature song. I listened to Ednaswap's version out of curiosity and soon realized why it was not a hit for them. In my opinion, it is overloaded with funky instruments and you soon forget what the song is about. Natalie Imbruglia did a better job of letting the lyrics grab you.

It obviously worked since Imbruglia's version was Grammy nominated and sold four million copies worldwide.

"Nothing Compares 2 U" Sinead O' Connor

It takes a great skill to take a track by an iconic artist and make it a worldwide smash. Yet somehow Sinead O' Connor did it.

Back in 1985 Prince had a band named The Family which was really was another vehicle for more Prince music. For their debut (and final) album they recorded a song called "Nothing Compares 2 U" - it went nowhere fast as did the group.

Across the pond, Sinead O' Connor decided to use the song as a single for her second album. While Prince's version was updated as a live duet between him and fellow band member Rosie Gaines, Sinead's version was a toned down power ballad that fit in well with early 1990s music culture.

The accompanying video resulted in O'Connor being the first female artist to win Video of the Year at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards. The song also hit #1 in the United States and several other countries, eventually becoming O' Connor's signature song.


"Respect" Aretha Franklin

What would this list be without the Queen of Soul? Aretha Franklin is in a category of her own and this song is no exception. But the same can be said the artist who originally wrote and record the song, Otis Redding.

In 1965, Otis Redding was the flagship artist on Stax records and had many hits to his name on the R&B charts. He wrote and recorded "Respect" from the perspective of a man who wanted to give his girlfriend anything she wanted. The song caught on and became a pretty big crossover hit for Otis.

But in two short years, Aretha Franklin managed to make the world forget that. She recorded "Respect" from the perspective of a woman whose man would not listen. The song not only became a hit, it became a feminist anthem and another Best Female R&B Vocalist(aka the Aretha Franklin award) Grammy for Queen Re.

"Twist and Shout" The Beatles

Two words come to mind when I hear "Twist and Shout" by The Beatles and that is "Ferris Bueller." And just like The Beatles, this song has an enduring legacy.

Even though this song is associated with being a breakthrough moment for The Beatles in the US, it started out as a dance hit for little known Phil Spector outfit, The Top Notes in 1961.

However, it really caught on for legendary R&B group The Isley Brothers in 1962. It was a solid R&B hit and did well as a crossover tune too.

But once John, Paul, George, and Ringo got a hold of it, the first strike of the British Invasion. The song helped propel their second album and EP to #1 in the UK and made a name for them across the pond.

In 1986, Matthew Broderick brought the song to the Gen X masses in that iconic parade scene in " Ferris Bueller's Day Off." It helped propel the song back to the top of the charts.

As recently as 2010, the song finally charted on the UK singles charts and on iTunes as the group's material was finally made available on the site.

"Lately" Jodeci

Stevie Wonder was always ahead of his time in what he sang about. And his slow-burning ballad of marital infidelity, "Lately" is no exception. However, it was a version by R&B group Jodeci that turned the song into a hit.

When I think of a Stevie Wonder love song, I usually think of him pining for a peer like in "My Cherie Amour" or bashfully in love as in "Uptight", or the ultimate wedding song "You are the Sunshine of My Life." But done wrong? Not Stevie.

That's why in 1993 as part of MTV's groundbreaking series, Unplugged, Jodeci delightfully melded their vocals with Stevie's lyrics and gave us a masterpiece. The song charted as the group's biggest pop hit peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles tracks.

"Everytime You Go Away" Paul Young

As with many songs on this list, they immediately conjure up a sense of specific time in one's life. And to me, Paul Young's version of "Everytime You Go Away" is one of those songs you hear at senior prom and instantly think of the last four years of your life flashing by.

But the original version, written and performed by the best duo of all-time Hall & Oates sounds more like a soulful torch song. It was not released as a single but does appear on their 1980 album voices.

Paul Young, an up and coming British artist was breaking away from a series of failed bands when he released his second solo album. "Everytime You Go Away" became his biggest hit worldwide.

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Comments 70 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Really interesting trivia here, Alecia! I knew about a couple of them, but most were a surprise. Great hub!


Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

Alecia, some of these I did know were covers, but many I didn't. Truly didn't know the origins of the song "Respect" and thank you for sharing. very interesting indeed and have of course voted up and shared too!!


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Great hub, awesome selection and enjoyed reading. Voted up and shared.


Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 4 years ago from Oklahoma

Another awesome hub! I agree that most of these covers were better than the originals. (I had to go to listen to the original Torn too.) The only original I prefer here is the Stevie Wonder version of "Lately". I have had that recording so long it just seems odd to hear anyone else sing it.

Sure didn't know Aretha wasn't the first to sing "Respect" though! Wow!

Voting up!


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

"NOTHING COMPARES TO U...", Alecia!

What a double pleasure of learning and listenening to the coolest music when I come to visit. Awesome job...very interesting!

Voted UP & UABI. Hugs, Maria


MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

I remember listening to "Nothing compares 2 u" over and over and over again when I was in school. I think it's still one of the best songs ever performed. Great job with this hub, really enjoyed it! :)


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks billybuc!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Janine! It's interesting how many people don't know about "Respect" being a cover.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thank you so much for coming by, commenting, and sharing Vellur!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Sharkye11,

I think if I had heard the original "Torn" closer to time Natalie Imbruglia's version came out, I might have a different opinion. But I think it's definitely an original you have to hear for yourself. I think alot of Stevie Wonder purists are on the fence with "Lately" but I grew up with the Jodeci version that I didn't even know it was a cover until around middle or high school. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thank you so much Maria as always :)!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi MelChi,

I agree that "Nothing Compares 2 U" is a highly infectious song. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

I love "Respect." Had no idea it was a cover.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Deborah,

You're definitely not alone. But I will say Otis Redding's version is pretty interesting since he sings from a man's perspective. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I'm like Deborah, I never knew "Respect" as a cover. Interesting Hub.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thank you mary615!


Mike Robbers profile image

Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

I had no idea that Torn was a cover ..

just listened to the original ,, Natalie indeed did a better job but I mostly appreciated the Ednaswap version as it is by real musicians manually playing musical instruments on a song THEY actually wrote :)

thanks for your really interesting and entertaining Hub Alecia, voted it up & shared


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Mike!

I agree Ednaswap did provide us with a great song but someone else happened to provide us with a better interpretation. Thank you so much for coming by, commenting, and sharing!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Alecia great hub - I had no clue about 'Torn' being a cover, Natalie does an amazing job on that song. I love Otis Redding, my favourite song of all time is 'Sitting On The Dock of The Bay' but I have never heard his version of Respect. I love Aretha's version though, what's not to like! Nothing Compares 2 U remains Sinead's greatest song but that whole album was excellent - Price certainly knows how to write a song!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Jools!

I was surprised about Torn as well. It was one of the reasons I decided to do this hub. Respect is surprising to alot of people because I think Aretha's version came out so soon after the original and quickly overshadowed it. And Prince is definitely great at writing songs. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!


Shinkicker profile image

Shinkicker 4 years ago from Scotland

Interesting Hub Alecia

I didn't know that 'Respect' was a cover version, I've always associated that with Aretha. I didn't realise 'Torn' was a cover either.

Nice choices. I voted for Sinead O'Connor from your selection.

All the best


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Shinkicker,

So far "Respect" and "Torn" are the biggest surprises. But I think that's a compliment to the artists. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Your musical tastes certainly span many years -- I'm glad to see that many of my classic favorites are here, and am looking forward to listening to your modern choices. Voting this Up and Interesting.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks alocsin- I think you'll enjoy many of these songs.


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Okay Alecia, this hub is awesome! I did not know that any of these songs are covers. I really like the Boyz II Men song. Good work! Vote up and sharing too.


MazioCreate profile image

MazioCreate 4 years ago from Brisbane Queensland Australia

Great hub Alecia! I had no idea about the history of these songs. Congratulations on compiling this list. Liked and shared.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Thanks for the blast from the past, enjoyed reading you hub.

Vote up and more !!! SHARING !


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi ChristyWrites,

It is interesting to find out how many people didn't know these songs were covers. Thanks so much for coming by, commenting, and sharing!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi MazioCreate,

I'm so glad you enjoyed reading this hub! Thank you for coming by, commenting and sharing!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi kashmir56,

I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for Sharing :).


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Wow, what a neat hub! The only one I knew was a remake is Twist and Shout. The rest I had no idea. I love most of those songs. Fun hub!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I love RESPECT the best. Every time I hear it - it makes me want to sing along. Interesting post and I learned something new today.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Victoria,

Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi teaches12345,

Respect is a song that's easy to love. Thanks as always :)!


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 4 years ago from United States

RESPECT! This hub brought back some great memories and provided some much needed musical entertainment!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Dexter,

I'm so glad you enjoyed this hub! Thank you for coming by and commenting!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Any hub with Boyz II Men in it is a fav of mine! Great covers Alecia!!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Sunshine!


Rfordin profile image

Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

It's a toss up for me between Boys II Men and Sinead O'Conner.....both of them I remember so fondly from my teen years......anyhoo cool hub!

~Becky


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hey Becky,

I think that's a great disposition to have! Thanks for coming by and commenting :).


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

Respect is my favorite!! Great hub. Didn't know so many of these were actually covers! Thanks for filling me in! Sharing.


JoanCA profile image

JoanCA 4 years ago

I knew Nothing Compares 2 U was a cover but I'm shocked by Torn. That was such a huge song. I never knew it was a cover.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Michelle, Respect is a favorite of mine as well :)!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi JoanCA,

Torn is what inspired this hub- I really had no idea that was a cover. It definitely defined the 90s breakup song- that's for sure! Thanks for coming by and commenting!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

I never realised that Nothing compares to u was a cover! I learn something new every day! lol! my son love Boyz 11 Men, he used to be singing all their hits back then, great hub and voted and shared, nell


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Nell,

I'm with your son-I still sing Boyz II Men-those songs never gets old! I didn't realize NC2U was a cover until a few years back either. Thanks for coming by and commenting!


Jordanwalker39 profile image

Jordanwalker39 4 years ago from GA

Interesting, voted up!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Jordanwalker39!


DanaTeresa profile image

DanaTeresa 4 years ago from Ohio

Nicely done. Perfect mix of fun facts and great songs.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Dana!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

All of your hubs are enduring! You do such a superb job of covering all the details and the artists. Your videos are impeccable as well. We could actually take my favorite song here and apply it to you....Nothing Compares 2 U....and your music hubs!

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi tillsontitan,

Nothing Compares 2 U is a favorite of mine as well. Thanks so much for your compliments and comments :)!


George Greene Jr. profile image

George Greene Jr. 4 years ago from California PA

I have an interesting cover you did not list. Neil Sedaka doing a cover of his own song "Breaking Up is Hard to Do".. the original was a do-wop while the second was a ballad. he is the only artist to hit #1 on the charts with the same song done 2 different ways by the same artist.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi George,

Thanks again for coming by. Didn't know that about Neil Sedaka- thanks for sharing that information.


2patricias profile image

2patricias 4 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

When my kids were teenagers they were really impressed because I knew the words to so many chart songs. I was a bit sad to admit that they were almost all covers - I could remember the originals.

Nice hub!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi 2patricias,

That's very interesting about the songs your kids enjoyed actually being covers. It seems like a continuing trend. Thank you so much for coming by and commenting!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 4 years ago

....a most excellent hub presentation Alecia and a valued and cherished trip down memory lane - love your choices here and your research and commentary is world class all of the way and I thank you for your passion and obvious love of all kinds of music. I love 'cover' versions too and I am a big fan of jazz and the blues and gospel and reggae.

Sending you warm wishes and good energy to you from lake erie time ontario canada 2:43pm and a really terrific acapella group to recommend to you - are - The Persuasions - check 'em out on You Tube and Billy Stewart , too.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi epigramman,

I do enjoy all kinds of music and talking to others about all kinds of music. I will definitely look up the Persuasions and Billy Stewart. Thanks so much for your compliment and coming by :)!


Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

Very nice list. Sometimes people use the word "cover" in a disparaging way, as though no cover could ever be as good as the original. Certainly not always the case. Another one people seem to forget is "I Will Always Love You," which is so strongly associated with Whitney Houston was written and first recorded by Dolly Parton.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Sherry,

Alot of people did seem to forget "I Will Always Love You" was originally done by Dolly Parton. While more people know Whitney's version, I like the simplicity of Dolly's as well. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!


George Greene Jr. profile image

George Greene Jr. 4 years ago from California PA

here is a debatable question...

which "PINBALL WIZARD" is the cover?

the who

or SIr Elton John?


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

I don't know George Greene- I don't follow that song.


George Greene Jr. profile image

George Greene Jr. 4 years ago from California PA

Elton John sang it in the movie and The Who did it on the album! That's what makes this one a controversial one!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Okay.


msLarayne profile image

msLarayne 3 years ago from New York, NY

Don't forget about "I Will Always Love You"! Whitney made it unforgettable by Dolly Parton made it! And then there's Ain't No Mountain High Enough. That was first Marvin Gaye & Tammy Terrell. Then Diana Ross sang it. You're Just Too Good To Be True by Frankie Vallie was redone by Lauryn Hill. I swear this post is bringing out the music nerd in me! lol


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 3 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi MsLarayne,

I forgot to mention Whitney. The others I'm not as crazy about, especially Diana trying to be her own force in Ain't No Mountain High Enough. And while I grew up on the Lauryn Hill version of "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" I'm more partial to the original now. Thanks for coming by! I love talking with fellow music nerds :).


Lorne Hemmerling profile image

Lorne Hemmerling 3 years ago from Port Hope

This is a great post! I had no idea Hall and Oates penned 'Everytime You Go Away', and I thought I was a know-it-all music trivia freak. Now I am!


Kristine Manley profile image

Kristine Manley 3 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Love this Hub! For a moment there I thought I could sing. Voted Up.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 3 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Lorne,

I only learned about that a few years ago and I was just as surprised. Both versions are awesome! Thanks for coming by and commenting :).


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 3 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Kristine,

You can sing :). Thank you for coming by!

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