Sometimes a cover of a song ends up doing far better than the original. Some covers are so good that we didn't even realize the cover version wasn't actually the original. We asked our friends on Reddit to chime in with some covers they thought were even better than the originals. Let us know in the comments if you agree!
1. Killing Me Softly by Roberta Flack
“It just keeps getting better. I mentioned liking the Roberta Flack song, and my wife and her entire family were like, ‘You mean, the Fugees' song, right?' So I Googled it to prove Roberta Flack did it first. We were both wrong. Lori Leiberman did it first,” one person said.
2. Tainted Love by Soft Cell
One person said, “The one that comes to mind is ‘Tainted Love.’ I thought the Soft Cell version from 1982 was the original, but it was originally recorded by Motown artist Gloria Jones 17 years before.”
Another person replied, “I had absolutely no idea that was a cover!”
3. Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper
Another famous cover that most people don’t know about was the Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper.
“My brother told me that Girls Just Want To Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper is actually a cover. Looked it up, he's right. I had NO idea,” one person shared.
“Wow. I saw her perform that live, but I had no idea that wasn't her song. Please don't tell me she didn't do True Colors,” another one replied.
4. 1985 by Bowling for Soup
Bowling for Soup, or BFS, is a four-member American band formed in 1994 in Texas.
One person said, “1985: Bowling for Soup is the version most folks know about but it was written by SR-71.”
Another Redditor replied, “Came here to say this. I like SR-71, but the bowling for the Soup version is a lot better.”
One commenter added, “I heard SR-71s version not too long ago. Thought they did a bad cover tbh. TIL.”
5. Cum on Feel the Noize by Quiet Riot
The original version was by Slade, but it seems like Quiet Riot sang it better.
“Right. Quiet Riot was a good band but basically a Slade cover band,” one person said.
“I remember telling my mom this, and she was very surprised. She even knew about Slade already, but she didn’t know the Quiet Riot cover was a cover,” another added.
6. A Message to You, Rudy by the Specials
The song “A Message to You, Rudy” was originally by Dandy Livingston and made famous by The Specials, although many people thought the band did it first. It was a great song that achieved broader success later.
One person said, “A Message to You, Rudy by The Specials. It's such an iconic song that most people don't realize it was originally by Dandy Livingston.”
7. I Got My Mind Set on You by George Harrison
“Thing about the original is that there are actual lyrics, and it isn't nearly as mind-numbingly repetitive as the George Harrison version (even though I was hooked on that song as a kid),” one person stated.
Another commenter added, “That one took me by surprise when I read about that. I never would have guessed that it wasn't a GH song.”
8. Pancho and Lefty by Willie Nelson
One person said, “Poncho and Lefty. Made famous by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, and originally performed by the late Townes Van Zandt.”
Another one added, “This is how I discover Townes. I can't listen to the Willie Nelson version anymore.”
9. Angel From Montgomery by Bonnie Raitt
The late John Prine was a brilliant country-folk-music singer. He was renowned for his unique music, which frequently included humor but also had political and social commentary in it.
“John Prine was the one who originally composed and performed it. I think he heard Bonnie Raitt perform it, and then he gave it to her,” one person stated.
10. Twist and Shout by the Beatles
One person shared, “The Beatles' version of Twist and Shout. Twist and Shout was written by Phil Medley and Bert Russel in 1961. It was originally recorded by the Top Notes, but it did not become a hit in the record charts until it was reworked by the Isley Brothers in 1962.”
Another Redditor added, “Isley Brothers version is better in my opinion.”
11. Love Hurts by Nazareth
The American songwriter Boudleaux Bryant wrote the song “Love Hurts,” which he also composed. The song was first recorded by the Everly Brothers in July 1960, but is best remembered for the 1974 rendition by Scottish hard rock band Nazareth that became an international smash.
One person commented in disbelief, “Didn't know this.”
12. Istanbul, Not Constantinople by They Might Be Giants
The song was originally performed by The Four Lads and released in 1958. It was later sung by They Might Be Giants in 1990.
One person said, “Old school Dr. Demento fans know this.”
The second person replied, “I knew that one, my father went to high school with them in Toronto in the 40s.”
13. Blinded by the Light by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
“Manfred Mann's Earth Band's – Blinded By The Light. A cover of Bruce Springsteen's song,” one person said.
“It's also the only US Billboard #1 song written by Springsteen. The highest charting song performed by Springsteen is ‘Dancing in the Dark' which peaked at #2,” another person replied.
“Springsteen recorded ‘Blinded By The Light', and it was on one of his earlier albums. It was not a hit for him. Mannfred Mann covered the song, and it was a huge hit for them,” one commenter added.
14. Valerie by Amy Winehouse
Originally performed by the Zutons in 2007, Amy Winehouse’s version of Valerie came out the following year, just after it was released, so many people don’t know that it was a cover.
“I think most people know this?” asked one person.
“Nah. The cover came out too soon after the zutons… Most people don't know it's a cover, [nor] who the zutons are,” another Redditor stated.
“Amy did well with the cover. You are correct, it came too early. Love the video by Zutons,” one commenter replied.
15. Without You by Mariah Carey
As many people know, without You by Mariah Carey was originally recorded and performed by Badfinger in 1970. However, her cover was so good that many people assumed it was hers—until they dug deeper. Turns out the song was written and first performed by Pete Ham and Tom Evans, from the band Badfinger. Who knew?
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