25 Popular Songs You May Not Realize Are Cover Songs

Posted by , Updated on April 20, 2024

It’s widely known that trends in the fashion industry often recur, and as it turns out, the same recursiveness can be witnessed in the music world too. Occasionally, an undiscovered melody can catapult into fame if another artist reinvents it. Also, sometimes, a popular song can reclaim its chartbuster status. Here is a compilation of songs that you’ve probably heard, unaware that they’re in fact cover versions.



Quinn the Eskimo (Mighty Quinn)

Quinn the Eskimo (Mighty Quinn)http://musicalstewdaily.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/mighty_quinn.jpg

The first on the list of songs originally written by Bob Dylan. Manfred Mann made this one a hit in 1968.


American Woman

American Womanhttp://img.auctiva.com/imgdata/1/6/2/2/0/2/9/webimg/533109886_o.jpg

Thanks to an Austin Powers sequel, Lenny Kravitz released “American Woman” and even won a Grammy for it in 2000. The song was written by Canadian rockers, The Guess Who. Being Canadian, the fact that it’s an American Woman makes a lot more sense.


Killing Me Softly with His Song

Killing Me Softly with His Songhttp://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/04/15/article-0-19509E79000005DC-952_634x493.jpg

In the 90s, The Fugees came out with an R&B version of this song, with Wyclef Jean counting all the way through it. The first person to make it a hit was Roberta Flack in 1973, but even that was a cover from 1971 by Lori Lieberman.


Last Kiss

Pearl jamhttp://classicrock961.com/files/2012/12/PJ.jpg

Children of the 90s are familiar with Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder singing this incredibly sad love song, but it was first released by  Wayne Cochran in 1961. Pearl Jam played it once through a sound check and decided to do it live. Who knew this revival would be such a hit?




311 made “Lovesong” a comeback hit in 2004 sparking many young fans to believe they wrote it. It’s actually a cover from The Cure’s #2 hit.


Big Yellow Taxi


The Counting Crows and Vanessa Cartlon paved paradise and made this song a hit in 2002, but first credit goes to Joni Mitchell in 1970.


Knockin' on Heaven's Door


Guns N’ Roses started playing this Bob Dylan cover live in 1987, and it was so well received that they ended up doing a studio recording as well in 1990.


There She Goes

sixpence None the Richerhttp://www.berklee.edu/sites/default/files/sixpence.png

Sixpence None the Richer brought this catchy tune back on the charts in the late 90s, but The Las did it first in 1988. The original version should sound familiar to you if you ever saw “So I Married An Axe Murderer.” Turns out the song is about heroin, too. Not as romantic, but still addictive. (Bad pun.)



Dixie Chickshttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9f/DixieChicksMSG062003.jpg

The Dixie Chicks hit #1 with this cover of Fleetwood Mac’s 1975 hit, much to the dismay of classic rock fans everywhere.




Garth Brooks made this a country-crossover hit in 1991, but the original credit goes to Billy Joel off of his 1989 album “Storm Front.” Billy had never released it as a single, but the popularity of Garth’s version made it a hit for the Piano Man, too.




When people think of this song, many now mainly think of Johnny Cash’s 2002 cover, but it was originally released by Nine Inch Nails in 1992.


Don't Turn Around


In 1994, Ace of Base hit the pop charts with this song that is widely associated with plenty of 90s montages. Tina Turner did it first in 1986.


Mony Mony

Mony Monyhttp://www.idolpeter.de/tl_files/12inch/81_09/12inch_billy_idol_jap_prp_8202_promo_1front.jpg

Billy Idol released a studio version of Mony Mony in 1981 and it was a hit. Then he released a live version of it in 1987 and it was a hit again. Before all that, it was a #1 hit for Tommy James and the Shondells.


Wagon Wheel

Darius Ruckerhttp://blackdressredwagon.com/wp-content/uploads/darius-rucker.jpg

Darius Rucker has had this song all over country radio, but many people know that it’s a cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s song. In an interesting twist, the chorus for Wagon Wheel was originally written by Bob Dylan. Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show years later would write in the verses and come away with the band’s most recognizable hit.


Twist and Shout

Twist and Shouthttp://3.bp.blogspot.com/_0FaQ7TxM2U0/S6tTksuzc6I/AAAAAAAAB-0/9MT-I0Wy2bY/s1600/gep8882-front.jpg

“Twist and Shout” is a popular song that everyone knows, and few people know who sang it first. The Isley Brothers get the credit with the first recording of it, but the Beatles’ version might be the most famous. Amazingly, the Beatles recorded it in one take. John Lennon’s voice gave out after the first take, and if you listen to it, you can tell why.


It's My Life

no doubthttp://i591.photobucket.com/albums/ss355/rcubed_photo/00-03-14.jpg

No Doubt didn’t want to write a new song for their greatest hits album, so they covered this 80s hit by Talk Talk.


I Will Always Love You

I Will Always Love Youhttp://b.vimeocdn.com/ts/251/690/251690596_640.jpg

Whitney Houston made this song tremendously popular as it was released with her film “The Bodyguard.” It’s not common knowledge, though, that this was originally sung by Dolly Parton in 1974.


The First Cut is the Deepest

The First Cut is the Deepesthttp://www.musicya.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Sheryl-Crow-The-First-Cut-Is-the-Deepest-Single.jpg

Sheryl Crow made this song a hit in 2003 with it staying 36 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100, but Cat Stevens gets the credit for the tune. Stevens recorded it in 1967.


Blinded by the Light

Blinded by the Lighthttp://2.bp.blogspot.com/_AlNKzE8_d2k/TDuqW2XV3OI/AAAAAAAABk8/urnEgoJ4DCY/s1600/15.jpg

If you listen to classic rock radio then you’ve probably heard this song by Manfred Mann. Surprisingly, it was originally written, recorded and released by Bruce Springsteen, yet for some reason Springsteen’s version was commercially unsuccessful and never made it on the music charts.


A Little Help from My Friends

joe cokerhttp://static.skynetblogs.be/media/74475/975095367.3.jpg

If you ever watched “The Wonder Years” then you definitely are familiar with Joe Cocker’s voice starting off every episode. His version is quite different from the original Beatles’ song as sung by Ringo Starr on the Sgt Pepper album.


Make You Feel My Love


While most recently Adele has brought this song back into the scene, Billy Joel was the first to record and release it commercially. But once again, the song credit goes to Bob Dylan. Dylan later released his own version after Billy Joel’s.


Blue Suede Shoes


1 for the money. 2 for the show. Elvis Presley took most of the credit for this hit song when he performed it three times on national television, but the real man with a shoe complex was rockabilly godfather Carl Perkins. The song turned out to be highly profitable for both artists. Go, cat, go!




This song shot back up into popularity after Rufus Wainwright’s version was featured in Shrek. Many people love Jeff Buckley’s soulful, bluesy version, but all of the credit must go to Leonard Cohen for this song that never gets old.



Aretha Franklinhttp://donnareydotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/aretha_franklin.jpg

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. We all know it. It doesn’t sound right without Aretha Franklin singing it, but it was actually written and sung by Otis Redding. Hey, guys need respect, too.


All Along the Watchtower

All Along the Watchtowerhttp://www.plasticosydecibelios.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/113821199.jpg

This song has been covered plenty of times. Arguably, the most famous version belongs to Jimi Hendrix, but the original song itself belongs to Bob Dylan. Again.