Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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We’ve all experienced having our mind completely blown upon learning one of our favorite songs was actually a cover. For some folks, my recent Tales From The Crates feature where I took a deep dive into the backstory of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn,” and how many artists had recorded it before her, provided such a moment.
If you already knew “Torn” was a cover, there are plenty more potentially mind-blowing, “I can’t believe that song was a cover,” moments from the decade. I’ve compiled a list of 10 such songs, and even I didn’t know all of them were actually covers. The original music for one of them dates all the way back to 1948!
As we get into this list, kicking things off is a song some may have a hard time handling was a cover.
“Hard To Handle”
For many of us, “Hard To Handle” was the first time we discovered the music of The Black Crowes, but their 1990 hit was originally released by Otis Redding in 1968. Old school hip-hop fans will immediately recognize the first notes of the song, because it was sampled by Marley Marl for “The Symphony.”
To their credit, Chris Robinson and crew did a great job of making “Hard to Handle” their own, while not straying too far from the original.
“It's All Coming Back to Me Now”
I hate to open a Pandora’s Box, but one of the songs most associated with Celine Dion was originally performed by a band named Pandora’s Box. Back in 1989 the Elaine Caswell led band released the original version of the Jim Steinman penned classic.
Celine Dion lent her own remarkable voice to the song in 1996, and while the two versions of the song are quite similar, the videos are worlds apart. Celine, for some reason, didn’t go with the leather S&M religious cult theme of the original. Damned shame.
“No More ‘I Love You’s’”
When you think of Annie Lennox’s solo career, “No More ‘I Love You’s’” is probably one of the first songs that comes to mind, but while she released her version of the song in 1995, the original came to us nine years earlier from a band named The Lover Speaks.
The Lover Speaks was a male new wave duo hailing from England, but “No More ‘I Love You’s’” is clearly a non gender specific sentiment.
I’m hazarding a guess here for as to how the song made its way to Annie Lennox, but when The Lover Speaks were originally looking for a record deal they sent a copy of their demo tape to Dave Stewart – yes, the same Dave Stewart who was one half of the Eurythmics with Annie Lennox – so something tells me she knew about this song way before any of us did.
“It’s Oh So Quiet”
I have to admit, when I found out Björk’s “It’s Oh So Quiet” was actually a cover, it came as a bit of a surprise. The original version was released in 1948 by an artist named Horst Winter, and it’s in German.
The first English language version was done by Betty Hutton in 1951, and released as the B-side to the song “Murder, He Says.” Hutton’s version seems to have been the blueprint for Björk’s version.
In 1995 Björk added her own unique energy to the song, making “It’s Oh So Quiet” her own.
“Angel of Mine”
Raise your hand if you had any idea Monica’s 1998 hit single “Angel of Mine” was a cover.
No hands? Don’t worry, mine wasn’t raised either. What’s really wild about this is that the original version was released just one year prior, and was a legit hit overseas.
British R&B trio Eternal released “Angel of Mine” in 1997 as a new single on their Greatest Hits album (don’t get me started on the decades long trend of putting a new song on a Greatest Hits album). The song would turn out to be worthy of the album’s title, as “Angel of Mine” reached #4 on the UK Singles Chart, and helped the album achieve triple platinum status in the UK.
Fast-forward to 1998, and Monica released her version of “Angel of Mine,” which sounds very similar to the original.
Would Monica have recorded this song had American audiences been familiar with Eternal? My guess is probably not, but it’s a great song, so let’s just be happy it made its way to our ears.
“Don’t Turn Around”
Ace of Base gave us a memorable cover of the Bananarama classic “Cruel Summer,” but I, for one, had no idea the Swedish pop band’s “Don’t Turn Around” was originally a Tina Turner song.
To say Tina’s version of the song, which was released in 1986 as the B-side to “Typical Male,” sounds a bit different would be an understatement.
“Don’t Turn Around” would go on to be covered by Luther Ingram, Aswad, and Bonnie Tyler before Ace of Base released their memorable version in 1993.
“Turn the Beat Around”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always considered “Turn The Beat Around” a Gloria Estefan song. Apparently I was wrong, because it’s actually a Vicki Sue Robinson song. Robinson released “Turn The Beat Around” way back in 1976, and the disco tune would make its way all the way up to #10 on the Billboard pop chart.
In 1994 Gloria Estefan released her version of “Turn The Beat Around,” turning it into a killer Latin dance pop song that immediately gets you out of your seat and moving.
“I’m Goin’ Down”
If you’re of an age where you might’ve seen the 1976 movie Car Wash, you may remember that “I’m Goin’ Down” was originally from that movie’s soundtrack. The song was performed by the R&B group Rose Royce, whose other hits include “Car Wash,” “I Wanna Get Next to You,” “Wishing on a Star,” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.”
In 1994 Mary J. Blige covered “I’m Goin’ Down,” and in the process proved that, vocally, she could hang in just about any era. Rather than update the song, she basically said, OK, I’m about to be in the ‘60s, let’s make it happen, and she did.
“There She Goes”
Sixpence None The Richer sometimes gets labeled a one-hit wonder, but while “Kiss Me” was gigantic, “There She Goes” was a Top 40 hit for the band, as well. It was also originally by an English band named The La’s.
The La’s released the song in 1988, and it’s considered part of the foundation of what would become the ‘90s Britpop explosion.
Sixpence None the Richer’s 1999 cover of “There She Goes” was a pop gem for its own time, and the band deserves bonus points for having Adam Goldberg in the video.
“Can't Get Enough of You Baby”
Smash Mouth are no strangers to covers, putting their own spin on old favorites like “I’m a Believer,” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” Sometimes, however, it can be tough to tell if a song is a Smash Mouth original, or a cover, because they’re so damned good at making these songs their own. This was the case with “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby.”
The song was originally released by The Four Seasons in 1966, and then covered by ? and the Mysterians the following year. The former sounds nothing like the Smash Mouth version we all know.
The latter, on the other hand, has more of the musical architecture we’re familiar with.
In 1998 Smash Mouth released their cover of “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby,” which was featured on the soundtrack to the classic ‘90s teen movie Can’t Hardly Wait.
Today, it’s still in rotation on ’90s pop, and rock, radio stations, because we really can’t get enough of it, baby.