Huffpost Arts

Cover Songs More Famous Than Originals: 20 Tunes That Fit The Bill (VIDEOS)

Posted: Updated:

History has shown us that not every musical hit is unique to the artist. Take Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You." When that catchy tune fell into the hands of the late Whitney Houston, the powerful ballad became an instant success, but many of the people caught humming the melody had no idea a blonde bombshell was the mastermind behind the hit.

Houston's rendition is just one of a number of cover songs that eventually became more famous than the originals. We've compiled a list of some of these beloved gems below; let us know which ones surprised you in the comments.

1. "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor (original by Prince/The Family)

O'Connor's breathy song was actually written by "Purple Rain" genius Prince for one of his side projects, The Family. But the Irish songstress was the one whose tears actually brought it to the general public.

2. "All Along the Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix (original by Bob Dylan)

Yes, that guitar-heavy hit was actually first written and performed by ol' Bobby D for his 1967 album "John Wesley Harding."

3. "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" by Joan Jett (original by Arrows)

Joan Jett first saw Arrows perform "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" on their self-titled television show in 1976. Three years later, she recorded the song with Steve Jones and Paul Cook from the Sex Pistols; now it's ranked number 89 on the Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Guitar Songs.

4. "Hound Dog" by Elvis (original by Big Mama Thorton)

Elvis's hip-swaying version came after Big Mama Thorton performed the song -- written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stollerback -- in 1952. (His fans added the screams.)

5. "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell (original by Gloria Jones)

The song was originally written by The Four Preps band member Ed Cobb and was recorded by soul singer Gloria Jones in 1964. The song wasn't a real hit, however, until Soft Cell infused the melody with their British synth-pop sounds in 1981.

6. "Cocaine" by Eric Clapton (original by JJ Cale)

The hit was written and recorded by "Tulsa Sound" musician JJ Cale in 1976, but Mr. Clapton brought the song to the charts with his 1977 cover.

7. "True Love Will Find You in the End" by Beck (original by Daniel Johnston)

Fans of Daniel Johnston know the Texas-based singer and artist was the first to put the words "‘cause true love is searching too" to paper. Beck later made the tune a little more popular.

8. "I Fought The Law" by The Clash (original by The Crickets)

The Crickets musician Sonny Curtis first wrote the song in 1958, then the the Bobby Fuller Four covered it in 1964 and finally The Clash made their well-known rendition in 1979.

9. "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley (original by Leonard Cohen)

Jeff Buckley's eerie and heartfelt version of "Hallelujah" is what comes to many people's mind first, but the writer behind the hit is none other than the great Leonard Cohen.

10. "Blinded by the Light" by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (original by Bruce Springsteen)

Did you know the iconic song was actually written by the Boss? Well, now you do.

11. "It's My Life" by No Doubt (original by Talk Talk)

"It's My Life" is a song by the British synthpop band Talk Talk, but it was made famous by No Doubt in 2003.

12. "There She Goes" by Six Pence None The Richer (original by The Las)

The song was written by British singer and guitarist Lee Mavers and recorded by his band, The Las, in 1988. Eleven years later, Six Pence None The Richer recorded the song and made it their own.

13. "The Man Who Sold The World" by Nirvana (original by David Bowie)

The Bowie song was number 45 in Kurt Cobain's personal list of 50 favorite songs. Throughout the early '90s, his cover reigned supreme on MTV and in college dorms everywhere.

14. "Respect" by Aretha Franklin (original by Otis Redding)

"Respect" was originally written and released by Stax recording artist Otis Redding in 1965, but the song became a real hit for R&B singer Aretha Franklin two years later.

15. "Me and Bobby McGee" by Janis Joplin (original by Kris Kristofferson)

The song was written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster in 1969 and originally performed by Roger Miller. However, Janis made her own take -- a number one single -- in 1971.

16. "Downtown Train" by Rod Stewart (original by Tom Waits)

It's pretty different than Waits' 1985 original, we admit; the Rod Stewart cover made it all the way to number three on the Billboard 100.

17. "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper (original by Robert Hazard)

Yes, Robert Hazard, the Philly favorite, is actually the brains behind Lauper's 1983 hit.

18. "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" by They Might Be Giants (original by The Four Lads)

This barrage of lyrics was actually written by Jimmy Kennedy and Nat Simon for a Canadian group called The Four Lads. But They Might Be Giants made the hit theirs in 1990.

19. "I've Got You Under My Skin" by Frank Sinatra (original by Virginea Bruce)

The song was written by Cole Porter in 1936 and performed by Virginia Bruce in the MGM musical, "Born to Dance." Of course, most of us know the dreamy version by Sinatra best.

20. "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston (original by Dolly Parton)

Oh, Dolly.

Stay tuned for our list of Unexpected Covers!

Correction: A previous verison of this post incorrectly listed the release date of Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee." It has since been corrected.

Around the Web

The Ten Best Cover Songs of All Time | The Line Of Best Fit

10 Best Cover Songs and Remakes - Forbes

15 Best Song Covers Ever - Huffington Post

Cover Songs: Here's What Famous Albums Would Look Like as ...

19 Best Cover Songs of 2012 -- Lana Del Rey, Feist, Japandroids ...

Readers' Poll: The Greatest Live Cover Songs Pictures | Rolling Stone