Earlier this month we published a list of 20 cover songs that became more famous than the originals. From Whitney Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You" to Sinead O'Connor's breathy remake of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2U," the list scanned some of the best renditions in music history.
There's another realm of cover songs we didn't include in the last post, however, which is where our list of unexpected covers comes in. We've put together the strangest and most unpredictable song selections of artists like Johnny Cash, Tom Waits and Dusty Springfield. Scroll through the list below and let us know your thoughts on the world of reimagined tunes in the comments.
1. "Hurt" by Johnny Cash (original by Nine Inch Nails)
"Hurt" was written by industrial rock icon Trent Reznor for Nine Inch Nails' 1994 album, "The Downward Spiral." Eight years later, Johnny Cash covered the song and his version became one of the country legends' last hits.
2. "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals (originally a traditional folk song)
The origin story for "House of the Rising Sun" is uncertain, but the traditional American folk song became famous when the English blues rock band, The Animals, took the ballad to the top of the charts in the mid '60s.
3. "Jersey Girl" by Bruce Springsteen (original by Tom Waits)
This song was originally composed and sung by the raspy crooner Tom Waits for his 1980 album "Heartattack and Vine." But the tune received a slight makeover four years later when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band released the song as the B-side of their 1984 single, "Cover Me."
4. "Lady Marmalade" by Lil' Kim, Pink, Mya, and Christina Aguilera (original performed by Labelle)
"Lady Marmalade" was originally written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan for Patti Labelle's eponymous girl group, Labelle. But many people know the version by Lil' Kim, Pink, Mya, and Christina Aguilera -- an unlikely quartet who came together to cover the song for the 2001 movie, "Moulin Rouge."
5. "I Shot the Sheriff" by Eric Clapton (original by Bob Marley)
Bob Marley is the original mastermind behind the 1973 song, but Eric Clapton's unexpected cover a year later reached number one on the charts.
6. "Landslide" by The Smashing Pumpkins (original by Fleetwood Mac)
Hate it or love it, the Smashing Pumpkins made a bold choice when Billy Corgan decided to cover the iconic Fleetwood Mac song. It was first featured as the B-side of the Pumpkins' 1994 single "Disarm" and became a go-to acoustic song for the band in concert.
7. "Mack the Knife" by Bobby Darin (original by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht)
"Mack the Knife" or "The Ballad of Mack the Knife" was composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for their 1928 music drama "The Threepenny Opera." It later became a standard performed by the likes of Louis Armstrong and Bobby Darin.
8. "I Only Want To Be With You" by Bay City Rollers (original performed by Dusty Springfield)
"I Only Want to Be with You" was written by Mike Hawker and Ivor Raymonde and released by British singer Dusty Springfield in 1963. The most commercially successful version was of the song, however, was performed by the Scottish pop band The Bay City Rollers nearly 12 years later.
9. "Take Me To The River" by Talking Heads (original by Al Green)
"Take Me to the River" was written by Al Green and guitarist Mabon "Teenie" Hodges in 1974. Four years later, New Wave gods the Talking Heads made their own version.
10. "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen (original by Richard Berry)
11. "Always Something There To Remind Me" by Naked Eyes (original performed by Dionne Warwick)
Burt Bacharach and Hal David originally wrote the song for Ms. Warwick in 1963. Almost twenty years later the tune went through a synthpop revitalization when Naked Eyes got their hands on it.
12. "Black Magic Woman" by Santana (original by Fleetwood Mac)
Santana is known for his covers, but who knew he'd remake this Fleetwood Mac song so well?
13. "My Favorite Things" by John Coltrane (original by Rodgers and Hammerstein)
"My Favorite Things" is a well-known Christmas song that appeared in the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "The Sound of Music." But have you heard John Coltrane's version, recorded two years later?
14. "Faith" by Limp Bizkit (original by George Michael)
The English crooner George Michael originally wrote the song in 1987, and nu metal band Limp Bizkit liked it so much they covered it over a decade later. (Sorry, George!)
15. "Woodstock" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (original by Joni Mitchell)
Joni Mitchell wrote the song in 1969, inspired by Woodstock Festival stories told to her by then-boyfriend, Graham Nash. Perhaps Mr. Nash wished he had just written the tune to begin with, because his supergroup, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, later covered the single and made it a Billboard hit in 1970. See CSNY play it here.
16. "Show Me The Way" by Dinosaur Jr. (original by Peter Frampton)
Peter Frampton wrote the song in 1975, but who can resist the alternative rock version by Dinosaur Jr?
17. "When the Levee Breaks" by Led Zeppelin (original by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie)
Written in 1929 by blues duo Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie, the song was covered by Led Zeppelin in 1970.
18. "California Girls" by David Lee Roth (original by the Beach Boys)
Of course, everyone knows that the Beach Boys wrote and recorded "California Girls" in 1965, but David Lee Roth's 1985 version took it straight to 11.
19. "Mary Jane (All Night Long)" by Mary J. Blige (taken from two original songs by Rick James and Mary Jane Girls, respectively)
Mary J. Blige's 1995 single is a combination of the Mary Jane Girls' "All Night Long" and Rick James' "Mary Jane" (with parts of Teddy Pendergrass' "Close the Door"). Though it's officially a compilation of samples, the song received an honorary spot on our list of unexpected covers.
20. "Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve (original "This May Be The Last Time" by the Rolling Stones)
This beloved 1997 song is arguably a knock-off version of "The Last Time," a Rolling Stones single. In fact, The Verve eventually handed over all of the songwriting royalties for "Bittersweet Symphony" to one former Stones manager who took the band to court. Soon after, a second manager followed suit. For all this trouble, the song fills the final slot of this list.
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