Terry Richardson It has been a steady climb for Rihanna as she has finally…
- Posted by Lee Andrew Henderson
'Hallelujah,' Jeff Buckley
Buckley recorded his signature song for 1994's 'Grace,' the only album released during his brief lifetime. Accordingly, he never lived to see dozens of television shows using the song to underscore some sappy moment. The song was originally written and performed by Leonard Cohen 10 years earlier, but Buckley actually based his rendition on John Cale's version from a tribute album to the legendary Canadian singer-songwriter.
'Hound Dog,' Elvis Presley
'Hound Dog' is so equated with Elvis it practically became his middle name. Rolling Stone ranked the King's 1956 worldwide No. 1 hit as the 19th greatest song of all time. Four years before Elvis, the song was recorded for the first time by blues belter Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton portraying a fed-up woman putting her foot down about her no-good man -- with no mention of catching rabbits in it whatsoever.
'Respect,' Aretha Franklin
Any mention of respect may result in somebody spelling out R-E-S-P-E-C-T à la the classic Aretha Franklin song, but the classic Aretha Franklin song is not actually an Aretha Franklin song. This proto-feminist 1967 soul anthem was originally written and sung by Otis Redding two year earlier as a man's request to his old lady for some stress relief of the amorous sort after a hard day's work.
'Achy Breaky Heart,' Billy Ray Cyrus
The 1992 hit that put Hannah Montana's pops on the map wasn't even his own song -- and, no, the Alvin and the Chipmunks version wasn't the original, either. 'Achy Breaky Heart,' then titled 'Don't Tell My Heart,' was originally recorded by the Marcy Brothers in 1991 after the Oak Ridge Boys passed on it: Reportedly, the Boys objected to singing the words "achy breaky," thinking them kinda dumb.
'A Piece of My Heart,' Janis Joplin
Country fans will recognize 'A Piece of My Heart' from Faith Hill's 1993 hit. Classic-rock lovers will point out that it was originally recorded in 1968 by Janis Joplin -- but they would be wrong. The first version of the song was by Erma Franklin, who happens to be the sister of Aretha, two years before Joplin.
'Twist and Shout,' The Beatles
The closing song off the Fab Four's 1963 debut LP, 'Please Please Me,' has become the definitive version, due mainly to John Lennon's full-throated vocals. They learned it from the Isley Brothers' hit from a year before, but the R&B trio didn't originate 'Twist and Shout,' either. They're both cover songs, as the Top Notes did it first, but the feeling was that it was poorly produced -- by a pre-Wall of Sound Phil Spector, no less -- so its songwriter, Bert Berns, took the song to the Isleys to cover.
'Nothing Compares 2 U,' Sinéad O'Connor
O'Connor, everybody's favorite bald, female Irish singer, hit No. 1 worldwide in 1990 with the Prince-penned 'Nothing Compares 2 U.' Though His Royal Badness has written songs specifically for some artists, 'Nothing' was actually created for a 1985 album by a group he formed called the Family, who would make just that one album. Their original version of 'Nothing Compares 2 U' received little attention, and wasn't even issued as a single.
'Wild Thing,' The Troggs
The grungy, international garage-rock smash 'Wild Thing' (the 1966 hit featured in the movie 'Major League,' not the one by Tone-Loc) was pretty much tailor-made for the crude and rude Brit rockers known as the Troggs. In fact, the song, written by Chip Taylor (Angelina Jolie's uncle, by the way), was originally unleashed upon the world a year earlier by a New York combo appropriately called the Wild Ones, to the world's indifference.
'Have I Told You Lately,' Rod Stewart
In 1993, Stewart hit No. 5 on the US and UK singles charts by crooning this romantic ballad. However, the next time you hear this performed by some slick wedding band, don't give Rod the Mod the full blame: Four years earlier, Van Morrison wrote and recorded the original version, which didn't make quite the same impact.
'Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything There Is a Season),' The Byrds
'Turn, Turn, Turn' was the second and final US No. 1 hit for the L.A.-based band that pretty much invented folk rock. The 1965 Byrds' version is actually a cover of a song written in 1959 by Pete Seeger -- with more than a small lyrical assist from the Bible's Book of Ecclesiastes -- and released on the folk legend's 1962 album 'The Bitter and the Sweet.'
'(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,' Elvis Costello and the Attractions
Costello's recording of 'Peace, Love and Understanding' anchors the US version of his 1979 LP, 'Armed Forces,' as well as many a Costello live performance. This plea for world harmony didn't emanate from the typically acid pen of the man born Declan MacManus, though: It was originally written by Costello's producer, Nick Lowe, and recorded by Lowe's former band Brinsley Schwarz in 1974.
'Love Hurts,' Nazareth
After these Scottish hard rockers released 'Love Hurts' in 1976, everybody who had a broken heart would sit in their room and blast it as the tears strolled down their face. Nazareth's cover was the only hit version of this now classic tune: The original was recorded by the Everly Brothers in 1960 and issued as an album track; a year later, Roy Orbison put it out as the B side to his smash hit 'Running Scared.'
'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood,' The Animals
In 2003, the soundtrack to the Quentin Tarantino film 'Kill Bill Vol. 1' contained a Latin-ized version of 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood' from 1977, by Santa Esmeralda. Some people commented that it was previously a Joe Cocker song from 1969; others pointed out that it goes much further back, to 1965 and the Animals. The truth is, those are both cover songs: The original was by Nina Simone, from the jazz diva's 1964 LP 'Broadway-Blues-Ballads.'
'Hurt,' Johnny Cash
The deeply melancholy 'Hurt' was one of the Man in Black's final hits, in a career of many big musical statements, just a year before his 2003 death. However, the song appeared on an album, 'American IV: The Man Comes Around,' that was all cover songs. 'Hurt' is actually a product of the Trent Reznor songbook, making its debut on Nine Inch Nails' 1994 album, 'The Downward Spiral.'
'You've Got a Friend,' James Taylor
Taylor reached No. 1 on the US singles charts and Top 5 UK in 1971 with 'You've Got a Friend,' also garnering a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. Carole King wrote the song and released it just months before on her mega-selling 'Tapestry' LP. King didn't begrudge Taylor's Grammy win one bit, as she received one herself for 'Friend,' as author of the Song of the Year.