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)
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)
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)
8. "I Fought The Law" by The Clash (original by The Crickets)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
20. "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston (original by Dolly Parton)
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.