A few decades ago, practically all songs were covers of other songs. They just weren’t considered as such: Elvis Presley sang the same sheet music as a band from Alabama, and Alabama sang the same sheet music as a band from Miles Davis. As the music industry grew and copyright became tougher, covering songs meant having to advertise them left and right. Or so we thought, because there are more than a few artists who have taken advantage of a less famous song to launch their own in style as if it were new. Don’t you believe it? Come and check out these five great tracks… that have been done before.
‘Girls just want to have fun’
We all know Cindy Lauper’s hit song, but the truth is that four years earlier Robert Hazard had recorded it, convinced that it would be a hit, as a single. Obviously it didn’t sell enough and Lauper brought it out of oblivion becoming the voice that would always be linked to ‘Girls just want to have fun’. Hazard has two million plays on YouTube, so at least some justice was done after her death.
‘I want candy’
We all know the Bow Wow Wow song, later covered by Aaron Carter: in 1982, there wasn’t a child who didn’t sing “I want candy” at full volume. And rightly so. It’s really good: so much so that it had already been done in 1965 for the group The Strangeloves. They would only last three more years without much success. If they only knew that two decades later everyone would be asking for more candy…
‘Mambo no 5’
Lou Bega became overnight the big hit of 1999 with ‘Mambo No 5’, a smash hit in which he needed Monica, Erica, Rita, Tina, Sandra, Mary and Jessica. But actually the original melody came from fifty years before: in 1949, Dámaso Pérez Prado made the song that later would be sampled by Bega. The matter ended up in court, where it was decided that the song should also be signed by Prado.
‘I will always love you’
For the soundtrack of ‘The Bodyguard’, in 1992, Whitney Houston broke her throat singing ‘I always love you’. But the truth is that the real merit was Dolly Parton’s in 1974: the song was not about love, but about appreciation for her partner and mentor Porter Wagoner after Parton decided to go solo after seven years working alongside him. As a curiosity, the first one who could have covered it was Elvis Presley, but Parton refused with all the pain in her heart.
Few songs define the 90s as well as ‘Torn’, by Natalie Imbruglia: a soft pop song between sadness and joy of an artist that time has forgotten (although she probably lives more than well only on royalties). The original track was by the American rock band Ednaswap, who released it two years earlier… And, frankly, it’s not that different, distorted guitars aside. The magic of finding the exact moment to release it.
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