Can You Name The Original Artist Of These Famous Songs?


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When an artist performs a song written by someone else, it’s usually just because they like the song in question. Either that or the producer thought it would round out a record that needs something a little more to put it over the top.

 In rare cases, the artist’s rendition of the cover becomes their signature song, so much so that audiences don’t even know it’s a cover.

Can you name the original artist who first performed the song that someone else made famous years later? 

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1. ‘I Will Always Love You’ (1992)

The most popular rendition of this song was used in the 1992 movie “The Bodyguard.”

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Answer: Dolly Parton

Whitney Houston made the song world-famous, but it was written by Dolly Parton, who originally recorded it in 1974. Parton recorded a new version in 1982 and another in 1995 that saw her duet with Vince Gill. When Houston passed away in 2012, Parton said, “I will always be grateful and in awe of the wonderful performance she did on my song.”

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2. ‘Tainted Love’ (1981)

An English synth-pop duo is heavily associated with this hit song, though it was originally created by another artist.

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Answer: Gloria Jones

Soft Cell made it famous, but R&B singer Gloria Jones is the original artist. She recorded “Tainted Love” in 1965 and did so again in 1976, but it didn’t chart either time. Meanwhile, Soft Cell’s 1981 version blew up and remains the definitive take on the song. Marilyn Manson recorded it in 2001, but it couldn’t knock the Soft Cell version off its perch as the ultimate take on the tune.

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3. ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ (1983)

This song is this singer’s signature tune and catapulted her to stardom, but she didn’t write it.

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Answer: Robert Hazard

“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” was written by a songwriter named Robert Hazard, who wrote and recorded the song in 1979. Listening to it today, it’s virtually unrecognizable

as the source material for Lauper’s version. However, we’re sure Hazard didn’t mind the avalanche of royalty checks in his mailbox when Lauper’s version became a hit.

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4. ‘Respect’ (1967)

No song is more heavily identified with the singer that is dubbed “Queen of Soul” than her 1967 recording of “Respect.”

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Answer: Otis Redding

Aretha Franklin turned it into a legendary hit, but Otis Redding was the one who wrote and first recorded it in 1965. While it’s hard to find fault with Redding’s original version, Franklin’s take was the one that struck a chord with listeners, and to this day, many people believe she wrote it.

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5. ‘Hound Dog’ (1956)

This song may be associated with a famous rock ‘n’ roller who became sweaty and incoherent in the weeks leading up to his demise.

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Answer: Big Mama Thornton

Big Mama Thornton is mainly known to blues enthusiasts and was never as popular as Elvis Presley. However, she was the first to record “Hound Dog,” and Presley was merely the guy who sang it on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Stoller said in an interview that he co-wrote the song specifically for her after seeing her perform and did so in just over ten minutes. 


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6. ‘All Along the Watchtower’ (1968)

 This song appears near the end of the “Electric Ladyland” album, the final studio album to be released during the lifetime of the greatest guitar player who ever lived.during the lifetime of the greatest guitar player who ever lived, but someone else wrote it. 

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Answer: Bob Dylan

Jimi Hendrix’s version of this song may be iconic, but Bob Dylan is the guy who wrote it. Hendrix performed numerous Bob Dylan songs during his career, turning simple folk songs such as “Like a Rolling Stone” into feedback-drenched psychedelic blowouts that inspired many to pester their parents for guitar lessons. 

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7. ‘Red Red Wine’ (1983)

When a certain British reggae group decided to cover this 1967 song, they assumed someone from Jamaica had initially written it.

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Answer: Neil Diamond

“’Red Red Wine” may be UB40’s signature song, but it was initially written and recorded by Neil Diamond. His version had much more in common with the cry-in-your-beer stuff generally associated with country music. Still, despite his authorship, the song firmly belongs to UB40, whose 1983 recording went largely unnoticed until it was reissued in 1988 when it hit number one on the Billboard chart. We would again be willing to bet money that whatever Diamond thought of the song, he loved the royalty payments.

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8. ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ (1991)

A very popular 1980s hard rock band indicated they were in a state of career decline when they started recording covers of other people’s songs, such as this one by a talented lyricist with a terrible singing voice.

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Answer: Bob Dylan

Like “All Along the Watchtower,” “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” is a Bob Dylan song. Written in 1973, it appeared on the 1991 Guns N’ Roses album “Use Your Illusion II,” after which the band started to fracture. That album was followed in 1993 by the all-covers album “The Spaghetti Incident?” which was itself followed by a 15-year period that culminated in the release of the very disappointing “Chinese Democracy” album.

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9. ‘Cum On Feel the Noize’ (1983)

The band that originally counted Randy Rhoads as one of its members ruled both the airwaves and MTV with this runaway hit song, but it was only a mere cover of the 1973 original by this British glam rock band.

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Answer: Slade

Quiet Riot’s 1983 debut album, “Metal Health,” was a massive hit, and their cover version of Slade’s “Cum On Feel the Noize” is what put it over the top. Initially, it was by glam rock pioneers Slade, and while we’d love to say that the original beats the cover, in this case, we have to give the trophy to Quiet Riot. Compare the original with the cover if you’re skeptical.


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10. ‘Twist and Shout’ (1963)

 “Twist and Shout” is the song that made a certain mop-top quartet massively popular, but this R&B duo first recorded it, and if you get this one right, you get all the trophies!

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Answer: The Top Notes

The Beatles broke through with their cover of “Twist and Shout,” originally recorded in 1961 by an R&B vocal duo called the Top Notes. We haven’t heard of them either. The Isley Brothers took a crack at it next in 1962 and made the US Top 20, but the Beatles recording from 1963, which was based on the Isleys’ version, remains the one people know the best.

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11. ‘Dazed and Confused’ (1969)

The 1969 version of “Dazed and Confused” totally brings the heavy metal thunder, but it was inspired by the 1967 folk version by this man.


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Answer: Jake Holmes

The song “Dazed and Confused” is the absolute highlight of Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut album. Initially, guitarist Jimmy Page gave himself the songwriting credit for it even though Jake Holmes’ original heavily inspired it. In 2010, Jake Holmes filed a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin, alleging copyright infringement. After an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed sum, all Led Zeppelin products released after that had the songwriting credits modified to include Holmes.

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12. ‘Blinded by the Light’ (1977)

Not only does everyone mishear the lyrics to this song, but they also wrongly attribute its authorship to a South African rock band and not the Jersey boy who wrote and recorded it first.


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Answer: Bruce Springsteen

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band had a number-one hit in the United States with this song in 1977, but it was written four years earlier by none other than Bruce Springsteen, who included it on his 1973 debut album, “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” Although Springsteen may have lost out on some accolades that he should have received for penning the song, he at least doesn’t have to explain to people that the lyric is “wrapped up like a deuce” and not like a feminine hygiene product.


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13. ‘I Love Rock ‘n Roll’ (1981)

This song helped a former member of the Runaways emerge as a solo artist, but it dates back to 1975 and was initially recorded by this obscure power pop band.


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Answer: The Arrows

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ version of “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” put her on the map as a solo artist, and many people assumed she wrote it too. In reality, it’s a cover of a song by the British power pop band The Arrows, and Jett saw them perform it on television while she was on tour with the Runaways in England.


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14. ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night’ (1995)

This song reached its largest audience on the “MTV Unplugged” live album, but it has a complicated history dating back to this early 20th-century folk hero.

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Answer: Lead Belly

“Where Did You Sleep Last Night” is a folk song whose history stretches back to the time before music could be recorded, and it was originally called “In the Pines.” Such musicians as Bill Monroe and the Louvin Brothers recorded their own versions in the 1950s. Still, the man most often credited with recording it in the form we all know is Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, whose version from the 1940s is the one Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain said had inspired him for the “MTV Unplugged” arrangement.

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15. ‘Hurt’ (2003)

The cover of this song is so different from the original that it’s hard to believe it’s the same one, but indeed, it is. 

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Answer: Nine Inch Nails

It may be debatable whether Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” is better known than the original by Nine Inch Nails, but Cash certainly put an unforgettable spin on it that has more sadness and regret than Trent Reznor’s does. Nobody has forgotten about the 1994 Nine Inch Nails original, but Cash’s version has a poignancy that belongs solely to him.

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