Wendy Rush

Weekdays 10:00am - 3:00pm

It happens all the time, probably a lot more than we realize. A song is written for an artist, or even by an artist, and it turns out the voice it was originally intended for just doesn’t do the song any justice. Sometimes an artist or songwriter is just too stubborn to let the song go. Other times, the art comes first, and that’s when magic happens. And thank god for covers, or some of our most cherished songs might never have been.

Some of our favorite hits started in the hands of another artist, or even several. Sometimes the original wasn’t all that bad, and other times we are SO grateful it was rerecorded by someone else. You decide which is which from the following list.

  • 1. Shadows Of The Night

    A year before Pat Benatar made it a hit, Shadows of the Night was released by a pop singer named Rachel Sweet (her 1981 And Then He Kissed Me album). And a year before that, it was written for another singer’s album (D.L. Byron’s 1980 This Day And Age album), but never got recorded. In this case, the third time was definitely the charm. Pat Benatar picked up her third consecutive Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for this song in 1982 when she released it on Get Nervous.

    The version that was HOT:

    And the one that was NOT:

     

     

  • 2. Everytime You Go Away

    Okay I wouldn’t actually consider this one a flop. It’s got a very groovy sound that is perfect for a glass of wine or night in front of the fireplace. But the charts didn’t consider Everytime You Go Away a big hit when it was recorded by Daryl Hall and John Oates for their 1980 Voices album. It wasn’t until Paul Young covered it in 1985 that it topped the charts. 

    The version that was HOT:

    And the one that was NOT:

  • 3. Der Kommissar

    This one was originally recorded by Falco, the German singer famous for his hit Rock Me Amadeus. Falco’s version of Der Kommissar was very popular in the dance scene in Europe, but wouldn’t do well in the states. So Falco encouraged American bands to record the song. The version that went to the top of the charts was that of After The Fire. Released in 1982, their recording of Der Kommissar became their only hit. 

    The one that was HOT:

    And the one that was NOT:

    BONUS: Did you know Laura Branigan also recorded the hit? She completely changed the lyrics, but kept the music. 

  • 4. Red Red Wine

    Neil Diamond isn’t a name we normally associate with unsuccessful songs. This one is a rarity in that case. Diamond recorded Red Red Wine for his second studio album Just For You, and it peaked only at #62 on the charts. Maybe because the pacing sounds like he’s actually drinking wine while playing the song. Come on, Neil. Pep it up!

    When UB40 released it in 1983, it went to #1 in the UK but wasn’t a hit in the states until it was re-released in 1988. Why are we always behind Europe on this stuff?

    The version that was HOT:

    And the one that was NOT:

  • 5. Got My Mind Set On You

    James Ray was an American R&B singer in the 1960’s. His hit single, If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody, landed at #10 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart as well as #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962. His recording of I’ve Got My Mind Set On You, however, didn’t do so well. Written by Rudy Clark, that song didn’t become a hit until George Harrison covered it (then called Got My Mind Set On You) in 1987. ‘Cause…you know…if you want a song to be a hit, give it to a Beatle.

    The version that was HOT: 

    And the one that was NOT:

  • 6. Torn

    This song has seen a lot of recording studios. It was first recorded in 1993 by Danish singer Lis Sorenson, in 1994 by American rock band Ednaswap, and in 1996 by American-Norwegian singer Trine Rein. The first two versions didn’t make it big, but Rein’s version did go to #10 in Norway. 

    However, it was Natalie Imbruglia who brought the song worldwide recognition. Released in 1997, her version peaked at #1 on all kinds of charts and sold four million copies worldwide.

    The versions that were HOT:

    And:

    And:The versions that were NOT: 

    And:

  • 7. The Tide Is High

    This one was written in 1967 by James Holt, who sung lead vocals on it when it was recorded by The Paragons, a rocksteady vocal trio from Jamaica. It didn’t gain international attention until it was covered by Blondie in 1980.

    The version that was HOT:

    The version that was NOT:

     

  • 8. Nothing Compares 2 U

    Prince wrote this song for his side project, The Family, in 1985. It was on their only album, also called The Family, and Prince sang the lead vocals on it. It got very little recognition. Irish singer Sinead O’Connor covered it in 1989 for her second studio album. That’s when it became a worldwide hit.

    The version that was HOT:

    The version that was NOT:

     

  • 9. Alone

    This song was written and recorded by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, under the band name i-Ten. It was released on their 1983 album Taking A Cold Look. Many others have covered the song since, including John Stamos, Celine Dion, and Alyssa Reid. But it wasn’t until the keyboard/guitar prowess of Nancy Wilson, combined with Ann Wilson’s vocals, that the song topped the charts. It went to #1 when Heart covered it in 1987 for their Bad Animals album.

    The version that was HOT:

    The version that was NOT: