20 songs that were covers from Cyndi, Madonna, Kylie and more
RAY OF LIGHT
Originally by: Curtiss Maldoon Hit for: Madonna
WHO? Curtiss Maldoon were a folky UK duo - a bit like Mumford & Son's grandfathers. In 1971 they released an album that didn't trouble the chart. It contained the song Sepheryn. Clive Maldoon's niece Christine Leach re-recorded Sepheryn in 1997, and played it to a producer she had worked with, William Orbit. Orbit was in the midst of making an album with Madonna. Madonna loved Leach's remake and kept almost all the lyrics and some of the melodies. The lyrics also provided the title `Ray of Light'. Orbit totally de-folked Madonna's version, but there's a reason why Leach, Curtiss Maldoon got some very lucrative co-writing credits - the album they indirectly helped name has sold over 16 million copies and rebooted Madonna's then-ailing career.
Where are they now? Clive Maldoon passed away in 1978, Dave Curtiss is still making music and having his bills paid by Madge.
THIS song launched the Pussycat Dolls. But it was originally meant to launch singer Tori Alamaze. Just to show you how ruthless the music industry can be, Alamaze released Don't Cha as her debut single in March 2005. Within days she was dumped from her record label, who gave Don't Cha to the Pussycat Dolls who released it the very next month. Their version is virtually identical to Alamaze's - producer CeeLo just added Nicole Scherzinger's vocals, a rap from Busta Rhymes and took and made the lyrics more PG. It went on to sell six million copies. Good for CeeLo, not so much for Alamaze who didn't write the song.
Where is she now? Tori now runs a blog about music, life, lipstick and coffee.
THIS song has become an Australian anthem - with Dazza's phone ringing white hot come racing season. However it was written by US singer Rickie Lee Jones (with Steely Dan's Walter Becker) and included on Jones' 1989 album Flying Cowboys. It was never released as a single, making Daryl's version two years later the only time it has been a major hit when he took it to No. 1 in Australia. Rickie's version also got used in the hit film Jerry Maguire.
Where is she now? She released a covers album last year, produced by Ben Harper.
THIS one is confusing - one M Jackson did sing the original Blame it on the Boogie. However the M Jackson in question - Mick Jackson and his brother Dave were not black, or especially funky. They wrote the song in 1977 aiming to pitch it to Stevie Wonder, even if their version is more Leo Sayer than anything. It wound up crossing the paths of the Jacksons, who recorded it for their 1978 album Destiny. Ironically Mick Jackson released his version at same time as The Jacksons. Not a major hit in the US, it made No. 8 in the UK, with Mick's original settling for No. 15. In 2003 Mick said the Jacksons' version "had the extra magic two-per-cent that made it incredible."
Where is he now? Still making music, but his son recently made a documentary explaining how his dad was diddled out of the millions this song made, but he is not bitter. At least he's alive ...
POP music can be a cruel mistress. Swedish singer Pandora scored her only Australian Top 10 with A Little Bit in 1996. It would be Australian singer Kylie Minogue who had a massive global hit with On a Night Like This - a year after Pandora's version flopped. By 1999 Pandora was in Euro-jail, with albums only being released in Japan. On a Night Like This came from the team behind Cher's Believe. The track was not a single for Pandora, and when it disappeared in 1999, they simply dusted it off and gave it to Kylie for her Light Years album in 2000. The backing track is identical, just with Kylie's vocals instead of Pandora's. It's like celebrity karaoke. At exactly the same Kylie was having a hit with On a Night Like This, Greek singer Anna Vissi also recorded a version for her debut English-language album Everything I Am. She too was no match for our Kylie on the chart.
Where are they now? Pandora's last release was in 2011; Anna Vissi still records (mainly in Greek) and tours.
IF I Were a Boy was meant to be BJ Jean's big breakthrough as an upcoming singer/songwriter. However in 2008 her record label rejected the track, producer Toby Gad played it Beyonce who recorded it. Jean was initially angry, venting on MySpace (hey, it was 2008) but presumably the subsequent royalties eased her pain.
Where is she now? Poor BJ Jean has still yet to release an album, and was last seen in a TV show playing a musician who travels to LA looking to make it big. Ouch.
STEP By Step was Whitney's tour-de-force in 1996's gospel film The Preacher's Wife, way before the drugs wrecked her voice. But it was originally an Annie Lennox B-side in 1992. The former Eurythmics singer gave the song to Whitney's record company man Clive Davis thinking the superstar would "kill it". She did. In a good way. Lennox's original backing vocals remain on the remake. Whitney said at the time "I went in the studio, I put the funk on it, and put the soul up in. And I got a word back that she was floored." Indeed, just as she did with Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You, Whitney made the song her own. And The Preacher's Wife soundtrack is the highest-selling gospel album of all time.
Where is she now? Annie Lennox is working on a new album.
MOST people think that one-hit wonders The Buggles released the first version of this song. Buggles' members Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes co-wrote it with Bruce Woolley. Woolley's band Camera Club released the first version in 1979, swiftly followed by Horn and Downes who'd gone on to form The Buggles. It was a No. 1 hit around the world and fittingly the first video ever played on MTV in 1981.
Where is he now? Still making music, Woolley co-wrote Grace Jones' Slave to the Rhythm and John Farnham's Two Strong Hearts. Songs he has written have sold over 25 million copies worldwide. Not too shabby.
Originally by: Ednaswap, Lis Sorensen and Trine Rein
SOMETIMES a good song needs a few attempts to make it. US band Ednaswap wrote Torn in 1993. Danish singer Lis Sorensen recorded it as Braendt, which translates as Burnt. Then Ednaswap recorded their own version in 1995, which also burnt. Not in a good way. A year later Norwegian singer Trine Rein recorded Torn, in English, scoring a Top 10 in her homeland. A year later producer Phil Thornalley (who co-wrote Torn) was working on Natalie Imbruglia's post-Neighbours debut album. He handed her Torn, her version being very similar to Rein's. And suddenly Torn was finally a global hit, fourth time lucky.
Where are they now? Phil Thornalley still works with pop acts, Ednaswap's Scott Cutler and Anne Previn co-write Beyonce's Grammy winning Dreamgirls hit Listen.
CANNY Rod Stewart is no stranger to turning other people's songs into bigger hits (I Don't Want to Talk About It, First Cut is the Deepest, Handbags and Gladrags, Downtown Train), but this was one of the first of his second hand successes. The Sutherland Bros Band released it as a single in 1972, Rod recorded it three years later, tweaking some of the lyrics and melodies. It's still his biggest selling single in the UK.
Where are they now? The Brothers haven't released an album since 1979.
YOU probably thought Joan Jett did the first version - later covered (well, smothered) by everyone from Britney to Miley. Nope. British band Arrows released the song first in 1975. And no one's really found a way to improve it since. Arrows worked with the hit making team behind Suzi Quatro and Sweet, and had a UK TV show where they played the track, written as a retort to the Rolling Stones' It's Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It). Joan Jett saw that show and kept the song in her back pocket, before it launched her post-Runaways career.
Where are they now? Alan Merrill of Arrows still tours, he co-wrote the song with fellow Arrows member Jake Hooker, now a music manager in LA. If you want to book the band who had a hit with Jenny 867 5309 he's your man. Seriously.
REGGAE star Eddy Grant recorded Say I Love You in 1979. Musician Ian McLagan introduced the song to Australian soul singer Rene Geyer when he was working on her album So Lucky in 1981. Geyer's version became her biggest hit, reaching No. 5 here, and kept the reggae flavour of the original. It also features on her new album Swing.
Where is he now? Grant is touring on the back of `80s hits like Electric Avenue and I Don't Want to Dance.
IN 1982 Mondo Rock had come off the back of four hits from the previous year's album Chemistry including State of the Heart, Cool World and Summer of `81. However released as the third single from their 1982 album Nuevo Mondo, A Touch of Paradise (co-written by Ross Wilson) failed to chart. Four years later, John Farnham recorded A Touch of Paradise for Whispering Jack. It was the album's third single and remains a staple in his live concerts. And Whispering Jack remains the highest-selling album in Australia, with just under 1.7 million copies sold.
Where are they now? Mondo Rock reformed for a Countdown tour in 2006, Ross Wilson tours regularly.
COUNTRY trio The Marcy Brothers released Achy Breaky Heart in 1991, when it was titled Don't Tell My Heart. They sang it as "my achy, breakin' heart", apparently finding the word `breaky' too cheesy. The song was written by Don Von Tress. Country newcomer Billy Ray Cyrus had no problem with it, recording it as Achy Breaky Heart in 1992 and launching his career on the song.
Where are they now? They split up in 1991 after the album that contained Don't Tell My Heart failed to chart. Depending on your point of view, if they'd sucked up `breaky' we wouldn't have Miley Cyrus.
MIKE Chapman and Nicky Chinn wrote a series of hits for UK band Racey, like Australian No. 1s Some Girls and Lay Your Love On Me. They also wrote Kitty, a song on Racey's 1979 debut album Smash and Grab, but never a single. Two years later choreographer turned singer Toni Basil flipped the gender of the song to male, retitled it Mickey, added the cheerleader chant (and video) and scored her only hit.
Where are they now? Racey split in 1985, various members still play their hits on the retro circuit.
REGARDED as one of Janis Joplin's trademark songs, it was actually first recorded by Aretha Franklin's older sister Erma in 1967, a year before Joplin's version (with Big Brother and the Holding Company) was released. Erma's version peaked at No. 62 in the US, Joplin's at No. 12. It has since been recorded by everyone from Bonnie Tyler to Jenny Morris.
Where is she now? After retiring from music, Erma died of throat cancer in 2002 aged 64.
AGAIN, most people think Kenny Rogers wrote this song. Don Schlitz wrote and released the track in 1978, peaking at No. 65 on the country chart. Later that same year, Rogers released his version of The Gambler and all bets were off although Schlitz knew when to hold and fold them, running, not walking away like a bandit with lucrative songwriting royalties.
Where is he now: Schlitz's last album, Allergic to Crazy, came out in 2010.
US power pop band The Nerves released Hanging on the Telephone in 1976. It was their only release. Two years later a very faithful version was recorded by Blondie. Deborah Harry's star power and the band's energy, their remake went to No. 5 in the UK. Everyone from Roxette to Cat Power to The Sharp have gone on to make The Nerves' Jack Lee some cash. Blondie would go on to make another band's little-known song a hit when they covered Jamaican group The Paragon's 1967 tune The Tide is High in 1980, a US and UK No.1.
Where are they now? Jack Lee tours with his band Jack Lee Inferno. Sweet.
SAD story behind this song. Badfinger's Pete Ham co-wrote Without You with bandmate Tom Evans. It was on their 1970 album No Dice. However the song only got attention after Harry Nilsson covered it in 1971, scoring an international No. 1 hit and won a Grammy for his emotional vocal. He passed away in 1994 after a heart attack. Mariah Carey remade the song in 1994, taking it to No. 1 in the UK and No. 3 in the US and Australia.
Where are they now? In 1975, after management and financial woes, Ham took his own life. In 1983, Evans also committed suicide, apparently unable to cope with his the loss of his friend.
MOST people think Cyndi Lauper's signature hit from 1983 was her own creation. No. It was written and recorded by Robert Hazard in 1979. His version is very new wave rock, with spiky guitars that would later be replaced by synths. Lauper also completely changed the context - Hazard's original lyrics were about his being hassled by his mother for being out late due to girls who just wanted to keep him out, er, partying. It's got a bit of a creepy tone with an extra verse Lauper omitted. She said in her autobiography ``He had a verse where a woman comes into his room at night because she wants to have fun and he's telling his dad `We're the fortunate ones'. So now that I'm singing it I'm supposed to get a lobotomy and just kick my legs up in the air and basically say girls just want to have sex?'. Lauper tweaked the lyrics and came up with the `girls … they want … want to have fun' chant. It went on to launch her career.
Where is he now? Hazard died of cancer in 2008 but made a pretty penny from Girls.