Musical Acts Whose Biggest Hit is a Cover or is Heavily Sampled from Another Song

Sometimes, a musical act comes around with a song that’s either heavily sampled from another act or an outright cover, and that song becomes their biggest claim to fame.

The Top Ten

1 Vanilla Ice Robert Matthew Van Winkle, known by his stage name, Vanilla Ice, is an American rapper, actor and television host.

I heard that before he gave the credits to Queen and David Bowie, he claimed that the bass line wasn't stolen at all since he added an extra "dun". Going by that logic, if a classmate of mine lets me copy his homework, and that I just changed a few words but copied everything else directly, then it wouldn't be considered as copying anymore. That doesn't sound right...

Just A White Rapper From Florida... With A Funny Haircut! - A quote by Queens drummer Roger Taylor

Literally the only song anyone knows by him is his rip-off of Under Pressure. Seriously, has this guy done anything else?

Just a drugged man who likes ripping off major bands like queen

2 Sinead O'Connor Sinéad Marie Bernadette O’Connor is an Irish singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the late 1980s with her debut album The Lion and the Cobra.

I agree with her statement against the Catholic church on SNL. While I do support the church, I don't support the fact that some of its leaders are kiddie diddlers.

Cannot stand this women. She is an insult to humanity.

'Nothing Compares 2 U' is probably her biggest thing, with her second biggest being an infamous SNL performance where she ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II. But, did you know that it was originally a Prince song?

3 Lil Meerkat Ameeer Pipi, better known by his stage name Lil Meerkat is a Canadian rapper and singer-songwriter. He is known for his infamous remix of the popular Queen song "Bohemian Rhapsody". He released his debut studio album "Weeaboo Paradise, Vol. 1" in November 2018.

A song that does not chart anywhere in the world is not a hit so this guy does not belong he simply has never had a hit song.

He's a God

Is this the chocolate rain song dude?

I hate him. He has no right to cover Bohemian Rhapsody.

4 Whitney Houston Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American singer, actress, producer, and model. In 2009, Guinness World Records cited her as the most awarded female act of all time. Houston is one of pop music's best-selling music artists of all-time, with an estimated 170–200 ...read more.

I liked I Wanna Dance with Somebody better than I Will Always Love You though...

Her version, takes my breath away. Sorry Dolly

She did have 10 other #1 pop hits

Totally forgot about this one! ‘I Will Always Love You’ was originally by Dolly Parton

5 Elvis Presley Elvis Presley was an American musician and actor. Known as "The King" He was mostly known for his number 1 singles including "Heartbreak Hotel" "Hound Dog" "Jailhouse Rock" "Love me Tender" Elvis debuted in the movie "Love me Tender" and focused less on his music and continued that way. ...read more.

He wrote almost none of his songs

'Hound Dog' is, arguably, his biggest hit. It wasn't written by him, as it originally came out in 1953 and was written by Big Mama Thornton. It’s often because the white elvis’ Version was more popular that some labeled him racist (yeah, seriously…).

6 Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

They love rock and roll, and have loaded copious dimes in the jukebox over the years thanks to their 1982 hit. However, they wouldn't have had that hit if it weren't for the original writer of the song; Alan Merril of a lesser known glam band called the Arrows.

7 Jeff Buckley Jeffrey Scott "Jeff" Buckley (November 17, 1966 – May 29, 1997) raised as Scott "Scottie" Moorhead, was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. ...read more.

So who was this nobody? No seriously who is he and what ever did he almost do?

He's known for his cover of Hallelujah, it's a very famous song so he isn't a nobody. - Kuro

Jeff Buckley's 'Hallelujah' was written and originally recorded by 'Leonard Cohen' in 1984.

8 The Verve The Verve were an English rock band formed in Wigan in 1990 by lead vocalist Richard Ashcroft, guitarist Nick McCabe, bass guitarist Simon Jones and drummer Peter Salisbury. Guitarist and keyboard player Simon Tong became a member at a later date.

This one’s actually pretty upsetting. The Verve acquired the right to sample the Andrew Oldham orchestral Version of the Rolling Stones’ song ‘The Last Time’. With this, they made the 90’s anthem ‘Bittersweet Symphony’.
The Verve and the Stones originally agreed on splitting the royalties 50/50, but, following the song’s immense popularity, The Rolling Stones (former business manager Allen Klein in particular) demanded 100% of the royalties, and the song’s credit. They ultimately got that wish.
While the Verve continues to do this song live today, they do not use the iconic strings backing track, and instead opt to give it an original sound.
The most ironic thing of the whole situation was how the writer of the sheet music for the orchestral music, David Whitacre, did not receive any credit whatsoever.

9 Cyndi Lauper Cynthia Ann Stephanie "Cyndi" Lauper is an American singer, songwriter, actress and LGBT rights activist. Her career has spanned over 40 years.

Time after time my fave old person

Girls just wanna have fun! And, boy, did Cyndi have a lot of fun raking in the money with this infectious 1970’s punk hit!
Oops, no, she did the 1980s pop anthem. The 1970s punk song was the original writer, Bo Hazard.

10 Quiet Riot Quiet Riot is an American heavy metal band. The band was founded in 1973, by guitarist Randy Rhoads and bassist Kelly Garni under the name Mach 1. They then changed the name to Little Women, before settling on Quiet Riot in May 1975. The band's name was inspired by a conversation with Rick Parfitt of ...read more.

Quiet Riot’s biggest hit was ‘come on Feel the Noise’, a cover of a Slade song of the same name. While their fans may know other good songs of theirs, such as the Wild and the Young from QRIII, many people mostly know them from this slade cover.

The Newcomers

? Die Antwoord

They're known for their song I Fink U Freeky, which sampled the Mutha mix of Jump by the Movement in lyrics, though the background track sounds eerily like it was taken from Satisfaction by Benny Benassi & the Biz & is even played at the same pace. As if their song sampled 2 songs instead of 1. Yet without a doubt I Fink U Freeky became incredibly popular & became a meme.

The Contenders

11 Jimi Hendrix Jimi Hendrix (born November 27, 1942 - September 18, 1970) was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter . Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated ...read more.

I was not aware All Along the Watchtower was a cover. That's cool!

He covered a song called All Along the Watchtower, I forget who the original artist of that song is.

It is Bob Dylan.

12 Alien Ant Farm Alien Ant Farm is an American rock band that formed in Riverside, California, United States, in 1996. Their name comes from an idea original guitarist Terry Corso had about aliens and the Earth: "it was just my daydream about our planet being seeded by entities from other dimensions." They have released ...read more.

Okay, but it was ten million times better than Michael Jackson's version.

I love the cover.

Good though

UPDATE: I’ve come to appreciate this song! Thanks for showing me the light!

13 The Beach Boys The Beach Boys are an American pop rock band formed in Hawthorne, California in 1961. The group's original lineup consisted of brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and their friend Al Jardine.

I like Surfin' USA.

cool

They were surfin’ USA, and then the wave carried them into trouble.
Basically, Brian Wilson took instrumental influence from Chuck Berry’s ‘Sweet Little 16’. And by influence, I mean he copied the instrumental outright and called it his own.
Berry’s publisher, of course, sued the band, and got Berry a writer’s credit on the song.
I’m considering this a case of sampling. Deal with it.

14 Coldplay Coldplay are a British rock band formed in 1996. The band consists of Chris Martin (lead vocalist and pianist), Jonny Buckland (lead guitarist), Guy Berryman (bassist) and Will Champion (drummer and backing vocalist). Manager Phil Harvey is often considered an unofficial fifth member. The band renamed ...read more.

You know Coldplay has other big hits than viva la Vida

Ripped off Joe Satriani

This one ranks lowest due to a technicality: Viva La Vida neither samples nor is a cover of another song. But, if you ask Joe Satriani, he’d tell you that it was an outright ripoff.
In 2009, he sued the British band for Viva La Vida’s similarities with his 2004 song ‘If I Could Fly’, which are hard to deny upon good examination.

15 Coolio Artis Leon Ivey Jr., known professionally as Coolio, is an American musician, rapper, chef, actor, and record producer. Coolio achieved mainstream success in the mid to late 1990s with his albums It Takes a Thief, Gangsta's Paradise, and My Soul.

Coolio's biggest song is 'Gangsta's Paradise' feat. L.V. which quite heavily samples Stevie Wonder's 'Pastime Paradise'.

And now for a little bit of irony. Coolio was pissed off at weird Al for his parody of gangsta’s paradise, Amish Paradise, claiming that It took away from the serious nature of the song.

Then, he turned around and allowed post hard-core band falling in reverse to cover it, giving it a much more ridiculous sound than the weird Al parody.

Trust me, falling in reverse’s cover is ass.

16 Sean Kingston Kisean Anderson, known professionally as Sean Kingston, is a Jamaican-American singer, songwriter, rapper and record producer whose first album, Sean Kingston, was released in 2007.

His song "Beautiful Girls" sampled Ben E. King's "Stand By Me"

He also sampled Led Zeppelin's "D'yer Mak'er" in his song "Me Love."

17 Natalie Imbruglia
18 Kanye West Kanye Omari West is an American rapper, songwriter, and fashion designer. He was born on June 8, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia. After West's parents divorced, him and his single mother moved to Chicago, Illinois. At the age of 10, West temporarily moved to Nanjing, China, because his mother was teaching ...read more.

"Stronger" sampled "Harder Better Faster Stronger" by Daft Punk- which itself was a sample of Edwin Birdsong's "Cola Bottle Baby".

He samples popular songs but most of them have major changes or are just better in general. he didn't rap Daft Punk lyrics he rapped over it. If that counts I'll dare you to put Eminem and Nas on the list

No his biggest hit is Gold Digger not Stronger

19 Crazy Town Crazy Town is an American rap rock band, formed in 1995 by Bret Mazur and Seth Binzer. Crazy Town is best known for their 2000 hit single, "Butterfly", which reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and helped their debut album, The Gift of Game sell over 1.5 million units.

Their biggest hit "Butterfly", samples a song from Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Yup, Butterfly heavily sampled ‘Pretty Little Ditty’ by RHCP.

20 Mariah Carey Mariah Carey, born March 27, 1970, is an American singer, songwriter and actress. She is one of the biggest best-selling women in the music industry, with 18 number 1 records to her name. She is regarded as a sex symbol through her songs and music videos, and she is "well known" for her over-the-top ...read more.

Without You is a simple cover version. Also, Mariah used a lot of samples in her music, just like Beyonce Knowles

21 The Ataris

Boys of Summer is still and Awesome Song

22 Soft Cell Soft Cell are an English synthpop duo who came to prominence in the early 1980s, consisting of vocalist Marc Almond and instrumentalist David Ball.

€�Tainted Love’ was a Gloria Jones cover. Marilyn Manson would also go on to cover this song.

23 Submarine Man Water Handblast (born Ardy Robert Andrews) better known by his name Submarine Man, is an American rapper known for his songs that heavily feature lyrics about foot fetishes as well as heavily autotuned vocals.

Lemme guess: Yellow Submarine? Is that it? If not, educate me.

Who?

24 Pharrell Willams Pharrell Lanscilo Williams, born April 5, 1973, known professionally as Pharrell, is an American singer, rapper, and record producer. Williams and Chad Hugo make up the record production duo the Neptunes, producing soul, hip hop and R&B music.

Wasn't he involved with the making of Blurred Lines?

25 Rednex

If you’ve ever been to a 90s themed party, chances are you’ve heard that fun little dance/country song ‘Cotton-Eyed Joe’.
The Swedish Rednex actually covered a traditional American folk song that dates back to 1861 for their only worldwide hit.
And, boy, what a hit it was.

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