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

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

Nice Nice Baby

Ice Ice Baby.

Boom da boom da boom boo

You know it, your mama knows it, your pastor knows it, your creepy 7th grade social studies teacher who stares at the little girls’ flip flops knows it. It’s ‘Ice Ice Baby’.
Vanilla Ice can’t seem to (nor does he want to) disassociate his name from this song. But, don’t you think the bass line sounds familiar?
Apparently, Queen and David Bowie thought so too, as the bass line was clearly ripped from their ‘Under Pressure’, much to Mr. Van Winkle’s dismay (yes, that’s really his last name…).

After a long court battle, Queen and David Bowie received songwriting credits for one of the most laughed at rap songs ever made.
Fun Fact: when Eminem first heard ‘Ice Ice Baby’, he considered quitting rapping because he thought the song was the most embarrassing thing he’d ever heard. - ReturnOfScorpio

2 Quiet Riot 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. - ReturnOfScorpio

3 Lil Meerkat Lil Meerkat

He's a God - 445956

Why he take a selfie underground in DC - Maddox121

Update: I just figured out why he’s here. He did a cover of bohemian rhapsody. - ReturnOfScorpio

Can somebody fill me in on this one? I’ve never heard of him. - ReturnOfScorpio

4 Elvis Presley 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.

'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…). - ReturnOfScorpio

5 Whitney Houston 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.

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

6 Sinead O'Connor 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.

'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? - ReturnOfScorpio

7 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. - ReturnOfScorpio

8 The Verve 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. - ReturnOfScorpio

9 Jeff Buckley 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.

Jeff Buckley's 'Hallelujah' was written and originally recorded by 'Leonard Cohen' in 1984. - ParasN2000

10 Cyndi Lauper 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. - ReturnOfScorpio

The Contenders

11 Jimi Hendrix 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.

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

It is Bob Dylan.

12 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. - ReturnOfScorpio

13 The Beach Boys 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.

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. - ReturnOfScorpio

14 Alien Ant Farm 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.

I love the cover.

Smooth criminal. Can’t believe I forgot this one. Oh wait, I can believe it, because it’s abysmal compared to MJ’s original, and AAF was so boring, even for Nu Metal. - ReturnOfScorpio

It is actually very well liked and I like it but I appreciate the unpopular opinion - MaximanDaBeast

15 Coldplay 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.

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. - ReturnOfScorpio

16 Crazy Town 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. - CaptainMowzker

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

17 Robin Thicke Robin Thicke Robin Charles Thicke is an American singer, songwriter and record producer. Thicke has worked with numerous artists.

And it was one of the worst songs capable of being created by man. - NickelbackLinkinPark4Eva

Ripped off "Got To Give It Up" by Marvin Gaye. Great list, ROS. - galaxyfox

This one’s probably gonna be a hot button issue in music for years to come. - ReturnOfScorpio

18 Sean Kingston 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" - DaWyteNight

His song "Me Love" sampled Led Zeppelin's "D'yer Mak'er". - galaxyfox

19 The Ataris

Boys of Summer is still and Awesome Song - MaximanDaBeast

20 Kanye West 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". - Drewman1211

21 Submarine Man Submarine Man

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

22 Coolio 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'. - ParasN2000

23 Pharrell Willams Pharrell Willams Pharrell Lanscilo Williams 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.
24 Polo G Polo G
25 Mariah Carey 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

26 George Harrison George Harrison George Harrison was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles.

He also had a no. 1 hit with a cover of "Got My Mind Set On You" by James Ray. - galaxyfox

Harrison was actually sued for “My Sweet Lord”- he was accused of plagiarizing “He’s So Fine” by The Chiffons.

27 R. City R. City
28 Nicki Minaj Nicki Minaj Nicki Minaj is a Trinidadian American rapper/pop music artist. Nicki is most known for songs like "Anaconda", "Only", "Truffle Butter", "Super Bass" and "Stupid Hoe" . Her real name is Onika Tanya Maraj. She was born on December 8, 1982 in Saint James Trinidad and Tobago. ...read more.

Anaconda is very derivative of Baby Got Back by Sir Mix A Lot

29 Duck Sauce

"Barbra Streisand" sampled "Gotta Go Home" by Boney M. - Drewman1211

30 K.A.A.N. K.A.A.N.
31 M.C. Hammer

When I think "heavily sampled", Can't Touch This is the first song to pop into my head. I'm pretty sure that song was his biggest hit. - THC13

€U Can’t Touch This’ sampled Rick James’ ‘Super Freak’. - ReturnOfScorpio

32 The Byrds The Byrds The Byrds were an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple line-up changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn remaining the sole consistent member, until the group disbanded in 1973. Although they only managed to attain the huge commercial ...read more.
33 Beyonce Beyonce Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, is an American singer and actress, who started out in the popular pop/r&b girl group Destiny's Child. They had multiple top 5 hits such as "No, No, No", "Say My Name", "Bills, Bills, Bills", "Survivor", "Independent Women", "Bootylicious", and "Jumpin', Jumpin" from ...read more.

Every single song from her "Lemonade" album has a sample. Crazy In Love and Single Ladies have famous samples too

34 Jason Derulo Jason Derulo Jason Joel Desrouleaux, better known by his stage name Jason Derulo (an alternate spelling of his surname), is an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. He is best known for his singles such as "Whatcha Say", "Ridin' Solo", "In My Head", "What If", "Wiggle", "Talk Dirty", "Trumpets" and "Want To Want ...read more.
35 Billy Ray Cyrus Billy Ray Cyrus

€Achy Breaky Heart’ was originally by the Marcy Brothers, and it was called ‘Don’t Tell My Heart’. - ReturnOfScorpio

36 Akon

He sampled the melody of R. Kelly's "Ignition" for his song "Don't Matter" - galaxyfox

37 Weezer Weezer Weezer is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1992, currently consisting of Rivers Cuomo (lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar), Patrick Wilson, Brian Bell, and Scott Shriner.

Not really, their biggest hit Say It Ain't So didn't sample anything. - CaptainMowzker

Are you talking about 'Africa'? Really? Really, really? - Undistinguished

What song? - galaxyfox

What song? You mean their cover of ‘Africa’? Nah, they had many other hits. I’d argue that their biggest his is ‘Say It Ain’t So’. - ReturnOfScorpio

38 Dax Dax
39 Limp Bizkit Limp Bizkit Limp Bizkit is an American nu metal band from Jacksonville, Florida, formed in 1994. Their lineup consists of Fred Durst, Sam Rivers, John Otto, and Wes Borland.

Behind Blue Eyes isn't exactly their biggest hit... - Undistinguished

Their biggest hit was Rollin’, which ain’t sampled nor a cover. If your referring to their covers of ‘Faith’ by George Michael or ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ by The Who, those were nowhere near as big as Rollin’. - ReturnOfScorpio

40 Rak-Su

I Want You To Freak is a cover.
- TheDuttyGyal

41 Flo Rida Flo Rida Tramar Lacel Dillard, better known by his stage name Flo Rida is an American rapper and pop music artist from Carol City, Florida. He is known for songs such as "Low", "Right Round", "Sugar", "Club Can't Handel Me", "Good Feeling", "Whistle", "Wild Ones", "My House" and "GDFR."

€Low’ is probably his biggest hit.
However, his song ‘Right round’ was heavily inspired by the Dead or Alive song ‘You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)’. - ReturnOfScorpio

42 M.I.A. M.I.A. Mathangi 'Maya' Arulpragasam, better known by her stage name M.I.A., is an English hip hop recording artist, director, visual artist, activist, record producer, photographer, fashion designer and model.
43 William Shatner William Shatner William "Bill" Shatner is a Canadian actor, singer, author, producer, director, spokesman, and comedian.

Believe it or not, he does music. Only he doesn’t write his own music. Instead, he does already famous songs in a weird spoken word rendition.
His most famous (or infamous really) one is his cover of Elton’s John’s ‘Rocket Man’. Check it out, if you dare. - ReturnOfScorpio

44 The Animals The Animals The Animals were an English band of the 1960s, formed in Newcastle upon Tyne, during the early part of the decade.

Their hit song, ‘House Of the Rising Sun’, was originally an American folk song dating back to as early as 1905. Ironic it became a massive hit from a British band, isn’t it? - ReturnOfScorpio

45 Juice WRLD Juice WRLD

What this song was HUGE, plus 100% of the song is sampled, by stings, shape of my heart - danimey

Technically it's not a sample, but an interpolation because they redid the main melody with a different instrument and they never directly sampled the original recording - ShrekTheGoat

46 Bad Wolves
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