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 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... - Misfire

Queen is what he ripped off - XxMontrealxXRBLX

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

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

V 7 Comments
2 Lil Meerkat Lil Meerkat

Is this the chocolate rain song dude? - DMZABO

I have no idea who this is. - RobertWisdom

He's a God - 445956

Why he take a selfie underground in DC - Maddox121

V 2 Comments
3 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.

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. - Kuro

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? - ReturnOfScorpio

4 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 more.

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

She did have 10 other #1 pop hits - westofohio

Her version, takes my breath away. Sorry Dolly

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

V 1 Comment
5 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. 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…). - ReturnOfScorpio

6 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. more.

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

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. - ParasN2000

7 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 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

8 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

9 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

10 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 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! - ReturnOfScorpio

The Contenders

11 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

12 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.

I like Surfin' USA. - Misfire


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

13 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 more.

You know Coldplay has other big hits than viva la Vida - Weirdest-thing

Ripped off Joe Satriani - Silence4101

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

14 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 more.

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

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

It is Bob Dylan.

15 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

16 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

17 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 more.

"Stronger" sampled "Harder Better Faster Stronger" by Daft Punk- which itself was a sample of Edwin Birdsong's "Cola Bottle Baby". - Drewman1211

No his biggest hit is Gold Digger not Stronger

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 - 4our2wen0ty

18 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.

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

19 Submarine Man Submarine Man

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

Who? - peepsmith

20 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 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 - MaximanDaBeast

22 Soft Cell 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. - ReturnOfScorpio

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.

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

24 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

25 Polo G Polo G

Fill me in, please? - ReturnOfScorpio

26 George Harrison George Harrison George Harrison (1943 - 2001) was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles.

George subconsciously copied it. - Misfire

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

27 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

Anyone with ears knows he ripped off Marvin Gaye...

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

28 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

29 R. City R. City
30 Punk Rock Punk Rock Punk rock is a subgenre of rock music. It usually has rebellious lyrics and down stroked power chords played on guitars. Bad Religion, Sex Pistols, and Green Day (actually pop-punk, which is still punk in a way) are a few punk rock bands. The subgenre influenced thrash metal because of it's down stroked more.

What do you mean? - Misfire

You're kidding right?

What? - Dragon12604

Wait, what? A whole genre? I can't really think of any punk acts that had a cover as their biggest hit. The biggest cover in punk I can think of is the Clash’s cover of ‘I Fought the Law’. - ReturnOfScorpio

31 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. more.

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

Anaconda obviously sampled ‘Baby got Back’ by Sir Mix-a-Lot. - 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 more.

Yeah, but the Byrds did so many changes to Turn! Turn! Turn! and Mr. Tambourine man, it became unique to their own style

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 more.

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

34 Duck Sauce

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

35 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 more.

"Wactha Say" takes its chorus right out of Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek" - ThatStrangeKid42

36 Akon
37 Bad Wolves

Zombie, originally by the Cranberries. Only the lyrics were edited to reflect a more modern approach.

Delores O’Riordan, the Cranberries lead singer, was originally going to feature on this song, but she had passed away before recording began. The cover was released in her memory. - ReturnOfScorpio

38 Lil Mosquito Disease Lil Mosquito Disease

Dis Boi looks like Memeulous

His song trombone attacc is a remix of heart attack by scarlxrd and slide on the blocc contains samples from slide by calvin harris - ShrekTheGoat

39 K.A.A.N. K.A.A.N.
40 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

41 The Beatles The Beatles The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The members consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They were soon known as the foremost and most influential act of rock era. Rooted in skiffle, beat, and 1950s rock and roll, the Beatles later experimented more.

They had many big hits, and many songs associated with them.

However, their first major hit, ‘Twist And Shout’, was originally by the Topnotes. - ReturnOfScorpio

42 Lostprophets Lostprophets Lostprophets were a Welsh rock band from Pontypridd, Wales formed in 1997. Founded by lead vocalist and lyricist Ian Watkins, bassist Mike Lewis, drummer Mike Chiplin and guitarist Lee Gaze, they were originally a side-project to hardcore punk band Public Disturbance.

Lostprophets is definitely a highly controversial band, specially after the crimes committed by lead singer Ian Watkins. But, their biggest head was not a cover or heavily sampled from anything. - ReturnOfScorpio

Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Jason Weaver & Joseph Williams worst singers in the world

43 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 isn't sampled nor a cover. If you’re 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

44 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.
45 Xxxtentacion Xxxtentacion Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy (born January 23, 1998), known professionally as XXXTentacion, and often referred to as X, is an American rapper, singer and songwriter.

Off the wall samples slipknots spit it out

Look at me samples changes by mala - ShrekTheGoat

46 Natalie la Rose

Who? - ReturnOfScorpio

47 Disturbed Disturbed Disturbed is an American nu metal/ alternative rock/ alternative metal band from Chicago, Illinois. The band comprises vocalist David Draiman, bassist John Moyer, guitarist Dan Donegan, and drummer Mike Wengren. They are known for songs like "Down With the Sickness" and "Stricken" .

Their biggest hit was ‘Down With the Sickness’ from 2000’s ‘The Sickness’, though they’ve had other hits in the forms of covers, including the ‘Sound of Silence’. - ReturnOfScorpio

48 Gotye Gotye Wouter Andre "Wally" De Backer, better known as Gotye, is an Australian-Belgian multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter. The name "Gotye" is a pronunciation respelling of "Gauthier", the French cognate of Gotye's given Dutch name "Wouter".

€"Somebody That I Used to Know’ is his biggest hit, and it samples Luis Bonfá’s song ‘Seville’. Also, he just drop this banger, and then he dropped off the face of the earth.

I guess he’s just somebody that we used to know? - ReturnOfScorpio

49 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.

Wouldn't their biggest hit be either Say It Ain't So, Island in the Sun, Buddy Holly or Beverly Hills? Which one of these are covers or heavily sampled from another song? Africa was popular, but isn't their "biggest hit". - LonelyLuke

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

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

Alright, I was the dummy who added Weezer to the list. I thought Africa was their biggest hit because of the meme with the tweet. -_- - oneshot

V 2 Comments
50 Dax Dax
8Load More
PSearch List

Related Lists

Top 10 Musical Acts We are Glad Aren't One-Hit-Wonders Top 10 Musical Acts You May Think are One-Hit Wonders Top 10 Musical Acts Whose Name Starts with an Individual's Name and is Followed by and Ends with a Group Name Top 10 Musical Acts Whose Name (solely) Includes Punctuation(s) Top 10 Original Songs Overshadowed by Remakes / Sampled Songs

List Stats

200 votes
57 listings
220 days old

Top Remixes (6)

1. Lil Meerkat
2. Submarine Man
3. Polo G
1. Vanilla Ice
2. Coldplay
3. Sean Kingston
1. Vanilla Ice
2. Sinead O'Connor
3. Jeff Buckley

View All 6

Error Reporting

See a factual error in these listings? Report it here.