Amazing, Greatest Song Remakes that Became Mega Hits
Have you ever been listening to a song you completely love and found out it wasn’t original. Has someone ever told you ” you know that song is a remake.” You may have found it hard to believe for several reasons. The main reason being the version you love may be the most famous version you know. It may even be the artist who’s singing that particular version signature song. That’s because some song remakes are so great they become more famous than the original. This isn’t to bash or diminish the original version of a song. A lot of the artists and songwriters of the original version are proud of the remakes. They actually like that the artist who recorded their song made it a mega hit. Financially, both parties actually come out benefiting. This also isn’t to say you can’t enjoy both versions of the song. However, some songs are remade so beautifully it deserves special recognition. This is why we’ve decided to create a list of the 20 greatest song remakes of all time.
20) If I was your girlfriend – TLC
Starting our list off at #20 is arguably the most successful girl group of all time TLC. If you’re a TLC fan than more than likely you’ve heard their record “If I was your girlfriend.” This record was released on their multi-platinum selling album “CrazySexyCool.” However, the song isn’t an original. It was actually originally written and recorded by legendary artist Prince. Prince version was released in 1987 and successful overseas. However, TLC version (although not an official single) had become extremely popular during the mid 90’s. This was due to the success of the album the song was recorded on, making it one of the greatest song remakes of all time.
19) Emotions – Destiny’s Child
Coming in on our list at #19 is Emotions by all girl group Destiny’s Child. Many 90’s and 2000’s babies may be very surprised to learn this song recorded by Destiny’s Child isn’t original. The original version actually belongs to Australian singer Samantha Sang, who recorded the song with Barry Gibb in 1977. The song was written by Barry Gibb as well along with Robin Gibb. However, Destiny’s Child version released in 2001 became an international hit. Recorded at a slower tempo than the original version with beautiful 3 part harmonies many fell in love with Destiny’s Child rendition.
18) All I do – Troop
R&B 1990’s hit All I do is think of you recorded by amazing group Troop is #18 on our list of greatest song remakes. This R&B classic song is actually an original version of legendary group The Jackson 5. The Jackson 5 version titled “All I do is think of you” was released in 1975. This R&B ballad was written by Brian Holland and Michael Lovesmith. Although The Jackson 5 version gain moderate success, Troop version became an instant hit in 1990. It went to #1 on the Billboard R&B charts and the album the single was released on “Attitude” went platinum. When many think of this record they think of Troops’ amazing 90’s version.
*All I do is think of you was also recorded and released in 2005 by R&B group B5.
17) I do love you – GQ
Classic R&B and Soul single “I do love you” recorded by GQ is definitely one of the greatest song remakes of all time. This lovely, feel-good record is surprisingly a cover. The original version was written and recorded by Billy Stewart in 1965. Billy Stewart’s version was successful and topped the Billboard R&B and Pop charts. When the single was re-recorded and released by soul group GQ in 1979 it became a smash hit. GQ’s version went to #5 on the R&B charts and was considered one of the top 100 songs of 1979. Their cover was even featured in several movies and became one of GQ’s signature songs.
16) Can’t take my eyes off of you – Lauryn Hill
#16 on our list of the greatest song remakes of all time is “Can’t take my eyes off of you” by hip hop icon Lauryn Hill. This Hip Hop/ R&B single is actually a remake. Many Lauryn Hill and Hip Hop fans may be unaware of this. This is due to the fact that Lauryn Hill version became a mega-hit and a modern day classic record. However, the original version belongs to singer Frankie Valli and was released in 1967. What makes Lauryn Hill version one of the greatest song remakes is it’s creativity. To take a 60’s pop single and transform it into a modern hip hop classic with traces of R&B is simply amazing. Not to mention the album “The miseducation of Lauryn Hill” the record was on became an international success, and broke worldwide records. This includes receiving record breaking grammy awards, phenomenal album sales and more.
15) Giving him something he can feel – En Vogue
Amazing R&B girl group En Vogue 1992 single “Something he can feel” is another chart topping remake. This classic song was original recorded for 1976 motion picture “Sparkle.” The song was written by Curtis Mayfield, and sung in the movie by actress Lonette McKee with singer/ actress Irene Cara, and Dwan Smith. However, the soundtrack version was recorded by legend Aretha Franklin and became a hit. The biggest, most commercial version of this song came when En Vogue recorded it. En Vogue’s version became a 90’s classic and one of their most successful records. In 1992 it topped the Billboard Pop, R&B and UK charts.
14) The love we had stays on my mind – Dru Hill
1990’s and 2000’s hit making group Dru Hill record “The love we had stays on my mind” is another amazing cover that definitely deserves to top our list. Many may not be aware that this 1998 song is actually a remake. Originally recorded and released by legendary R&B group The Dells. The Dells version was released in 1971 and topped the R&B and Pop charts. In later years many R&B fans fell in love with Dru Hill’s rendition. With Sisqo powerful leading vocals and Dru Hill background harmonies, this slightly spend up cover instantly became a modern day classic.
13) Killing me softly – Fugees
Making our list at #13 of greatest song remakes of all time is Fugees version of “Killing me softy.” Originally recorded by R&B legend Roberta Flack in 1973 it became a #1 hit in the U.S and Canada. The song was so popular there were many covers of it. However, the most successful and popular cover came in 1996 with the Fugees. Recorded and released on their highly critically acclaimed album “The Score“, the Fugees version instantly became a smash hit. The single reached #1 on the charts, became an international hit, was the biggest selling single of 1996 and sold over a million copies alone. Their cover of the song was so successful it won the hip hop group a grammy in 1997 for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. Not only does it top our list of greatest song remakes, it also came in #44 for 100 greatest songs of the 90’s.
12) At your best- Aaliyah
If you’ve ever listened to R&B icon Aaliyah’s 1994 record “At your best” you’re likely to fall in love. This heavenly sweet, soulful single is surprisingly a cover. The original version belongs the legendary group The Isley Brothers, which was released in 1976. However, Aaliyah’s version was commercially successful, gained rave reviews and opened the song to a youthful, modern day audience. Her version topped the Billboard Pop and R&B charts, as well as the UK and Tokio hot 100 charts. The single alone was certified gold by RIAA the same year her album was released. This very day it’s still one of Aaliyah’s most famous songs, making it one of the greatest song remakes of all time.
11) I say a little prayer for you – Aretha Franklin
Legendary vocalist and pianist Aretha Franklin’s 1968 single “I say a little prayer for you” is Soul, R&B and Pop classic. It became a top hit during the Fall of that year. However, the original version was recorded by another legend, Dionne Warwick. Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David specifically for Dionne Warwick in 1967. Her version topped the Pop and R&B charts as well. However, when many modern day music lovers think of this classic they associate it with Aretha Franklin. Her soulful vocals and powerhouse tone made her cover one of her most popular hits. It was so successful it became her 9th consecutive top ten hit, while also going gold and topping numerous charts.
10) For once in my life – Stevie Wonder
One of his earliest songs ever released “For once in my life” recorded by living legend Stevie Wonder is actually a remake. This timeless classic is viewed as Stevie Wonder’s original record by many due to his rendition being extremely successful. His version is the most famous and arguably the best created, but there were many versions of this chart topping song. The very 1st version was recorded by Barbara McNair. Other versions include covers by The Four Tops, The Temptations and Tony Bennett. However, Stevie Wonder’s version is hands down the most famous. His uptempo version accompanied by his harmonica and pure vocals helped his cover top the U.S R&B and Pop charts, as well as the United Kingdom charts.
9) Rockin’ Robin – Michael Jackson
Classic R&B single “Rockin’ Robin” is coined as one of Michael Jackson most famous hits from his songs recorded as a child star. It’s one of the songs that truly captures Michael Jackson’s innocence and charm as a child. His youthful yet powerhouse vocals are simply amazing. Many would be surprised to find out this timeless version is actually a cover. The original version was recorded by Bobby Day in 1958. It was Bobby Day’s biggest hit and went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. More than 10 years later Michael Jackson recorded his version at the tender age of 13 years old and it became a smash hit. It topped the Billboard Pop and R&B charts. When many think of this classic, upbeat song they think of the legendary Michael Jackson belting out this catchy tune.
8) I feel for you – Chaka Khan
#8 on our list of greatest song remakes of all time is “I feel for you” by legend and diva Chaka Khan. This 1984 hit originally belongs to legend Prince. Prince wrote and recorded his version in 1979. However, Chaka Khan version is the most successful. It earned her a grammy award in 1985. It topped many charts including the Billboard R&B and Pop charts, the U.K. charts and and the dance charts. Not only did Chaka Khan version receive rave reviews and become a commercial success, it helped pioneer a movement. Chaka Khan’s version of I feel for you is credited with being the 1st song where a singer collaborates with a rapper (rapper Melle Mel of GrandMaster Flash and the Furious Five is the rapper featured on the single).
7) I heard it through the grapevine – Marvin Gaye
Soulful classic hit “I heard it through the grapevine” recorded by the incomparable legend Marvin Gaye comes in at #7 for greatest song remakes of all time. Some are aware but a lot of people don’t know this hit was first recorded by Gladys Knight and the Pips. Their version was released in 1967. Marvin Gaye version followed shortly in 1968. Both versions are soulful, charismatic and captivating. However, Marvin Gaye’s version became a timeless hit for him. It spent 7 weeks at the top of the charts and became the biggest hit for Motown Records at that time. For many the single I heard it through the grapevine is synonymous with Marvin Gaye and his amazing, soulful vocals.
6) The greatest love of all – Whitney Houston
Coming in at #6 on our list of greatest song remakes of all time is “The greatest love of all” by legendary vocalist and performer Whitney Houston. This extraordinary R&B/Pop ballad still remains one of Whitney Houston’s signature songs. Her rendition of it is so impressive many would find it hard to believe that this is actually a remake. The original version belongs to George Benson and was released in 1977. The song was specifically written and recorded to be the theme song to biopic movie about legendary boxer Muhammad Ali titled “The Greatest.” George Benson version was a hit peaking at #2 on the charts. Then the song gained even wider recognition when Whitney Houston released her 1985 rendition. With her beautiful powerful house vocals and gospel inspired tones her version became a mega-hit. It topped the chart in over a dozen countries including the U.S, Italy, Sweden, the UK and many more. It still remains Houston 3rd most successful hit in the United States to this very day.
5) Superstar – Luther Vandross
Soft, intimate, ballad “Superstar” recorded by legendary R&B singer Luther Vandross is truly one of the greatest song remakes of all time. The fact that this classic soulful hit is actually a remake may come as surprise to many music lovers. The original version was recorded in 1971 by The Carpenters. However, Luther Vandross’s 1983 rendition still remains the most famous version. His cover became a huge R&B chart topping hit reaching #5 on the charts. Vandross version has become so popular that when many fellow singers pay homage to him they actually sing his version of the record. Superstar exhibits Luther Vandross’s amazing range, power and tonality. When listening to this record you can feel such emotion and depth in his voice. It’s easy to forget that this song isn’t his original creation. It still remains one of his most beloved hits.
4) Without you – Mariah Carey
1994 mega hit “Without you” recorded by legendary vocalist and artist Mariah Carey is definitely one of the greatest song remakes of all time. This 90’s R&B/Pop ballad is shockingly a remake. Many fans weren’t aware of this at the time and some still aren’t. However, due to Mariah Carey’s extraordinary vocals and soothing tone on this record, it’s safe to say her version is the most successful. Originally recorded in 1970 by rock band Badfinger this song actually had many artists cover it. Mariah Carey’s version became an international hit, one of her signature songs and the most commercially successful out of all the covers. One of the many attributes that makes her version so special is her ability to make it her own.
3) And I am telling you I’m not going – Jennifer Hudson
When R&B songstress Jennifer Hudson made her screen debut in 2006 with motion picture Dreamgirls she completely stole the. Not only did her role and acting ability capture the audience her show stopping voice captured our hearts. Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of “And I am telling you I’m not going” became an instant modern day classic. Some are aware that this is a remake however, some youngsters aren’t. This is because Jennifer Hudson sang the song so powerful, elegantly and completely filled it with raw emotion. This made many assume it was her original tune. Original recorded in 1982 by legendary singer and actress Jennifer Holliday the song was a huge hit with Holliday’s rendition. Another factor that contributed to the song being such a big hit for both Hudson and Holliday is the production the song was recorded for. Broadway play then later turned movie Dreamgirls is the mastermind behind putting the song And I am telling you I’m not going on the map. However, Jennifer Hudson’s version took the song to even bigger heights and introduced to an even younger audience. Her version received rave reviews and was highly critically acclaimed. Her role in the movie Dreamgirls where she sang the song was so excellent it earned her an Oscar in 2007 for Best Supporting Actress. This is why her rendition of the classic tune is truly one of the greatest song remakes of all time.
2) Who’s lovin’ you – The Jackson 5
Coming in at #2 as one of the greatest song remakes of all time is the sensational, classic hit “Who’s lovin’ you” by the Jackson 5. People from all different age groups and eras are completely in love with this song and rendition. It’s such a classic and has been affiliated with the Jackson 5 that it may come as a shock that this is actually a remake. The original version was written by Smokey Robinson, and performed by his then group The Miracles in 1960. Several other artists created moderately successful versions of the song. However, the most successful, show stopping version came in August of 1969 when The Jackson 5 recorded it while on their then label Motown Records. Lead vocalist Michael Jackson took the song and truly made it his own. His pure, raw, powerful and mesmerizing vocals along with his strong emotion made the song a huge hit and fan favorite. Even to this very day when fans and fellow artists pay tribute to Michael Jackson they sing his rendition of Who’s lovin’ you. Perhaps the biggest aspect of his cover that makes it so special is the fact that he belted this tune out and made it a classic at the tender age of 9. Michael Jackson did such an incredible cover of the song that even Smokey Robinson himself stated:
“Berry (Gordy) had this gathering at his house. He said, ‘Come here, I want you to see somebody very special.’ I went over and these 5 young guys were there, and they sang and danced up a storm. A couple weeks later they recorded by song. I thought to myself: Now they have pulled a fast one on us, because this boy cannot possibly be 10 years old. This song is about somebody who had somebody who loved them but they treated them bad. They treated them so bad that they lost them, and now they are paying the price of wanting somebody back that they treated bad and lost. How can he possible know these things? I quickly went over to him because I wanted to see his birth certificate. I could not believe that someone that young could have that much feeling and soul. He had to know something to sing a song like that. It was wonderful – as a songwriter that’s a dream come true to have someone sing one of your songs like that.”
1) I will always love you – Whitney Houston
Hands down the #1 greatest song remake of all time belongs the extraordinary, legendary vocalist and performer Whitney Houston for her classic rendition of “I will always love you.” Recorded in 1992 for the mega hit film “The Bodyguard“, I will always love you instantly became a modern day classic. It was originally written and recorded by singer Dolly Parton in 1973, where it was a success on the Billboard Country Charts. However, Whitney Houston’s version literally took the song into worldwide phenomenal success. Her version literally broke records, won numerous awards and shot Houston herself into a level of success she possibly couldn’t imagine. Houston’s version was such as success it spent 14 weeks #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. At the time it was longest running single to be placed at #1 on the chart. It’s one of the biggest selling singles of all time and it is the biggest selling single of all time by a female artist. It instantly shot to #1 on the pop and R&B charts as well as international country charts such as Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, New Zealand and many, many more. It became the record label she was on Arista Records biggest hit to date. Her version of the song was such a success it actually became her signature song. For a long period of time many had no idea the song was a remake. Houston sang it so good they thought it was originally hers’. When artists, singers and fans pay tribute to Whitney Houston, I will always love you is the top choice. One of the biggest factors that contributed to Houston’s version being such a success were her extraordinary, phenomenal vocals on the record. Her cover displayed her huge range, beautiful tone, angelic head voice, amazing transitions and powerhouse vibrato. The song has graced many other music countdowns such 100 greatest love songs of all time, 100 greatest songs of the 90’s. Houston’s version also won her the 1994 Record of the Year at the 36th annual grammy awards. The song was such a culture phenomena that Dolly Parton herself reportedly thanked Houston “for bringing her song to a wider audience and increasing the amount of royalties for her song in the process.”