9 Song Covers That Topped Charts Just Like The Originals
Song covers can be tricky, as there are always those who naysay making any changes to classic tracks. Still, there are a select few covers that managed to become as popular as the originals, with both versions hitting the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Here are 9 songs that reached No. 1 by two different artists.
1. “Go Away Little Girl,” Steve Lawrence
Cover: Donny Osmond
Lawrence released the second recording of this song (the first was recorded by Bobby Vee) in late 1962. The single reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1963 and remained at the top of the charts for two weeks.
While there have been many covers of the song after Lawrence’s version, Osmond’s is the only other take on the track to also reach No. 1. The cover topped the charts in 1971, maintaining the top spot for three weeks and making “Go Away Little Girl” the first song to become a No. 1 hit single on the Hot 100 by two different artists.
2. “I’ll Be There,” The Jackson 5
Cover: Mariah Carey
The soul song was originally released as the first single from the vocal quintet’s Third Album in 1970. The track ended up becoming The Jackson 5’s fourth No. 1 hit in a row and their final No. 1 as a group. It also became the group’s most successful track ever released, with 6.1 million copies worldwide.
Carey’s cover was recorded during her appearance on MTV Unplugged in 1992. The song was a last-minute addition to her setlist and was performed as a romantic duet, with Carey singing Michael Jackson’s lines and R&B singer Trey Lorenz singing Jermaine Jackson’s lines. The duet version ended up becoming so popular, that her label, Columbia Records, decided to release it as a single off her EP, MTV Unplugged, even though that wasn’t their original plan. The track became her sixth No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining there for two weeks, and also became her biggest hit outside North America at the time.
3. “Lady Marmalade,” Labelle
Cover: Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya & Pink
Originally released in 1974 as the first single from Labelle’s album Nightbirds, “Lady Marmalade” reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the early spring of 1975. It remained at the top of the charts for a week and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003.
The song has had many cover versions over the years, with an All Saints version reaching No. 1 in the U.K. in 1998. But the most popular version stateside came in 2001, from singers Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa, and Pink, produced by Missy Elliot. The single was released off the Moulin Rouge! Soundtrack and maintained the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks. It also won the four singers a Grammy Award.
4. “Lean On Me,” Bill Withers
Cover: Club Nouveau
The track was released in 1972 as the first single from Withers’s second album, Still Bill. It was his first and only number one single on both the soul singles and the Billboard Hot 100. Later, the song was also ranked as the No. 7 song of 1972 by Billboard.
The song has kept a prominent place in pop culture, with many cover versions performed at high profile charity events and for television and film. R&B group Club Nouveau were able to take the song to No. 1 again, with their cover topping the Billboard charts for two weeks in 1987. Their version also won a Grammy award in 1987 for Withers as the writer, for Best R&B Song.
5. “The Loco-Motion,” Little Eva
Cover: Grand Funk Railroad
The original version of the song was released by Eva Boyd, under the stage name Little Eva, in 1962 and reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Later, “The Loco-Motion” was also named the sixth most successful single of 1962 by Billboard.
The track reached the top of the charts again in 1974, with hard rock group Grand Funk Railroad’s cover. The song was released as a single from their album Shinin’ On and also reached No. 1 on the U.S. charts. Though their cover was the last version of the song to top the charts, it wasn’t the last to enter the top five. Kyle Minogue’s cover of the track reached the No. 3 spot in 1988.
6. “Please Mr. Postman,” The Marvelettes
Cover: The Carpenters
The track was the debut single by the group, the Marvelettes. It reached the No. 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1961, also becoming the first Motown song to ever top the charts.
The Carpenters’ version, which resembles an old 1950s rock and roll song, was released in late 1974. The track reached No. 1 again, on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts, in January 1975, eventually becoming the duo’s 12th million-selling single gold record.
7. “Venus,” Shocking Blue
The Dutch band released “Venus” in late 1969 as a single from the album At Home. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970, eventually selling over 7.5 million copies worldwide.
In 1986, the British girl group Bananarama helped get the song back to No. 1 on the charts. The musicians recorded a cover of the track as a late addition to their third album, titled True Confessions. Their version became a worldwide smash, hitting the top of the charts in the U.S., as well as in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Mexico, and South Africa.
8. “When A Man Loves A Woman,” Percy Sledge
Cover: Michael Bolton
The track was released in 1966, as his debut single off his first album of the same name. The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as on the R&B singles chart. It’s still considered one of the greatest and most well-known songs of all time.
The track was later covered by Michael Bolton in 1991, whose version (off the album Time, Love & Tenderness) also reached No. 1 on both the U.S. pop and adult contemporary singles charts. The singer later won a Grammy Award for his cover of the track.
9. “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” The Supremes
Cover: Kim Wilde
The song was originally recorded in 1966 by The Supremes from the album The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland. The track became the group’s eighth No. 1 single when it topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for two weeks in the November 1966.
Over the years, the song has been covered by many artists, including Rod Stewart, Vanilla Fudge, the Box Tops, Colourbox, and Reba McEntire. But it’s the 1986 rendition by British singer Kim Wilde that brought the track back to the top spot. Her version, which was a total re-working of the original, was released as the second single from the Another Step album. It became Wilde’s second and last top 40 hit in the U.S. and remains her most successful song in that country to date.