Some songs are so good that other artists just got to have a version of it. And no, this is not about the standard birthday songs or Christmas carols, but regular pop songs that have become extraordinary if only for the number of remakes they have had. Of course, the mere fact that other artists have covered it already speaks volumes about the song’s greatness.
Here is a list of songs with the most remakes. If you are expecting songs from The Beatles to dominate the list, then you have got it right.
10. The Look of Love
The song was composed by Burt Bacharach and was originally intended to be an instrumental before Hal David added lyrics to the music. It first appeared in the soundtrack of the 1967 James Bond spoof movie entitled “Casino Royale.” The song was inspired by Ursula Andress, who appeared as Vesper Lynd in the movie. The song was originally recorded by Dusty Springfield and received a nomination from the Oscar awards along the way. By 1968, there were five other versions of the song already, including one by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 that reached number four on the pop charts. More than 50 artists are known to have recorded the song. It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.
9. Over the Rainbow
Harold Arlen composed the song with lyrics by E.Y. Harburg in 1939. It was written for the iconic classic movie called “The Wizard of Oz” and sang originally by Judy Garland. The song was originally excluded from the movie because its producers thought it slowed the film down. The associate producer persisted and fought for it, however. The song has since become Garland’s signature song. It has also been remade countless times, including by other great crooners like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald.
The song is a Paul McCartney composition, though just like everything else during their days with The Beatles, it has been credited to Lennon-McCartney. The song was composed in 1968 and included in the band’s double disc album called “The Beatles,” otherwise known as “The White Album.” It took off from a Bach classical piece called “Bourree in E Minor.” The song sang symbolically of the struggles of the black people in the southern states during those tumultuous years when they were fighting for their civil rights. It has been covered by the likes of The Dandy Warhols, Sarah McLachlan, Phis, Eddie Vedder and Brad Mehldau.
Every year, as the ball drops during New Year’s Eve in Times Square, one song has been played regularly since 2005. That is “Imagine,” a John Lennon composition from 1971. The song is in the Hall of Fame of the Grammys and is considered to be one of the songs that shaped rock and roll. Artists such as Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Diana Ross and Joan Baez have recorded remakes of the song.
6. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
The song, with the iconic three-note guitar riff as its driving force, was composed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and originally recorded by The Rolling Stones. It was the band’s first number one song in the United States. It is considered to be one of the greatest songs of all time. Artists like Otis Redding, Jerry Lee Lewis, Devo and Britney Spears have remade it.
5. And I Love Her
This is another Paul McCartney composition credited to Lennon-McCartney. The Beatles first recorded it in 1964 as part of the album called “A Hard Day’s Night.” The original version reached number 12 in the pop charts. The song has been remade by a number of different artists from a variety of genre, including R&B and grunge. There were eight covers within a year after its release. Smokey Robinson and Bob Marley did other famous remakes.
4. Cry Me a River
Ella Fitzgerald first recorded this torch song, though Julie London was the first artist to release the song. Arthur Hamilton wrote this jazz song that attained popularity in 1956 after London’s sultry performance in the 1956 movie called “The Girl Can’t Help It.” Artists like Barbra Streisand, Joe Cocker, Denise Welch, Diana Krall and Michael Buble have remade the song.
3. Eleanor Rigby
The song was written by Paul McCartney and credited to the Lennon-McCartney writing team. It was part of the 1966 album by The Beatles called “Revolver.” The song sang about the loneliness, concerns and fates of the elderly. It further cemented the band’s reputation as more than just a rock band. It is considered an important song as the subject matter shocked pop listeners back in the 60s. It is considered as one of the greatest songs of all time. The song has had countless remakes, but the more prominent ones were done by artists like Joan Baez, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Sarah Vaughan, Shirley Bassey, Kansas, The Fray, Ja Rule and Hank Williams Jr.
Another song from The Beatles that was composed by Paul McCartney but credited to Lennon-McCartney, “Yesterday” has had more than 2,200 remakes already. It is one of the most covered versions in the history of recorded music. The song was composed in 1965. The Broadcast Music Incorporated estimates that it was performed over seven million times during a 35-year period from the time it was composed until 1999. It was voted as the number one pop song of the 20th century by BBC Radio, MTV and Rolling Stone magazine.
George Gershwin composed the song with lyrics by DuBose Heyward. It first appeared in the 1935 opera called Porgy and Bess. Abbie Mitchell is credited with its first recording in that same year. The song has since become a jazz standard. It has been recorded over 25,000 times, making it the song with the most remakes. Billie Holiday was the first to hit the charts with it, though it was also recorded by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Sam Cooke, Janis Joplin, The Zombies, The Doors and Billy Stewart.