The Top 10 Most Recorded Women Singer/Songwriters

In my last post I gave you Joni Mitchell, who as a solo female singer/songwriter is the most recorded artist of all time. This is not a “Best of” numbers one through ten kind of list. Subjectively ‘the best’ can mean a lot of things, but I am focusing on cover songs. So, in total, whose songs have been recorded the most? Just a reminder a list of cover songs is not a list off all the songs that someone may have written, only those with documented re-recordings. Not surprisingly the list is dominated by contemporary popular music but I looked at all the major genres. I plan to recognize women solely as songwriters in another post and many different names will appear.

One might think that Carole King would be at the top of this list, but she is a bit of special project as her work lands into so many categories. As a composer of songs she and her lyricist (and for a time husband) Gerry Goffin were not only prolific but they wrote some of the most memorable tunes of a generation. She has also co-written songs with others and, she has composed the words and music for her own records. The aggregate total places her as the 9th most recorded writer of Pop music, you can find those stats on my post The 2023 Update of the Most Recorded Pop Songs of All time. So you will see her name appear more than once on my lists as I will attempt crunch the numbers as they say in order to find her placement on each of them. Here is a link for my post on Carole King.

When you read the list, just a reminder that these are only the songs they have written or co-written and recorded, not necessarily all the songs they have originally recorded-but were written by others. Those may have cover versions also. The most notable example would be Peggy Lee, she was the first to record “Golden Earrings” which has 174 versions and “Everybody Loves Somebody” has 142, but she did not have a song writing credit so they are not included in these totals. Édith Piaf was the first to record her very famous song “Non, je ne regrette rien” however it was written by Charles Dumont, Michel Vaucaire and there are 130 versions of this song.

Maybe on my next post I will give you a list for the most covered female performers, that’s a whole batch of different stats, songs and names. Conspicuous by their absence here on this particular list are women of colour. There are of course many that wrote songs, some great ones but I read the numbers and the data that is currently available. The total numbers of documented songs are how the names end up on this list. That is not to say it is absolute and therefore should be subject to some reflection at the very least.

The Top 10 Most Recorded Women Singer/Songwriters

  1. Joni Mitchell. I have given that one away but I will give you the numbers again as a comparison. Statistically she is the most recorded woman as a solo singer/songwriter with some 2,500 documented versions of 128 songs according to The team at has researched “7,646 covers of 173 of Joni’s songs done by 5,615 different artists”. By way of an apples to apples comparison for the top three names on this list especially, there are seven songs Joni co-wrote and this accounts for 72 versions. So if you would like to keep score I have her at 7,574 versions of her songs. If we exclude songs she was not the first to record such as “Both Sides Now” by Judy Collins, “The Circle Game” by Ian & Sylvia, “Chelsea Morning” by Fairport Convention etc. the total would be down to approximately 6,900 versions.
  2. Taylor Swift has had 51 of her solo written songs recorded by others, and another 129 she has written with others. While this totals 180 songs, the number of versions has her rising to #2 and still early in her career with 1,488 versions by 456 artists.
  3. Carole King, as I noted leads the way in Pop music as the most recorded female songwriter, primarily as a composer of the music. At last count there were 3,384 versions of her songs. Focusing on her solo singing career, of the approximately 29 songs she wrote by herself and was the first to record, there are 745 versions, if we include songs she co-wrote and originally recorded that is 57 songs for a total of 1,424 versions. This number includes the songs she was the first to record; “You’ve Got a Friend” famously covered (recorded the same day) by James Taylor and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” famously covered by Aretha Franklin. However it does not include “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” originally by The Shirelles or “Up on the Roof” by The Drifters and many, many more.
  4. Dolly Parton has had hit songs in both the Country and Pop genre. You are curious to know so… “I Will Always Love You” has 244 versions and “Jolene” has 176. She has had another 133 of her songs re-recorded and there are 1,051 versions.
  5. Madonna has had 90 of her songs covered. “Like a Virgin” has 104, with all the rest it’s a total of 921 versions
  6. Adele has had 46 of her songs covered and also has 921 versions (“Rolling in the Deep-129)
  7. Édith Piaf, we may not think of her in the contemporary sense but her songs are still being re-recorded, 78 songs with 817 versions (“La vie en rose”-550)
  8. Lady Gaga has 75 songs and 789 versions (“Shallow”-93)
  9. Peggy Lee has 38 songs with 694 versions (Johnny Guitar”-119)
  10. Katy Perry has 50 songs with 690 versions (“Firework-68)
Édith Piaf, as you may have noticed is the only non native English speaking and non ‘contemporary’ artist on the list. This is one of my favorites (still makes me tear up) and it was recorded in 1950, her last would be in 1963. For more on her story you can read my post here.

Which of the these women top the list for writing the song with the most recorded versions?

The answer is none. In fact there are only three women songwriters with titles in the top 100 most recorded (non-Christmas) songs, and none of them appear on this list. My next post with show you those names and more as we look at The Most Recorded Women Songwriters of All Time.

Thanks for reading.

References: 1, 2, 3, 4

11 thoughts on “The Top 10 Most Recorded Women Singer/Songwriters

  1. I’ve added Edith to my WMM list to cover. I appreciate you doing statistical study focusing on female song writers. Speaking of female songwriters, guess who I just bought tickets to see in October of this year? Loreen McKennitt (sp?) She’ll be in Grand Rapids and I got 8th row seats 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was taken by the fact Madonna seems relatively low after having been around and productive in the charts for such a long time. I’m no big fan but she has talent and has proved it for a long time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your comment. It is interesting that some artists and songs just don’t get covered as much despite their popularity. Her number of songs cover vs versions ratio is not as strong either. Of course some songs and artists are more intimidating on challenging to cover as well.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I didn’t expect Joni Mitchell at the top for some reason…I expected King for sure.
    Lisa and you are complimenting each other lately…it’s great to bounce between your sites. Randy excellent research as always man!
    I also thought Dolly would have been up higher.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for checking it out. Lisa is doing a great job, I was inspired by her direction as it’s Women’s History Month. Being the singer/songwriter category I think Joni makes sense. Country just doesn’t get covered by comparison.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes I don’t guess it does get covered as much. I dont’ know why I wasn’t expecting Joni though. King’s songs are so accessible for people…that is the reason I thought it would be her. Quick great pop songs.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yea that does make a difference! I just never dreamed that Joni’s would be that accessible. She is very unique in a lot of ways…she makes up her own tunings in some songs…it’s really cool that she is up there.

        Liked by 2 people

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