The 2022 Update of the Most Covered Pop Songs and Artists of All Time

The 2022 Update of the Most Covered Songs and Artists of All Time

I have added some streaming numbers to this issue and increased the most covered singles list to 20 songs.
I have three categories in today’s blog: 1. The most covered songs written by a single artist, 2. The most cover versions combined and 3. The most covered Pop songs.  These numbers are for artists that write and record their own songs. For more on songwriters, read my series I Write the Songs. The statistics come courtesy of Secondhandsongs.com and are verified via strict protocols. This website posts ‘covers’ submitted from around the globe and in many different languages, edited by very knowledgeable experts in music recording. There are other resources as cited but other than the odd personal anecdote or opinion, I’m using information and knowledge, not to mention YouTube posts that already exist. In addition, the numbers change daily, I had originally written this blog in December 2019 so it’s been interesting to see the changes over three years. On the whole, the major artists in each list mostly stayed the same but may have shuffled positions. Keeping in mind the people on these lists are among the most important and iconic Singer-Songwriters of all time and recognized around the world. Having said that I certainly acknowledge there are many legendary international artists not included as the focus here for the most part is on Western and English speaking artists.  The information in this blog is from statistics collected on or around Sept 4, 2022.

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September 13 – The King Of Cover Songs — A Sound Day

Readers might remember that earlier this summer, we ran a Turntable Talk feature on “cover songs”, with various regulars here weighing in on what makes a good cover song , or when they were utterly redundant. Well, that caught the attention of one of our readers, Randy who is so interested in the concept that […]

September 13 – The King Of Cover Songs — A Sound Day

Follow the above link for my contribution to Dave’s blog. I wrote a piece on the motivations to cover a song and focused on the most covered pop song of all time, “Yesterday” by The Beatles.

The 1970’s Pt. 3

Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic from 1975

I received some feedback on the first two 1970’s posts citing that there were “some forgotten songs mentioned, and yet they came back immediately in my head” which is all part of the fun.

Music of the 1970’s

Parts one and two focused on three major sources; the Billboard charts, Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs and from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. A few other references were used and I will try not to repeat myself as I would like to give an overview of the decades music. It was a time of much social change and we saw the introduction of many new music styles that still impact the music of today.

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100 of the Greatest Cover Songs #76-100

Last but not least, 25 more of the Greatest Cover Songs

Ok here is the last of my list, I could go on and as a matter of fact I will, just not with another set of 25 plus “to infinity and beyond!” I have to say it was easy to come up with more songs to complete the total of 100 as this final list started at 43. But it was very difficult to decide which ones would make the cut, so these last 25 songs became a list with a number of great ones left for another day.

Downchild Blues Band
76. “Flip Flop and Fly” is a song by the same collection that brought us the classic “Shake Rattle and Roll” written by Jesse Stone (credited to his pseudonym Charles E. Calhoun) and Lou Willie Turner, sung by Big Joe Turner (1954). The first time I heard this song was at a club in my hometown I’ll say around 1979 or so, performed by the talented Canadian Blues band Downchild Blues Band(1973), later known as just ‘Downchild’. Still the best cover for me although I’ve heard many fine ones out of some over 70 versions, this is a standard blues song sung in venues around the globe. Have a listen and you’ll hear I’m not just being a homer, it really is a well made piece of music. I was fortunate there were a few places noted for booking blues artists like the amazing Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy and attending them with my buddies-for just the music you understand, got me hooked on the genre. I have to sneak in this version from the Geraint Watkins Band (1978) who is a real blast to see perform live.

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We're Number One! (almost)

We’re Number one! almost, because we’re number one 2!

Jerry Lee Lewis
would only ever reach as high as #2
on Billboard’s Hot 100

Here are some great songs that just didn’t make it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 or R&B charts.

In my post on Little Richard I commented on his breakthrough single, “Tutti Frutti” that got stalled at #2 because “Great Pretender” by ‘The Platters’ would not budge from the #1 spot from the beginning of January through to the week ending March 10. I’ve run across this before so I decided to research how many of the old classic hit songs had the same fate and just didn’t get to the #1 spot. I’ve talked about many of these songs but when you look at the number that didn’t make it is a bit surprising. And do we remember them any less for being #2? Let’s show the song that kept them out of the top spot and see how it compares.Read More »

One Hit Wonders (for real)

Real One Hit Wonders

Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton doing the Hucklebuck

A while back I sort of debunked “One Hit Wonders” lists in my “One Hit Wonders (Not!)” post as there were so many songs that just don’t qualify. So I thought I’d share a list of songs that are truly “one and done” hit songs. Once again following the definition laid out by music journalist Wayne Jancik “an act that has won a position on a national, pop, Top 40 record chart just once.” This from the ‘The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders’ (1998).Read More »

Greatest Songs Lists

Greatest Songs Lists

Not all ‘Greatest of’ lists are created equal …
My thoughts on the ‘greatest of’ lists…and my own
Greatest Songs (Part 1 )

Let me add some music right off the bat here because as usual I’m going to be complicating things, but later I will squeeze in another four tunes. We will call this the “MMC (MostlyMusicCovers) Blog Greatest Songs List” (hey, I worked on that name for a good thirty seconds, can you tell?)
 

My choice for – Greatest Song of all time is  “Over the Rainbow”

 

 
 “Over the Rainbow” performed by Judy Garland in the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Music written by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. First recorded October 7, 1938, the movie was released August 12 1939. Judy would record this song July 28, 1939 for the cast recording album “The Wizard of Oz by Victor Young and His Orchestra”. I am not alone in my opinion that this is the best song period, not just from a movie but from anyone or anything. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has placed this as the 20th century’s #1 song and I find no fault in that choice. The brilliant melody by Harold Arlen who was a former staff writer at the Cotton Club had already composed Musicals and the classic “Stormy Weather”. He was struggling with coming up with the right song for the movie which came to him as his wife Anya Taranda was driving them to Grauman’s Chinese for dinner, they pulled over just past Schwab’s Drug Store on Sunset and he wrote the song there and then. He would go on to compose some of the most recognizable songs in American music. Just a short list of songs he wrote with a number of different lyricists includes; “That Old Black Magic”, “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” and “The Man That Got Away” from the original “A Star is Born”. Lyricist E.Y. (Yip) Harburg has written “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, “April in Paris” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon” as well as many Broadway productions.

The song was also released as a single by Decca Records on a 78 r.p.m. record as the 45 r.p.m was not invented yet (it came out in 1949). By the time Garlands record had been released in 1939 the song had already been covered five times, and has gone on to be recorded including instrumentals, into perhaps the thousands of times but officially documented at over 1100 times if you go by Secondhandsongs.com, eight of those versions in 2019 alone. Judy Garland had not only the most remarkable and beautiful voice but her performances both on screen and live on stage were trans-formative. That is to say audiences were taken away to another place, dare I say “over the rainbow” when she sang. There are few voices that compare to hers nor a person that can deliver a song like she did. All too often behind a performer we find a heartbreaking and sometimes tragic story. Judy Garland has such a story and you can read about in many places and also see a bit of insight in the new movie ‘Judy’.

There will never be anyone who can sing this song as well as Judy Garland, but there are many amazing attempts that give the original song enough justice to warrant some attention, especially this first cover by Zellweger from ‘Judy’, Renée Zellweger (2019) and a few of the better versions;  Octave (2019) Lady Gaga (2018), Pink (live at the Oscars 2014), Ariana Grande (2017), the little angel Jackie Evancho from 2012, a superb version from Susan Boyle (2012). Eva Cassidy’s version from 1992 would gain much deserved attention in the U.K. in particular two years after her passing in 1996 at age 33 from cancer. Of note there is a lead verse to the song that was omitted from the original performance but many cover versions and stage performances add it back in (some above) and others such as this one from Danielle Hope (2010), other great covers from; Eric Clapton (2002), Eva Cassidy (1992), Celine Dion (1985), Patti LaBelle and The Bluebelles (1966), Ray Charles (1963), Ella Fitzgerald (1961), Liza Minnelli at age 13 (1960),  Frank Sinatra (1947).

While the song came out before the music charts were created there is little doubt it would be a chart topper and it won the Academy Award in 1939 for Best Original Song. Various later recordings have hit the charts but none reaching the top 10.

What do I mean when I say “Not all ‘Greatest of’ lists are created equal”For me at least, the ‘criteria’ used to decide ‘the best’ is generally fraught with bias, be it due to genre, geography or perception. 

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One Hit Wonders (not!)

One Hit Wonders (not!)

Yesterday (Sept. 26) was the 50th Anniversary of Abbey Road, the Beatles last recording session together and the second last album before Let it Be was issued May 8, 1970. And also Happy belated One Hit Wonder Day! (Sept. 25th) so I thought it would make a good blog topic.

The simplest definition I found is from music journalist Wayne Jancik “any recording act that place just one 45 rpm single on Billboards Top 40 chart” this from The Billboard book of one-Hit Wonders’ (1998). The term is a bit antiquated now as we no longer have 45 rpm singles, but the concept of only one hit single remains. So we aren’t talking one #1 hit. It’s not a term I like as it implies (and some truth to that) these artists have had just a brief moment in the spotlight, perhaps undeservedly so and then fallen off the music map. I know other and deeper definitions are a bit more broad and go beyond the absolute single hit idea. They also consider many artists that have still maintained a quality career and just not reproduced another ‘top 40 hit’ song and or may be from another country/language and snuck in a single hit, enter ‘Nena’ who (including her band “Nena”) had a very respectable career in her native Germany but just the one english language version of “99 Luftballons“.  In some cases the definition includes a single song that listeners strongly identify with to the point of ignoring the artist (that may have had other hits). I think this strays way off the path of the ‘one hit’ concept. Strongly ‘identified’ song does not mean in my opinion that the artist is a “one hit wonder”. If you ask 10 people to name one Led Zeppelin song 9 are going to say “Stairway to Heaven”. Most lists should be labelled “Billboard Top 40 One Hit Wonders” to be fair, but I give examples below that disqualify songs from that list as well.Read More »