Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When it comes to music, covering another artist’s song carries the same weight.
In the coming decades, artists like Van Halen, Pearl Jam, The Dead Kennedys and Big Time Rush covered some of the top hits from 1964.
These, ladies and gentlemen, are the best of the best…
Van Halen – Pretty Woman & You Really Got Me
Eddie, Alex and the boys take on the Roy Orbison classic from 1964 as well as one of The Kinks’ most well known singles, also from ‘64. “Pretty Woman” spent three weeks at Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The 1981 cover by Van Halen got more publicity because of the music video which was banned upon its release. The video was controversial because of the beginning where two little people are molesting a woman they are holding captive… kind of creepy. “You Really Got Me” was the first single from The Kinks in 1964 and for Van Halen (in 1978). The guitar riff is what really got this song off the ground as it led to multiple TV appearances and also became an inspiration for other British groups… like The Rolling Stones.
Babyshambles – She Loves You
Former Libertines frontman Pete Doherty’s second band, Babyshambles tackle the Beatles classic live on the BBC. This song was an instant hit in England when it was released in September of ’63 but it took the United States another six months to even appreciate The Beatles, much less this single. It also held the record for the top-selling UK single for fourteen years.
Gaslight Anthem – House Of the Rising Sun
Local rockers The Gaslight Anthem are no strangers to a cover song. This time they take on The Animal’s classic ballad from 1964. The cover was released in 2011 but the original author is still unknown. The Animals claimed the song is about a brothel, but who’s to say. The Animals recorded it in just one take and the song has been ranked one of the greatest songs of all time and has won multiple awards and recognition.
Ferris Bueller – Danke Schoen/Twist and Shout
This is just a fun one to throw in here… Ferris totally took over the party when he ditched school and jumped on a parade float to lip sing the Bert Kaempfert classic mixed into the Beatles’ ’64 dance floor hit. One of the most notable things about this number is that during the movie, John Hughes was supposed to do a choreographed dance but his knee hurt and he improvised the entire scene along with 10,000 Chicagoans. Originally it was recorded in ’61 by Top Notes but has been covered by more than eight groups and featured in multiple movie soundtracks.
Amy Winehouse – The Girl From Ipanema
Amy’s sultry voice turns this dreamy song from Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto into the only thing you’ll ever want to hear on an elevator… ever again. Written in 1962 with Portuguese lyrics, it became a worldwide hit and GRAMMY winner in 1965. Amy Winehouse is just one of more than 500 artists who have recorded this song.
The Bird and the Bee – I’m Into Something Good
Famous for their amazing retrospective covers of Hall & Oates’ mega-hits, The Bird and the Bee bring a little electronic flair to this classic hit made famous by Herman’s Hermits. Per usual, the song made it to the top of the charts in the UK nearly a year before it did in the US. Though it was Number 1 in the UK, it only made it up as far as Number 13 in the US.
The Dead Kennedys – Viva Las Vegas
Jello Biafra led these Punk Rock pioneers on a “Holiday In Cambodia” and stopped off to shoot some craps with Elvis Presley’s Vegas anthem. Despite being one of Presley’s better known songs, he never performed it live. The city of Las Vegas tried for years to attain the rights to the song to make it the official song of the city but failed due to copyright and monetary disagreements. The Dead Kennedy’s released the song in 1980.
Pearl Jam – The Last Kiss
Possibly one of the biggest bands of three generations, Seattle’s Pearl Jam struck a nerve in their fans’ grungy hearts with their version of J Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers’ classic ballad. Released in 1961, the song flopped and was re-released in ’63 and was received a little better. This tragic song (believed to be based on a real car accident), was revived and loved when Pearl Jam released their cover in 1999.
Big Time Rush – Hard Day’s Night
It doesn’t get any more produced than this folks. The title came from an accidental saying coined by Beatles drummer Ringo Star. The song was also written and recorded in less than twenty-four hours to accompany the Beatles’ movie “A Hard Day’s Night,” (originally called Beatlemania). This song spent fourteen weeks at Number 1 on the Billboard Album Chart in the US.
HONORABLE ’80s MENTIONS:
The Human League – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling
This was number 1 hit for The Righteous Brothers in both the UK and the US in 1965 just one year after its release. In 1999, Broadcast Music Inc. ranked the song as having more television and radio time than any other song in the twentieth century. The Human League released their popular version in 1979. Maverick and Goose released theirs in 1986.
“I hate it when she does that.” – Goose
Soft Cell – Where Did Our Love Go?
This original Motown hit by the The Supremes practically became a household harmony over night and was the first of thirteen consecutive hits by the group. In 1981, Soft Cell recorded their version which was really a combination of Gloria Jones’ “Tainted Love” and The Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go.”
Did we miss any of YOUR favorite cover songs? Make sure they’re from 1964 before you add them to the comments section below. We’ll be sure to add any that stand out to the master list above!
–Joe Cingrana & Cameron Steagall/WCBS-FM
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