The unknown originals -volume 2


Sometimes you hear a song on the radio and you may have actually heard this song for many years,always thinking it was an original. However it often happens that these “originals” are actually copies or covers.

In this blog I will be looking at the songs in the original language, sometimes performed by the same artist.

Below are some of these real originals. Starting off with the Germans. A nation not that known for it’s musical abilities,well at least in Pop music terms. In the 80s though they came up with this new wave of German music, called “die Neue Deutsche Welle” or New German wave in English.

One of the leading bands were Nena, fronted by the lead singer Nena.


They had a massive worldwide hit with 99 Red balloons, the original however was in German “99 Luftballons”


In 1988 the Munich band Münchener Freiheit, renamed for the English speaking countries to “Freiheit” had a massive  hit with the song”Keeping the dream alive” it actually became a Christmas hit even tough it had nothing to do with Christmas.



But the original is called “So lang’ man Träume noch leben kann”


“It’s now or never” was one of Elvis’s biggest hits and you may be forgiven that the original was in English.


However the original date back to the 19th century. “’O sole mio” is a globally known Neapolitan song written in 1898. Its lyrics were written by Giovanni Capurro and the music was composed by Eduardo di Capua and Alfredo Mazzucchi. Here performed by Pavarotti.


One of my favourite crooners is Bobby Darin.


His version of “beyond the sea” always puts me in a nostalgic mood. It was however a cover from the French chanson “la mer” a song written by French composer, lyricist, singer and showman Charles Trenet.


When Frank Sinatra sang ” I did it my way” he did it in more then one way.


“My way” is a cover of the French song “Comme d’habitude” French for “As usual”) is a French song composed in 1967 by Claude François and Jacques Revaux with lyrics by Claude François and Gilles Thibaut.


The Irish folk band the Fureys had a worldwide hit wit “the red rose cafe” .The original Dutch version  is called “het Kleine cafe aan de haven” which translates in the little pub at the harbour. It was written,performed and composed by Pierre Kartner under his artist name Vader Abraham(no it’s not a name of a Sith lord in Star Wars?.Who also composed and performed “the Smurf song”



As bonus I will also include the original Dutch version of the Smurf song by the aforementioned Vader Abraham

The unknown originals.

Some of the best selling singles of all time weren’t actually the original versions. Below are some of these originals, funny enough many of the cover versions are better.

In the Army now.

We all know Status Quo’s version but the original was from 2 Dutch brothers.


Nothing compares 2 u.

Who can forget Sinead O’Connor’s powerful version of this song and the iconic image of her teary face, but it was Prince who wrote it and first released it.

I’m a believer.

The Monkeys had a massive hit with this one, it became their signature tune in fact. But it was no other then Neil Diamond who wrote it and recorded it first.

Blinded by the Light.

Who can forget Manfred Mann’s Rock anthem ‘Blinded by the Light’ well Bruce Springsteen certainly won’t because it made him a bucket loads of money.He had recorder it on the album “Asbury Park”

Tainted Love

When you think of the ultimate 80’s anthem then “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell springs to mind immediately. However this gem was written and composed by Ed Cobb, formerly of American group the Four Preps, and performed by Gloria Jones in 1964.

The Harlem Shuffle

It is very rare that the Rolling Stones cover a song but they did cover “Harlem Shuffle”The original single written by  and originally recorded by the duo Bob & Earl in 1963.The original single, co-arranged by Barry White and Gene Page, peaked at #44 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #36 on the Cash Box chart. The record was a commercial failure when first released in the UK in 1963.


A bit more recent tune made famous by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson but the original was from the Indie Pop ensemble “the Zutons”

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

The song that introduced us to that colourful and quirky character Cyndi Lauper.But it was written by Robert Hazard.

Well this is weird…Somehow hearing a guy singing a song about girls just wanting to have fun makes the tune take on the creepy subtext of a guy at a bar giving you unwanted (and inaccurate) lady advice. But that’s exactly what Robert Hazard did in 1979. Cyndi made some minor lyrical changes to accommodate the female perspective, transforming the tune entirely.