1990s Hits You’d Forgotten Were Covers

1990s Hits You’d Forgotten Were Covers

michael bolton
Michael Bolton. Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images.

We all know by now that Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” was a remake, right? For years after it launched the former Neighbours star as a singer, the fact that three other artists had previously recorded the song (originally in Danish by Lis Sørensen) was bandied about as an exciting piece of trivia. So much so that if you didn’t know “Torn” was a cover by now, you must have been living under a rock since 1997. But here are some more ’90s hits that you might not have realised were remakes.

"How Am I Supposed To Live Without You" by Michael Bolton

Released: 1989 (1990 in Australia)

Peak: number 2

Original version: Laura Branigan


Although he co-wrote “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” and eventually enjoyed a massive hit with it, Michael Bolton wasn’t the first to record the big ballad. After being offered to Air Supply, the song was released by Laura Branigan and it crept into the bottom of the ARIA top 50 in 1983. Laura also performed the original version of another Bolton composition, “I Found Someone,” which was later turned into a hit by Cher.

"Rhythm Of My Heart" by Rod Stewart

Released: 1991

Peak: number 2

Original version: René Shuman

No stranger to remakes, Rod mostly released versions of other people’s songs as singles in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Some, like his duet with Tina Turner on “It Takes Two” and his update of Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train,” were clearly covers, but his take on a 1986 song by Dutch singer, René Shuman, “Rhythm Of My Heart,” felt like a tailor-made original, especially with its melody borrowed from “Loch Lamond” and plentiful bagpipes.

"Don’t Turn Around" by Ace Of Base

Released: 1994

Peak: number 19

Original version: Tina Turner

Tucked away on the B-side to Tina Turner’s 1986 single “Typical Male,” “Don’t Turn Around” was a UK number 1 (and minor Australian hit) when covered in 1988 by Aswad. Six years later, Swedish quartet Ace Of Base turned it into an international success as the follow-up to the globe-conquering “The Sign.” “Don’t Turn Around” was written by prolific songwriters Diane Warren and Albert Hammond, who also teamed up to pen “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship.

"Baby Baby" by Corona

Released: 1995

Peak: number 7

Original version: Joy & Joyce (as “Babe Babe”)

For their debut hit, “The Rhythm Of The Night,” Italo house act, Corona had taken the verses from an earlier song (“Save Me” by Say When!). When it came time for the follow-up, “Baby Baby,” the group fronted by lip-syncing model, Olga Souza went with a straight cover of 1991 track “Babe Babe,” which had sampled bits from previous tunes by Alisha Warren and Siedah Garrett. Confused?

"It’s All Coming Back To Me Now" by Celine Dion

Released: 1996

Peak: number 8

Original version: Pandora’s Box

It was a pairing made in over-the-top heaven – the powerhouse vocals of Celine Dion and the epic songwriting of Jim Steinman, but the Canadian songstress wasn’t the first to get to “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.” Girl group, Pandora’s Box had recorded the song for 1989 concept album Original Sin, and although Meat Loaf had his eye on the track (and would eventually record it with Marion Raven for 2006’s Bat Out Of Hell III), Celine’s seven-and-a-half-minute remake made it a hit.

"Where Do You Go" by No Mercy

Released: 1996

Peak: number 2

Original version: La Bouche

Having been the man behind Milli Vanilli did nothing to dent producer, Frank Farian’s hit-making career, and he went on to launch Eurodance act La Bouche and pop group No Mercy later in the ’90s. When the former didn’t release “Where Do You Go” as a single from their debut album, Sweet Dreams, he recycled it for the male trio. It wasn’t the only cover by No Mercy – far from it – who also released versions of Everything But The Girl’s “Missing” and “Kiss You All Over” by Exile.

"Step By Step" by Whitney Houston

Released: 1997

Peak: number 12

Original version: Annie Lennox

Like “Don’t Turn Around,” this song, which Whitney Houston recorded for the soundtrack to The Preacher’s Wife, had started life as a B-side. Annie Lennox released “Step By Step” in 1992 as the flip side to “Precious,” and then five years later performed backing vocals on Whitney’s update, which featured revised lyrics.

"Last Kiss" by Pearl Jam

Released: 1999

Peak: number 1

Original version: Wayne Cochran

After almost topping the Australian chart with “Spin The Black Circle” and the Merkinball EP, Pearl Jam finally scored their only number 1 single locally with a cover. The band’s version of soul singer Wayne Cochran's “Last Kiss” had been recorded in 1998 and included on a fan club single that Christmas, before being made widely available as a single in 1999 and on charity album No Borders: A Benefit For The Kosovar Refugees.

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