5 Famous Songs Everyone Thinks Are by the Wrong Artist
Some songs are more well known than the artists who made them hits. And sometimes less-talented music listeners mistakenly attribute those songs to the wrong artists. That's the premise of this article. Songs that people think are sung by artists who never sang them. That was also the premise of last week's article. Now I know that sometimes a premise can be hard to understand from only reading the title and list entries (especially when we need that extra to leave lengthy comments about what we haven't read), but that's what I'm writing about here. Not who wrote hit songs or who covered someone else's song and made it a hit. So you won't see "I Will Always Love You" or "All Along the Watchtower" on this list. OK?
This was the best way I could think of to make sure straight men and gay women were paying attention to what my column was about.
A further word on this list: There are two big songs that do fit the premise that I won't be including here: "All the Young Dudes" by Mott the Hoople and "Come and Get It" by Badfinger. Many people think those songs are by David Bowie and the Beatles, respectively. The thing is, Bowie wrote and produced "All the Young Dudes" for Mott, and Paul McCartney wrote and produced "Come and Get It" for Badfinger, so, y'know, it just feels like cheating to include them here. I kind of feel the same way about people mistaking "Stuck in the Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel for Bob Dylan. As Cracked has previously explained, the song was a goof, and designed to be a Dylan parody. I think it's just much more fun to write about the mistakes morons make. And with that in mind -- and fully understanding the rules of this game -- let's proceed!
"A Horse With No Name" Is Not a Neil Young Song
For a moment in time, the band America was a pretty big deal. For one thing, they were the band that George Martin produced next after the Beatles broke up. For another, they wrote some music that encapsulated the feel of the '70s into four-minute pretty pop songs. If an 8-track, shag-carpeted Frisbee could sing, it would be America. Although "Sister Golden Hair" will always be my favorite, they're probably best known for the enigmatic "A Horse With No Name." A song that does for grammar what Snooki does for ... well, grammar, probably. Check out the fantubulous sentence construction at 1:08: "In the desert, you can remember your name, because there ain't no one for to give you no pain." Trying to figure out what that means is like Michael Swaim trying to achieve orgasm before the ASPCA arrives. Not gonna happen.
But apparently, a whole lotta people think this song is by Neil Young. They're all over the comments of the last article. And apparently even at the time of release, the song was criticized for being a knockoff.
How Did This Happen It's simple. Like most of these entries, a vaguely stylistically similar song has been attributed to a far more famous artist. Neil Young has remained relevant as an artist for 40 years. And like a lot of Young's softer stuff, "Horse" features a driving, but mellow, acoustic guitar and a warbling vocal. And it doesn't hurt that Dewey Bunnell, who wrote the song, admitted that Neil Young inspired it. Also of note, it knocked Young's "Heart of Gold" out of the top spot on the U.S. pop charts.
Perhaps also adding to the confusion is that one of Young's projects through the years has been Crazy Horse. Yeah, that's not a big coincidence, but possibly adds to the problem. After all, as we'll see in the last entry, similar words mean a lot to some people.
Related: 40 Facts About 70s Songs
"Cum on Feel the Noize" Is Not a Twisted Sister Classic (Or a Classic)
Some weird things were going on with metal in the '80s, and to some extent, Rob Halford of Judas Priest deserves the credit and/or blame. Y'see, although Rob was not yet out at the time, the only thing gayer than he were his stage costumes.
Mmmmm, gay S&M fashion. Nom.
In any event, all of metal started dressing this way, including Twisted Sister (who also had glam/New York Dolls-type roots), Quiet Riot and even pre-easy listening Michael Bolton.
Just when you were running out of things to tool on him for.
In any event, in 1983, Quiet Riot took their leather and neon and weak-ass glitz metal to the charts with "Cum on Feel the Noize." (The song was a cover of the Slade original, and they never wanted to record it, but that's not the point of this entry.)
No, I said Slade ...
But if you look for the song on YouTube, you might come across this:
Yep, proof that, at the very least, about 400 people are making this mistake. I'm sorry, I only got a B- in verifying mistakes people who don't know stuff make.
How Did This Happen Well, look it at this way. The song is sorta catchy, and kind of rocks, but is hardly badass metal. It's filled with gutsy vocals dripping with pointless, unearned antagonism. And in 20 more years, anyone who cares about the song will be dead. Yeah, that's a pretty good description of Twisted Sister.
"Son of a Preacher Man" Is the White Soul Song Not Sung by Janis Joplin
Even if you're not an aficionado of Brit soul from the '60s you know this song. Of course you do. It's a classic, and, at the very least, you know it from when Uma Thurman plays it for John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. You've never seen Pulp Fiction either? Jesus, I can't help you.
In 1968, the song reached No. 10 on the Billboard charts, and in 1987, Rolling Stone ranked it as the 77th most important single of the last 25 years. And why not? It's a great song with an unforgettable soul vocal:
Yep, there she is: Dusty Springfield. But when people think white female soul, they tend to think of something else. Google it and you'll find this:
How Did This Happen Well, the simple answer is, we're stupid. White girl soul from the '60s? Oh, it must be Janis Joplin. Wait, wasn't she more rock and/or blues? Well, sure, whatever, y'know, not white, whatever. And that's just about it. It turns out that Janis did cover the song, too, but it's not a version you've likely ever heard and not what people are thinking of when they attribute this to Janis. Maybe it's because Janis has another song about a guy who was pretty rad, named Bobby McGee, but I'm just gonna go with my first explanation that people are stupid.
The Cure Never Sang "I Melt With You"
I have to admit, I've never heard anyone make this mistake until the comments to my last column, but, apparently, lots of people think the Cure sang "I Melt With You." The correct answer, however, is Modern English. Who are Modern English? Well, the best description would be the guys who sang "I Melt With You." That's about it. These guys:
But for some reason, people think this is the Cure. You can get the Cure lyrics to the song:
The Cure guitar tab:
And the Cure downloads:
Which is impressive, because the Cure never even covered the song.
How Did This Happen I know I already used people are stupid for the Dusty Springfield one, but come on. This sounds nothing like the Cure. The similarities could not be more superficial. About the only thing Modern English and the Cure have in common is that I'm pretty sure Christina H could take them both in a fight. Wimpy and English, but nothing more there. Oh wait, the lead singer of Modern English was Robbie Grey, and the lead singer of the Cure is Robert Smith. Two Roberts! Best explanation I have.
"Cat's in the Cradle" Is a Harry Chapin Song
Y'know what was big in the '70s? Story songs. People telling whole big epic tales in the course of five minutes. Adam Tod Brown wrote a column kind of about that. But arguably the best example of the towering '70s story song would be Harry Chapin's epic about terrible fathering called "Cat's in the Cradle." Recently, I learned lots of people think this song is by Cat Stevens. It's true. Check out the music lover who uploaded it to YouTube:
And it's got close to 5,000 likes from people who have no problem with the song being wrongly attributed to Cat Stevens. There's this comment from the dude who uploaded it:
Yeah, that's strange. I can't find "Stairway to Heaven" by Flock of Seagulls on YouTube either!
But the comment that really makes me insane is this one:
Yeah, what does it matter? Music is music. Who cares? I'll tell you who cares. People who do not suck. People who know things. People who care about knowing things. I have to believe we are not so far gone as a people that it's become somehow uncool to care about knowing things. I always thought that was the very definition of intelligence -- not actually knowing, but caring to know. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe that's a bad definition, but I'm pretty sure being hostile to knowledge is a perfect recipe for stupidity.
And with the Internet, it seems that this attitude is rampant, because it's taught us to have no shame. The Net gives us anonymity, and in that anonymity, suddenly there's nothing we have to feel guilty about. So we don't know something, who cares? It's not important. But isn't it amazing that there's always a 100 percent overlap between the things we don't know and the things that are allegedly not important to know? I mean what are the odds?
How Did This Happen Well, my rant above does a pretty good job of explaining how this happened, but if you're looking for more tangible answers, we have that, too. First off, people think Cat Stevens sang "Cat's in the Cradle" because he had to. I mean, the title's got his name "Cat" in it. That's just how it works. Just like Ric Ocasek of the Cars sings Steely Dan's "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" and Madonna sings the Beatles' "Lady Madonna"!
Or perhaps another explanation is that Cat Stevens also has a famous song about a dysfunctional father and son relationship called "Father and Son."
Then again, I don't know why people make this mistake, but, y'know, who cares, right?
But everyone should care about the season finale of HATE BY NUMBERS about Principal Lady Gaga. Also, be sure to follow Gladstone on Twitter and stay up-to-date on the latest regarding Notes from the Internet Apocalypse. And then there's his website and Tumblr, too.
For more from Gladstone, check out 3 Celebrities You Idolize (And The 3 You Resemble Instead) and The 5 Most Overused Jokes On the Internet.