6 Songs People Apparently Think Are by the Wrong Artist
I hesitated to write this column because I could already hear the loudmouths in the comments, dying to profess that they know who sang every song in the history of everything, and that only tone deaf simpletons could make these mistakes. I can hear these comments because they're precisely the kind of things I would say. Nevertheless, even though your musical knowledge may be impeccable (and mine most certainly is), I thought I'd list a bunch of well-known songs that are often wrongly attributed to other artists.
Before I begin, can I just tell you how much fun I've had brainstorming this article? Just the perfect topic to be pondered on a bar stool, and clearly the best time I've had with "research" since I wrote that article entitled "What Are All the Different Things Dan O'Brien Doesn't Like Stuck in His Ear?"
How did DOB feel about this? The answer may surprise you.
"Mr. Blue Sky" Is Not by the Beatles
This is the third time I've written about "Mr. Blue Sky," which is one of my favorite songs by Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). Considering that ELO was a hugely successful band of the '70s and the song was a massive hit, I was really surprised to learn how many people thought this tune was by the Beatles. But it's true, and they're in the comments from the last two times I wrote about it. But rather than embarrassing any of those Cracked readers with screencaps of their comments, I thought I'd just show you that this confusion is indeed out there.
The answer, of course, is "No," and also "Why not just Wiki it?"
If you don't know the song, then you're either Amish or allergic to movies, because aside from being a classic rock radio staple, it's also used in movie trailers incessantly. Take a listen, but only if you're not afraid to feel insanely happy:
How did this happen? Well, as much as I'm shocked to learn that people have mistaken this quintessential ELO song for the Beatles, I can get it. The song is a pop rock gem, it couples traditional rock with an excellent string arrangement and it uses some of the same background voices and sound effects as the Beatles did in their later recordings. Indeed, John Lennon once said that if the Beatles had remained a band they would have probably sounded a lot like ELO, so you're forgiven. I guess.
"Walking in Memphis" Is Not a Lost Michael Bolton Classic (There's No Such Thing)
In 1991, a nice bearded young man named Marc Cohn burst onto the music scene, releasing a monster hit called "Walking in Memphis." The song went to No. 13 on the Billboard charts, and Marc Cohn won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1992! And then because it wasn't the '70s and there was no such thing as singer-songwriters with sustainable careers, he went away.
But he left us with this classic, never knowing that future generations might attribute his work to a mullet-sporting ass clown.
It's hard to prove some of these things, but Cracked's own Adam Tod Brown assures me he's heard people mistaking this song for a Michael Bolton tune numerous times in his life, and, apparently, all those morons that Adam knows also like to sell illegal downloads.
I have it on good authority, these links were both generated by ATB's BFFs.
How did this happen? A few years before Cohn was entering and leaving the national consciousness, another performer with no writing ability and far less talent was breaking onto the music scene. A man known as Michael Bolton. And not the one from Office Space.
This Michael Bolton had a husky but sweet and soulful voice, like Cohn's, but unlike Cohn's output, Bolton decided to infuse a healthy dose of schmaltz and crap into everything he did. Indeed, Bolton's musical output is so riddled with cheese and feces that it's often mistaken for a Taco Bell chalupa. If you took "Walking in Memphis" and removed everything that made it good, you might get this following song, so I guess I see why some people are confused:
"Long Cool Woman" Is Not by Creedence Clearwater Revival
The first time I ever heard "Long Cool Woman" was when my older brother played it for me and said something like, "Yeah, this song is called 'Long Cool Woman' and it's by the Hollies," so I never really had a chance to be confused. But the other day while I was having lunch at a neighboring watering hole, I heard this song on the bartender's iPod mix. The thing is, he'd included the song in a mix comprised mostly of Creedence Clearwater Revival songs. And ya know what? It fit right in. My friend even said, "Hey, Creedence," and it took me like a full 20 seconds before I mocked his stupidity. But I'm sure it's a common mistake. Take a listen:
Now take a listen to some Creedence:
How Did This Happen? No angry comments, please. I'm not saying one song stole from the other. I'm saying all those people out there who don't know who the Hollies are assume "Long Cool Woman" is CCR because of the similar style of this specific song to Creedence's trademark sound. Furthermore, this song doesn't sound anything like a typical Hollies tune. Other Hollies hits include songs like "Carrie Anne" and "The Air That I Breathe" (which, regardless of what the English court system and even this publication may tell you, was not ripped off by Radiohead. If one chord change and two notes of verse melody always served as a proper basis for plagiarism, no one could ever copyright music ever).
Lastly, some people mistake that opening riff for T. Rex, which is understandable, too, considering that "Bang a Gong" tone he's getting. Basically, the song sounds like it's by just about anyone but the Hollies.
"Axel F" Is Not by Herbie Hancock (But You'll Never Remember Who It Is By)
One of the most memorable themes in movie history has to be "Axel F" from Beverly Hills Cop. That's why everyone knows it's written and performed by Harold Faltermeyer! OK, like six people know that. And I actually don't have a problem with that, because unlike the other songs on this list, this song is pretty much one artist's attempt to copy another. I'm pretty sure being mistaken for Herbie Hancock was the plan. YouTube isn't letting me embed this song, so click this link while staring at this picture of Eddie Murphy. It's pretty much the same thing.
Da da da di da da da da duh daaaaa ...
This entry holds a distinction from the others on the list in that I, personally, made this mistake. Yes, I hadn't gone through puberty yet, and yes, it was an error made during that crazy '80s decade that you've heard so much about on VH1, but I did mess up. I was probably preoccupied with my Rubik's Cube and Capezios.
How Did This Happen? Pretty sure it was by design. In 1983, legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock released a groundbreaking recording that was an early exploration of sampling, programming, dance and pop. It also had a neat video by Godley and Creme. It left such an impact on the '80s that there has to be a memo in some Hollywood filing cabinet reading, "Herbie Hancock not interested. Get some German dude to do a hip Herbie Hancock type thing for new Eddie Murphy movie."
"Bitch" Was Performed by Someone Who Wasn't Alanis Morissette
Hey, remember the '90s? I sure do. We had a young, charismatic president, but the economy wasn't in the toilet. It was awesome. I had long hair and I could eat and drink as much as I wanted without any exercise, all without worrying about losing my day job as a Calvin Klein underwear model. Oh, and a bunch of women -- some very talented and others decidedly less so -- were all over the charts. After the large explosion of estrogen and melody, the public was left with kind of an ambiguous musical ooze and people started getting sloppy with their memories, leading to this next entry.
In 1997, Meredith Brooks had a super ginormous hit with "Bitch." Remember Meredith at Lilith Fair? No, not the one with the bare feet and hairy pits. The older one. No, not the one who sang "Sonny Came Home." Y'know, this chick:
But it seems the more time goes on, the more people think it's by Alanis Morissette. Just look at this up on YouTube:
How Did This Happen? Of all the talented women of the '90s, Alanis Morissette had the biggest career. Why? For the same reason people prefer Tori Amos to Kate Bush: Because people are wrong all the time. So these folks hear an angry song by a woman and assume it has to be Alanis. Well it's not. For one thing, it doesn't carry the stink of Glen Ballard all over it.
Holy Shit, People Think Bob Marley Sang "Don't Worry Be Happy"!?
I had no intention of writing about this song again. I had no idea people didn't know Bobby McFerrin wrote and performed this massive '80s hit. When I was taking suggestions for this column, this song was mentioned, and I instantly discounted it as a truly terrible idea, because who would be stupid enough to think "Don't Worry, Be Happy" was written by Bob Marley?
Apparently, a metric shit-ton of people!
And hey, it's got 3 million views on YouTube. You could say some of those views are from people who just clicked the link in disbelief like me, but it also has close to 10,000 likes.
And look at this lovely comment:
This song makes me sadder than Bob Marley's untimely death.
That is insane. Bobby McFerrin is doing a silly faux Jamaican accent, and this song came out years after Bob Marley died.
How Did This Happen? I have no idea. I still refuse to believe it. If you were one of these people, please don't call me names or try to defend yourself in the comments. Just lie. Deny it. No one needs to know, and the rest of us would all be happier thinking you don't exist. Like pissing in a public swimming pool. We wish you wouldn't do it, but if you do, don't tell us. We like to pretend we're not constantly surrounded by human waste.
Speaking of human waste, the latest HBN is about a sleazy South African club owner and his terrible new Avatar-based disco. When you're done watching that, 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 Debate: Should Hotels Charge for Wi-Fi? and 5 Things That Are Totally Unrelated to Hot, Hot Lesbian Sex.