Remakes are bogus. Nine times out of ten, if word gets out that a classic song is being remade, my eyes roll because I can already chalk it up as being a gigantic letdown. But that’s not always the case. In fact, there are times when the remake can outshine the original. With that in mind, here are five classic songs that only got that distinction after getting a makeover.
5. Killing Me Softly With His Song: The song was recorded by Roberta Flack, going to number one on the Billboard Pop charts for four weeks and winning three Grammy’s in 1973. Looking back, Flack’s version is pretty well-known, but the Fugees took it nuclear when they re-recorded it in 1996. It was the best-selling single of the year and became the signature hit of a group that seemed to find its stride and fall apart all at the same time.
4. Walk this Way was a top ten pop hit in 1977 bean town’s finest, Aerosmith. In 1986, producer Rick Rubin suggested an updated version of the song that would be the ideal rap/rock crossover hit for Run DMC’s second album Raising Hell. Run DMC, the reigning Kings of Rock, were hesitant to the idea at first but the tune ultimately solidified their status as raps first mainstream pioneers. And with Joe Perry and Steven Tyler guesting on the track, the collaboration also kick started Aerosmith’s second coming that has been going on for about (checking my watch) the last 25 YEARS.
3. With a Little Help from My Friends is actually the second half of the title track for the epic Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band. Originally the song is sung by Ringo Starr and has been covered quite a bit. But me and my generation know it best as the theme song to an all-timer of a television show known as The Wonder Years. While Ringo’s 1967 stab at the song is sort of a mid-tempo happy little number, Cocker’s take is slow and soulful and feels like it is being belted out from the tips of his intestines.
2. I Will Always Love You was originally recorded in 1973. Dolly Parton released this song three times over a 15 year period, but could only reach number one on the country charts. The song was also covered by Linda Ronstadt, but it wasn’t until Whitney Houston needed a signature single for “The Bodyguard” original soundtrack that the song became what we know it as today. The single sold 15 million copies (you know back when people actually bought music at stores), was number one in the US for a then-record 14 weeks, and tested the lung capacity of many a wannabe diva.
1. Respect. Do you curse Aretha Franklin for turning this innocent ditty about common human courtesy into a seemingly clichéd female empowerment tune? Well boys, we can thank one of our own for this one. Otis Redding, who gets a pass based on the hot fire that is “Try A Little Tenderness” and “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” was the original writer and performer of this song in 1965. But then Aretha got her horse powered lungs on it in 1967, a classic was born.