There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.
There were many smash hit cover versions during the ‘80s of songs famous enough that most fans were aware they were covers. Some examples include David Bowie and Mick Jagger's "Dancing in the Street", Pet Shop Boys' "Always on My Mind", Billy Idol's "Mony Mony", "Venus" by Bananarama, Cyndi Lauper's "What's Goin' On", Club Nouveau's "Lean on Me", "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany, UB40's "Red Red Wine", the Bangles' "Hazy Shade of Winter", Kim Wilde's "You Keep Me Hangin' On", Quiet Riot's "Cum on Feel the Noize", "Funky Town" by Pseudo Echo, just to name a very few.
However there were also many big hits that many fans might not have realized were covers, either because the original versions are obscure, or perhaps they had been hits but had faded away from public awareness. Below are 20 classic singles of the ‘80s that many may not have realized are covers, and some of them might surprise.
Singer/songwriter Holly Knight, who enjoyed substantial success in the '80s writing hits for other artists like Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield", "Never" by Heart, and "The Warrior" by Scandal just to name a few, first released the track "Obsession" as a duet with singer Michael De Barres in 1983. Despite placement on the film soundtrack for A Night in Heaven, the song failed to ignite. A year later it was recorded by Los Angeles-based new wavers Animotion, who took their synth-driven version of the song to #6 in the US and into the Top 10 around the world. It became the band's signature song and one of the ‘80s most iconic singles.
Who knew that "Mickey" was once "Kitty"? British power-pop combo Racey are best known for their smash UK singles "Lay Your Love on Me" (1978) and "Some Girls" (1979). However, it was the track "Kitty" from the band's 1979 debut album Smash and Grab that became a pop-music phenomenon -- just not for them. Singer/choreographer Toni Basil changed the name to "Mickey", donned her cheerleading gear in a video that was in near perpetual rotation on MTV, and scored a #1 smash in 1982.
Pat Benatar was one of the ‘80s most consistent hitmakers early in the decade, but as the ‘90s approached, she began to lose her commercial momentum. Her last every Top 40 hit came in 1988 with "All Fired Up", a blazing rocker from her album Wide Awake in Dreamland. She delivers a terrific performance and absolutely owns the song, but she had no hand in writing it. It was first a 1987 single by the obscure Australian band Rattling Sabres. Their original recording was a minor hit in Australia and was ultimately the band's only brush with success before disbanding.
American R&B singer Chuck Jackson, an inductee into the Official Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame, is best known for his 1962 single "Any Day Now", which hit #2 on the US R&B chart and #24 on the pop chart. His 1973 single "I Can't Break Away" failed to achieve similar success, but 15 years later the funky soul tune was morphed into heavily rhythmic electro-pop by the Australian band Big Pig. They released it as "Breakaway" from their 1988 album Bonk. The song was a Top 10 smash in their native country and also received significant play on MTV in the US, thanks in part to its inclusion on the soundtrack to the 1989 comedy Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
Jamaican reggae band the Paragons recorded their obscure single "The Tide is High" in 1967, but it didn't become a major international hit until Blondie released it as the first single from their 1980 album Autoamerican. Blondie's sexy reggae-light rendition, featuring a flirty and playful vocal by Debbie Harry, soared to #1, becoming the group's third US chart-topper following "Heart of Glass" and "Call Me".