4 Bands That Got Famous for Hit Songs They Didn’t Write

If you’re not super savvy about the music industry, you might be surprised to know that most bands outsource their songwriting in some capacity, even for just a few tracks. It’s a particularly prevalent process in the world of pop and rock music. However, it’s rare for a band to make it big based on a song they didn’t write in some capacity. That’s why it’s so surprising that these four bands got quite a bit of fame from songs they didn’t even write.

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1. Blondie

Blondie was already pretty famous before they released the reggae-soaked hit “The Tide Is High”. The retro rock band released the track in 1980, and it secured them the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for the third time. 

However, they didn’t write the song. The tune was originally written by John Holt back in 1967 for the Jamaican ska band The Paragons. Blondie’s rendition was super successful, as was Atomic Kitten’s cover in 2002.

2. Alien Ant Farm

If you were a kid in the early aughts, you will definitely remember this song. It was everywhere when it first came out in 2001. However, the song wasn’t originally written by the post-grunge band for their album Anthology

The original song was penned, recorded, and performed by none other than Michael Jackson back in 1988. While Alien Ant Farm definitely added their own suburban rock flair to the song, it wasn’t their original material. But the track quickly hit #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and gave the band quite a bit of attention.

3. Cheap Trick

“The Flame” is one of the most controversial songs Cheap Trick ever released, even among fans of the rock band and the band itself. The track was part of their 1990 album Lap Of Luxury, and it hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart upon its release. Unfortunately, the band hated it. The track was written by a writer from Epic Records and when the song was pitched to the band, Cheap Trick guitarist and songwriter Rick Nielsen allegedly stomped on the cassette. 

But when it comes down to it, you gotta make some sacrifices if you want to make it big. They ended up choosing the song to record for Lap Of Luxury, and the poor band had to perform it on tour on the regular.

[See Cheap Trick Live In 2024]

4. Kiss

“I Was Made For Loving You” is complicated. It was a massive hit for the rock band, sure, but it was controversial. It featured disco, which was basically the antithesis of what the band was about in the 1970s. Paul Stanley said it was easy to write, but required the help of songwriters Vini Poncia and Desmond Child to pen the hit. Interesting.

Still, Stanley did help write the track, which sets Kiss apart from the other entries on this list. But the track was still “fixed” by some very famous song-fixers. And despite the distaste from fans, the song was a massive success that gave the band a huge boost in their career.

Photo by Fin Costello

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