I was listening to the radio the other day, and within half an hour I had heard three new versions of old songs; adapted by modern technology to sound ever so slightly different to the originals, but remaining, in their essence, songs from decades long gone. And happy as I am to hear great songs given new life, it also made me a little sad that opportunities and air time are being given to those relying on the creativity of their predecessors, rather than their own.
Same songs, just different artists being given credit for a bit of tweaking.
And then, because this is how my mind works, I started to think about what is (very) arguably the opposite of that. That is to say, songs over the years that have carried the same name as each other, but which are in fact completely different entities. And when I began looking through my iPod (that’s right – we here at the Library live on technology's cutting edge) I realised I had a handful of these pairs nestled away amongst my all-time faves.
And then I thought: Well, hang on, why not do a full-on proper review of a whole bunch of these SNDSs, and try and rank them in some sort of meaningful order? So that, my friends, is exactly what I have gone ahead and done. You’re welcome.
Now, believe it or not I found over 50 mainstream examples of SNDSs that have both been legitimate hits over the past 60 years or so. Which meant I needed to cull my list to a more manageable number – say 20. So how to do that? Some objective criteria seemed in order, failing which you would likely find yourself simply looking at a list of my own personal preferences. So this is what I came up with:
First, in order to qualify as a top 20 SNDS the pair of songs had to share exactly the same title. Which had unfortunate consequences in a couple of cases – including, for example, the ineligibility of songs from two of the great bands of all time: Pink Floyd’s “Money”, and the Beatles’ “Money (That’s What I Want)”. But hey, them’s the rules so I guess we just have to suck it up yeah?
Secondly, and just as importantly, both songs in each SNDS needed to have had significant chart success; preferably reaching the top ten in multiple countries, and with greater weight given to those that have smashed it in the world’s biggest markets for popular music, like the US and the UK. Again this meant having to omit some seriously good toons – like the Rolling Stones’ disco-tinged “Hot Stuff”, which would have been paired with Donna Summer’s disco-graphic megahit of the same name, and the “Gloria”s by Them and U2 – all discarded on the basis of poor numbers. Harsh, I know.
Third up, I wanted variety. So I determined that no single recording act could appear in the top 20 more than once, notwithstanding that there were quite a few acts with multiple claims for inclusion. The big loser on this basis was “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys (along with the unfortunately named Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, led by a 20-year old Mark Wahlberg, whose 1991 track of that name also topped charts around the world). I had already decided by the time I got to these two that Do It Again by The Beach Boys, and its matching pair (see below) simply could not be overlooked. Soz Marky. Tough school bud.
Next, I was looking to reward diversity. That is to say, an SNDS that included radically different styles of music was likely to rate higher on my list.
For similar reasons, I decided to give priority, where other criteria led to relatively similar rankings between one SNDS and another, to releases that had been separated by the greater period of time.
And of course, unsurprisingly, this being my list, and mine alone, I reserved to myself complete and utter creative control of the entire process. Yeah I did.
So “Enough with the red tape and disclaimers” I hear you say. “Let’s see what the bloody hell you’ve come up with champ”. Righto, righto. Steady on. Jeez, talk about tetchy.
OK. Here goes. Countdown from 20 to 1; no skipping ahead!
No. 20 CREEP
23 (Thom Yorke)
24 (Tionne T-Boz Watkins)
No. 3 Norway, No. 6 Australia,
No. 7 UK, No. 8 Belgium
No. 1 USA, No. 4 New Zealand,
No. 6 UK, No. 9 Ireland
I wish I was special, You’re so fucking special, But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo, What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here
So I creep, yeah, I creep around because I need attention, I just keep it on the down low, Don’t mess around with my affection
Following legal action the writers of “The Air That I Breathe”, a worldwide hit from 1974, were given songwriting credits for Creep.
The song earned TLC Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 1996 Grammy Awards.
It seems Creep became a bit of a millstone for Radiohead, so much so that for some time they refused to play it live, notwithstanding its enormous popularity. It’s a song that will always resonate strongly with those who feel they don’t fit in. Coincidentally, TLC’s Creep also created disquiet within the band – with one of the members expressing reservations about recording a song that arguably promoted infidelity, and defended the idea of cheating on a cheater. As it turns out, it was a solid choice to push ahead with it, as Creep became TLC’s first ever no. 1 hit in the USA. But I’m still saying Radio(just a)head.
No. 19 HOLIDAY
33 (Billie Joe Armstrong)
No. 2 Ireland, No. 4 Australia, No. 6 UK and Belgium, No. 7 New Zealand and Netherlands, No. 16 USA
No. 11 UK, No. 13 New Zealand and Ireland, No. 14 Denmark,
No. 19 USA
If we took a holiday,
Took some time to celebrate,
Just one day out of life,
It would be, it would be so nice
I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies, This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
This is our lives on holiday
Holiday was released as a single on three separate occasions in the UK – Jan 1984, Aug 1985 and then again in 1991 ‑ but still couldn’t crack top spot on the charts.
The lyric “The representative from California now has the floor” is changed by the band when they tour to incorporate the name of the location they are playing.
These two tracks really sum up these two acts. Madonna’s Holiday announced her as a worldwide superstar, and is one of those tunes that gets in your head and won’t go away - whether you like it or not. Green Day have rustled up another of their combative politically-charged songs, questioning the American government’s actions and motives. Despite the common name, it’s again very hard to imagine a more different pair of songs than these two. But Green Day clearly takes out this battle as far as I’m concerned.
No. 18 GOLD
Bombs Away Dream Babies
23 (Gary Kemp)
No. 4 Canada, No. 5 USA and Australia, No. 13 New Zealand
No. 2 UK, No. 3 France and Netherlands, No. 4 Ireland and Spain, No. 7 Poland, No. 8 New Zealand,
No. 9 Australia
When the lights go down in the California town, People are in for the evening, I jump into my car and I throw in my guitar, My heartbeat in time with my breathing
Love is like a high prison wall,
You could leave me standing so tall, Gold, always believe in your soul,
You’ve got the power to know you’re indestructible, Always believing
The song very clearly features Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac on backing vocals. And did you know John Stewart wrote the Monkees’ classic “Daydream Believer"?
Parts of the music video for the song were shot at Leighton House in west London, an art museum that was also used as a location for the Stranglers’ filmclip for “Golden Brown”.
The most recent Gold has had a long and distinguished career in the decades following its release, being reprised for numerous Olympic Games, advertising campaigns, and even video games, thereby leading, in part, to the band’s earnings actually increasing in the 2000’s. In contrast, like a number of the songs in this list, John Stewart’s Gold was a track the artist himself had no time for, even though it was far and away the biggest hit of his recording career. That said, I still prefer his rockier version to the Spandau ballad.
No. 17 JUMP
Totally Krossed Out
28 (Eddie Van Halen)
13 (Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly)
No. 1 USA and Canada, No. 2 Australia, No. 4 West Germany, Switzerland and Austria, No. 7 UK
No. 1 USA, Europe, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, No. 2 UK and Ecuador
Can’t you see me standing here, I’ve got my back against the record machine, I ain’t the worst that you’ve seen, Can't you see what I mean? Might as well jump, Jump
Two little kids with a flow you ain’t never heard, Nothin’ fake, and you can understand every word, As you listen to my cool smooth melody,
The Daddy makes you J-U-M-P
Bizarrely, David Lee Roth originally wrote the line “Go ahead and jump” in the context of a news report about onlookers to a potential suicide. Thankfully the theme of the song was re-jigged before recording.
The duo was discovered in an Atlanta mall by 19-year old Jermaine Dupri, who would go on to produce their debut album entirely on his own.
It sold 4 million copies.
Hearing Van Halen’s Jump takes me straight back to a New Years Eve in the late 1980’s ‑ spent illegally (and no doubt dangerously) at a construction site in the northern suburbs of Sydney ‑ and to the partygoers’ synchronised leaping off a massive mound of dirt every time the chorus came on. Kids eh? Speaking of kids, can you believe that the two lads from Kris Kross had a combined age of 25 when their song was released, and that it went on to become America’s third biggest selling single of 1992. Not a bad way to start high school I’m thinking. But Van Halen take this one in my books - by the width of a flared pant.
No. 16 MAGIC
From the Album of the Same Name
24 (David Paton)
No. 1 Canada, No. 5 USA, No. 6 Ireland, No. 8 Netherlands, No. 11 UK, No. 12 Australia
No. 1 USA and Canada, No. 4 Australia and New Zealand,
No 5 South Africa
Oh, oh, oh it’s magic, you know, Never believe it’s not so, Never been awake, never seen a day break, Leaning on my pillow in the morning
You have to believe we are magic, Nothing can stand in our way,
You have to believe we are magic, Don’t let your aim ever stray,
And if all your hopes survive,
destiny will arrive
The line about never seeing a day break came from Paton’s wife who confessed to him she had never seen the sun rise!
Magic remained at no. 1 for four weeks in the US in August 1980 until displaced by Christopher Cross’ “Sailing” (see below).
If you can hear Pilot’s version without singing along to the chorus, even if only in your head, then you’re a better man than me. A cheerful infectious pop song that achieved a following around much of the English-speaking world. That said, it is impossible for me to go past Our Livvy on this one. Not only was her Magic the third most popular single of the whole of 1980 in the USA (behind Blondie’s “Call Me”, and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II”) but the filmclip for the song, taken from her TV special, remains imprinted on my teenage brain.
No. 15 BEST OF MY LOVE
On the Border
27 (Don Henley)
25 (Wanda Hutchinson)
No. 1 USA and Canada,
No. 14 Australia
No. 1 USA, No. 4 UK, No. 5 Canada, No. 9 New Zealand,
No. 17 Australia
Every morning I wake up and worry, What’s gonna happen today?,
You see it your way, and I see it mine,
But we both see it slippin’ away
Demonstrating love and affection, That you give so openly, yeah
I like the way you make me feel about you baby,
Want the whole wide world to see
The song was not intended to be released as a single, but after a local DJ in Kalamazoo Michigan started playing the album track on his radio show, instead of the nominated singles, the response was so positive the band gave in. It would become their first no. 1 hit.
The song was written by Maurice White and Al McKay from the band Earth Wind & Fire. Two years later the two bands would collaborate again on that classic tune, “Boogie Wonderland”.
Lyrically and musically the Eagles’ track is relatively simple, but it’s no less poignant for that. Throw in Don Henley’s husky vocals, and those classic harmonies, and it’s hard to see why the band didn’t expect this song, about the end of a relationship, to be a surefire success as a single. A few short years later the Emotions utilised the same title to produce a classic disco era hit, and its positive vibe contrasts starkly with the earlier version. BOML Mark II would go on to win the 1978 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group, but not my vote. Sorry ladies.
No. 14 LONELY BOY
The Black Keys
What's Wrong With This Picture?
32 (Dan Auerbach)
No. 7 USA and Canada, No. 11 UK,
No. 32 Australia
No. 2 Australia, No. 7 New Zealand
Well he ran down the hall and he cried, Oh how could his parents have lied, When they said he was an only son, He thought he was the only one, Oh what a lonely boy
Oh, oh, oh, oh, I got a love that keeps me waiting
Oh, oh, oh, oh, I got a love that keeps me waiting
I’m a lonely boy, I’m a lonely boy
Gold’s mother, Marni Nixon, sang for the female leads on the soundtracks of West Side Story, The King and I, and My Fair Lady, and his father, Ernest, won an Oscar for creating the score to the movie Exodus. Some pedigree!
The music video for Lonely Boy was initially supposed to include a cast of more than 40 people dancing, but ultimately consisted of one take, and one man – Derrick T Tuggle. Legend.
I clearly remember Andrew Gold’s song - the somewhat tragic tale of a young man who feels like he doesn’t belong in his own family – making a big impression on me as a teenager. Although it appears, on the surface at least, to be autobiographical, Gold denied this was the case. (As would I). Despite limited chart success in the USA (peaking at no. 64) the Black Keys won Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song at the 2013 Grammy Awards for their Lonely Boy, and it was also nominated for Record of the Year (won by Gotye). It gets my vote in this 2-horse race.
No. 13 THE POWER OF LOVE
Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Huey Lewis & the News
Welcome to the Pleasuredome
Soundtrack to Back to the Future
24 (Holly Johnson)
No. 1 UK and Iceland, No. 2 Ireland, Poland, Switzerland, New Zealand, No. 4 West Germany and Australia
No. 1 USA, Canada, Japan and Australia, No. 3 New Zealand,
No. 4 South Africa, No. 5 Ireland
The power of love, a force from above, Cleaning my soul, Flame on burn desire, Love with tongues of fire, Purge the soul,
Make love your goal
Don’t need money, and it don’t take fame, Don’t need no credit card to ride this train, It’s strong and it’s sudden, and it’s cruel sometimes,
But it might just save your life
The song was initially released in the lead-up to Christmas 1984 and, perhaps because of its original film clip, has always been associated with religious iconography.
Huey Lewis appears in the film: when Marty McFly’s band plays a version of this song at an audition he tells them they are “just too darn loud”. LOL.
Frankie’s TPOL has a very different pace and feel to the other singles from their outstanding debut album, but it remains just as compelling. Not surprisingly, it has been a popular wedding song through the last few decades. Another bit of trivia about Huey’s version: Lewis was apparently asked to write a title track specifically for Back to the Future, but he declined to do so. Instead he just submitted the next song he wrote to the film’s director, Robert Zemeckis, who accepted and used it. A great pop song that worked nicely I reckon, and gets my vote here (on the back of my love for the Back to the Future franchise).
No. 12 SAILING
No. 1 UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, No. 2 Australia, South Africa and Switzerland
No. 1 USA and Canada,
No. 8 New Zealand
I am sailing, I am sailing
Home again, ‘cross the sea
I am sailing stormy waters
To be near you, to be free
Well it’s not far down to paradise,
At least it’s not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away, and find tranquility
Stewart says he never recorded anything without having a couple of drinks first - until this song. A beautiful track, and undoubtedly one of his best (sober) efforts.
The song was apparently inspired by sailing trips Cross would take with an older friend from high school at a difficult emotional time in his life.
Sailing was the first release from the first album Rod Stewart recorded in the US, but he was apparently opposed to it being a single. Hard to understand why, given that, like its namesake, it has a wonderfully peaceful ambience that defies you not to reminisce about the ocean, fresh air, Sunday afternoons and a lover’s arms. The homophonic Chris Cross (see no. 17 above) won Record and Song of the Year at the 1981 Grammy Awards with his Sailing, and he also picked up Album of the Year and Best New Artist. No-one had ever won all four awards simultaneously before that, but he didn’t get mine here.
No. 11 FOX ON THE RUN
29 (Brian Connolly)
No. 1 New Zealand, No. 2 Ireland, No. 4 South Africa, No. 5 UK,
No. 6 Norway, No. 7 Australia and Germany, No. 10 Sweden
No. 1 Australia, Germany, Denmark, South Africa, No. 2 UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway and Canada, No. 3 New Zealand, Switzerland and Austria, No. 5 USA
She walked through the corn leading down to the river, Her hair shone like gold in the hot morning sun, She took all the love that a poor boy could give her, And left me to die like a fox on the run
You, you talk about just every band
But the names you drop are second hand, I’ve heard it all before
I don’t want to know your name,
‘Cause you don’t look the same
The way you did before
The song was written by Tony Hazzard, who was not a member of Manfred Mann’s band. Hazzard was very unhappy about Sweet’s subsequent use of his song title – and rightly so I reckon.
Intriguingly, this was the first hit written by the band themselves, rather than by their producers,
Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman.
Sweet’s version of FOTR was the no. 1-selling single in Australia for the entire calendar year of 1975, and its inclusion in the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 saw it reach no. 1 on the iTunes Rock Chart in late 2016, more than 40 years after its original release. Amazing! But Manfred Mann’s song was a staple in my family’s music collection when I was young, and in my view it has lost none of its charm over the 50 years since – so it clearly gets my vote as between these two. Great lyrics, great tune, great vocal. Absolutely love it.
No. 10 SOS
A Girl Like Me
30 (Bjorn Ulvaeus)
No. 1 Australia, West Germany, Belgium, New Zealand, South Africa, No. 6 UK, No. 15 USA
No. 1 USA, Europe, Australia,
No. 2 UK
So when you’re near me,
Darling can’t you hear me, SOS
The love you gave me,
Nothing else can save me, SOS
SOS, please someone help me,
It’s not healthy for me to feel this way, Y‑O‑U are making this hard,
I can’t take it, see it don’t feel right
The only No. 1 single in Australian history in which both the song title and the act are palindromes. Now that is what I call trivia. Boom!
The song samples “Tainted Love”, originally recorded in 1964, but made famous by Soft Cell in 1981.
ABBA’s SOS is just one of a truckload of examples from the Swedish supergroup that demonstrate how the simplest of pop music styles can be incredibly successful, and repeatable over time. These guys were the consummate masters (and mistresses?) of that art. SOS was the first of Rihanna’s hits that I remember hearing, and its beat and lyrics hooked me in immediately. But in truth it was Rihanna's unerringly confident style and panache that sold the song, even though she was just a teenager at the time. She is now rightly regarded as one of the greatest ever female pop music recording artists. She gets my vote here too.
No. 9 IT'S MY LIFE
The Best of the Animals
24 (Eric Burdon)
38 (Jon Bon Jovi)
No. 3 Sweden, No. 5 Norway,
No. 7 UK, No. 10 Australia
No. 1 Europe, No. 3 UK, No. 5 Australia and Ireland, No. 20 Canada, No. 33 USA
It’s my life and I’ll do what I want,
It’s my mind and I’ll think what I want, Show me I’m wrong, hurt me some time, But some day I’ll treat you real fine
It’s my life, and it’s now or never,
I ain’t gonna live forever,
I just want to live while I’m alive,
It’s my life
Roger Atkins, who co-wrote the song, maintains the lyric above should have been “Sure I’ll do wrong, hurt you some time” – which makes a lot more sense – but Eric Burdon apparently had his own ideas on the subject!
The song references the same characters, Tommy and Gina, who had featured in Bon Jovi’s brilliant “Livin’ on a Prayer”, 14 years earlier.
The Animals are sometimes overlooked when the 1960’s “British invasion” comes up, but their catalogue of hits has well and truly stood the test of time. Their version of It's My Life features a typically moody, almost sinister tone, with Eric Burdon’s trademark deep rasping vocals complementing that vibe perfectly. For this reason, in my book at least, it triumphs over Bon Jovi’s very popular return to the classic stadium-anthem style that served them so well in the late ‘80’s. (Shout out also to another UK band, Talk Talk, who released their own IML variation in 1984 – a song I would personally rate ahead of both of these two, but which didn’t crack the top ten anywhere, and is hence ineligible for inclusion here).
No. 8 MY LIFE
50 Cent (+ Eminem + Adam Levine)
No. 2 South Africa, No. 3 USA, Canada and Ireland, No. 4 Switzerland, No. 6 Australia, France and New Zealand
No. 2 UK and Belgium, No. 4 South Korea, No. 6 Ireland, No. 8 Lebanon, No. 14 Canada, No. 27 USA
I don’t need you to worry for me cos I’m alright, I don’t want you to tell me it’s time to come home, I don’t care what you say anymore, this is my life, Go ahead with your own life, leave me alone
I’m far from perfect, there’s so many lessons I done learned, If money’s evil look at all the evil I done earned,
I’m doing what I’m s’posed to,
I’m a writer, I’m a fighter,
Entrepreneur, fresh out the sewer
The song became the theme for the TV sit-com Bosom Buddies, in which a very young Tom Hanks plays one of a pair of roommates who dress in drag, and live in a women-only hotel.
This one was originally intended for inclusion on 50 Cent’s 2011 album Street King Immortal, an album that has still not been released 10 years later!
Joel’s brilliant songwriting skills, and his mastery of meaningful storytelling lyrics are clearly on display here. For me he was really at the top of his game through the 1970’s, but perhaps less so thereafter. The other Life was notionally a 50 Cent track but Eminem clearly out-performs Fiddy – in quality and quantity – while Maroon 5’s frontman, Levine, is arguably the star of the show, even though only heard in the chorus. The trio’s combined efforts puts them just ahead of BJ overall here in my opinion.
No. 7 PHOTOGRAPH
All the Right Reasons
30 (Chad Kroeger)
No. 2 USA, No. 3 Canada and Australia, No. 4 New Zealand and Netherlands, No. 9 Belgium,
No. 10 Austria, No. 18 UK
No. 1 Slovenia, No. 3 South Africa, Ireland and Canada, No. 4 Austria Switzerland and Germany, No. 8 Denmark and New Zealand, No. 9 France and Australia, No. 10 USA
I miss that town, I miss their faces,
You can’t erase, you can’t replace it, I miss it now, I can’t believe it,
So hard to stay, too hard to leave it
Oh you can fit me inside the necklace you got when we were sixteen, Next to your heartbeat where I should be,
Keep it deep within your soul
The music video for Nickelback's Photograph was shot in the town of Hanna in Alberta, Canada (population 2,559) where Kroeger was born, and grew up.
The filmclip for this song is a montage of actual home footage from Sheeran’s childhood. It was done to save time, with the input of Sheeran’s Dad, as Ed was too busy to attend a video shoot.
Pretty hard to stop the eyes from moistening up a tad with either of these tracks TBH.
Ed Sheeran’s incredible worldwide appeal is never more evident than when one looks at the range of places where his songs have had success. The guy has a firm hold on heartstrings around the globe, and this song is a great example of why. But Nickelback’s tribute to lost friends and times past just hits me where I live, and gets them over the line here. (Their song got a recent boost when Donald Trump used it on Twitter without permission in the lead-up to the 2020 Presidential election, and was forced to remove his post).
No. 6 MANEATER
Daryl Hall & John Oates
35 (Daryl Hall)
No. 1 USA and Spain, No. 2 Switzerland and South Africa,
No. 4 Canada, Australia and New Zealand, No. 5 Sweden, No. 6 UK and Norway, No. 8 Ireland and Belgium
No. 1 UK, No. 2 New Zealand, No. 3 Australia, Austria and Switzerland,
No. 4 Germany, No. 10 Sweden,
No. 11 Netherlands, No. 16 USA
I wouldn’t if I were you, I know what she can do, She’s deadly man, she could really rip your world apart, Mind over matter,
Ooh, the beauty is there but a beast is in the heart
Maneater, make you work hard, Make you spend hard, make you want all of her love, She’s a maneater, Make you buy cars, make you cut cards, Wish you never ever met her at all
According to John Oates the inspiration for the song was not a woman, but the way the bright lights, the big city and greed can ruin your life if you let it.
The recording of this track was delayed when a speaker caught fire in the studio control room. Furtado was apparently so spooked by the experience that the song was left alone for the next fortnight.
Hall & Oates wrote some absolutely cracking tunes in their heyday, most of which stand up pretty darn well to the test of time. And this one is definitely up there with their best. So if you want to follow up H&O’s Maneater with a track of the same name you better not come in half-baked, and Nelly Furtado’s song has some serious attitude and grunt. Nice work on her part for sure, but I have to say I reckon the lads still have her covered.
No. 5 HELLO
Can't Slow Down
No. 1 USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands and Switzerland, No. 3 Austria, No. 5 Norway and South Africa, No. 6 Sweden and Finland
No. 1 USA, UK, Europe, Ireland, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Israel, Lebanon, and New Zealand, No. 3 South Korea
Hello, is it me you’re looking for?
I can see it in your eyes, I can see it in your smile,
You’re all I ever wanted, and my arms are open wide
Hello from the other side, I must’ve called a thousand times, To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done, But when I call you never seem to be home
One day Richie’s producer, James Anthony Carmichael came to visit and Lionel greeted him with “Hello, is it me you’re looking for?” Carmichael demanded he “finish that song”, and the rest is history.
The music video for this song almost literally broke the internet, achieving over 27.7 million views within its first 24 hours of release, and 100 million views within five days.
I have to admit these songs are not really in my wheelhouse when it comes to popular music. But I also have to admit that if we were looking at chart performances alone this SNDS would have very strong claims to top spot on the podium. They were also the first pair of different songs bearing the same title in the history of the Grammy Awards to both receive nominations for Song of the Year, albeit more than 30 years apart. But the fact that I could easily imagine these two artists singing the other’s song, thus falling foul of my diversity criterion, sees them just miss my podium altogether. Of the two I simply can’t go past Adele’s greeting – she is an extraordinary force in the world of music, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
No. 4 DO IT AGAIN
The Beach Boys
Can't Buy a Thrill
26 (Brian Wilson)
24 (Donald Fagen)
No. 1 UK, No. 3 Australia and Netherlands, No. 4 Germany, No. 5 Ireland and Norway, No. 7 South Africa and Switzerland, No. 10 Canada, No. 20 USA
No. 6 USA and Canada,
No. 10 Netherlands
Well I’ve been thinking ‘bout all the places we’ve surfed and danced and all the faces we’ve missed so let’s get back together and do it again
Your black cards can make you money, so you hide them when you’re able, In the land of milk and honey, you must put them on the table, You go back Jack, do it again, Wheels turnin’ round and round
It is said that the main riff from this song was used by Neil Sedaka in his tune, “Love Will Keep Us Together”; a massive hit for The Captain and Tennille in 1975.
This was the first single released from Steely Dan’s very first studio album. What a way to start a recording career. As far as I’m concerned these guys sound like silk feels. That’s not trivia, I know, but still fact!
I have a soft spot for both these tracks, hence the very high position of this SNDS on my list. Do It Again marked a return to the Beach Boys’ original surfer dude roots after the experimental album that was Pet Sounds; if it doesn’t make you feel some kind of nostalgia when you hear it I have to seriously doubt that you were ever a teenager! I have very little idea what the lyrics to Steely Dan’s track mean viewed in their totality – it’s like a gunslinging western meets bitter love story meets high stakes casino drama ‑ but I still regard it as possibly the coolest release of all by arguably the coolest band of their time. On that basis it takes the W here.
No. 3 CRAZY
31 (CeeLo Green)
No. 1 Europe, No. 2 UK, No. 6 Ireland, No. 7 USA, No. 8 New Zealand, No. 9 Canada and Australia
No. 1 UK, Europe, Ireland, New Zealand, No. 2 USA and Australia
No we’re never gonna survive unless we are a little crazy, In a world full of people only some want to fly, Isn’t that crazy?
My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb,
And all I remember is thinking,
I want to be like them
The song is said by Seal to have been inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Tiananmen Square massacre, both of which took place in 1989.
Gnarls’ Crazy earned a Grammy Award in 2007 for Best Urban/ Alternative Performance, and was the no. 1 single of 2006 in the UK, Austria and New Zealand.
If I had to give a score out of 100 to all 40 of the songs in this list, and then added the scores for each pair of songs together, I suspect this SNDS may well come out in front. And indeed probably the only thing stopping it from taking out top spot on this list is that the two songs are a little too similar in terms of their theme, tone and style - picky I know. That said, both songs emphasise it’s perfectly ok to not be “normal”, whatever that is, and that’s gotta be a good thing, surely? Crazy was Seal’s debut single, and almost certainly remains his best ever release. But if Crazy number 2 doesn’t move you, I suspect no song will. Although it seems to be a relatively simple tune musically, the mood, the lyrics, and CeeLo’s superb vocal performance make it without doubt one of the great tracks of all time in my view, and thus my choice here.
No. 2 FAME
No. 1 USA, No. 3 Canada, No. 6 Netherlands, No. 9 Norway, No. 12 Hungary, No. 17 UK and Australia
No. 1 UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand, No. 2 France, No. 3 Australia, Sweden, South Africa, No. 4 USA
Fame, what you like is in the limo Fame, what you get is no tomorrow, Fame, what you need you have to borrow, Fame
Baby look at me, and tell me what you see, You ain’t seen the best of me yet, Give me time, I’ll make you forget the rest
John Lennon collaborated with David Bowie on the writing and recording of Fame, and accordingly received a songwriting credit for it.
The song was re-released, and achieved significant additional chart success, after the Fame TV series debuted in 1982. Indeed it was the third biggest single of that year in the UK after “Eye of the Tiger” and “Come On Eileen”.
Fame was a song that Bowie reputedly had little liking for, as it had emerged primarily from a bitter dispute between he and his manager, Tony Defries. Nevertheless it was and remains his first and only no. 1 hit in the United States, and it oozes that classic Bowie chutzpah and style. The more conventional Fame won the Oscar for Best Original Song at the 1981 Academy Awards, and it’s not hard to see why. It encapsulated the vibe and the theme of the film (and the TV show) to perfection. But it still dips its lid in my view to the Thin White Duke’s effort. Two outstanding tracks, with the only factor holding this SNDS back from top spot being the short period between their release.
No. 1 WITHOUT YOU
The Kid Laroi
F*ck Love (Savage)
No. 1 USA, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand,
No. 2 South Africa, No. 3 Italy
No. 1 Australia, Belgium, Finland, Norway, Portugal and Slovakia, No. 2 UK, Denmark, Israel and Netherlands, No. 3 Ireland, No. 5 Sweden and Austria, No. 6 Iceland, No. 7 Canada, No. 8 USA, Hungary, Czech Republic and New Zealand
No I can’t forget this evening, or your face as you were leaving,
But I guess that’s just the way the story goes,
You always smile but in your eyes your sorrow shows, Yes it shows
It’s gonna be hard here on my own, And even harder to let you go,
I really wish that we could’ve got this right, So here I go, oh
Can’t make a wife out of a ho, oh
Incredibly, and tragically, both the songwriters of Without You, Pete Ham and Tom Evans (who, together, recorded and performed as Badfinger), committed suicide by hanging – at ages 27 and 36 respectively – as a result of financial pressures.
The artist has said this song was written to be “something Sia would sing over”. Sia never got involved in its recording, but the track got a boost on the US charts after it was re-mixed with Miley Cyrus’ input in April 2021.
Nilsson’s rendition of Without You was the second best selling single in Australia in 1972, won him the 1973 Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, and was included in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2021. Reportedly Nilsson only ever sang the song live once – in 1992, just 16 months before his death. 50 years on, and it remains one of the most heartbreaking love songs of all time. TKL’s effort is also a heart‑wrenching vocal performance, and its juxtaposition with the earlier Without You encapsulates absolutely everything I hoped this list might produce when I first conceived of it. Same name, almost 50 years apart, artists at the beginning and end of their respective recording careers, both huge world-wide hits, but very very different songs, styles, and paths to success. In a close-run race Nilsson takes out my Top of the Pops by the barest of margins.
So there you have it: a full 20 to 1 Countdown of the best Same Name Different Songs from the past six decades, by my reckoning at least. Now of course I am absolutely sure I've missed one or two or more SNDSs that some of you out there reckon should have been included in the Countdown, so don't be afraid to let me know if you think that's the case.
Or indeed if you think I've got the order of my top 20 horribly wrong. In fact I'll be disappointed if I don't get a some constructive criticism explaining I am no Glenn A Baker, and that I definitely should not have given up my day job!
In any event, I hope you've enjoyed this inaugural edition of ... But I Know What I Like. Until next time ...