There’s no denying that Carole King is one of the most prolific and celebrated female songwriters of the 20th century, with over 100 Billboard Hot 100 hits, 25 solo albums, four Grammy Awards and over 75 million albums sold during her five-decade career.
While she became renowned as a singer in her own right following her separation from husband and songwriting partner, Gerry Goffin, some of her most popular songs were written with other artists in mind. Here, we round up eight hits that were taken by others and made their own.
Locomotion by Kylie Minogue
It was 1987. A little-known soap star with a girl-next-door vibe released a version of Carole King’s ‘The Loco-Motion’, first performed by Little Eva in 1962. It was this song that launched Kylie Minogue’s career as a global pop princess, where she became the highest-selling Australian artist of all time.
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin
This single has been performed by Carole King herself, as well as powerhouses Mary J. Blige, Celine Dion and Bonnie Tyler and even Rod Stewart (regendered as ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Man’.) But it was Franklin’s debut version that reached #8 in the US Billboard Hot 100 list and became one of her standards.
Chains by The Beatles
Released on The Beatles’ debut album Please Please Me, ‘Chains’ featured George Harrison on lead vocals and was the first times fans would have heard him lead in a commercial song. Although popular with the Fab Four, once they had built up their own substantial song catalogue, ‘Chains’ dropped off their setlist, to be revived again decades later on the 2013 compilation On Air — Live at the BBC Volume 2.
You’ve Got a Friend by Michael Jackson
Carole King’s ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ won her the Grammy Award for Song of the Year and James Taylor the award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1971. It’s been covered by Dusty Springfield, Bing Crosby and Anne Murray (among others) and made the soundtrack of the 2004 movie Garfield. Michael Jackson’s version, released on his debut album Got To Be There in 1972 when he was barely a teenager, showcases his high clear voice and pop-soul style.
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by Amy Winehouse
The troubled diva’s version of Carole King’s 1960 single was featured in the romantic comedy Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. It was originally performed by the Shirelles and ranked among the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone.
He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss) by Courtney Love
Arguably Carole King’s most controversial song, and one she’s quoted as saying ‘that’s one song I kind of wish I hadn’t had any part of writing’, ‘He Hit Me (and it Felt Like A Kiss)’ was written for girl group The Crystals with guidance from Phil Spector — yes, the convicted murderer. Unsurprisingly, the song had radio listeners up in arms and was quickly withdrawn. Courtney Love’s band Hole performed the song on MTV Unplugged in 1995.
Don’t Bring Me Down by The Animals
Preferring R&B and rock numbers to pop songs, The Animals were allegedly not keen to perform ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ and put their own gritty twist to the lyrics, sung to an arrangement of strong organ riffs, bass lines and fuzz guitar chords. Lead singer Eric Burdon claimed in an interview that he didn’t realise who the songwriter was. “I didn’t realize that it was a Goffin, King song until I was in a doctor’s office in Beverly Hills and Ms King came in and sat next to me. I didn’t know it was her, I was just reading a magazine and she turned to me and said, ‘You know, I hated what you did to my song.’ I didn’t know what to say, so all I said was, ‘well, sorry.’ And then as she got up to go into the doctor’s office, she turned around and said, ‘but I got used to it.’”
Jazzman by Lisa Simpson
Springfield’s most precocious middle child Lisa Simpson pays homage to her saxophone idol Bleeding Gums Murphy with this song in The Simpsons episode ‘’Round Springfield’. The original rose to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 list in 1974 and was nominated for a Grammy Award the following year.
Don’t miss the inspiring true story of Carole King, with discounted tickets to Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.