Find out the most sampled songs in music history

There are melodies that are so recognizable that when they appear by surprise in a different song, you immediately discover that you have already heard them before. This is what happens with songs called sampled songs, fragments of the music or lyrics of a song that are borrowed to form part of a second composition. A practice that has been particularly popular in recent times, but which isn’t new.

It was already widespread in past decades, but not because of a lack of originality on the part of the authors. Sometimes, these samples originated from an artist’s or group’s deep admiration for the song chosen to reinterpret it. It is, therefore, a form of homage to the song, although permission to use that other work isn’t always granted, and this can lead to legal problems.

The most Sampled Songs

Ice Ice Baby (Vanilla Ice) and Under Pressure (Queen y David Bowie)

Two songs born in the same decade: the 1980s. A rapper called Robert Matthew Van Winkle under the name Vanilla Ice rose to fame quite unexpectedly because of a song with a nod to his stage name, released in 1989. And it probably left Freddie Mercury and Bowie cold at first, because it used the instrumental basis of their award-winning collaboration Under Pressure without them initially receiving any credit for it. 

After achieving worldwide success, Vanilla Ice had no choice but to include them among the songwriters and share their earnings with them. 

Gangsta’s Paradise (Coolio) and Pastime Paradise (Stevie Wonder)

Coolio is another rapper who, over time, can be considered a clear ‘one hit wonder’. In 1995, the Californian released a song that is still considered one of the great hip-hop anthems of the world, especially after forming part of the soundtrack of the film Dangerous Minds.

But its well-remembered instrumental isn’t original: those violins and its chorus take us back to 1976 with a composition by Stevie Wonder himself: Pastime Paradise. In fact, from that chorus he only changed the word ‘pastime’ for ‘gangsta’, so it isn’t hard to think of Coolio’s song when listening to the song signed by Stevie.

🎵 Are you a Peaky Blinders fan? Listen to the best gangster songs from Peaky Blinders.

Don’t Stop The Music (Rihanna) and Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Michael Jackson)

We aren’t going too far back in time, because in 2007, what would soon become one of the most important personalities not only in music, but also in the whole world of fame, appeared in our lives.
From Barbados came Rihanna with legendary songs such as Umbrella or this Don’t Stop

The Music in which she claimed that music should go on playing forever. And to do so, what better than a nod to the King of Pop at the end of that hit. The legendary choruses of Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ are sampled track to invite everyone to dance to RiRi’s songs.

Bitter Sweet Symphony (The Verve) and The Last Time (The Rolling Stones, versión orquestal de Andrew Loog Oldham)

Also in the 1990s another classic came into our lives with orchestral sounds and a riff of just 6 seconds played by a violin. The ‘bittersweet symphony’ was released in 1997 and was based on the orchestral version that had appeared only a year earlier of the Rolling Stones’ sixties classic,

The Last Time. The orchestra of their own ex-producer Andrew Loog Oldham was in charge of playing that instrumental that The Verve popularized with their sampling, but this time events happened in reverse: the

British group initially credited Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for having used that tune that wasn’t really theirs, so years later (in 2019) they announced that they were completely shedding their accreditation on Bitter Sweet Symphony; now that’s an amicable ending.

😊 Feeling nostalgic? Relive all Oasis songs in your playlist!

Like Toy Soldiers (Eminem) and Toy Soldiers (Martika)

At a time when anything Eminem did would automatically become a hit, the rapper decided to draw on another 80s anthem for a song that has more than 400 million views on YouTube.

The voice of Cuban-born singer Marta Marrero, aka Martika, is heard between the rapper verses of the artist named Marshall Mathers. The original track, Toy Soldiers, was released in 1989, and this sample came 15 years later, in 2004. A practice that wasn’t new for Eminem, as we have already heard it, for example, in his anthem Stan and the collaboration with Dido singing part of the chorus of his song Thank You.




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