10 Absolute Tunes You Didn't Realise Were Samples

10 Absolute Tunes You Didn't Realise Were Samples

Not to be confused with a cover, sampling is used by many musicians where a portion of a song or even lyrics are reworked and replayed to create something new. These are just 10 hits you didn't realise were were inspired by previous tracks...

Hotline Bling

Yes, yes, Drake’s massive 2015 hit ain't all that original. The arrangement is directly inspired by Timmy Thomas' 1972 song “Why can’t we live together?” Never heard of it? Not surprising seeing as the song only peaked at number 12 in the Irish charts way-back-when. Drake put his own spin on the R&B song by increasing the tempo – taking away that feel of elevator music from the original. Here’s the song we’re familiar with…


And here’s the original…



No! Say it isn’t so! Surely this is an original masterpiece??? Britney writes all her own stuff?? (HA!) This little weapon was released in January 2004 (Yikes, over a decade) and who could forget the music video with her iconic air hostess look? Brit went Bollywood on this track sampling a soundtrack from a 1970’s Hindi movie. Again, she (well, her music team) have sped things up and tidied the symphony up around the edges to land a number 1 chart position that year. They say inspiration can come from anywhere, so our pop princess went searching in the far east…

It's Britney b*tch…


…And it’s Bollywood b*tch

King Kunta

Moving away from chart hits, We had to throw this in firstly because it’s an absolute CHUNE, and secondly because Kendrick has been absolutely bossing the rap scene over the last few years. King Kunta comes from Kendrick Lamar’s third studio album ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ and placed number 7 on Rolling Stones 50 Best Songs of 2015 despite only peaking at 56 in the Irish charts.

King Kunta contains samples from no less than 6 songs! Including lyrics from Smooth Criminal by MJ and Jay Z’s Thank You. But the most prominent sample on this track as borrowed from James Brown's “The Payback”.


Jump ahead to 1:56 on James Browns track and listen out for the familiarity…

Crazy In Love


The biggest “girls night” anthem samples an incredible instrumental from Chi-Lite’s “Are you my Woman?” A seriously funky hit from 1970 (We're sensing a pattern here…). To this day Beyonce’s debut solo single is like a “Huns to the dancefloor” beacon, but little do the gals realise their beloved theme is inspired by a much older R&B generation…

Shape of you


While I in no way dub this song a “tune” and am in the minority that believe Mr. Sheeran is over-rated (put your pitchforks down little huns) the song from which Shape of You is sampled is in a fact a BANGER. To the naked ear, one would completely pass over this sample, but when you play the two next the each other you’d kick yourself for missing it! Ed borrows instrumental elements from the chorus of TLC’s No Scrubs. While not his biggest fan, I’ll give him the nod for great taste in music…

Jump to the chorus on Shape Of You…

Now listen to TLC from 0:42.



Possibly one of the sexiest songs of 2015 heavily samples Turkish folk singer Nükhet Duru. Her song Ben Sana Vurgunum is that incomprehensible female vocalist that features throughout the track. Similarly to Britney, Abel (A.K.A The Weeknd) went ethnic on his inspo. How he came across this track? Who knows, but it definitely works.



Harder Better Faster Stronger

Kanye famously sampled this song in Stronger; a massive hit from Graduation released in 2007. Remember? After that we all thought it was cool to wear those shutter shades to every teenie bopper disco? Anyway, turns out this sample was in fact a sample of a sample! Edwin Birdsong is another member of the funky 1970’s samples club that suffered the fate of being less famous than the cover. While “Cola Bottle Baby” never even made it into the charts on this side of the Atlantic, it’s counterpart by Daft Punk charted at 25 while Yeezy took it to number 1 for two weeks.


Strip That Down

Liam Payne called on Ed Sheeran to write this saucy dedication to Cheryl. (Nice.) And what was the raunchiest song the pair called on to inspire the track? Wasn’t Me by Shaggy. (Again, nice.)


Wasn’t Me is used from 1:02 throughout Payne’s debut single.


Probably one of the biggest songs of this summer and French Montana’s biggest hit to date samples lyrics that are much more recent than the 1970’s. Montana borrowed the lyrics “She left her man at home, she don’t love him no more” from the Weeknd’s Wicked Games (originally “I left my girl at home I don’t love her no more”. Either way, both songs are absolute R&B gold.

Jump to 3:33


Now try the opening of Wicked Games...

The Next Episode


Dadadada… It’s the one and only D-A-V-I-D (McCallum that is…). Never heard of him? Well fans of NCIS may know him as medical examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard in the hit American TV Series. But long before his crime drama role McCallum was trained in classical music and released an instrumental album for Capitol Records in 1968. From this, Dr.Dre and Snoop created the intro and riff to The Next Episode – an absolute classic.

Also Read: 17 Important Life Lessons We Learned From Fr. Dougal McGuire

Lauren Cassidy

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