Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Lady Marmalade

First recorded by Eleventh Hour (1974).
Hit versions by LaBelle (US #1/R&B #1/UK #17/CAN #1/ITA #8/NETH #1 1974); All Saints (UK #1/SCOT #2 1998); Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, & Pink (US #1/R&B #1/UK #1/CAN #17/AUS #1/NZ #1/GER #1 2001).

From the wiki: “‘Lady Marmalade’ is a song written by Bob Crewe (‘Silhouettes‘, ‘Silence is Golden‘, ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore‘, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’) and Kenny Nolan (‘My Eyes Adored You’, ‘I Like Dreamin”), inspired by Crewe’s first-hand observations of New Orleans and made famous for its sexually suggestive chorus of ‘Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?’ (‘Do you want to go to bed with me (tonight)?’).

“After it was first recorded as a demo by The Eleventh Hour, a group made up of studio musicians, fronted by co-writer Nolan on vocals, ‘Lady Marmalade’ was first released in 1974 as a track on the Eleventh Hour’s Greatest Hits LP which did not chart. Meanwhile, co-writer Crewe showed the song to Allen Toussaint in New Orleans; Toussaint then decided to record the song with Labelle, whose label (Epic Records) had hired him to produce their label debut, Nightbirds.

“Labelle’s version of ‘Lady Marmalade’ was produced by Allen Toussaint and Vicki Wickham. It was released in November 1974 as the promotional single for Nightbirds, their first album after signing with Epic Records. Patti LaBelle, the lead female vocal of the band, was completely oblivious to its overall message, saying: ‘I didn’t know what it was about. I don’t know French and nobody, I swear this is God’s truth, nobody at all told me what I’d just sung a song about.’

“‘Lady Marmalade’ is billed as the song that made Labelle one of the ‘hottest girl groups’ of the 1970s. It was a #1 hit for one week on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the United States during the early spring of 1975, and charted at #1 for one week on the Billboard Top Soul Singles chart. ‘Lady Marmalade’ replaced another Crewe/Nolan composition, Frankie Valli’s ‘My Eyes Adored You’, as the Billboard Hot 100 #1 single. This feat made Crewe and Nolan the third songwriting team in Billboard history (after Lennon–McCartney, and Holland–Dozier–Holland) to replace themselves at number-one. Billboard ranked ‘Lady Marmalade’ as the No. 22 song for 1975.

“In 2001, ‘Lady Marmalade’ appeared as part of a medley in the film Moulin Rouge!. For the film’s soundtrack album, Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa, and Pink recorded a cover version; it was released as the soundtrack’s first single in spring 2001. It spent five weeks at the top of the chart, 26 years after Labelle’s version had reached #1, making ‘Lady Marmalade’ the ninth song in history to top the U.S. chart as performed as different artists.”

LaBelle, “Lady Marmalade” (1974):

All Saints, “Lady Marmalade” (1998):

Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa, & Pink, “Lady Marmalade” from Moulin Rouge! (2001):