The hits behind the hits: Pop's obsession with sampling

It's a brand new hit but sounds kind of familiar, right? A look at the songs that got a second lease of life.

Sampling a song has been a part of pop for decades, but it's proving particularly popular on the Official Chart at the moment.

Sampling songs – along with interpolations, which lift parts of songs and reuses a rerecorded version of them in new ones – lends a new track an air of familiarity, plus has the added bonus of reaching a new audience - those who loved the original song it was based on.

It's a widely held belief that music released between 20 and 30 years ago is the sweet spot for nostalgia, which tallies up with the samples used in a wave of tracks inside the current Official Singles Chart Top 40. First up is Friday by Newcastle DJ/producer Riton, which heavily samples Push The Feeling On by UK house collective Nightcrawlers, a Number 3 smash in 1995 after enjoying years of underground success in the clubs.

Nightcrawlers are led by hit producer John Reid (who went on to work with the likes of Kelly Clarkson and Westlife), and are also credited on the new version, which peaked in the Top 5 earlier this month to become Riton's highest-charting single to date.

Also on the cusp of Top 10 success this week is Your Love (9pm), a collaboration between ATB, Topic and A7S that samples ATB's 9pm (Til I Come). The original by German producer ATB was a two-week Number 1 in 1999, while the remake by fellow German DJ Topic adds new lyrics while retaining the iconic ear-snagging synthesiser hook on the original that defined the summer of 1999.

Sticking with early-aughts dance, US pop star Ava Max is enjoying success with her latest release My Head And My Heart, which samples ATC's Top 20 eurodance hit Around The World (La La La La La) (which in itself samples Pesenka (La La La) Russian pop–techno group Ruki Vverh!), while British singer-songwriter RAYE enjoyed Top 40 success in February with Regardless, a collaboration with Rudimental that samples Rapture by New York duo iiO.

Looking a bit further back, James Hype and Kelli-Leigh's More Than Friends – a Number 8 hit in 2017 – lifted most of the lyrics from En Vogue's 1997 Top 5 Don't Let Go (Love), and Jess Glynne's All I Am will have sounded familiar to any '90s clubbers; that bassline started out in 2001 Top 40 hit Finally, by Kings of Tomorrow.

When sampling goes really old-school

When it comes to pop superstars, they aren't afraid to go bold with a sample. Fans of The Sound of Music immediately clocked the sample in Ariana's 2019 single 7 Rings - her tongue-in-cheek love letter to capitalism - which started out as My Favourite Things, sung by Julie Andrews in the 1965 musical. It's not the first time the tune has inspired a pop hit: Big Brovaz released a reworked version in 2003, reaching Number 2.

Speaking of The Sound of Music, JLS used the title track to pep up The Club is Alive, going all the way to Number 1 in 2010, while Gwen Stefani also got her hands on the soundtrack and re-purposed yodelling classic The Lonely Goatherd for her (bonkers, quite frankly) 2006 hit Wind It Up. This wasn't her first plundering of the musicals, either. The previous year Gwen hit Number 4 with Rich Girl, which borrowed the melody from the iconic If I Were a Rich Man, from Fiddler on the Roof.

Hip-hop and genre-crossovers

Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places, and a good chorus is a good chorus, regardless of its origin or genre. For example, part of Jason Derulo's Goodbye is lifted from the pop-opera crossover hit Time to Say Goodbye, a duet between Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, which reached Number 2 in 1997. DJ Khaled peered into other genres for Wild Thoughts, featuring Rihanna, using the melody from Santana's 2000 Top 10 Maria Maria, and Aloe Blacc reused parts of Elton John's Your Song in his 2014 chart-topper The Man.

Sampling has long been a staple of hip-hop too, taking its inspiration from a series of genres. There are too many to mention to do the process justice here, but if a song is particularly powerful, it might find itself being the backbone of more than one hit at a time. Former Fugees' singer Lauryn Hill's 1999 Top 5 Ex-Factor found its way onto both Drake's chart-topper Nice For What and Cardi B's Be Careful in 2018. Sting's 1993 ballad Shape Of My Heart has also long been a popular choice for sampling in rap, including Juice Wrld's breakthrough hit Lucid Dreams in 2018.

A whole other ballgame, of course, is the unintentional influence – you hear a song and think, hang on, isn't that a sample of…? It can get pretty complicated – and costly – if it's not spotted before release. The chorus of Taylor Swift's first Number 1 Look What You Made Me Do had an unusual source of inspiration in Right Said Fred's saucy 1991 hit I'm Too Sexy, and Ed Sheeran's Shape of You bared enough of a resemblance to TLC's No Scrubs for the producers to get a credit on it.

Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke learned the hard way that there's nothing new under the sun when the family of Marvin Gaye took them to court claiming million-selling Blurred Lines borrowed from Marvin's Got to Give it Up. Meanwhile, another of Marvin's hits, Let's Get It On, is the subject of a still-ongoing court case, with his estate claiming Ed Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud rips off elements of the 1973 hit.

Popplegangers: Songs that sound a bit like other songs

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Frank Lee Speaking


While technically, they sampled the nightcrawlers "push the feeling on" the sample is only of the parts created in the remix by MK, who made the record a hit. No-one even remembers the original John Reid version, but he gets all the credit.


Dayv Morris


No one remembers classic song? How old are u?


Courtney Puzzo


you are correct if you're talking about the 1965 film adaptation of Sound Of Music though the stage show premiered Nov 16th 1959 and closed June 15th 1963 while the film premiered in New York On March 2nd 1965