“First Class,” the second single from Kentucky rapper Jack Harlow’s album Come Home The Kids Miss You, is one of the biggest songs of 2022 so far, reaching No. 1 on the Hot 100 twice since its April release. One reason for the quick ascent: the familiarity of the chorus, which samples Fergie’s vocals from “Glamorous,” which also topped the Hot 100 back in 2007.
Since Billboard began publishing the Hot 100 in 1958, nine songs have topped the chart more than once by different artists, like Little Eva’s 1962 original “The Loco-Motion” and Grand Funk Railroad’s 1974 cover. But as hip-hop began to take over the charts in the 1990s, sampling old hits has become the most notable method of reviving pop’s past. And in recent years, interpolations with replayed elements of old hits have kicked up a little controversy and courtroom drama. Here’s a look back at 10 chart-toppers that sampled or interpolated other No. 1s.
Kris Kross’s “Jump” (1992)
The sample: The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” (1969)
Many of the most popular hip-hop songs are built on familiar pop hits, dating back to The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” which featured replayed elements of Chic’s chart-topper “Good Times.” And when hip-hop artists finally began reaching No. 1 themselves in the ‘90s, they often got a boost from a familiar loop – Vanilla Ice sampling Queen, P.M. Dawn sampling Spandau Ballet, and so on. But the first No. 1 that sampled a No. 1 came from the kiddie rap duo Kris Kross.
Producer Jermaine Dupri filled “Jump” with a dense patchwork of samples, including early hip-hop staples by James Brown, the Honey Drippers, and the Ohio Players. But the piano loop from the Jackson 5’s first single “I Want You Back” helped the song reach another historical chart benchmark. Kris Kross, both around age 13, became the youngest rappers on a No. 1, just as an 11-year-old Michael Jackson was the youngest person to sing lead on a No. 1.
The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize” (1997)
The sample: Herb Alpert’s “Rise” (1979)
In the mid-‘90s, Bad Boy Records brought hip-hop to new heights of commercial dominance in part by shrewdly sampling some of the biggest ’70s and ’80s hits. The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize,” released a week before the rapper’s death in March 1997, became his first posthumous No. 1. And the track’s iconic bass line came from “Rise,” trumpeter Herb Alpert’s second chart-topper.
While Bad Boy’s 1997 hit parade often looped the most famous parts of classics by David Bowie, Kool & The Gang, and Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, “Hypnotize” dug a little deeper. The most recognizable element of Biggie’s song may be the brief, echoing guitar line plucked from the disco instrumental.
Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You” (1997)
The sample: The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” (1983)
When the Notorious B.I.G. was shot and killed days after the release of “Hypnotize,” producer and mentor Puff Daddy decided to record a tribute to his fallen friend. And in true Bad Boy tradition, that song, however heartfelt, derived most of its melody and emotion from a familiar source. With a rewritten version of the chorus from The Police’s 1983 blockbuster “Every Breath You Take” and a sample of the song’s iconic Andy Summers guitar riff, “I’ll Be Missing You” ruled the summer of 1997.
Major label hip-hop artists had become more diligent about clearing samples and getting artist approval following a historic 1991 copyright case in which Gilbert O’Sullivan sued Biz Markie. Remarkably, though, Puff Daddy rush-released “I’ll Be Missing You” without getting permission to use the Police sample, and Sting reportedly sued for 100 percent of the Puff Daddy track’s songwriting royalties. All in all, “Every Breath You Take” topped the Hot 100 for eight weeks, and “I’ll Be Missing You” went to No. 1 for an additional 11 weeks, making it perhaps the most popular melody in contemporary pop history.
Monica’s “The First Night” (1998)
The sample: Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover” (1996)
Georgia R&B singer Monica Denise Arnold hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 three times, and each song came from her second album, The Boy Is Mine, released when she was just 17. Those chart-toppers were the title track with Brandy, the ballad “Angel of Mine,” and “The First Night,” a sassy song about the prospect of first-date sex that sampled Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover.”
Ross’ disco era was ripe for reclamation by ‘90s producers – Puff Daddy, after all, had turned “I’m Coming Out” into the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” Jermaine Dupri sampled “Love Hangover,” Ross’ first real disco single, for Monica’s song. But he actually utilized the slower intro groove, before the song kicks into high-gear disco.
Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West” (1999)
The sample: Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” (1977)
Stevie Wonder was sampled on a number of ‘90s rap hits, including Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” and 2Pac’s “So Many Tears.” The track that went to No. 1 twice, however, is “I Wish,” the lead single from his masterpiece Songs in the Key of Life.
Will Smith’s title song for his 1999 film, Wild Wild West, was a mashup of sorts, combining the music of “I Wish” with the hook from the 1988 song “Wild Wild West” by Kool Moe Dee, who also guests on the Smith song. Wonder was also one of the many celebrity cameos in the “Wild Wild West” video.
Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” (2013)
The interpolation: Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” (1977)
Here’s where we get into the stickier subject of interpolations. A sample is the use of one song’s master recording in a new song, which is usually easily proven or disproven. But an interpolation, in which a musical or lyrical element of one song is replayed in a different song, is often more open to debate. And in recent years, interpolations have been subject of great debate and even court cases, including most famously the Marvin Gaye estate’s 2014 lawsuit against Robin Thicke over the similarities between his “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.”
“Blurred Lines” does not contain the same melody or lyrics as “Got to Give It Up” and isn’t even at the same tempo. But it always felt clear that Thicke and producer Pharrell Williams were probably paying homage to Gaye with the song’s overall sound: the descending bass lines, the party chatter ambiance, the falsetto “woo!” ad libs. Like it or not, though, a jury found the similarities substantial enough, awarding Gaye’s family millions of dollars and appending Gaye’s name to the official songwriting credits.
Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” (2017)
The interpolation: TLC’s “No Scrubs” (1999)
In the aftermath of the “Blurred Lines” court decision, hitmakers have been a little more accommodating about sharing songwriting credit when a similarity is found between their track and an older song. Just last year, Olivia Rodrigo credited Paramore on her hit “Good 4 U” for some fairly broad resemblances to their “Misery Business.” And in 2017, Ed Sheeran credited the authors of TLC’s “No Scrubs” on his blockbuster “Shape of You,” likely due to a similar vocal cadence in the song’s pre-chorus section.
Sheeran’s camp reportedly reached out to the “No Scrubs” writers, Xscape members Kandi Burruss and Tameka Cottle and producer Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs, before the release of “Shape of You.” But an agreement wasn’t reached that added the trio to the songwriting credits until shortly after Sheeran’s song began its long run on the pop charts.
Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” (2017)
The interpolation: Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” (1991)
The lead single from Taylor Swift’s 2017 album, Reputation, featured a staccato spoken refrain of its title that bore a slight resemblance to Right Said Fred’s saucy 1991 dance hit. Swift’s camp reached out to the British duo a week before her song’s release, although they didn’t initially confirm which major artist was seeking approval of an interpolation.
Right Said Fred were a bit less organized about clearing the interpolation in the original “I’m Too Sexy.” “I wasn’t aware our guitarist, Rob Manzoli, had played the riff from Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Third Stone from the Sun’ on ‘I’m Too Sexy’ until much later,” Fred Fairbrass told The Guardian in 2017. “[B]ut the Hendrix estate was very cool about it and just asked for a writing credit and a charitable donation.”
Drake’s “Way 2 Sexy” (2021)
The sample: Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” (1991)
In a fairly strange turn of events, the campy one hit wonders Right Said Fred wound up back at the top of the Hot 100 via two different singles by modern pop superstars in the past few years. However, “Way 2 Sexy,” Drake’s Certified Lover Boy hit with Future and Young Thug, is a much more overt riff on “I’m Too Sexy” than Taylor Swift’s song, actually featuring a sample of Richard Fairbrass’ voice from the original.
Jack Harlow’s “First Class” (2022)
The sample: Fergie’s “Glamorous” (2007)
Although Jack Harlow topped the Hot 100 last year with his guest spot on Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby,” he recently netted his first solo No. 1 with “First Class.” And the song’s pre-release buzz after he previewed it on TikTok, spotlighting Harlow’s playful call-and-response with Fergie’s vocal from “Glamorous,” had a lot to do with its immediate success.
“Glamorous,” the third single from Fergie’s 2006 album, The Dutchess, actually had its origins in another top 40 hit. Producer Polow Da Don created a remix of Gwen Stefani’s “Luxurious” featuring a guest verse by Ludacris, but she reportedly decided to use the original album mix. Sensing they had a hit on their hands, Polow and Ludacris repurposed their parts of the remix for a new song on the Black Eyed Peas singer’s solo debut, and it sailed to the top of the charts.