Same title, different songs


photo by David Hinchen

I have long been fascinated by this phenomenon of many tunes with the same names. But they are often different songs. Also, I’ve seen several dissimilar movies that have done the same thing.

How is that possible? An article in explains.

“Copyright law provides exclusive protection to someone who creates an original work of authorship that is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. What does that mean to people who don’t understand legalese? It means that the thing you create must be:

  • Some type of creative expression (such as a painting or song) which is;
  • Sufficiently original and independently conceived by its creator, that is;
  • In some permanently stored format, so that it can be reproduced (such as a painting on canvas but not a design drawn in water which is only visible for a moment.)
Lacks originality

“Song titles generally don’t fall within the protection of copyright law since most are not sufficiently original or independently conceived by the artist. Are phrases like ‘born to run’ or ‘on the road again’ sufficiently original so as to deserve legal protection? The few words in a song title may have been used many times before and should be able to be available for general use as a natural part of the English language. Copyright law in itself doesn’t seem to prevent anyone from placing a song title on a bumper sticker or t-shirt.”

Conversely, “Song lyrics, like chapters in a book, consist of many words strung together by a person conveying a thought or series of thoughts. The more words the artist uses the less likely it is that someone else will independently use the exact same words to express the same thing. How common is it to hear someone utter the phrase, ‘There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven?’ Probably not often…  This is why Led Zeppelin would have copyright protection for the song lyrics to ‘Stairway to Heaven’ but not for the title. ” There is a song by the O’Jays called Stairway To Heaven, that was released after the LZ track.


This article suggested the following song title options: I Want You, Tonight, Angel, Changes, Sunday Morning, Baby, Crazy, and Stay.

Angel is the first one I thought of. According to the Top Pop Singles book, which tracks pop hits and “classic” tracks, there are at least 17 of them.

Shaggy, #1 in 2001 with a riff from Angel Of The Morning by Merilee Rush, #7 in 1968

Aerosmith, #3 in 1988

Sarah McLaughlin, #4 in 1999. This was covered by Javier Colon, #64, in 2011, and Jacquie Lee, #87, in 2013

Madonna, #5 in 1985

Jon Secada, #18 in 1985

Aretha Franklin, #20 in 1973

Amanda Perez, #20 in 2003

Jimi Hendrix, classic in 1970, covered by Rod Stewart, #40 in 1972

Johnny Tillotson, #51 in 1965

Akon, #56 in 2010

Natasha Bedingfield, #63 in 2008

Lionel Richie, #70 in 2001

The Weeknd, #102 in 2015

Kate Voegele, #103 in 2009

Fifth Harmony, #112  in 2017

Chaka Khan, #119 in 2007

Angela Winbush, classic in 1987

This doesn’t count the titles Angel Baby, Angel on My Shoulder, and especially Angel Eyes.

My favorites are Hendrix and McLaughlin. Of the ones I’d never heard before, and there are several, Chaka Khan.


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