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Music

The cover that sold better than The Beatles’ original

In 1963, The Beatles marked the beginning of the British invasion with the release of their debut album, Please Please Me. They started the year as four mates who could walk down most UK streets and turn few heads but ended the year with plans to visit the US in early 1964 for their first appearance on American television.

Please Please Me was awash with early hits for the Liverpool lads, including ‘Love Me Do’, ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘Twist and Shout’. Among this group of early classics was the album’s classic opener, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’. The track was a staple hit of The Beatles’ early concerts and would invariably be met with a chorus of screaming women in the audience. 

The classic love song was primarily a Paul McCartney composition which he completed with John Lennon’s help. “Sometimes we would just start a song from scratch, but one of us would nearly always have a germ of an idea, a title, or a rough little thing they were thinking about, and we’d do it,” McCartney recalled in his 1997 book, Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. 

“‘I Saw Her Standing There’ was my original,” he continued. “I’d started it and I had the first verse, which therefore gave me the tune, the tempo, and the key,” he said. “It gave you the subject matter, a lot of the information, and then you had to fill in.”

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The song was an unmitigated success as part of the Fab Four’s unprecedented rise to global stardom, but in 1987, pop singer Tiffany released a gender-swapped cover of the track titled ‘I Saw Him Standing There’, which commercially outperformed The Beatles’ original.

The Beatles’ ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the chart for 11 weeks. A quarter of a century later, Tiffany’s ‘I Saw Him Standing There’ became a surprise hit, peaking at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and remaining on the chart for 14 weeks. 

The classic cover helped buoy her eponymous debut album to the number one spot on the albums chart for two of its 69 weeks in the ranks, but Tiffany wasn’t always so sure about covering a Beatles song. During a 1988 interview with the Chicago Tribune, the singer said she was initially hesitant about doing the cover. “I knew the song,” Tiffany recalled. “But the way we decided to do it is that we were killing time in the studio, and someone picked up an old guitar and started playing Beatles songs.”

“My manager suggested I could do it, and I said, `You’re nuts! No way could I compare to The Beatles,’” she added. “But he said we could do it in a dance version, so kids who didn’t know it could feel like they were discovering something new.”

Listen to Tiffany’s cover, ‘I Saw Him Standing There’, below.