An answer song, response song or answer record, is a song (usually a recorded track) made in answer to a previous song, normally by another artist. The concept became widespread in blues and R&B recorded music in the 1930s to the 1950s. Answer songs were also extremely popular in country music in the 1950s and 1960s, most often as female responses to an original hit by a male artist.
The original "Hound Dog" song sung by Big Mama Thornton reached number 1 in 1953, and there were six answer songs in response; the most successful of these was "Bear Cat", by Rufus Thomas which reached number 3. That led to a successful copyright lawsuit for $35,000, which is said to have led Sam Phillips of Sun Records to sell Elvis Presley's recording contract to RCA.
In Rock Eras: Interpretations of Music and Society, Jim Curtis says that "the series of answer songs which were hits in 1960... indicates the dissociation of the singer from the song... Answer songs rode on the coattails, as it were, of the popularity of the first song, and resembled parodies in that their success depended on a knowledge of the original... Answer songs were usually one-hit flukes by unknown singers whose lack of identity did not detract from the success of the record since only the song, and not the performer, mattered."
Today, this practice is most common in hip hop music and filk, especially as the continuation of a feud between performers; the Roxanne Wars was a notable example that resulted in over a hundred answer songs. Answer songs also played a part in the battle over turf in The Bridge Wars. Sometimes, an answer record imitated the original very closely and occasionally, a hit song would be followed up by the same artist.
- "I Wonder Why Bill Bailey Don't Come Home" was written by William Jerome and recorded by Arthur Collins in 1902 as an answer to "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home", published by Hughie Cannon and recorded by Collins earlier the same year.
- "I Used to Be Afraid to Come Home in the Dark" was recorded by Billy Murray in 1909 as a response to his own 1908 hit, "I'm Afraid to Come Home in the Dark"
- The popularity of the 1923 song "Yes! We Have No Bananas" was answered that same year by "I've Got The Yes! We Have No Banana Blues" with lyrics by Lew Brown, composed by Robert King and James F. Hanley. The song referred to the ubiquity and nonsense lyrics of the original. Eddie Cantor, Eva Taylor, Isabelle Patricola, and Belle Baker all sang on releases of this song.
- "Jollity Farm" was written by Leslie Sarony in 1929 in answer to C. Jay Wallis’ “Misery Farm” of the same year.
- "Answer to Rainbow at Midnight" was written in 1947 by Lost John Miller and Ernest Tubb as an answer to their own "Rainbow at Midnight" (1946). Tubb recorded it on 11 August 1947, and it was released by his longtime label Decca Records (catalogue no. 46078).
- "Answer to Drivin' Nails in My Coffin" was by Jerry Irby and performed in 1947 and was the answer to his own song "Drivin' Nails in My Coffin" from 1945.
- Woody Guthrie's anthem "This Land Is Your Land" was written in 1940 as an answer to "God Bless America", written by Irving Berlin in 1918 (and revised in 1938). Guthrie originally called his response "God Blessed America for Me".
- "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels", written by J. D. "Jay" Miller in 1952 and originally sung by Kitty Wells, was a response to "The Wild Side of Life", made famous that same year by Hank Thompson.
- "Wake Up Irene" (1953) by Hank Thompson & The Brazos Valley Boys, an answer to the widely covered folk song "Goodnight, Irene".
- "Mannish Boy" (1955) by Muddy Waters was a response to Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man", which also happened to be a response to "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man", an earlier song by Muddy Waters in 1954.
- "Can't Do Sixty No More", written and performed by The Dominoes, was a response to their own hit song from four years earlier (1951), "Sixty Minute Man".
- "I Shot Mr. Lee" (1958) was The Bobbettes' response to their own 1957 hit, "Mr. Lee".
- "That Makes It" was Jayne Mansfield's response to The Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace" (1958), suggesting what the girl may have been saying at the other end of the line.
- "Oh Neil!" was Carole King's response to Neil Sedaka's "Oh! Carol" (1959).
- "Short Mort" (1959) by Carole King was a response to Annette Funicello's "Tall Paul" (1959), referencing "Tall Paul" in the line, "You can keep Tall Paul, I'll take Short Mort."
- "Return of the All-American Boy" (1959) by Billy Adams was a response to the 1958 smash "All American Boy" by Bill Parsons (aka Bobby Bare).
- "I Got a Job" (1957) by The Miracles, "I Found a Job" by The Heartbeats (1958), "I Got A Job" by The Tempos, and "I Got Fired" by The Mistakes, were all responses to The Silhouettes's self-penned chart-topper "Get a Job" (1957).
- "Answer To The Pub With No Beer" (1958) by Slim Dusty, was a direct response to Dusty's hit "A Pub With No Beer" (1957).
- "Tell Tommy I Miss Him" (1960) by Marilyn Michaels is a response to "Tell Laura I Love Her" (1960), recorded separately by both Ray Peterson and Ricky Valance. Versions of this answer song were also released by Skeeter Davis and Laura Lee.
- "I'll Save the Last Dance for You" by Damita Jo (1960) answers The Drifters' "Save the Last Dance for Me", sung by Ben E. King (also 1960). Another Damita Jo track, "I'll Be There" (1961), was in response to King's solo hit "Stand by Me" (1960).
- "He'll Have to Stay" (1960) was Jeanne Black's response to Jim Reeves' "He'll Have to Go" (1959), and was answered in turn by Johnny Scoggins' "I'm Gonna Stay" (also 1960).
- "(I Can't Help You) I'm Falling Too" (1960) was Skeeter Davis' response to Hank Locklin's "Please Help Me, I'm Falling", as was Betty Madigan's "I'm Glad That You're Falling" (1960).
- "There's Nothing on My Mind" (1960) was The Teen Queens' response to Bobby Marchan's "There's Something on Your Mind" (also 1960).
- "Yes, I'm Lonesome Tonight" (1960) was Dodie Stevens's response to Elvis Presley's "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" (also 1960).
- "I Really Want You to Know" (1961) was Skeeter Davis' response to Eddy Arnold's "I Really Don't Want To Know".
- "Come on Back, Jack" (1961) written by Shuman and Carr and recorded by Nina Simone, and "Well, I Told You" (also 1961), recorded by The Chantels, are both different responses to "Hit the Road, Jack", written by Percy Mayfield and recorded by Ray Charles.
- "Stay-at-Home Sue" by Linda Laurie and "I'm No Run Around" (both 1961) by Ginger Davis and the Snaps were responses to Dion's "Runaround Sue" (also 1961).
- "Hey Memphis" (1961) was LaVern Baker's response to Elvis Presley's "Little Sister" (also 1961).
- "Don'cha Shop Around" by Laurie Davis and "Don't Let Him Shop Around" by Debbie Dean (both 1961) were responses to The Miracles' "Shop Around" (1960). Both songs were written by Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson.
- "My Big John" (1961) was Dottie West's response to Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad John" (also 1961).
- "My Long Black Veil" (1961) was Marijohn Wilkin's response to Lefty Frizzell's "Long Black Veil" (1959).
- "Return of the Teenage Queen" (1961) was country singer Tommy Tucker's response to Johnny Cash's "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" (1958).
- "Don't Wanna Be Another Good Luck Charm" (1962) was Jo's (of Judy and Jo) response to Elvis Presley's "Good Luck Charm" (also 1962).
- "(I'm the Girl from) Wolverton Mountain" (1962) was Jo Ann Campbell's response to Claude King's "Wolverton Mountain" (also 1962).
- "Judy's Turn to Cry" (1963) was Lesley Gore's response to her own song "It's My Party" (also 1963). Both of these songs appear in her debut album I'll Cry If I Want To.
- "Blackhead Chinaman" (1963) was Prince Buster's response to Derrick Morgan's "Housewives Choice" (1961). Specifically, Buster claimed that Morgan and producer Leslie Kong stole hooks that Buster had created. Morgan responded with "Blazing Fire" and "No Raise, No Praise". The musical feud reportedly engulfed Jamaican culture to a level where the government ordered the two to appear in public together to calm the frenzied nation.
- "It Hurts to Be Sixteen" (1963) was Andrea Carroll's response to Neil Sedaka's "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" (1962). Sedaka wrote the melody to both songs (each with a different lyricist; his brother-in-law Ronnie Grossman wrote the lyrics to "It Hurts to Be Sixteen" while Sedaka's songwriting partner Howard Greenfield wrote "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen").
- "Hello Melvin (This Is Mama)" (1963) was Sandra Gould's answer to "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (A Letter from Camp)" (also 1963), a novelty song by Allan Sherman.
- "Queen of the House" (1965) was Jody Miller's response to Roger Miller's "King of the Road" (1964).
- "That's My Life (My Love and My Home)" (1965) by Alfred Lennon, John Lennon's father, was a response to his son's song "In My Life" (also 1965), recorded by the Beatles.
- "Hurry, Mr. Peters" (1965) by Lorene Mann and Justin Tubb was a response to Roy Drusky and Priscilla Mitchell's "Yes, Mr. Peters".
- "Dawn of Correction" by The Spokesmen is in response to "Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire (both 1965).
- "4th Time Around" (1966) by Bob Dylan is seen as a response to "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" (1965) by the Beatles.
- "Evil Off My Mind" (1966) by Burl Ives was a response to Jan Howard's song "Evil on Your Mind" (1966).
- "When a Woman Loves a Man" (1966) by Ketty Lester was a response to "When a Man Loves a Woman" (also 1966) by Percy Sledge.
- French Johnny Hallyday’s 1966 Cheveux longs et idées courtes is a riposte to a direct, personal mockery in a verse of Antoine’s Élucubrations of the same year; both were hit songs. (See Antoine’s rivalry with Johnny Hallyday).
- "I'm Happy They Took You Away, Ha-Haaa!" (1966) is Josephine XIV's response in the form of Napoleon's wife to Napoleon XIV's "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" (1966).
- "Clothes Line Saga" (1967) by Bob Dylan and the Band is seen as a response to "Ode to Billie Joe" (1967) by Bobbie Gentry.
- "Back in the U.S.S.R." (1968) by The Beatles was a response to "Back in the U.S.A." by Chuck Berry (1959) and "California Girls" by The Beach Boys (1965).
- "Billy, I've Got to Go to Town" (1969) by Geraldine Stevens was a response to "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" by Johnny Darrell (1967).
- "More on Ode to Billie Joe" (1969) by Rodd Rogers (aka Rodd Keith), Terri Peters (aka Teri Thornton), and the MSR Singers was a response to 1967's blockbuster "Ode to Billie Joe" by Bobbie Gentry.
- "Hippie From Olema" (1971) was The Youngbloods' answer to Merle Haggard's country hit, "Okie from Muskogee" (1969).
- "How Do You Sleep?" (1971) was John Lennon's response to "Too Many People" (1971) by ex-Beatle and Lennon's former collaborator Paul McCartney.
- "The Lawrence Welk-Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka" (1972) was Hee Haw host Roy Clark's answer to Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."
- "I'm Mr. Big Stuff" was the 1972 response by Jimmy Hicks to "Mr. Big Stuff" by Jean Knight.
- "(Should I) Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree?" was the 1973 response by Connie Francis to "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando & Dawn.
- "Basketball Jones featuring Tyrone Shoelaces" (1973) was Cheech and Chong's parody of the romantic song "Love Jones" (1972) by Brighter Side of Darkness.
- "Sweet Home Alabama" (1974) was Lynyrd Skynyrd's response to Neil Young's "Southern Man" (1970) and "Alabama" (1972).
- "From His Woman to You" (1975) sung by Barbara Mason was the response to "Woman to Woman" (1974) by Shirley Brown.
- "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (1980) by Joy Division was partly a response to "Love Will Keep Us Together" (1973) by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield.
- "Bad Boy" (1982) by Ray Parker Jr. was a response to his own hit of the same year, "The Other Woman".
- "Major Tom (Coming Home)" (1983) by Peter Schilling was the response to David Bowie's 1969 song "Space Oddity."
- "Superstar" (1983) by Lydia Murdock was an answer song to "Billie Jean" (1983) by Michael Jackson.
- "Taxi (Take Him Back)" was Anne LeSear's 1984 response to J. Blackfoot's 1983 song "Taxi".
- Melba Moore's "King of My Heart" (1985) was an answer song to Billy Ocean's "Caribbean Queen" (1984).
- "Thunder & Lightning" (1986) by Miss Thang was a response to Oran "Juice" Jones's song "The Rain" from the same year.
- Actor Danny Aiello appeared in the Madonna video for "Papa Don't Preach" (1986), as the titular "Papa", and later that year recorded "Papa Wants the Best for You", written by Artie Schroeck, as a representation of the father's point of view.
- "I'm Your Wild Thang" (1989) was Mamado and She's answer to Tone Lōc's "Wild Thing" (1988).
- (Nothing But) Flowers by Talking Heads contains lyrics that are an echo to Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi; "There was a shopping mall, Now it's all covered with flowers ... If this is paradise" in the Talking Heads song, whereas Mitchell sang "They paved paradise, And put up a parking lot ...".
- "Eat The Bee" (1991) was Automation's answer to The Scientist's "The Bee" from 1990.
- Bark Psychosis' Scum (1992) was an answer to Rozalla's Everybody's Free (To Feel Good).
- "Erasure-ish" EP (1992) was Björn Again's answer to Erasure's previous ABBA tribute, "Abba-esque". "Erasure-ish" features two Erasure tracks ("A Little Respect" and "Stop!") performed in the style of ABBA.
- "Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')" (1993) was Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg's answer to Tim Dog's "Fuck Compton" (1991) (as well as being a diss towards Eazy-E).
- "I Wrote Holden Caulfield" (1994) was Screeching Weasel's response to "Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?" (1992) by Green Day.
- Third Eye Blind's song "Semi Charmed Life" (1997) was written as a response to Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side (1972), but from a San Francisco perspective.
- "Live Forever" (1994) by Oasis was a response to "I Hate Myself and Want to Die" (1993) by Nirvana.
- "The Boy Is Mine" (1998) by Brandy and Monica was a response to "The Girl Is Mine" (1982) by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney.
- The Offspring's song "The Kids Aren't Alright" (1998) is named as allusion to The Who's "The Kids Are Alright" (1965).
- After TLC released the song "No Scrubs" in 1999, Sporty Thievz made an answer song called "No Pigeons" that same year.
- "A Pretty Girl Is Like..." (1999) from the album 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields was an answer song to Irving Berlin's "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" according to songwriter Stephin Merritt.
- ”The Medication Is Wearing Off” (1998) from the album Electro-Shock Blues was the Eels (band) answer song to their own 1996 hit Novocaine for the Soul.
- "Heartbreaker (Desert Storm Remix)" by Mariah Carey was a response to "Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can't Have None)" by Snoop Dogg.
- Mexican pop singer Alejandra Guzman’s “Hey Güera” (Hey Blondie) is a response to Paulina Rubio’s “Ese hombre es mío” (That man is mine).
- Woman by Neneh Cherry in 1996 is a response song to 1966's It's a Man's Man's Man's World by James Brown.
- "Old Before I Die" (1997) by Robbie Williams was in response to The Who's "My Generation" (1965), which contains the lyrics "I hope I die before I get old."
- Travis Tritt wrote and released the song "Strong Enough to Be Your Man" in 2002 in response to Sheryl Crow's "Strong Enough" (1994).
- KJ-52 released the song "Dear Slim" (2002) in response to Eminem's song "Stan" (2000).
- "The Night I Fell in Love" by the Pet Shop Boys also refers to Eminem's song "Stan," which in turn mentioned the urban legend that "In The Air Tonight," with which Phil Collins charted in the 1980s, inadvertently sparked. Eminem later made a reference to the Pet Shop Boys in his song "Canibitch."
- "F.U.R.B. (Fuck You Right Back)" (2004) was Frankee's response to Eamon's "Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back)", promoting rumors that the two had been dating. It was the first answer song to reach No. 1 in the United Kingdom. Both songs had topped the charts in that country.
- "You Should Really Know" by The Pirates, Shola Ama, Naila Boss and Ishani (2004) was an answer song to "I Don't Wanna Know" by Mario Winans, Enya and P. Diddy.
- "Good Idea At The Time" (2005) on OK Go's "Oh No" album, was an answer song to the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" (1968): in it, the Devil argues that the historical atrocities enumerated in the original were entirely of human doing.
- "Me and Mr. Jones" (2006) on the Back to Black album by Amy Winehouse was an answer song to - at least a riff off the title of - "Me and Mrs. Jones" (1972), made famous by Billy Paul.
- Camera Obscura made the song "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken" (2006) in response to Lloyd Cole and the Commotions 1984 song "Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?".
- "I Walk Alone," popularized by Tarja Turunen, is a response to "Bye Bye Beautiful" by Nightwish.
- "Menor Que Yo" on Sentimiento (2007) album by Ivy Queen was a response to "Mayor Que Yo", a collaborative single by Daddy Yankee, Hector "El Father", Wisin & Yandel, Baby Ranks, and Tony Tun Tun.
- "Boys, Boys, Boys" (2008) on The Fame album by Lady Gaga was a response to "Girls, Girls, Girls" (1987) by Mötley Crüe.
- "A Baker's Tale" by Dean Friedman (2009, released 2010 on the album Submarine Races) was a response to "The Bastard Son of Dean Friedman" by Half Man Half Biscuit (1987, on the album Back Again in the DHSS). In 2010, Friedman performed his song at a Half Man Half Biscuit concert; and accompanied the band during a performance of theirs.
- Everybody Was in the French Resistance...Now! released an album titled Fixin' The Charts, Vol. 1. As its title suggests, the album contains answer songs to pop hits. "G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N. (You Know I've Got A)", an answer song to Avril Lavigne's hit "Girlfriend", is one example.
- "California Gurls" (2010) by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg was a response to "Empire State of Mind" (2009) by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys. It was the first time both the original song and the answer song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- Marina and the Diamonds' cover of Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" (2012) is an answer song to the original tune, the lyrics adapted to give it a female perspective.
- Lecrae made the song "No Regrets" (2012) in response to "The Motto" (2011) by Drake.
- Ewert and the Two Dragons wrote their song "Jolene" on the album Good Man Down in response to Dolly Parton's 1973 single "Jolene" from the male perspective.
- "Big Girls Cry" on Sia's 2014 album 1000 Forms of Fear is an answer song to Fergie's hit "Big Girls Don't Cry" (2007).
- "Anaconda" by Nicki Minaj (2014) is viewed as an answer to Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" (1992), which is heavily sampled in the song. Whereas Sir Mix-a-Lot focuses on a woman's body and the pleasure it gives him, Minaj raps from the perspective of the unnamed woman, and shows how she uses her callipygian physique to profit and empower herself.
- Ellie Goulding's song "On My Mind" is seen as answer to Ed Sheeran's "Don't" by many critics, although Goulding herself has denied it.
- Christine and the Queens rewrote Beyoncé's Sorry from a male perspective.
- Esmé Patterson published Woman to Woman (2014), an album of seven answer songs from the perspective of famous women in pop songs, including Eleanor Rigby, Billie Jean and The Kinks' Lola.
- "The Quantum Enigma;Kingdom Of Heaven Part II" popularized by Epica is a response to "Kingdom Of Heaven"
- Eels 2018 single "Bone Dry" is an answer to their 2010 single "Fresh Blood". Fresh Blood was itself a sequel to their song "I Want to Protect You".
- "Paper Doll" (2013) by John Mayer is viewed as a response to Taylor Swift's "Dear John" (2010) and also mentions her song "22".
- Coheed and Cambria's 2020 song "Jessie's Girl 2" is a sequel to Rick Springfield's 1981 song "Jessie's Girl". Featuring Springfield himself on the track, the song imagines what would have happened had Springfield succeeding in winning Jessie's girl.
- The lyrics of "Skin" by Sabrina Carpenter which are centered around the highly publicized "love triangle" between Carpenter, Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett, posing as a response to Rodrigo's single "Drivers License". Carpenter, however, has denied the claim that the song is a diss track to Rodrigo.
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- "Answer Records / Sequels", list of Answer Songs from everyhit.com
- B. Lee Cooper and Wayne S. Haney, Response Recordings: An Answer Song Discography, 1950-1990, Scarecrow Press, 1990, ISBN 978-0810823426 (A comprehensive alphabetized list of over 2500 hit tunes that prompted the production of answer songs or other forms of response recordings)
- Answer Songs, Spotify playlist of some of the answer songs on this page