10 Demos of Famous Songs You Definitely Want to Hear

Check out how raw Nirvana, Michael Jackson, Muse and more ideas sounded like.

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Before being recorded and produced as grade-A masterpieces, each of the rock's all-time classics began as humble raw demo tapes.

FasterĀ Louder recently compiled a list of such demos, presenting us with the early sound of renowned tracks we all know and love. The rundown includes Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with different lyrics, surprisingly shy (and supposedly drunk) Michael Jackson delivering "Billie Jean," Oasis' "Live Forever," Muse's superhit "Plug in Baby" (without its significant guitar riff) and more. Check out the list below.

Nirvana - 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'

Michael Jackson - 'Billie Jean'

Muse - 'Plug in Baby'

Smashing Pumpkins - 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings'

The Beatles - 'Strawberry Fields Forever'

Oasis - 'Live Forever'

Talking Heads - 'Psycho Killer'

The Flaming Lips - 'Do You Realize??'

Blur - 'Beetlebum'

Amy Winehouse - 'He Can Only Hold Her'

52 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Demos are cool because they make great musicians seem human.
    Plus, if anyone is cringing at the sound of their own material, they can rejoice in the knowledge that a lot of famous songs sounded pretty bad when they were in the early stages.
    My thoughts exactly. The vocals often stray and the rhythms aren't tight. This is all fixed by production and rehearsals for live shows. But the demo is where it all starts.
    Plug in Baby doesn't even resemble what it is now other than like.. one spot in the melody.
    It wasn't even called Plug in Baby at that point, it was just a song that they played. As far as I've been aware that demo was un-named and it didn't resemble the song until they started playing it live in 2000 tours. Live at the Astoria, London was a great example of it, epic extended bridge bit after the last chorus, and the lyric 'God is in me' which is actually in that original demo.. Nice to see how the song evolved! (You could say I'm a bit of a fan )
    Get the best riff ever twice? Hell yeah!
    This is the original demo ? Oh my god, this sounds better the some songs after production.
    And remember...this is 1991, so even more impressive. Those awful 4 track tapes...ha!
    Buttercup a day.
    i don't think michael jackson was drunk during that recording. he was probably just improvising over the music til a good idea came out. hence the incomplete sentences and random ideas
    Yeah, often the way artists can get down a rough melody sketch, as well as some nice syllables and words, like you say
    Plug in Baby is really strange without THE riff. Not bad, but strange.
    There's something so amazing about hearing Kurt Cobain screaming out "Smells Like Teen Spirit" before it went on to become one of the most pivotal songs in rock history.
    Live forever demo...back when Liam Gallagher actually had decent voice.
    And according to the doctors, he lost his voice because of the way he stands while singing (you know, curved as ****, hands behind his back and all). It puts too much strain on his vocal cords. The doctors told him to stop and he ignored them. The man is a legend.
    Most of the song still intact, the solo is a work in progress. But that transition lick into the wah part sounds even better here imo.
    This version sounds a lot more like a ballad than the original. The backing chords are actually clear.
    The demo for Bullet With Butterfly Wings has some of the best recorded vocals from Corgan. Nirvana was such a pure band. Whether stripped down, produced, in key or not, they just exude honesty and feeling.
    Would be brilliant if Muse decided to properly record the demo of Plug In Baby, it sounds so detached from the one we all know that they could probably get away with it.
    That version of "Beetlebum" is actually better than the album version, and I love the album version. Coxon and Damon, you ****ing geniuses.
    That rendition of 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings' was a DEMO!? That was one of the most bad-ass acoustic-renditions of any electric song I've ever heard!!!
    Great to see the Flaming Lips here. Such a great song from a great band.
    This was really cool. It confirms what I already believed: a good song performed well works regardless of the quality of the recording.
    Quite interesting. As stated before me, Plug In Baby sounds like a completely different song!
    Not convinced the Smashing Pumpkins track is a demo, surely it's just an acoustic version of the album track?
    The demo for Money by Pink Floyd is different but it's awesome. Should be on this list