History of 'Hound Dog': Inside the journey from Big Mama Thornton, to Elvis, to Doja Cat

How did this iconic song transform into a modern hit?
Doja Cat
Photo credit Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Baz Luhrmann’s box office biopic ElLVIS has spurred new interest in Elvis Presley’s discography, particularly the 1956 hit “Hound Dog.”

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Switched on Pop
Elvis, Big Mama Thornton, Doja Cat, and the Long Legacy of “Hound Dog”
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The original “Hound Dog,” released in 1953, was written by songwriter team Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and performed by Big Mama Thornton. “When we listen closely to the music, the narrative of musical theft from ‘Hound Dog’ specifically is just a bit more complicated than it seems,” says Switched on Pop co-host Nate Sloan.

Over the years, some have accused Presley of stealing Thorton’s orginal song. Sonically, Thornton delivers a classic blues sound, while Presley delivers an upbeat groove with evident similarities. According to Switched on Pop, Stoller tells Rolling Stone in an interview that Presley actually adapted one of many covers of the song, specifically the version by Freddie Bell and the Bellboys.

Moreover, Doja Cat’s “Hound Dog” cover “Vegas,” has become a massive success. The contemporary version, from the ELVIS soundtrack, heavily samples the original record. Thornton’s vocals can be heard throughout Doja’s rendition, along with the modernized blend of rapping and singing. The latest episode of Switched on Pop, takes a closer look at the history of “Hound Dog,” from Big Mama Thornton, to Elvis, to Doja Cat.

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