The 10 Worst Covers Ever

Okay, I’m exaggerating somewhat.  “Worst ever” is always a subjective thing, and you’ll probably disagree with some of my choices.  But I do know a thing or two about covers.  I have performed original material and I have performed many covers over the years.  I teach guitar, so I play other artist’s and band’s songs all the time.  Most people want to play a song exactly as they remember it, and why not?  That’s what they have heard and loved.

What makes a great cover, in my humble opinion, is an artist or a band that makes the song their own.  This is not an easy task.  To make a song your own, you have to have some element that stays true to the original.  Like, it should be recognizable :-).  But then you have to make it better.  And that’s the hard part.  Some artists and bands just play it their own way and it works.  But others over do the “original” idea and ruin the song all together.  The worst, however, is when a band or artist stays too true to the original.  If you’re going to do that, why bother?

I will probably post a list of my favourite covers in future, but for the time being, here is my list of covers that didn’t do it for me.  Below you can listen to each version and judge for yourself.

Sweet Dreams – Marilyn Manson – Oh my.  If ever a song was butchered, this is the one.  But I think that’s what sweet Marilyn wanted, didn’t he?  Why Annie ever let him (or her) do it, I’ll never know.

Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting – Nickelback – there’s a “love to hate Nickelback” thing going on here in Canada.  I don’t mind them.  But the song simply has too many chords for these guys to handle.  Not power chords, guys, actual chords.  I originally heard this at a hockey game and I was completely dismayed.  It was even more disappointing to find out that a Canadian band was responsible.

Love Hurts – Nazareth – I have never liked this song, no matter how many times I’ve heard it.  The howling lead vocal just destroys an otherwise lovely melody.  Sorry.

California Girls – David Lee Roth -again, another terrible vocal.  I can’t help but see self-involved David Lee prancing around on stage in his lycra pants everytime I hear it.  No wonder Van Halen got rid of him :-).  But all kidding aside, the original had a lot of vocals and I really don’t think it was meant to be a solo.  Definitely loses something in the translation.

Beast of Burden – Bette Midler I love Better Midler but I’ve never understood why she recorded this song.  Was it just filler?  It didn’t suit her voice or style at all.  She tries to get down and growly, but that only makes it worse.

My Way – Sex Pistols No.

Superstition – Jonas Brothers Okay, let’s face it, no version of Superstition can live up to Stevie Wonder‘s version. The Jonas Brother’s performing with Stevie himself on an awards show, however, was so awful, I wondered why Stevie even said yes.  Little boys trying to sing such a balsy song just doesn’t work.  Stick to the pop/rock, fellas.

Slow Hand – Conway Twitty – the twang in his vocal just doesn’t suit the bluesy original by the Pointer Sisters.  And somehow the idea of a country guy singing about…well, how to pleasure a woman…feels somehow yucky.  It just ain’t right.

Superstar – Sonic Youth – I almost get what this version was trying to accomplish. It was trying to be dark and even a little weird. And it was. But not a good weird.

Dock of the Bay – Michael Bolton Michael Bolton, I think, prides himself on being a great soul singer.  And he is.  But he did a re-make of just about every soul song out there, and it was too much.  He should have stayed with newer, more original material like the songs he sang the demos for, for so many years.

What do you think?  Disagree with me??  I’d be happy to hear your comments 🙂
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  1. You put up some interesting choices on your list. I am not a song writer, just love music. I disagree on Sonic Youth and Sex Pistols/Sid Vicious choices only because I grew up on punk and love the anti-establishment artistic stance. Nickelback, I did not hear this one before I saw it here. I like the sound of it, but think there is just something missing, like emotional frustration or angst- just something I can’t put my finger on. But I feel that in a lot of songs. David Lee Roth is always cheeky so I would expect this and it is just meant as fun. The others, I totally agree with you! I won’t even look at the Jonas Bros or Bolton ones – I will trust you on those, lol.

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