We’ve all encountered that unsettling feeling upon hearing a beloved song redone by another artist. What were they thinking? How dare they try to redo this song! While we are powerless to prevent these clowns from trashing the originals, we can call them out on it. There are plenty more nasty cover tunes out there, but here I’ll list 10 of the worst offenders I’ve found to date…
10. Bonnie Tyler – “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
Bonnie Tyler is the female Meat Loaf: she records those epic Jim Steinman songs, her performances are over the top, she uses the line “I will do anything for love, but I won’t do that” (on her song “Getting So Excited”), and she now sits at home on Friday nights desperately waiting for VH1 Classic to call with a gig. She is best known for her monster hit, “Total Eclipse of The Heart”, but her attempt to eclipse some great songs on her 1983 album, “Faster Than The Speed of Night”, failed totally. In addition to her vocal shredding of this CCR classic, she rips up the Bryan Adams tune “Straight From The Heart” on this same record.
9. Michael Bolton – “When A Man Loves A Woman” (Percy Sledge)
When a man loves a woman, is he supposed to appeal to her as if he is in the middle of a proctology exam that has gone horribly wrong? When a man loves a woman, is he to have more fabulous hair than she? When a man loves a woman, is the best way to her heart to utterly ruin classic R&B? Check out this video of his live duet with Percy Sledge: the side by side comparison makes my point and then some.
8. Toad the Wet Sprocket – “I Want To Rock And Roll All Night” (Kiss)
For the record, Toad the Wet Sprocket is one of my favorite bands of all time…but what were they thinking when they did a slow-as-the postal-service acoustic cover of the greatest rock and roll anthem of all time? They play and sing this Kiss classic as if they were hung-over. “You drive us wild, we’ll drive you crazy” never sounded more insincere.
7. Emery – “All I Want” (Toad the Wet Sprocket)
Time for a little revenge…perhaps in an attempt to “show them what it feels like to have your song slaughtered”, hard rock band Emery has covered both Toad the Wet Sprocket and Bonnie Tyler (“All I Want” on “Punk Goes 90s” and “Holding Out for a Hero” on “Punk Goes 80s”, respectively). “All I Want” was a beautifully uplifting song originally done by Toad the Wet Sprocket in 1992, but Emery managed to pummel it to a pulp and beat out all of its light.
6. Scissor Sisters – “Comfortably Numb” (Pink Floyd)
The progression of feelings here is: laughter, disbelief, sorrow, nausea. If you are not familiar with Scissor Sisters, they make the Bee Gees sound like that dude from Crash Test Dummies. They will make you uncomfortably numb with their disco version of this Pink Floyd classic, sung entirely in a grating, high-pitched falsetto. You’ve been warned – click if you dare.
“Embedding disabled by request” – why, you idiots?
5. Pat Boone – “Crazy Train” (Ozzy Osbourne)
Pat Boone got drunk one month and decided it would be a neat idea to cut an entire record of cover tunes…of some of the hardest rocking songs ever! The record, “Pat Boone: In A Metal Mood – No More Mr. Nice Guy” is laugh out loud hilarious. Perhaps this is what he was going for, and nothing makes me laugh more than his rendition of Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” (especially the shuffle at the end of the chorus). But what really takes the cake…the background singers actually sing “Choo choo”!
4. Filter – “One” (Harry Nilsson)
This song was originally written by Nilsson in 1968, but the best known version is the stupendous ‘one’ by Three Dog Night recorded ‘one’ year later. Three decades later the song had a sudden revival. This horrifying cover of “One” by the alternative rock band Filter appeared on the soundtrack to the “X-files” movie in 1998. Also in the 90s, Aimee Mann recorded it for a Nilsson tribute album (her version is much better, though!)
3.William Hung – “I Believe I Can Fly” (R. Kelly)
William Hung is unequivocally the most catastrophic thing to come out of American Idol, other than Ryan Seacrest’s radio show. William Hung is exceptional in that he landed a record deal for NOT being able to sing…oh wait, isn’t that the rule these days? Hung’s entire album, “Inspiration” (2004), is atrocious, but I’ll only torture your ears with this one song. Take the Hung challenge…see if you can perform an entire song without singing a single note in key!
2. Sid Vicious – “My Way” (Paul Anka/Frank Sinatra)
“My Way” was written by Paul Anka based on a French tune, but was made famous by Frank Sinatra and later Elvis. In 1978, Sid Vicious (Sex Pistols) infamously performed a version of “My Way” that is almost unrecognizable. Sometimes you can punk a song, but this one just falls flat. He puts the audience out of their misery at the end of this disturbing video. (Thanks (?) to my good friend Jerry Boyd at SideBMusic for bringing this one to my attention!)
1. Paul Anka – “Eye of the Tiger” (Survivor)
And in this corner…we have what has got to be a joke. Back in his prime, Paul Anka could do no wrong, but oh how things have changed. He is still doing things ‘his way’, but someone needs to tell him to stop. His 2005 album, “Rock Swings”, consists of – you guessed it – swing versions of pop and rock songs. The album should have been subtitled “Rock Swings (and misses)”. There are so many dreadful covers to pick from on this record, but I’m going with the swing version of Survivor’s 1982 classic “Eye Of The Tiger” to top our list. Mostly because he actually purrs at the end! All we need now is for Anka to come out of his tanning bed once again to team up with Pat Boone to butcher some Led Zeppelin.
And there you have it, folks…ten of the lousiest cover tunes I know of…sorry! If you know of some you’d like to share, leave a comment…if it is bad enough, I may include it in a sequel!