Almost by definition, cover songs are crap. It is rare when a cover song stands up as well or better than the original. And that’s the key, because if a song isn’t up to par with the original, why record it again? What’s the point?
Most bad cover songs either cause you to roll your eyes (Limp Bizkit covering the Who) or giggle (Celine Dion covering AC/DC). But there are some that go ten steps beyond that. There are some covers that make you think “What were they thinking?” at best and “HOW DARE YOU!” at worst. These are the worst of the worst.
What??!! He’s ripping on Johnny Cash??!! Murder him!!!
Settle down. There’s something to be said here. First of all, I loved the video. It was a hauntingly beautiful tribute to the man’s incredible career, and Trent Reznor’s music was a good soundtrack to it. But look at the song by itself. What is it? It’s the sound of an old man dying. That style works in some tunes like “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” and “Ain’t No Grave,” but here it only injects a good song with a dose of old man smell.
“I’m Eleanor Rigby”? This song did not need a first-person perspective, and it certainly didn’t need to be “souled up a bit.” I don’t think this song can be done in any way that isn’t dark and morose, and this is proof that one shouldn’t try to change that.
When I was in my late-teens and early-20s, I had this belief that pop artists of that era and their fans really just did not understand music, and they didn’t give a shit that they didn’t. There was no real appreciation for quality song craftmanship and no reverence for artists who treated music like the powerful art form that it is. I saw evidence in Usher calling Bob Dylan “Bill” and Avril Lavigne pronouncing David Bowie’s surname in a manner that made it rhyme with a child’s “owwie!”
Britney Spears provided the ultimate “I don’t give a shit about music” moment with this song. It’s not that the Joan Jett version is a music masterpiece, and it’s not that Brit did anything to it that one wouldn’t have expected. What makes this one especially bad is the revelation that Brit didn’t even know whose song she was covering. How’s that for “knowing where you came from”?
Wherever children are suffering, Bono is there. To add insult to injury of those inflicted with AIDS in Africa, Bono united every attention-hungry artist of 2001 to create “We Are the World Part 2” in the form of a cover of Marvin Gaye’s anti-Vietnamm classic. The result: nobody bought the song, and thousands more died of AIDS. Seriously, did anybody ever believe that the Backstreet Boys gave a shit about AIDS in Africa? How about Britney Spears? Puff Daddy? Jennifer Lopez? Nelly? Christina Aguillara? In total, 23 “artists” placed their hands on the hatchet that murdered this song all in the name of “Hey, look at me!”
The Sex Pistols and Motley Crue both have four members. They both play instruments. They are both all-male bands. Those are the similarities. The list of differences would break the internet. The original was a primal scream on behalf of the working-class Brits who were fed up with their given lot in 70s England. Sounds like a great tune for a bunch of strip-club frequenting, “we’re bad boys because we say we are” cross-dressers from the cocaine cesspool that was LA in the 80s.
What Sheryl Crow did to this song is the equivalent of giving Clint Eastwood a sex change operation. The original was a power ballad that actually had some power (with just a hint of cheese). To boot, it had what I consider to be the best guitar riff ever. And this former school teacher listened to all that power and decided it needed to be fitted for a pair of Birkenstocks. What makes it worse? The Grammys.
The original is slow, but it makes your soul cry tears of blood. The cover is just plain boring. They just take the original and add some distortion to it. I didn’t ask for distortion in this song. Did you ask for distortion in this song? I didn’t think so.
When word got out that Madonna was covering “American Pie,” it was kind of like watching a man walk slowly towards an active buzzsaw. One would think, “Well, he’s obviously not going to keep walking. He has to stop, I mean . . . it’s a buzzsaw. Why would he . . . oh, he’s not stopping. Why isn’t he stopping? His eyes are open. He can see it. Why won’t he stop . . . oh, he didn’t stop . . . ewwwww.”
Who was asking for this? Seriously, who told this @$$hole that this was a good idea? She should have gone to prison for this.
Pardon me, “Hope I don’t die before I get old”??? Did you really just do that? Do you have ANY idea what that song is supposed to represent? Any at all? You might as well have re-written the Declaration of Independence to read as a pledge of perpetual allegiance to the British crown. Seriously, how dare you.
Sometimes songs represent something bigger. This recording represents a dark and shameful period of our nation’s history. It’s a black eye on every ideal our nation is supposed to stand for. Forget about the massive de-balling of this Rock ‘n Roll founding father (and there is plenty of that going on here). What’s infinitely worse is the fact that the only reason this recording exists is so white people didn’t have to listen to a black man sing to them. The original was and is to this day a massive powerhouse that should be a uniter; something that gets everyone to jump around like happy idiots on the dance floor. Unfortunately, they didn’t want everybody on the same dance floors back then. So we get this ode to whiteness for your finger-snapping pleasure. “How dare you” doesn’t say enough.