My Beautiful Wickedness

Not-so-good cover songs
May 30, 2007, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We all know the bad cover songs. Shatner singing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, for example. And we know good covers and sampling where the new song is so much better than the original. (Think what Bob Marley did with the Banana Splits theme song in “Buffalo Soldiers.”)

But how about the ones where Randy would say “you know, dog, I don’t know man, I just don’t know…I gotta question your song choice…it just wasn’t working for me.” Or the one where the interpretation just isn’t very good?

One that springs to mind is Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life.” That just warn’t right.

Or Elvis singing “Sweet Caroline” like he’s reading it off a menu and looking for the steak and three egg value breakfast.

What’s your example of the not-so-good cover song?

(Edited to add: Slarti suggests that genre-busting covers are in a special category. This is a great one that gives a bluegrass lift and soul to an already good song:


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The ones that irritate me aren’t anywhere near as awful as Shatner….

Some of them irritate me because I think they shouldn’t be good, and I have the sneaking suspicion that someone thinks they are…

George Michael’s version of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”

People think it’s a better version that the Elton John one and I don’t…

But the title in and of itself is quite the double entendre.

Or Sting covering *himself* fifty times just because he can.

He needs to stop taking those Ego pills…

Comment by imfunny2

See, now I liked “Hard Knock Life” because it was such a WTF?! moment. But to my mind the worst ideas for covers come from anything Puffy touches. Don’t even get me started on his Biggie Tribute. How do we turn a song about stalking into a song about grief?

Comment by Aunt B.

[…] –Bridgett’s talking bad covers. […]

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I love anything by Hayseed Dixie (especially TNT). In fact, I love all genre-busting covers.

Did you know that Bruce Hornsby, Ricky Skaggs, and John Anderson did a kickin’ bluegrass version of Superfreak?

Comment by Slartibartfast

Oh, Slarti, I thought of you yesterday as I was driving around wailing to “Stone in Love”! I loved Steve Perry because he was one of the only male singers that sang in my key.

I haven’t heard the song you mention, but I usually like bluegrass reworks of good songs (like Del McCoury’s version of Richard Thompson’s “1952 Vincent Black Lightning”_. It seems obvious to me now (knowing more about the histories of the guys involved) that the Eagles’ “Already Gone” is really a bluegrass song, structurally, but I haven’t heard it covered yet. (I don’t go to as many festivals as I used to, though…I’d bet Sam Bush has probably torn it up once or twice somewhere.)

Comment by bridgett

Speaking of bluegrass covers, what about the one that has taken on a life of its own? “Fox on the Run,” which is now a complete bluegrass cliche, started out as a Manfred Mann song.

Favorite odd cover: the Gourds doing “Gin and Juice.” Somewhere on the web there is a video of Snoop listening to it; he starts out all visibly “WTF?” but by the end he’s kind of bopping his head in time and almost smiling.

Worst cover ever: Mae West singing Dylan’s “If You Gotta Go.”

Comment by nm

I’m sorry, NM (and others). I agree that Mae West doing Dylan is near sinful..but you kinda expect that from actors (e.g. Shatner) who can’t sing attempting ‘camp’.

The all-time forever Worst freaking cover is Linda Ronstadt doing practically anything, but ESPECIALLY Randy Newman’s ‘Sail Away’. The song is about slave traders and drips with irony and sarcasm. LR’s version is chipper, cheery and effervescent..if she was captain of the song, her ship intended for the new world would have landed in Iceland. Linda has a great voice, but sadly little in the way of nuance. She also butchered Zevon’s ‘Poor Poor Pitiful Me’ and sporked Costello’s ‘Girl’s Talk’. She is the winner of the bad cover sweepstakes by a mile and 3/4ths..

Comment by hutchmo

Oh, switching gears completely, are you familiar with these guys?

Those Darn Accordians is one of my secret pleasures. Their originals are great, but their covers are spectacular. I particulary like “We’re An Accordian Band”, “Whole Lotta Love”, and “Frankenstein”.

If they took themselves seriously, it’s be a different story, but as it is, they’re a hoot! WHo would have ever thought this conservative southern boy would become a big fan of an accordian-based rock band from San Francisco?

Comment by Slartibartfast

Does anybody else remember Pat Boone doing an album of hard-rock covers?

Comment by grbosch

Banana Splits ……

Comment by Mark

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