Gina Vivinetto’s Greatest Hits

Truly awful cover songs

I was writing a blog post for another site about cover songs and it got me cringing while recounting some of the worst offenders. I’m talking the real doozies. What set me off was thinking about Madonna. Her cover of Don Maclean‘s “American Pie” is like the suckiest thing you’ve ever heard, right?

Well, maybe not. What other cover songs suck? Let’s try to think of a bunch and then have a vote. Surely I can look around my house for a suitable prize – an old BMX trophy? (Another story for another day). You know the rules: I start the list, you add. Ready?

* Whitney Houston singing Dolly Parton‘s “I Will Always Love You.” Whitney took a folksy song full of feeling and turned into a bombastic FM nightmare.
* “Big Yellow Taxi” when sung by Amy Grant. What sort of hubris allows you to cover Joni Mitchell?
* Hillary Duff doing The Who’s “My Generation.” Seriously? I bet she would cry if a guy smashed a guitar onstage next to her.
* While we’re on the subject of The Who, Limp Bizkit’s cover of “Behind Blue Eyes.”
* Britney Spears doing Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock N Roll”. (Yes, I know Joan’s version was a cover of the Arrows song). It didn’t help that Britney told reporters she thought Pat Benatar sang it first.
* Avril Lavigne attempting Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”
* Miley Cyrus doing Cyndi Lauper‘s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
* Korn doing Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall.”
* Faith Hill’s sanitized, sterilized version of the Janis Joplin classic “Piece Of My Heart.”
* Moby doing Mission of Burma‘s “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver.”
* Pat Boone should have been flogged for touching Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti.” The song is supposed to swing, Pat.
* Orgy doing New Order‘s “Blue Monday.”
*I almost can’t type this through the laughter: Duran Duran’s wrongheaded cover of “911 Is A Joke” by Public Enemy.
* Motley Crue‘s insipid version of the Sex Pistol‘s “Anarchy In The U.K.” Just because you shoot smack doesn’t mean you’re punk.
* Lenny Kravitz adding his special brand of dull to the Guess Who‘s “American Woman.”
* Natalie Merchant‘s warbly “Because The Night,” which had a lot more allure when sung by Patti Smith. (I know, I know, she wrote it with Bruce).
* Fall Out Boy doing Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”
* U2‘s “All Along the Watchtower.” Jimi wept in heaven.

Okay, now you add yours. Let’s keep this momentum going!

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13 thoughts on “Truly awful cover songs

  1. WORST – Lenny Kravitz adding his special brand of dull to the Guess Who’s “American Woman.”

    BEST – Moby doing Mission of Burma’s That’s When I Reach For My Revolver.”

  2. ginavivinetto on said:

    Moby’s version is only good if you haven’t heard the original.

  3. That’s easy. Scarlett Johanson (sp?) doing an album’s worth of TOM WAITS songs.

  4. ginavivinetto on said:

    Oh my god, you’re so right.

  5. Tim McGraw covering Tiny Dancer—truly earsplitting

    Too Live Crew covering/satirizing Born in the USA as Banned in the USA

    The remake of C.W. McCall’s Convoy

  6. Garth Carson on said:

    The Worst: I don’t even remember the name of the pop/ punk outfit that tried to cover Don Henley’s ‘Boys of Summer’ about 5 yrs. back, but it definitely blew. Definitely.

    The Best: John Frusciante’s cover of the ‘Tiny Dancer’ chorus. Not for everyone, but I dig it quite a bit.

  7. the band who covered boys of summer was the ataris, i think. why do i know this?

    ALSO. worst cover song. you should have more contests like this.

    i’m torn between limp bizkit(!) doing the who’s “behind blue eyes” (just fucking wretched) and alanis morrissette’s version of “my humps” (so embarrassing i couldn’t even listen to the whole thing).

    as for best?
    i like the arcade fire cover of “born on a train” by the magnetic fields
    and a band called junip covers “the ghost of tom joad” (springsteen!) and it’s pretty amazing.

    oh, and can nico’s version of “these days” count as a cover?!!!

  8. WAIT WAIT LAST MINUTE ADDITION

    i’m going to win.

    drumroll please…….

    nickelback’s cover of “saturday night’s alright” (originally by mr elton j).
    oh, and if that isn’t bad enough, the video of it i happened to see is like.. an anime video game. please. watch it on youtube. you need to.

  9. Best cover: Some guy on youtube doing that song “Chocolate Rain” as Darth Vader. Here’s the link:

    You’re welcome, it’s my pleasure.

  10. Molly McMahon on said:

    Gwen Stefani butchered Talk Talk’s version of “It’s My Life”. I cringe every time I hear it.

  11. Kevin Croitz on said:

    Rem covering Roger Miller’s King of the Road, a drunken orgy of bad singing and playing, they forgot the lyrics somewhere in the middle of the song, old Dean Martin did a better job of it, yikes

  12. Pingback: On the subject of really bad cover songs « Gina Vivinetto’s Greatest Hits

  13. Kevin Croitz on said:

    I have a real nice cover song, instead of the crap ones, its J Mascis covering Bowie’s Quicksand

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