Take Cover: Top Ten Bad Cover Songs

I am compiling a list of what I consider the 25 best cover songs of the last 20 years. I will post it soon. But first, here is my “Top Ten List of Notably Bad Covers” of that same period. Not the worst covers ever (there are too many vomit-inducing ones, e.g. Duran Duran covering Public Enemy’s 911 is a Joke, Hillary Duff’s covering My Generation or Mylie Cyrus covering Smells Like Teen Spirit, and of course Britney Spears with I Love Rock n Roll). But most people generally know covers are terrible. Here is rather a list of the covers that actually get hype, but in my opinion don’t hold a candle to the original:DisHonorable mention: Kid Rock -cover(ish) of Sweet Home Alabama. At least he’s doing something creative on this one, so I won’t give him a top 10. But really just trying to cash in here, Kid.

#10 Peter Gabriel- Radiohead’s Fade Out. Granted, its hard to cover effectively several generations after your prime. In any case, it’s not surprising this version leans a bit too theatrical.

#9 Korn- Another Brick in the Wall. I do not know what made them cover this song, except that it sounds kind of angry. Sadly, this makes their best of.

#8 Audioslave -Killing in the Name. First off, I think Chris Cornell is incredible, especially on Badmotofinger. But turns out the vocalist is everything here, and  Zach De La Rocha can do at least one type of rock vocals better than Cornell, who is touted as best rock vocalist ever. But best to stick to your own style.

#7 Jeff Buckley- Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover). I like Jeff Buckley as much as the next guy, but he almost is known to the public only by this cover. Cohen’s song is a masterpiece, and Buckley doesn’t ruin it, but that’s as much as you can say. I realize I will have a lot of dissenters here. I urge them to listen to more Cohen and it may change their mind.

#6 Rage Against the Machine- Housin’ (EPMD original)/ Microphone Fiend (Erik B & Rakim) / anything else on Renegades. The whole covers album misses the mark a bit, with only a couple exceptions. Zach is a good rock-shout-talker, but isn’t really a good rapper.

#5 Limp Bizkit- Faith. I understand they’re trying to be ironic. It just makes them pathetic in addition to terrible.

#4 Mike Ness- Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right. Some people like this version. I think they are all under age 20 and listen only to music with 200+ bpm.

# 3 Tori Amos- Smells like Teen Spirit. I still really, really, really think this was a bad idea. It’s an angsty song, let’s perform it that way. I still guess it’s possible that I don’t get this cover, even 12+ years after I first heard it…but I really, really must be not getting it then.

#2 Madonna- American Pie (Don McLean). You have to be really careful when you tackle covering a classic. Epic fail.

#1 Metallica- Whiskey in the Jar (traditional/Dubliners/Thin Lizzy cover). I guess the Metallica version does rock. But it’s not just the video that fails. What earns this #1 is that the original is one of the finest folk tunes of all time– making it louder doesn’t mean its better. In fact its a lot lot worse. You can bang your head more convincingly to the Dubliners version anyway.


About zoomloco

I zoom-zoom loco like the pony express.
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4 Responses to Take Cover: Top Ten Bad Cover Songs

  1. I actually like Tori Amos’ cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. I don’t like it better than the original, but I’m fond of it. (I know that’s lukewarm praise.) I like that the feel is completely the opposite of the original, and the WTF feeling of, “THAT is what I was singing?”

  2. Pingback: On the Cover: Top 25 Best Cover Songs of the Last 20 Years | Zoom Loco

  3. Josh Katz says:

    Agreed that Buckley should not be known solely for his cover of Hallelujah, but disagree overall with that song being on this list because his version is still awesome. Also, let’s pretend Madonna’s American Pie never happened (I seem to r…ecall that she drops like half the verses). Another to add to your list: Limp Bizkit covered the Who’s Behind Blue Eyes, and it got a lot of radio play back in the early 2000s. Also, it was an abomination.

  4. zoomloco says:

    Math’s thoughts on this: “Great list! First off, let me pass my SAT. Jakob : Bob :: Jeff : Tim. His Hallelujah is horrendous; dude embarrasses the family name. I wish I had a dollar for every person who owned Grace who doesn’t own Various Positions. I would reissue Starsailor. Renegades was fun in hi skool, now it is unbelievably gross, though the worst culprit is of course the Minor Threat butchery (they at least sound like MC5). Amos is unpalatable, but you missed out on Cat Power’s equally atrocious neutering femme covers which have to be worse as Amos at least did hers originally. Also, aren’t you 30 years old? It’s a failURE.”

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