The Five Worst Cover Songs Of All Time

Categories: Music

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Taking a classic song that's perfectly fine as is and exhuming it for financial gain is awful enough, but when the result comes out sounding excremental, you want to cover the new artist with a blanket and make them stop.

Here are my 10 least favorite cover tunes:


(1) Britney Spears, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."

This one placed a giant "Huh?" into everyone's eardrums when it arrived in 2000. Had Britney even heard of the Stones? Had she known longing or yearning, other than wondering how to match her mouth to the voice being piped in at concerts? This tonedeaf version of a rock classic was shamefully devoid of energy and range. At age 110, Mick will still do it the best because no one simulates hip-strutting frustration like he does!


(2) Gloria Estefan, "Everlasting Love" (1994)

I like Gloria, but this was a cookie-cutter version of one of everyone's favorite bubblegum pop tunes (which had already been covered at least three times already, the best being Carl Carlton's rollicking version in '74). Why dredge up a nice little pop moment if you're not going to reinvent it, or at least match it in spirit? The whole thing had an air of pointlessness about it, which contrasted with the pleasing pointlessness of Carlton's version.


(3) Gloria Estefan, "Turn The Beat Around"

I hate to rag on Gloria again--like I said, I like her--but Vicki Sue Robinson's 1976 original was passionate, quirky, personal, and exciting--a real disco classic that kept percolating and mounting and driving you nuts with danceable delight. Again, Gloria went through the motions while smoothing out the edges (also in '94) and the result didn't turn anything around except my hand to turn it off!


(4) Alicia Keys, "A House is Not A Home"

Alicia did this Bacharach/David gem on the 2004 Grammy Awards, and while the lady is usually brilliant, this time she flopped, seeming to have no clue as to how to convey the depths of despair the song spoke to. (Luther Vandross's creamy, slow, inspired version was the best one by far. Interestingly, her version was intended as a tribute to the late Luther.) As I wrote at the time, Alicia seemed to think it was actually a song about furniture.


(5) Madonna, "American Pie," 2000

Sorry to make this list all women, but it's impossible to leave out this unnecessary, pseudo-danceable revamp of the weird 1971 Don McLean number about America's lost hopes--or something--which almost made sense when McLean himself sang it. I said almost! But with Madonna doing it, it seemed as depoliticized as decontextualized as her later film Swept Away. Hey, this was the same year as Britney's "Satisfaction" remake. Lost hopes indeed!


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25 comments
robjohnsonnyc69
robjohnsonnyc69

Alicia Keys seems nice, is pretty and a decent piano player but her music is pretty lame. Where do you hear these songs? I make sure to avoid such junk. My vote would be Bowie's 'Heroes' by The Wallflowers. They took a great song and homogenized it. Awful.

fffghyhjmnnm
fffghyhjmnnm

Did you forget Marky Mark doing "Good Vibrations?" I'll give a couple more men. "Come Together" by Michael Jackson is terrible, and I liked Aerosmith's version! If you allow rap remakes like the Marky Mark one the list could go on and on. Limp Bizkit singing Pink Floyd at the 9/11 concert is burned into my memory, too.

I've been spared hearing the cover of "turn the Beat Around." I was in elementary school when the original came out and everyone loved it. I would play the records at the dances and that 45 was worn out. Great songs should be re-released, not covered. I don't know what happened to Madonna. She never seemed like a friendly person but she was fun and she's not now.

bethesda
bethesda

Please, exackerly. Those are all campy remakes. Some of them were intended to be bad. Musto's talking about things that were supposed to be good.  That's much more interesting than your facile list.

exackerly
exackerly

These aren't even close to the 5 worst. 

Milton Berle, Yellow Submarine

Mae West, Great Balls of Fire

Pat Boone, Stairway to Heaven

Pat Boone, Tutti Frutti

Pat Boone, Papa's Got a Brand New Bag

 

bethesda
bethesda

Nothing is worse than Madonna's American Pie. So sorry that mad1here has to be so very publicly wrong. Embarrassing.

mad1here
mad1here

No.  You're wrong on Madonna's cover of American Pie.  Had you said Sheryl Crow "Sweet Child 'O Mine" you would've been correct.

olflattop
olflattop

'WIthout You'--Mariah Carey screeching her way through the saddest love song ever written

olflattop
olflattop

'WIthout You'--Mariah Carey screeching her way through the saddest love song ever written

epac666
epac666 topcommenter

Celine Dion performing "You Shook Me All Night Long" live...

jayschiavone1
jayschiavone1

The designation of Britney's "Satisfaction" as worst is fitting save for the subsequent appearance of Mick Jagger on air with La Spears on MTV during a warm-up show for the VMAs.  He was asked what he thought of the cover and he felt obliged to say it was great. Humbled on live TV, as he was on The Ed Sullivan Show when he was compelled to sing "Let's Spend Some Time Together."

I just listened to a recording of Anthony Newley singing "Goldfinger," though I would be hard-pressed to decide if it belongs on the worst- or best-covers list.  I have the impression that he listened to Shirley Bassey and thought to himself, "I am going to kill this."

KWNYC
KWNYC

I would add Faith Hill's "Piece of my Heart" and BritBrit's "I Love Rock and Roll."

latenitebump
latenitebump

madonna love don´t live here anymore.

hound dog elvis presley

tutti fruiti  pat boone.

kylie minogue  locomotion

regine´s version of i will survive in french.

i liked britney´s and gloria´s.

williamHK
williamHK

Alicia Keys is never brilliant and that's only 5 sweetums.

bethesda
bethesda

And what's wrong with a song about furniture, lol?

SavannahMontgomery
SavannahMontgomery

"Alicia seemed to think it was actually a song about furniture. "

HAHAHA!!!!

mad1here
mad1here

@bethesda If it makes you happy to believe that, you go right ahead.

fffghyhjmnnm
fffghyhjmnnm

@jayschiavone1 I just recently read that David Bowie is an Anthony Newly fan and listening to some of his music in that light was interesting.

fffghyhjmnnm
fffghyhjmnnm

@latenitebump I loved that Madonna song. I am ashamed to say I'm ignorant of the original but going to youtube now.

thank you this is nice. the only Rose Royce song I know is Car Wash.

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