Covering other people's material is a mainstay in pop music. Why bother taking the time to write an original song when you can just recycle somebody else's hit, redo it with an acoustic guitar (or, if it's an acoustic song, with an electric guitar) and generate the same result? But it doesn't always work out as planned, especially if you don't bother to figure out what made the original song popular in the first place (or in the case of our #1 choice, even bother to learn the damn lyrics first). Below, 20 great songs that received sound butcherings by artists who should've known better. A lot better.
"You Shook Me All Night Long" - Celine Dion and Anastasia
This is the perfect song to play if you've just ingested poison and urgently need to induce vomiting. But even if it's a life or death situation, you might want to think twice before clicking play. While it may save your life, you will be haunted by the image of Celine Dion playing air guitar for the rest of your days.
"Downtown Train" - Rod Stewart
Did Rod Stewart just wake up one day in 1977 and decide to become a pathetic, grotesque parody of himself? Or did he ease into it over time, like a pair of his stretched-beyond-relief leather pants? "Lead singer of The Faces"-era Rod was known to drop some kick-ass covers. But then came the "shoulder pads and blow-dried '80s"-era Rod and this nauseating version of Tom Waits' "Downtown Train." All you need to know about post-Faces Rod can be encapsulated in the seizure he has at the 15-second point of this video. It's like he remembers that there is such a thing as rocking out, has a vague sense that people used to enjoy it when he rocked out, but can't muster up enough enthusiasm to do anything other than awkwardly twitch his head back.
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door" - Guns N Roses
To be honest, G'N'R could have taken three places all on their own. In addition to the 10-minute "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", Axl Rose also drilled out overlong, tepid versions of "Live and Let Die" and "Sympathy for the Devil," managing to hit an unlikely trifecta of brutalizing The Stones, McCartney and Bob Dylan in a single badly chosen career.
"Demolition Man" - Manfred Mann
"I'm a walking nightmare, an arsenal of doom / I kill conversation as I walk into the room." This sums up Manfred Mann's music quite nicely, actually. They struck gold with their cover of Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light," but one hit does not excuse the litany of brutal covers with which they've ear-raped us with before and since, from The Jam's "Going Underground" to Dylan's "It's All Over Now (Baby Blue)". But the absolute nadir is probably this, their slaughter of The Police's "Demolition Man," which somehow manages to beat out Sylvester Stallone for the title of worst Demolition Man ever.