#2. The Animals Change the Narrator's Gender (And Therefore the Whole Point of) "The House of the Rising Sun"
Do you know "The House of the Rising Sun" by the Animals? If you do, relax, I'm not going to rag on it. It's one of the best rock songs of the '60s, and it contains one of the best rock/blues/pop vocals ever. It really is a great song, and I can't say the Animals messed up the original, because no one even knows who wrote the original, and, therefore, it's ripe for reinvention. Nevertheless, even though it's a traditional song, it's traditionally about a woman.
It was about a woman when Woody Guthrie sang it and Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and Nina Simone. Woody and Bob didn't mind that it was about a woman even when they sang it in first person, and Nina and Joan were cool with that, too. And although the lyrics are not overt, it becomes pretty clear that when it's sung in the traditional female perspective, it's about ending up a hooker in a house of prostitution.
Now supposedly the record-buying public wouldn't accept an Animals song about prostitution (which is odd, because no one seemed to mind all those other artists recording versions earlier than the Animals), so they made it about a man. And the house became more of a gambling house rather than a boning for money house ...
"The ruin of many a poor girl" BECAME "The ruin of many a poor boy" (and assorted other gender-based changes)
Great song, but all that power, regret, anger, and sadness would sure as hell make a lot more sense if you were sold into white sexual slavery instead of forced to, I don't know, play cards all the time.
#1. Hilary Duff Adds One Word to a Who Song and Earns a Special Place in Hell
Boy, it's been a long time since anyone said Hilary Duff sucks. Hating on Hilary Duff is so old school, like tooling on Ashlee Simpson or Britney Spears. But hey, I set about to find the worst lyrical changes in music history, and there's just no way not to put this as number one.
"My Generation" is the Who's signature song. But more than a rock 'n' roll classic, it is arguably the theme song for all nihilistic, rebellious youth. It is an anthem about being young and free and stupid. Live hard and leave a pretty corpse.
But if you're Hilary Duff and you suck, you might not want to approve such a negative, anti-authority message. That's fine. There's a solution for that. It's called DON'T DO A COVER OF "MY GENERATION." But sadly, she did, and ...
"I hope I die before I get old" BECAME "I hope I DON'T die before I get old"
Aside from spitting on the band she's covering by altering the intent of their lyrics 180 degrees, the word change also mixes horribly with the rest of the lyrics. Instead of being about a person who believes only youth can be trusted to live life to the fullest, she just seems to hate old people while still hoping to become one! Although, in Hilary's defense, singing a song about embracing short-sighted, selfish half measures probably does describe her generation pretty well.
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