It's one thing to cover a song and just suck at it -- shitty, drunken bar bands and delusional, tone-deaf YouTube kids do that all the time. But there's something way worse out there: professional musicians taking somebody else's tune and perhaps playing it functionally, but missing the point and butchering the original song's message so completely that it would've been more fitting if they replaced all the lyrics with hand farts. These covers display such an angry disregard for leaving things the way they are that you'd swear they were created by Windows 10.
6ZZ Top Covered A Song About Selling Crack
ZZ Top has exactly as much hip-hop cred as you'd expect a bunch of old white Texans to have. It's a surprise that they even became popular musicians, considering that they look less like a rock band and more like a group that would chase Hobbits out of the Misty Mountains. Not that this stopped them from covering DJ DMD's 1998 anthem "25 Lighters," despite clearly having absolutely no clue what everybody was rap-hopping about.
Spoiler: It's crack. Lots and lots of nutritious crack.
Here's the DMD original, in all its late-'90s Biggie block party glory:
And here's ZZ Top, turning it into the musical manifestation of a tiny turd that clings to your asscrack hair and refuses to drop, no matter how much you toilet shimmy. It's a song that just won't go away with any method that lets you keep your dignity:
Dear ZZ Top: This song isn't just about having money but rather how you got it. And you got it by being a hardcore drug dealer -- those "25 lighters on [your] dresser" aren't filled with butane, no sir, but rather crack. You're going to empty them out, clean them, refill them with rocks, and then sell them to people who smoke crack. That's how you get paid, not just because you're awesome and your rims are super-shiny.
How did Top think their protagonist made "25 mill" and could afford "25 fly diamonds in [his] ring" -- by selling low-grade weed? Did they even think about it that much? My guess is, since they only vaguely mention the "toil of a ghetto hustler" when talking about the song, they didn't consider exactly what he was hustling, only that he was. It would certainly explain the title change. After all, who gives a fuck about a bunch of 40-cent plastic Bics when there's money and cool-ass cars and women wearing just enough clothing to satisfy the legal requirement? You know, despite those lighters being the song's entire point.
Warner Brothers Records
DJ DMD needed the money to finally upgrade to CDs.
Hip-hop is all about authenticity, and three rich white dudes pushing 70 unknowingly yakking about street-selling hard drugs seems the exact opposite of that. Unless, of course, ZZ Top's secretly breaking bad and we don't know about it. After all, staying sharp-dressed ain't cheap, and nobody buys music anymore. But plenty still buy drugs! It's either that or be totally out-of-touch and irrelevant -- when you're a rock star, I'm not sure which is worse.
5Big & Rich Completely Missed The Joke In "Fight For Your Right (To Party)"
Satire is hard. Especially when you forget to include the wink-nudge punchline that lets other people in your Facebook feed know that, haha, the joke man is making the jokes again. This is exactly what happened with The Beastie Boys and their ode to both partying and parentheses spamming, "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)." You probably have it stuck in your head already, but fuck you, now it's in your head double:
As we've mentioned before, the song actually mocks frat-boy assholes who throw wild parties and act like ignorant shitheads to anyone who isn't them, especially if they have icky girl cooties. So what happens when nobody gets your joke? Assholes like Big & Rich take it dead seriously, as evidenced by their straight-ahead cover of "(You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Part)y":
Part of the issue is The Beasties played their part too well. They acted like perfect little pricks in their video, obscured the joke by writing an entire album of songs just as juvenile and stupid as "(You) Gotta (Fight) For Your (Right) (T)o Party," and forgot to first earn a reputation that would make anybody conclude, "Oh those silly Beasties, they're doing a gag." It's like if Jonathan Swift actually ate a baby before mockingly suggesting everyone else do the same.
Big & Rich, meanwhile, absolutely had a pre-song reputation: They were good ol' party-down country boys who would not rest for an instant until every horse was saved and every cowboy ridden. There's no sly aside to why they fight -- when they say they want to PARRRRRRRTYYYYY, they mean it.
Rick Diamond/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Holy shit, is that Beetlejuice?!
They didn't change many lyrics, but the few they did change showcased just how badly they whiffed The Beasties' point. Most egregiously, they edit the line "Your mom threw away your best porno mag" to "Your mom threw away your best country mag." Which actually makes us side with the mom. Country magazines shouldn't exist, and if your kid has one, you should throw it away immediately, set the garbage can on fire, and move to a country that has no country magazines.
This "safe" lyric change is proof of how far from the joke they truly were, a point further evidenced by how they sang the follow-up "busted" line. While The Beasties did it as a semi-audible poke at their friend who just lost their wank book, Big & Rich sang it loud and sang it proud: BUSTEEEEEDDDD. This cover is the song that paranormal investigators would play if they were trying to rid a house of Johnny Cash's ghost.
As Mike D said in a 2011 interview, "There were tons of guys singing along to 'Fight For Your Right' who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them." Big & Rich covered "(((((())))))))" just the year before. I'm guessing Mike heard their pathetic bleating and felt he had to finally clear the air about their Immodest Party Proposal before it spread any further. So, how many frats and assholes we still got out there?
Oh, that many?
Sorry Mike, you tried.