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.
"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.
The fact that this loose stool made the cut for Gray's "Greatest Hits" album proves that nobody in Macy Gray's career is really paying that close attention to it, Gray included. (Also, we have our researchers looking into why the word "hit" is plural in that title). This version of the Aerosmith classic sounds just as you would imagine it to sound: "He told me to walk this way / Talk this way!" Wait, someone told you to talk like an alcoholic who's just sucked back a zeppelin full of helium?
In case you ever wanted to know what Pink Floyd's masterpiece would have sounded like if, instead of using heroin and songwriting to cope with their depression, they'd just used heroin and crystal meth: well, here you go.
Her folksy-country-rock-pop take on this G'N'R classic makes about the same level of sense as recording "Layla" without all those noisy guitars. Or "In the Air Tonight" without those troublesome drums. Or porn without that pesky physical contact of any sort whatsoever. If you got Sheryl Crowe and Axl Rose on one of those SAT analogy things, the paper would probably catch on fire and self-destruct.
We are not making this one up. Duran Duran's Public Enemy cover is perhaps the most ridiculously mismatched since Pat Boone's "Tutti Frutti" or Haley Joel Osment's "Face Down, Ass Up." (Okay, one of those was made up.) Just how deluded do you have to be to cover this song not just as a bunch of white guys, but as a bunch of the
We're going to let this musical AIDS do the talking here. There's really nothing to say, though Dylan's butchering of Van Morrison's "And It Stoned Me" does leave us with one question: what the fuck did Van Morrison ever do to Bob Dylan? It should also be noted that Bob Dylan didn't bother to learn more than a third of the lyrics before performing this, the Worst Cover Song in Pop Music History.
The flow of time is cruel to us all.