They Wrong the Songs

A few weeks back we presumptuously told you what are the 40 coolest cover songs of all time. Great songs, and great fun for us. But God put evil in this world so we could appreciate the good, and now it's time for the flip side of the remake coin. We are obligated to tell the whole story, although we do offer fewer clunkers than we did winners, so as not to totally depress you.

And remember that sometimes bad is good. Vanilla Ice and all the other rap rip-off artists aside, covers rendered with absolute sincerity often result in disaster. So what's wrong with disaster? Years ago the Replacements "performed" a drunken mess of a show in Oklahoma. A fan recorded it, the band confiscated the tape, and let it out with the appropriate title The Shit Hits the Fans. It consists of half-assed and incomplete stabs at everything from U2 to the Beatles. It's very cool. The selections on the list below are less so. In fact, they are the 25 most egregious cover songs of all time. Or at least until Vanilla Ice's next album.

25. "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany
This is also what Debbie Gibson whispers in Mojo Nixon's ear.

24. "Mony Mony" by Billy Idol
Is it Generation X or the blank generation?

23. "Mr. Bojangles" by Sammy Davis, Jr.
He danced much better than Jerry Jeff Walker or Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Plus he's dead. Sorry.

22. "Sweet Jane" by Cowboy Junkies
They aren't cowboys. They aren't (we don't think) junkies. And they sure as hell ain't Velvet Underground. (Extra nose-wipe points for their snotting of Neil Young's "Powderfinger" on The Caution Horses.)

21. "Surfin' Bird" by the Ramones
One-two-three-four. Easy on the glue, guys.

20. "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Not really that bad, but radio killed it dead with overplay.

19. "California Girls" by David Lee Roth
If videos were songs, there'd be a reason for MTV to exist. And a reason for David Lee Roth to exist.

18. "My Way" by Sid Vicious
Who else thinks Sinatra put the hit on this guy?

17. "Hey Jude" by Paul and Linda McCartney
Lennon's spinnin'. A live take from some Amnesty International thang by one of Big Mac's many bands, a cover in that it is not the Beatles original. Paul Castronovo and Ron Brewer of WSHE-FM's Rock 'n' Roll Breakfast morning show recently isolated Linda Mac's vocal track from this song. Yes, she must have been mightily stoned on the good 'erb to sing like that.

16. "Come Together" by Aerosmith
And this was the best song on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band soundtrack. We just can't bring ourselves to even mention the others. You remember anyway - two million of you bought the damn thing.

15."Venus" by Bananarama
If they had changed it to "Penis," this might've worked. Get Blowfly, quick.

14. "Oh! Pretty Woman" by Van Halen
Aztec Camera's version of "Jump" is the only thing that ever lent any credibility to V.H. Oh, okay, so they did cover a Kinks song to launch their career(s), but that was simply common sense. The point here is that nobody sings like Roy Orbison, especially not David Lee Roth, and it was a boner to even try.

13. "Rose Garden" by k.d. lang
Me so thorny.

12. "Cocaine" by Eric Clapton
Don't it sound silly now? Actually, Sweet came up with a terrific rearrangement of this in concert at the Hollywood Sportatorium. (Sportatorium? Doesn't that sound silly now?) Clapton's committed other sins, such as his wrecking of "After Midnight." Sorry, only one entry per customer.

11. "The Boxer" by Bob Dylan
TKO. Zimmerman is defeated in Round One.

10. "Blinded by the Light" by Manfred Mann's Earth Band
They also copped "Spirits in the Night." Somebody give Bruce Springsteen a gun. A loaded gun.

9. "Heaven" by Simply Red
A Talking Heads masterwork rendered hellish.

8. "Runaway" by Bonnie Raitt
Even she regrets it.

7. "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)" by Cher
Betty Everett nailed it in 1964. Cher failed it for Mermaids.

6. "The Loco-Motion" by Kylie Minogue
Why would anyone remake this song? Little Eva was punishment enough; but this train never should have left the station.

5. "Downtown Train" by Rod Stewart
This turned out to be a big hit for Stewart, helping get his career back on track. It was nothing close to a hit for Waits, who never even had hair as big as Rod's.

4. "Ships" by Barry Manilow
Ian Hunter's poignant, passionate ballad about father-son love microwaved and served in a Styrofoam container.

3. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" by William Shatner
Captain Kirk is well known for chewing the scenery, but he's never been funnier than on this hammy trip. Echo effects! From Golden Throats (see sidebar); you just have to hear it to believe it. On the plus side, Shatner did sport at the time the same sideburns as John Lennon.

2. "Helter Skelter" by U2
Know why U2 can play only outdoor shows? No arena big enough for Bono's ego. When U2 raped and pillaged "All Along the Watchtower," Bonohead added something about "all I've got is a red guitar...and the truth." A lot of people have been looking for the Truth, so it's nice to know where to find it. For "Helter Skelter," Bono informed us that Charlie Manson stole the song from the Beatles, and U2 was here to steal it back! Uh-huh. Maybe they should lock up U2 and sign Manson to a major label. Rattle and bummed, dudes.

1. "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Guns N' Roses
Ayhng, ayhng, ayhng-ayhng-ayhng. The hell.



All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >