10 Cover Songs the World Could Have Done Without

Updated on December 13, 2017
Stephen C Barnes profile image

Stephen is a lifelong music lover and worked as a professional DJ, operating his own DJ service in the 1980s and '90s .


We've Got That Covered...

There are a lot of cover songs out there. Pretty much every song that has ever been recorded has been covered by someone. There are bands and artists that can take another's song and make it something special, almost, or even every bit as good as the original. Sometimes even better. The White Stripes cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene", and Johnny Cash's version of the Nine Inch Nails song "Hurt," for example, fall into this category.

Then there are those covers that are, to be kind, slightly less than great. These are the ones that the world could have done without. The 10 songs that follow are examples of covers that fall into this category. It must be borne in mind, however, that what is good and what is bad is highly subjective, and every cover is sure to appeal to someone, even if it is just the person or group doing the covering. Music, after all, is in the ear of the beholder.

1. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds - William Shatner

William Shatner is best known for his role as Captain Kirk on the original Star Trek television series. A man of questionable acting ability, he leaves no question about his singing ability with his cover of the Beatles hit "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", from his 1968 album The Transformed man: a combination of Shakespearean recitations, spoken word performances, and popular song covers. Shatner performs his rendition of Lennon and McCartney's musical masterpiece with the same painfully halting style of speech that he brought to the role of Kirk, and as terrible as it is it isn't even the worst cover song on this album.

2. Stairway to Heaven - Dolly Parton

There is no denying that Dolly Parton is a fantastic entertainer, and a legend in the country music world. In addition she is an actress, author, record producer, businessperson, and philanthropist. Dolly has a beautiful, and very recognizable singing voice, and is an accomplished musician on several instruments. In all fairness her cover of "Stairway to Heaven" is not terrible but it is somewhat comical. In this live version it is easy to tell from the inflection in her voice and her pantomime during the performance that she takes the song far too seriously, and when the song revs up and that banjo kicks in... Just the same she deserves a nod for bringing the greatness of Led Zeppelin to country music fans.

3. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - Devo

What this Eighties new wave band has done to this iconic rock song is borderline criminal, from the absence of its signature riff to the techno-pop sound. If not for the lyrics it would be completely unrecognizable. Unless you are a cover band playing bars where the patrons want to hear songs played as close to the originals as possible, the idea when covering a song is for an artist or group to bring its own style to a piece, but sometimes it just does not work. This is one of those times.

4. Something - Telly Savalas

Who would have thought that Kojak could sing? well, sort off. Telly Savalas is not the first actor to take a kick at the cover song cat (see number 1), nor the worst one (again,see number 1), but something (pardon the pun) about this lollipop licking, tough guy actor taking on this Beatles' Ballad just feels wrong.

5. Hotel California - Cat Empire

Cat Empire is a ska band from Melbourne, Australia. A fusion of Calypso, American Jazz, and Rhythm and Blues, ska has a very reggae sound, and is actually a precursor to that style. Cat Empire has been very successful in this genre, and bring their considerable musical talents to their cover of this classic Eagles song, which appears on a cover album entitled Like a Version, featuring cover songs by artists who had appeared on the Mel Bampton morning show, Mel in the Morning. Though quite a shock to the system the first time you hear it it is actually not bad, and kind of grows on you. Also, it is sung in French. And is that lead melodica we hear?

6. Comfortably Numb - Scissor Sisters

This is just plain awful. What this New York-based glam rock, nu-disco, electroclash band has done with this Pink Floyd great is actually painful to listen to. During the intro one feels almost compelled to break into "Eye of the Tiger". This is quickly replaced by frightening flashbacks of Deney Terrio and Dance Fever, circa 1979. You just want to pull at your hair with both hands and rock back and forth while screaming "get out of my head" over and over. Ok, maybe its not quite that bad, but its bad, and one can not help but ask the only question that is brought to mind: WHY?

7. You've Got a Friend - Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

Set in part to the tune of the Ramones' Blitzkrieg Bop, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, a punk rock group out of San Francisco, is responsible for this punk cover of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend", and takes it from a touching balled about friendship, to a getting s**tfaced with your buddies song. Not necessarily a bad thing, though it is unlikely to bring a tear to the eye with its heart wrenching tenderness, or be covered by Kermit the Frog on Americas Got Talent.

8. Smoke on the Water - Pat Boone

Yes, you read that correctly. Pat Boone, the pop sensation from the 1950's and early 1960's covered Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water". It was actually just one track on an entire album of Metal Covers by Boone. The album, In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, recorded in 1996 and released in January of 1997, features Pat Boone with his rendition of twelve popular metal songs including Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train", and Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy". In truth the entire album of Boone's Jazzy covers of these metal favorites could be included here. Though one almost wonders, or maybe just hopes, that perhaps the entire project may have been meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek.

In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy album cover.
In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy album cover.

9. Fortunate Son - U2

This cover of John Fogerty's famous anti-war anthem is proof that even the best of the best, like iconic rock legends U2, can sometimes make an error in judgement and release a really bad song.

10. My Way - Sid Vicious

What ever possessed the late Sid Vicious, former bassist for the 1970's English punk rock band the Sex Pistols, to take on this Paul Anka classic is a mystery. This beautiful ballad, made famous by crooner Frank Sinatra, about living life on one's own terms, has been covered by countless artists over the years but this cover amounts to nothing short of musical homicide. Sid Vicious was way out of his depth here, and so far out of his element he could have been on another planet. Cover songs just do not get any worse than this. Sid should have just left this song alone.

Bonus Track

Everybody loves a bonus track, so here it is. And the nod goes, once again, to William Shatner. As mentioned in number one "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" is not the worst cover song on Shatner's album. That distinction goes to his rendition of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man". Brace yourselves.

Which of these cover songs do you think is the worst?

See results

The songs featured here are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bad cover songs. Bad covers are, in fact, fairly common. Fortunately these are far outweighed by the good, and sometimes even great, ones.

© 2017 Stephen Barnes


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, spinditty.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)